Be Ready To Give An Answer
Study To Show Thyself Approved
By Curt Wildy
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
(2 Timothy 3:12).
And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels
Think back to a time when you successfully discussed a difficult matter and actually convinced the other side that you were right. In all likelihood, you were:
- Passionate about the subject;
- Knowledgeable about the subject;
- Confident, to some degree, in your ability to explain the matter; and/or
- Better prepared than the other person to discuss the issue.
We are called to be faithful witnesses and to “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts: and [to be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us] with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).” Although we cannot win the point when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel (we cannot talk someone into being born from above), we can put forth powerful arguments, as God enables, that will answer the questions of the curious and put to shame the reasonings of the naysayers.
Consider Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue [that] shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This [is] the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [is] of me, saith the LORD.” This verse has broader implications, but the application to witnessing stands. The verbal weapons of the enemy, their carnal arguments, cannot prosper against the Light of scriptural testimony; likewise, if we are knowledgeable and comfortable with the word of God, then every tongue that rises up against us shall be condemned and put to shame as we profess the Truth. Lies cannot stand in the face of Scripture when it is clearly, accurately, and boldly proclaimed.
Being Strong In The Lord And In The Power Of His Might.
The first necessity for a powerful witness involves resting in the power of God’s might. If we study to see Him as the Lord of Heaven and Earth (as the God who purposes all things, ordains all things, brings about all things, and controls all things), then we will begin to feel less uncomfortable when speaking on spiritual matters. We must remember that we are not able to fight this battle alone, nor are we able to fight it in our own strength; it is impossible for us to do so, our role is to fulfil the role that He has ordained for us to fulfil. We should strive to keep in mind that:
We witness precisely when God, from old, has ordained that we shall witness;
We word it precisely how God, from old, has purposed that we shall word it; and
- Others react in the precise manner that God, from old, has decreed that they shall react (whether positively or negatively).
Every scenario (every thought, word, action, and reaction) is completely of the Lord; you are simply walking in the steps that God has, from eternity, prepared for you to walk in. Any desire you have to faithfully witness, and any witness that you put forth, is a direct result of God working in you both to will and do of His good pleasure.
Included in God’s eternal purpose is any manifestation of our natural fear and timidity; if we are too nervous or embarrassed to speak up, it is our own sin, but it is God who has decreed that it should arise at that particular time. He does not give us the spirit of timidity, we have it already by nature, but He will use that sin to make us all the more sick of it and of our selves. When He brings us through weeks, months, years, or perhaps even decades of being too soft-spoken, fearful, or shy, He will also begin to give us a powerful disdain for our lack of godly courage. We will begin to cry out to Him all the more for boldness and spiritual valour. He will, to one degree or another, grant us that courage and cause us to see that it is all of Him. At that point, we will begin to wax stronger and stronger in Him (to the measure that He has given us) and we will rely less and less on our own natural strength.
Note that some Christians are naturally bold, being so from before their regeneration, but this is not the spiritual courage that comes from God; such carnal boldness can often lead to rashness and needless contention. Holy Spirit-wrought courage causes us to trust less in self and more in God, and is accompanied by the fruit of the Spirit.
The Means That God Has Provided
Ephesians 6:17 teaches us that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. The sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon. If you fight against a skilled swordsman, having never picked up a sword, how apt will you be at successfully defending yourself or scoring the winning blow? Not very. However, the more you practice with the sword, the more skillful you will become. We ought to practice daily for many reasons; one clear one being the skilfulness of our enemies (the devil and his minions) when it comes to twisting the word of God.
In the Old Testament we see that God is the one who gave victory to Israel over their enemies. Though victory is of the Lord, the Israelites still practiced their martial skills. They still trained on the proper use of armour, shield, and weaponry; they went out to battle arrayed with such. Just because God Himself ordains and works out our conquests does not mean that He does it outside of the use of means. God often works through men and women to carry out His purpose. There is no lack of trust in God simply because we seek to use earthly means to become more familiar with His word.
Study Your Bible
The best way to begin the process of becoming more skilled with the spiritual sword is to pick it up. The more you read it, the more familiar you will be with it. The goal is to read, read, and then read some more. Romans 10:17 declares that “…faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Psalm 119:130-35 declares “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. 131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments. 132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. 133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. 134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts. 135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.“
As funds allow, I recommend getting more than one Bible. I suggest one that is light, that you can easily carry around with you. I also recommend one that has plenty of room at the margin (or that has blank pages in the front or back), that will allow you to take notes. Once you have a Bible, began to read it and mark it up. The Bible, in it’s printed letter, is just a book made up of paper and a covering. The physical book is not holy in and of itself; what is holy is the spiritual word contained therein. There is no sin in underlining, highlighting, or otherwise making notes within your Bible; it is a useful means of helping you to better remember and understand the word of God. In some parts of my earlier Bibles, I often had more highlighting and underlining than regular text; it is best not to over do it (you do not want to diminish the usefulness of adding such emphasis). I recommend limiting it to passages that (a) have been particularly brought home to your heart; (b) that you wish to memorise; and (c) that contain pivotal (branching) words and passages. By pivotal or branching, I mean those passages or words that easily allow you to branch out into other vital words, verses, or precepts. Chapters like Ephesians 1 & 2; Romans 8,and 9; and John 6 and 17 contain verses that are pivotal when it comes to discussing election and predestination. Romans 3, John 10, and 1 Corinthians 2, are examples of pivotal chapters covering the natural inability of man to turn to God or to do righteousness (total depravity).
