My question is this: “Is there New Testament evidence we should we be speaking more about truth, and less about “believing” or “beliefs”, when we speak to non-believers?”
I found all these citations where the Apostles said they spoke truth, or implied they spoke it – to non-believers – and then they remarked about creating or not creating belief. They never appeared to use the word “believe” or “belief” for persuasive effect with non-believers, only as an observed result after their testimony of truth. That is, they never urged anyone to “believe” in Christ. They simply told others what the saw, and called it the truth, and hoped others would believe the true story.
Shouldn’t we at least discuss doing the same practices as the Apostles did, to see if we missed a “best practice”?
Search Criteria For Biblical “Best Practices” For Evangelism
What was the search criteria I used for finding examples of how the Apostles evangelized to non-Christians after Christ was crucified?
- I searched for Apostles’ Testimony – not Jesus.
- I looked for where they were evangelizing to non-believers in Jesus or non-believers in God.
- I looked for evangelizing to Jews or idol worshipers.
- I made sure they were NOT talking to believers, which is the case in many of the post-Acts books. I’m looking for evidence of HOW they persuaded non-Christians to be Christians.
- I made sure the time of evangelism was after crucifixion, like we face now.
Acts appears to be the key book to study – it recites the most frequent interaction between Apostles and non-believers.
Scripture Citations of Support
Acts 17:11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
Acts 13:12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
Acts 13:12 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
Acts 15:7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.
Acts 19:8-10 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way.
Acts 28:23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.
Romans 10:16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”
1 Corinthians 15:11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe
Reasons For The Research: Political Debate Practices
My finding in thousands of political debates, was liberals love to engage in belief, opinion, and feelings contests, because they know there is never a winner in such dialogue. “All opinions are equal.” They want a “belief” based world, because their belief is then equal to yours.
Specifically, in political discussion, liberals were especially anxious to debate beliefs – despite decrying “Christians want their beliefs being forced on others.” I noticed they only impugned OTHERS pushing belief.
So I began pointing out their own unconscious, casual use of the word “I believe we should …” in their dialogue. When I reminded them they were pushing belief, they began stumbling all over their words, they had trouble finding a substitute for the words “I believe…”.
Clearly “belief” was casual thought and language to the liberal mindset. Comfortable. They talked as if they were “believers,” as if they were religious – but it was only when they talked about government. They appear to believe in politicians like we believe in God.
In my experience, I have also found MORE comfortable discussions with non-believers and liberals about the truth of the Gospels, rather than beliefs. If you’re clearly telling someone what is 100% proven as truth, why should they be dismissive? Plus, the non-believer is on much less threatening ground to debate the truth of the Gospels, because you can openly say “I’m not pushing beliefs, I’m simply trying to make the case the Gospels are a true story.”
The truth argument for Christ, the “historicity of Jesus,” is not perfect, but it engages much more friendly, and for longer time periods than a “Here’s how Jesus came to me” discussion. That’s what I found. I think men respond better to truth than to belief.
I think Christian leadership has unconsciously, gradually, shifted from a truth-based advocacy to a belief based advocacy based on years of gradual pressure of liberals to push us to a terrain on which liberals can win arguments with Christians: Belief contests.
For most of Christians history, the Bible was considered a book of truth, not a book of beliefs.
I recommend Christians vastly increase the use of TRUTH in their advocacy, not beliefs. Here is an article on how to establish the truth of the four Gospels:
Objection – Objection Your Honor!!!
An objection I hear is we will be more threatening if we speak of truth – but, non-believers surely don’t seem threatened by Islam, a far more confident and confrontational belief system than Christianity. So why should Christians be wary of claiming to be truthful? Christians are criticized MORE than Islam, I never hear any complaints from non-believers about Muslims being too prideful – only excuses for their bad behavior.
So – telling the truth cannot be considered truly threatening. It’s a fake protest from the people who read fake news.
Second Objection – Why not use a relationship sell?
Many Christian leaders advocate a relationship-based approach: Build trust with the person as a secular friend, then convince them of belief when they are struggling with a problem, or ask a religious question.
Nowhere do I find the scriptures say anything like ‘The apostles developed a close relationship with individuals, then when the chance came, they witnessed how their belief helped them cope with their current conflict they faced.’
There is no advocacy of relationship selling in the New or Old Testament, which I can find.
The finding above suggest Christians should be less focused on belief discussion with non-believers, and more focused on truth-based discussion with non-believers.
Mainly because it looks like the Apostles surely did.
John D. Lofgren