By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.
As time passes, I become more and more convinced that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.
No amount of evidence can convince someone about the truth of the Gospel. It is the Word of God, itself, that has the power to save and transform souls.
Because of this conviction, I love walking through Scripture with people whenever they permit me the time. And there are three passages in particular that I am usually drawn to, depending on the type of questions I receive throughout the conversation. So, here are my top three passages to study with unbelievers.
Matthew 5:21-30, 48
This one is especially helpful for people who don’t think their sin is that bad. This is a go-to passage for several reasons. It comes from the Savior’s mouth, Himself. It is designed to show much how deep man’s depravity truly is. And it ultimately places God as the standard that we should reach to, and, by doing so, shatters false religion in pieces.
If you sense that you have more time, walking slowly through the beatitudes helps people understand the kind of person who God blesses. But then you must get to Matthew 5:21because Jesus raises the standard dramatically. He first explains that murder goes beyond your actions and is found deep within your mind and heart. And God, being able to see your heart, can judge even for the things you wish to do. He goes on to say in verse 27 that lust is adultery. That the intention to sleep with a woman or a man is played out like a movie before God, and He sees it as if it has occurred. The destination for those who commit these sins is hell.
He ends this chapter with perhaps the scariest verse for unbelievers. That you must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. That’s the standard that God has for those who wish to earn His favor through works. That’s why Jesus, Himself, would provide another way. Because of the fact that every man has sinned and therefore disqualified himself from the requirement of perfection, He did what no other man could do–lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. And because He is God, He can now represent us before the Father and become our substitute.
I use this one especially for people who are stuck in false religions. We all love this one. It is every believer’s testimony. If you have time as you walk through it, you can weave in your own personal testimony. The goal here is to show people that God deserves all the glory in salvation. That if man contributes at all to his salvation, that God would be losing glory. That’s why in verse 9 Paul says, “lest anyone should boast.” As you walk through verses 1-3, you explain man’s depravity. You talk about just how lost human beings are. You ask the person if he can stop sinning. You explain how depraved you were apart from Christ. That’s when you come in with verse 4. Man was so lost, the situation was so desperate, that man was actually dead. But God being rich in mercy saved us. Made us alive. This is how God ends up getting all the glory in our salvation. If you walk through this slowly and clearly, then verses 8 and 9 make sense. Because Paul wants the reader to understand clearly that the work of regeneration must be completely a work of God–an instantaneous miracle–so that He gets all the glory. If you have time, verse 10 is fascinating as well. Because in false religion, it all centers around good works, but Paul would make the claim that God takes the credit for those as well! First, you’re saved by God’s grace, then you can start doing good works, but even those are by the grace of God. There is literally no boasting and no contribution on our part.
This has been the go-to passage for many believers for many years, and for good reason. Nicodemus symbolizes every person caught in false religion. He thinks that he can contribute to his own salvation. Jesus throws a knuckleball at him, and Nicodemus is stuck in his tracks. Here, Jesus compares salvation to birth. He shows Nicodemus that salvation isn’t something you earn, it is something that happens to you. You don’t choose to be born and you don’t choose to be reborn. As a preacher once said, the implication of this passage is that, “if you are born once you will die twice, but if you are born twice, you will die once.”
John 3:16 is a classic, but that whole section, culminating in verse 21, is loaded with helpful stuff to talk about with an unbeliever. All in all, this is another great passage to slowly walk through with unbelievers.
Bonus passages to consider that I’ve used before:
- Romans 3:10-26
- Isaiah 53
- Psalm 1, 2
- Matthew 7: 13-14, 21-23
- Galatians 1:6-9
I know it’s tempting to put the Bible aside, especially with people who claim that they don’t believe the Bible, but we must always remember that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), and nothing else can even come close to the powerful Word of God.
What Bible passages have you found helpful in your evangelism?
Jordan is the pastor of evangelism at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He has a wife named Jenny and 4 children, Davide, Matteo, Nico and Gabriella.