In addition, personal coding can help. I have developed an abbreviation code that I use to mark passages that tie-into particular doctrines. Such coding often helps when you want to quickly find a passage in a particular book, but you haven’t memorised the scripture reference for it. If a verse pertains to election and/or predestination, I may put an EP next to it in the margin. If it pertains to God’s sovereign purpose, then SP. Likewise, I will use TD for verses related to total depravity and DL for God’s divine love for His people. Use whatever method works best for you; the more you personalise it, the more likely you are to use it and benefit from it.
Another useful tool is to write down related book, chapter, verse references next to a pivotal passage. If it is not already listed in the margin or center line, you could write Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3 next to Romans 3:10-12, for example. Likewise, you can write Psalm 5:5; 11:5, and Romans 9:11-13, next to John 3:16. If you do not have a wide-margin Bible (not all of which are highly expensive; I’ve seen some for about $15), you can make use of the blank pages in the front and back of your Bible to keep a “topical quick list” of scriptural references. In other words, create an outline with various doctrinal entries and list the chapter and verse references for key passages underneath. This can be quite useful when you have not yet memorised key verses, passages, or references (or when you are developing a topical memorisation plan).
I strongly urge you to consider using Internet and software-related resources that can enrich your study; especially if you do not have your Bible, concordance, lexicons, etc., on hand. As stated in the past, the BlueLetterBible website is a phenomenal resource for reading, studying, and generating passage lists for memorising. Not only does it contain the Strong’s Concordance definitions, but it also has the Thayer (Greek) and Gesenius (Hebrew) lexicons in image form. Free Bible software like the Online Bible (NA or Europe), E-Sword, and The Word can also help. I have all three installed and rely mostly on the Online Bible and The Word applications; however, E-Sword has a great library which includes the Textus-Receptus based LITV Bible.
Memorisation is one of the best means that you can employ to bolster a confident witness. The more you know and understand, the more confidently you will be able to speak with others. Unfortunately, when many of us hear memorisation, we shrink back and think “I’m not good at memorising.” The key, for me at least, is to start slowly and build up. If we memorise small portions on a weekly basis, by the end of the year (with a bit of work to keep things fresh), you will have fifty-two new words and/or verses in our memory. If we work even harder at it, memorizing one new word or verse each day, we will have 365 new resources in our minds. Imagine how much growth can occur in a few years, Lord willing, by applying ourselves in this fashion (again, I say this as much for me as for you).
Concerning what to memorise, please consider the following:
- Key verses and passages;
- Key Greek and Hebrew word definitions;
- Key arguments that we can make in light of the above; and
- Key counter-arguments we can make in light of the passages that others misuse.
Concerning how to memorise, I suggest the following:
Write out the verse or word definition that you want to memorise on a piece of paper;
- Write it out multiple times while saying it out loud;
- Walk around while trying to recite the verse or definition. If you get stuck, look at the paper again, say it out loud a few more times and write it a few more times;
- Attempt to walk around and recite again without assistance (stop the process once you are sure that you have it down);
- When you start the process for a new word definition or passage, rehearse the previous item to help keep it refresh in your mind;
- Test yourself at week’s end, month’s end, etc., to verify that you can remember everything that you have laboured to memorise;
If you forget something, repeat steps 1 – 4 until you can fully remember it without aids.
I will discuss the what to memorise aspect in more detail in Part Two.
Perhaps even more important than memorising is meditating upon God’s word; it is a vital means of growth and we are directed to do it by the clear biblical testimony. We are to follow the example of 1 Timothy 4:13 which states “…give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 2 Timothy 2:15 states “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Consider some of the other passages regarding the importance of biblical meditation.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalm 119:15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways… 47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. 48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes…. 72 The law of thy mouth [is] better unto me than thousands of gold and silver… 97 O how love I thy law! it [is] my meditation all the day. 98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they [are] ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation… 130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. 131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments. 132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. 133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. 134 ¶ Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts. 135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Summary of Part One
Some may ask, “is it really necessary that we do all of this memorising and meditating?” For memorising, the answer is no; it is not at all necessary in some salvific sense. However, if you want to be all the more fascinated by the Scriptural tapestry, study the words as you study the word. Memorise key words, key passages, and key arguments, and you will began to see your ability to meditate upon them increase greatly. 2 Timothy 1:13 commands us to “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” Memorising Scripture is an important means of helping us to more surely “hold fast the form of sound words.”
1 John 5:3 states “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” “To keep” is the Greek word tereo [τηρεω G5083 (tay-reh’-o)] and it means to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; to keep (in the state in which it was), to observe, to reserve. As God enables, memorising the word (keeping it in the mind) will enable you to guard it and attend to it carefully. To the degree ordained of God, it will help you to observe His commandments as well. Just start slowly; nothing will deter continued application and progress more than try to start too big, too soon. Memorise something new each week until it is a habit, and then seek to move to a more frequent progression.
Regarding meditating, I trust that it is an essential part of our Christian walk; it is definitely necessary for our growth. I find it hard to believe that anyone can be a Christian for any length of time without pondering the word of God. Moreover, it is a mercy and an honour to be able to meditate, by God’s grace, on His word. When we see doctrines come together, it can be mesmerizing. When we see that the atonement ties-in with anointing, which ties-in with baptism, which ties-in with fiery trials, which ties-in with bearing our cross daily, which ties in with conforming to the image of Christ, which ties-in with faith, which ties in with repentance, which ties in with the history of national Israel in us (typifying our daily struggles), etc., you began to see even more clearly the infinite handiwork of God’s divine tapestry — what a blessing it is to see this massive story unfold before our eyes. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we view the Bible not as a multitude of disconnected doctrines but as one doctrine with many different facets. The more you meditate upon diverse biblical subjects, the less diverse they become.
In Part Two, I aim to go into further detail regarding the benefits of memorising and meditating upon Scripture. I also want to cover the use of topical ice breakers that can help us initiate biblical conversations with others.
To God be the glory.
Continue to Part Two