Witnessing w/o using the scriptures?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Sovereign Grace

Puritan Board Sophomore
On another forum, I’ve been debating a guy and he said something I found very odd: he said that Paul witnessed on Mars hill without quoting one scripture, yet it says, “they heard of the resurrection of the dead” in verse 33, which would have to include him using scripture.

Is there any way ppl can witness Christ outside using the scriptures? I don’t think they can but would value your input.
 
I'm sure they could; whether I would do it or not probably depends with whom I'm sharing the gospel, what kind of questions he asks, etc. It's not impossible, but it might not be the best idea. As to bible verses in evangelism, that can often depend on whether the verses are being used demonstratively or authoritatively. You can use them in the latter sense. The unbeliever might just shrug them off.

John Gerstner has a few talks where he does this.
 
I'm sure they could; whether I would do it or not probably depends with whom I'm sharing the gospel, what kind of questions he asks, etc. It's not impossible, but it might not be the best idea. As to bible verses in evangelism, that can often depend on whether the verses are being used demonstratively or authoritatively. You can use them in the latter sense. The unbeliever might just shrug them off.

John Gerstner has a few talks where he does this.
But my stance is that even if I don’t give book, chapter, and verse, anything I say about Christ has to be undergirded by the scriptures. It’s like ppl who say “don’t give me theology, just give me Jesus!” You can’t have Jesus without theology and you can witness Christ to ppl without the scriptures.
 
Even on the road to Emmaus we can read “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”[Luke 24:27]
 
"Undergirded" is a somewhat ambiguous term. My theology is undergirded by Scripture, whether I quote a verse or not. Undergirded can mean either explicit support or implicit foundation.
What I mean is that even when I speak of Christ, my words are founded (foundation) upon the scriptures. I cannot witness of Christ without some usage of the scriptures.
 
He said this verbatim: “I can share about Jesus' resurrection without quoting a single Bible verse.”

Goody, goody for him, but I'll stick with "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

EDIT: One can't help but wonder how Jesus would've handled Satan's three temptations after his 40-day fast.
 
Last edited:
On another forum, I’ve been debating a guy and he said something I found very odd: he said that Paul witnessed on Mars hill without quoting one scripture, yet it says, “they heard of the resurrection of the dead” in verse 33, which would have to include him using scripture.

Is there any way ppl can witness Christ outside using the scriptures? I don’t think they can but would value your input.

While generally we might use the Scriptures wherever we can, it is a simple fact that ABSOLUTELY people can and do witness without using Scripture all the time. Perhaps one doesn't have a Bible on them. Perhaps one instead summarizes some of the teachings in the Bible without quoting verses. Perhaps the other person is absolutely closed to quoting Bible verses because they not only deny the authority of God's Word but they also claim not to even believe in any god. Unfortunately, many people have no Christian foundation from the culture these days and so you might argue starting with the existence of God, then to Christianity and establish the authority of the Bible. But many won't accept the authority of the Bible right off.

Example: I once witnessed to an old man who denied God existed and was very opposed to all religions, especially his wife's Christianity. I started by arguing for the existence of God. I got him to finally admit that God probably existed. Then he said that even if God existed, he didn't care if God existed because he wanted to be his own final authority. We ran out of time but sadly I could see he was very hardened in his ways.

Once I witnessed to a guy of the Ba'hai faith by first dismantling his faith by pointing out the contradictions. Then I pointed out all the other religions climb to God and that only Christianity is unique in that God descends into the world to save man. We were in a coffee shop and he had to leave but he saw the contradictions I had pointed out and said he would go research more.

Hope this is helpful!
 
Last edited:
One evening I was at the dinner table in a hostel with a couple of Roman Catholic guys who spoke mostly Portuguese. I found some of my Spanish bridged a gap and they spoke just a bit of English.

I was troubled by their insistence on Roman error and what appeared to be no way to understand they could approach God without a human mediator and interpreter.

