Joe Bailey, Evangelist and Administration Manager, introduces a new series looking at how we can help others not just to find answers to their questions, but to hear of Christ.
Sometimes in an open-air we are peppered with hostile questions from a crowd of listeners. Such questions are not restricted to open-airs. We often face difficult and pointed questions from unconverted loved ones, colleagues, neighbours and friends. How should we answer them?
In Mark 12, Jesus is in the temple and faces a litany of hostile questions from the religious and political leaders of His day. Each time, He reasons with them
from the Scriptures and silences them. But the climax of His answers comes when Jesus goes on the offensive in verses 35-37. At this point a great crowd has gathered, amazed by His answers. What does Jesus do now with so many listening? He quotes Psalm 110:1 and draws the crowd’s attention to the greatest question of all: ‘Whose Son is the Christ?’ Jesus did not simply answer the questions of His hearers on secondary matters like the paying of taxes or the greatest commandment. Jesus forced them to confront the greatest issue: the identity of the Saviour. Is He merely David’s human descendent, or is He also the eternal Son of God and Saviour of the world?
Jesus forced them to confront the greatest issue: the identity of the Saviour
Here is the great challenge as we answer the questions of those we meet. It is not enough to leave it at the peripheral questions. We must bring our conversations, our answers and our preaching around to the great theme of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and our relationship to Him.
But that is often difficult. Recently in Nottingham, a Pakistani student told me he had just arrived in the UK to study for his master’s degree. He was full of questions about everything but the gospel. In the end, he asked about the history of the UK and I explained to him that if he wants to know the source of anything good in our history, he needs to read the Bible! Sadly however, I felt I spoke too little of the Lord Jesus.
How do we get from questions about science to sharing the gospel? Or from questions about why God allows suffering, or of the Bible’s reliability, to talking of the person and work of Christ? If we answer a seeker’s question correctly, but fail to speak of Christ, we may furnish their mind but do little good for their souls.
C. H. Spurgeon recounted the story of an older preacher giving a younger preacher some advice about ‘getting to Christ’:
‘Don’t you know young man that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London?’ ‘Yes,’ said the young man. ‘Ah!’ said the old divine, ‘and so from every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And my dear brother, your business happens to be when you get to a text, to say, “Now what is the road to Christ?” and then preach a sermon, running along the road towards the great metropolis—Christ. And,’ said he, ‘I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it.’
C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 242, Christ Precious to Believers
What is true of preaching God’s Word, is true of answering questions from enquirers. We must navigate the road from the question we hear to the person of Christ.