"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Without a proper foundation, buildings don't stand, civilizations don't last, and Christians don't witness well. The foundation I am talking about is the foundation of basic Christian doctrine. Do you know what the Trinity is? How many natures does Jesus have, one or two? Are we saved by grace through faith or by grace and works? For what purpose did Jesus die? Did He rise from the dead? If so, why?
Perhaps you do not believe that knowing doctrine is important. Maybe you think that we should just tell people about Jesus and let them choose to accept Him or not. Unfortunately, witnessing isn't always that simple. Knowing what and why you believe is essential. For example, if someone says he wants to receive Jesus as Savior but doesn't believe that He is God in flesh, is that important? If someone says that the Trinity is not biblical, what would you say? Is the Holy Spirit a force or God? Doctrine is important because it defines who you put your trust in. It is not simply that you have faith, it's who you put your faith in.
A "Setup" at church.
A few years ago an associate pastor of a local church asked me to give a talk on some biblical issues to his college and career group. As we talked about the lecture he decided he would like me to test the group on their doctrinal knowledge. He asked me to pretend I was someone off the street who happened to walk in to "see what was going on and challenge them." Since no one at the study knew me, it seemed like a great idea. He said, "Ask them questions that will make them think. Ask them questions about their faith."
Since he wanted them to answer for themselves, he arranged not to be there. Instead, a Bible study leader, who knew of the "setup," would be in charge. This way, the group would be forced to defend their faith because their pastor wouldn't be there to bail them out when things got tough, and they did.
I asked some questions about the Bible, got some answers, and then asked more questions about their answers. I asked them how they knew the Bible was true, how they knew they were going to heaven, why their beliefs were correct and everyone else's was false, and more. All I did was challenge them. Later I asked them about Jesus. I said, "If Jesus is God then why did He pray to God the Father?" The sudden silence spoke loudly against them. I continued with, "Some Jehovah's Witnesses I was talking to a little while ago said that there was no such thing as the Trinity. They had a bunch of proof texts. Why should I believe you and not them? They have answers and they seem to know their Bible."
Needless to say, the group was thoroughly upset. One person left to get the pastor. Two girls were doubting their salvation and a couple of guys told me later they wanted to beat me up (and these were Christians!).
Just about then it was time to stop. The Bible study leader, who had kept tactfully quiet until then, interrupted the discussion and, playing along for a few seconds longer said, "All right, all right. Let's put a stop to this. " He looked confidently at everyone and said, "Don't worry. We are going to have a speaker here tonight who will be able to answer all these questions and explain why the Bible really is the word of God, why there is a Trinity, and all that other stuff we talked about."
A couple of people said to me, "Yeah, so why don't you stay and you can hear some answers." I smiled and said, "Maybe I will." The Bible study leader smiled too and as he pointed to me he said, "And tonight, he is our speaker." They stared at me for a moment. Then, as if on cue, they all began to moan and groan. They had been set up. I smiled. After a while, they smiled too.
What are you called to do?
You are called by God to accurately know His word, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
You are called by God to grow in your walk with Him, "Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity..." (Heb. 6:1).
You are called by God to search the scriptures daily, "Now these were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
How good is your foundation?
Are you like the people in that church? Are you weak in your basic Christian foundation? Can you defend the Trinity biblically? Can you show someone in the Bible that Jesus is God in flesh or that salvation is by faith only and not by our works? Do you know if Jesus rose from the dead in the same body He died in or was it a different spiritual body? These questions are crucial and you need to have the correct answers. Do you?
If your foundation is weak, then you need to strengthen it. Without a good foundation you won't be able to stand against a breeze of opposition. That is why you must first establish your foundation: you must witness in the strength of truth, not the weakness of error.
Just as a baby must crawl before it walks, a Christian must know the basics before he can mature: "Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity..." (Heb. 6:1).
Let's first learn the elementary teachings before we go on.