On a whim, I grabbed the salt and pepper shakers and mixed a small pile together on the table. We were able to discuss "Christ alone" and "Scripture alone" from that little mess on the table with a very real handicap in communication and virtually no Scripture because I didn't have it in their language.

In the end, I thought they really understood and I've long wondered if the Spirit could have illuminated my puny illustration in their lives.
 
Goody, goody for him, but I'll stick with "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

EDIT: One can't help but wonder how Jesus would've handled Satan's three temptations after the 40-day fast.

Joking aside, what else do we have to offer than the Gospel of life brought to us by Jesus Christ and Him crucified?
If by Scripture, he means reading or citing from memory a verse here and there, fine. That means he and I do the same thing. I often paraphrase, shorten, embellish, or otherwise apply a truth without citing a chapter and verse or even stating that I was speaking according to the Bible. But if he is talking about a new, perhaps logical, perhaps evidence-based, or even emotional way to bypass the doctrines of Scripture when sharing the Gospel, then your friend is misguided, to say the least. What else do we have besides Scripture to share?

Isaiah 8:20 (KJV)​
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.​

Calvin taught, and I believe, that the very words themselves of the Apostles, Church Councils, and other official documents are to be preserved.

Here's an old quote from 2017 by John Calvin on 2 Timothy 1:13

Hold the form of sound words. Some explain it thus: “Let thy doctrine be, as it were, a pattern which others may imitate.” I do not approve of that view. Equally removed from Paul’s meaning is Chrysostom’s exposition, that Timothy should have at hand the image of virtues engraven on his heart by Paul’s doctrine. I rather think that Paul commands Timothy to hold fast the doctrine which he had learned, not only as to substance, but as to the very form of expression; for ὑποτύπωσις—the word which Paul employs on this occasion—denotes a lively picture of objects, as if they were actually placed before the eyes. Paul knew how ready men are to depart or fall off from pure doctrine. For this reason, he earnestly cautions Timothy not to turn aside from that form of teaching which he had received and to regulate his manner of teaching by the rule which had been laid down; not that we ought to be very scrupulous about words, but because to misrepresent doctrine, even in the smallest degree, is exceedingly injurious.
 
Last edited:
Joking aside, what else do we have to offer than the Gospel of life brought to us by Jesus Christ and Him crucified?
If by Scripture, he means reading or citing from memory a verse here and there, fine. That means he and I do the same thing. I often paraphrase, shorten, embellish, or otherwise apply a truth without citing a chapter and verse or even stating that I was speaking according to the Bible. But if he is talking about a new, perhaps logical, perhaps evidence-based, or even emotional way to bypass the doctrines of Scripture when sharing the Gospel, then your friend is misguided, to say the least. What else do we have besides Scripture to share?

Isaiah 8:20 (KJV)​
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.​

No one is saying Scripture is off limits. Rather, it is possible to share the gospel without using a litany of Billy Graham style scripture presentations.
 
It is possible to have a conversation with a person that does not fall under the category of "witnessing", and that conversation leads to a discussion of the gospel. Perhaps leaving someone with something to think about that drives them to study the scriptures. We don't always have the opportunity to get into a full-blown gospel presentation to people we meet. The Holy Spirit can use anything to bring a person to finally hear the gospel.
 
It is possible to have a conversation with a person that does not fall under the category of "witnessing", and that conversation leads to a discussion of the gospel. Perhaps leaving someone with something to think about that drives them to study the scriptures. We don't always have the opportunity to get into a full-blown gospel presentation to people we meet. The Holy Spirit can use anything to bring a person to finally hear the gospel.

I take comfort in the Providence of God and always trust Him for what I say. It's not hard for me since I remember such a comment from an unlikely source that was (as I recall) the first wake-up call by the Spirit Who led to my full salvation some months later.

I posted this in 2017 in a thread titled New Book Project.

Oct 28, 2017
Add bookmark
@greenbaggins said:

What I want to do is collect conversion stories that are based on God using a particular text of Scripture to convert that person to the true faith.

