Question:

Brother Hamilton I had a crazy day yesterday. I talked to four people total about the gospel; that's never happened to me. Each encounter brought up some questions, and I thought I'd ask you.

The most urgent one is I have a Bible study scheduled Sunday night with a friend on baptism. This is the first time I'm going to study the Bible with someone in a planned situation. I ended up talking to her because I told her about my day after having talked to the three others and since the disagreement with all three was the essentiality of baptism, we ended up talking about it in the car. We got together with the purpose of studying, so I told her that since neither of us were really using the Bible in our conversation that it was essentially fruitless and that we should study it later with the Scripture which she was happy to do.

I'm getting a list of scriptures together and my plan is for us to read them together. I have two problems I'm anticipating with her. The first is she has a tendency to interrupt -- she does it all the time while we study for classes. Not out of maliciousness, it just seems to be something she does. How do you handle that with people, especially when they mean no harm?

The second is the nature of talking about the authority of Scripture lends to talking about way too many other topics that lead away from the objective. I expect music in the church to come up while we talk since she is a singer on the worship team where she goes to church.

Any advice you have on that matter would be great, I'm studying with her Sunday night so that's really all that's on my mind.

Also, one person I spoke with yesterday overheard a conversation I was having with someone else who I'd talked to previously about baptism, and I wanted to see if they'd thought about it since then. She's of the grace alone, accept Jesus in your heart, sign of an inward faith persuasion. What made things impossible was her insistence that all scripture is up for interpretation even when I showed her II Peter 1:20. How do you work with someone like that? I had to run mid-conversation with her and I asked her if she'd like to talk about it again and she said yes. So one questions is what's the best way to follow up with someone after a conversation like that to get talking again?

The third person I talked to I've talked to on a number of occasions. I follow up with him once in awhile and we talk, but it doesn't seem to get anywhere. I feel like he's got an honest heart from what he's told me in our conversations and it's just taking time, but I'm not sure what to do now. I also don't want to bring it up too often and be annoying.

I think that's all, I'm sorry to have sent you a chapter book of an email to read. I've been praying earnestly for opportunities to talk to people, but so much happened yesterday I almost asked God to take it easy on me while I navigate through everything that happened.

Have a good day Brother Hamilton, I'm always praying for you and the church in La Vista. I'm really glad I was referred to the site. Through Christ, your work has changed my life in more ways I could tell you.


Answer:

For an interrupter, have a notepad at your elbow. When she brings up a point that strays from the immediate topic, say, "That is a real good point. Let me write it down and we'll get to it. But first, let's finish the one we are working on. I don't want to leave a bunch of half answered questions before this evening is done."

If the point she brings up is something important in understanding your current point, then pause your current point (again making a note for where you need to get back to) and answer the question. Questions like these means you jumped too deep into a topic and you did lay the proper foundation first. So use the interruption as a way to reset yourself and get those foundations laid.

Yes, as you go through issues she is going to realize that what is being said has greater application. Let her make those discoveries and when it comes up, put them down as issues to study next.

For the "everything can be interpreted" person, I would start with II Peter 3:14-18 and discuss whether it was possible to know what God wants everyone to do and whether it is the same thing for every person. In other words, I won't get into a discussion on baptism until there was agreement that the Bible is authoritative and understandable. If you can't get that point established, it isn't worth going any further. It may be possible that you can't get further. If so, then move on to someone else. Not everyone is interested in truth (II Timothy 4:3-4).

One rule I have for my studies is that I insist that every passage brought up be turned to and read by the student. I then ask questions to make sure the passage didn't go in one ear and out the other, and I address any words that they hesitate over or mispronounce, which usually means they don't understand what they are reading. But every question is answered by turning to God's word. In this way she is arguing with God and not you.

For the slow going person, nothing says you have to convert someone in one sitting. Keep looking for opportunities to bring up points. Eventually enough will be said that the dam will burst. It might happen with someone else. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (I Corinthians 3:6). So think of it as you're laying the foundation for someone coming after you.