Rules for Religious Discussions

Text: 1 Peter 3:15

It is incumbent upon Christians to be ready to teach others. Religious discussions will take place in different environments – friendly/hostile, public/private, in-person/online, etc. How do we make the best use of our opportunities to discuss the Scriptures with others? By remembering some rules for religious discussions.

Be Willing to Defend the Truth

  • Paul, as an apostle, was “appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:16) – all Christians must be “ready to make a defense” as well (1 Peter 3:15)
  • God does not force us to do anything – we have a choice to do what He expects us to or not
  • Anytime we have an opportunity to defend the truth in a religious discussion, we have a choice – be silent, defend the truth the wrong way, or defend the truth the right way

Speak the Truth in Love

  • Choosing to speak in defense of truth is essential – but it must be done with the right attitude (Ephesians 4:15)
  • What does it mean to speak the truth in love? … love for God, to bring glory to Him rather than ourselves (1 Peter 4:11); love for the truth, to promote all of it without changing it (Acts 20:27; Revelation 22:18-19); love for the souls of men, having the same desire as God that they be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)

Always Appeal to Scripture

  • We are to speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11) – to lead people to faith, we must make our appeal to the source of faith… the word (Romans 10:17)
  • If people are going to believe our message, they must recognize it as being from God (1 Thessalonians 2:13) – cite book, chapter & verse; not “I think…” or “I feel…” or “my preacher says…”
  • Of course, to do this, we must be familiar with the Scriptures ourselves – so study (2 Timothy 2:15)

Build Upon Common Ground

  • For most people we will have discussions with, we will agree with them on something – take advantage of that common ground & use it as a foundation for further teaching
  • Paul used common ground as a foundation when he taught – to the Jews, he cited their common understanding that the Old Testament Scriptures were inspired of God (Acts 17:2-3); to the Gentiles, he cited the need to be religious as he taught them of the unknown God (Acts 17:22-23)
  • In discussions with people, find common ground & build upon it – belief in God, inspiration of the Bible, the need for authority, the simplicity of NT Christianity, etc.

Do Not Be Quarrelsome

  • The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome…” (2 Timothy 2:24) – of course, this does not mean we can’t contend for the faith (Jude 3) or refute error (Titus 1:9)
  • When we fight against error, we must fight fair – do not use personal attacks (Jude 8-9); do not think you need the last word (Titus 3:10-11)
  • Use the weapon that God has provided – the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)

Do Not Take Personal Offense

  • When we try to teach people, they may not listen, or they may argue, reject, or oppose what we say
  • It’s easy to take it personally – don’t (Luke 10:16); shake off the dust from your feet & move on (Luke 10:10-11)

Conclusion

  • The only way people can be saved is through the gospel (Romans 1:16)
  • So we should take advantage of opportunities to engage people in religious discussions
  • As we do, let’s be careful to do it the right way & avoid doing it the wrong way

Listen to this lesson: Rules for Religious Discussions


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