Note: This was from post #9.
I don't know if this qualifies because the verse did not immediately bring salvation to me, but here goes.
===========

My story is not about some powerful man using some profound scripture. It is more of an example of how God can use foolish things to confound the wise. He is most able to use even the lightning in the sky if He so ordains.

In 1971, I was twenty years old and addicted to drugs and worse things; I was lost beyond all hope in sex, drugs, rock and roll, and the occult. Then, one night, as I arrived at the Hackettstown Diner, I was met by a sight even more decrepit than myself. A shoddily dressed and very drunken man sat wallowing in his urine, and as I passed by him, he looked up at me and, with his slurred speech, said these five words twice, "Seek, and ye shall find -- Seek, and ye shall find." I knew almost nothing of the Bible, but I knew that that was something Jesus said, and his words stuck in my head. I could think of little else. Today, 46 years later, I can still hear those words. The Lord was pleased to use them to begin a process that not too long afterward led me to believe savingly in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a whole other story, but it all started with God's words being spoken by another lost soul who was in as bad a shape as me.

Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9
 
While generally we might use the Scriptures wherever we can, it is a simple fact that ABSOLUTELY people can and do witness without using Scripture all the time. Perhaps one doesn't have a Bible on them. Perhaps one instead summarizes some of the teachings in the Bible without quoting verses. Perhaps the other person is absolutely closed to quoting Bible verses because they not only deny the authority of God's Word but they also claim not to even believe in any god. Unfortunately, many people have no Christian foundation from the culture these days and so you might argue starting with the existence of God, then to Christianity and establish the authority of the Bible. But many won't accept the authority of the Bible right off.

Example: I once witnessed to an old man who denied God existed and was very opposed to all religions, especially his wife's Christianity. I started by arguing for the existence of God. I got him to finally admit that God probably existed. Then he said that even if God existed, he didn't care if God existed because he wanted to be his own final authority. We ran out of time but sadly I could see he was very hardened in his ways.

Once I witnessed to a guy of the Ba'hai faith by first dismantling his faith by pointing out the contradictions. Then I pointed out all the other religions climb to God and that only Christianity is unique in that God descends into the world to save man. We were in a coffee shop and he had to leave but he saw the contradictions I had pointed out and said he would go research more.

Hope this is helpful!
I posted this to the guy I'm discussing this with on another forum, and hopefully this helps to make my stance clearer:

If I tell someone, “Jesus lived a sinless perfect life, at the appointed time was betrayed into the hands of sinful men, was tortured, had His beard ripped from His face, was spit upon, slapped, a crown of thorns was placed upon His head, was taken up to Calvary where they nailed Him to a cross. Was then taken down and placed in a tomb, and three days later rose again. And if you truly believe this you will be saved,” even though I may not have quoted scripture, that is saturated with scripture. It is scriptural truth. That’s what Paul did that CI cannot (apparently) see.

CI are the initials of the guy's usernme I am discussing this with. I wrote this to another guy who is also discussing this with that guy.
 
Willis, I don't get what the problem is. For starters, what exactly did this other guy say?
  1. He said, "One can witness without QUOTING Scripture."
  2. He said, "One can witness without USING Scripture."
  3. He said, "One can witness with USING Scripture," but by this he meant directly quoting Scripture.
If he said #1, I agree with the guy. God word does not come only in Scriptural form, but also in the form of preaching that is not word-for-word Scripture and might not always contain that element. Often it will be wise to draw directly on Scripture when explaining the gospel, but direct Scripture quotation is not a magic spell that must be uttered to unleash God's saving power.

If he said #2, I agree you are right in the sense that anytime we speak the truth about Christ we are using the revelation of Scripture, which is behind what we say. It isn't something I would spend a lot of time arguing about, but you sound right.

If he said #3, it sounds like you are debating word usage or talking past each other. I suppose you could argue that he should be more precise and avoid a broad word like "using" when he means "quoting," but is that really something to get into a debate over?
 
Willis, I don't get what the problem is. For starters, what exactly did this other guy say?
  1. He said, "One can witness without QUOTING Scripture."
  2. He said, "One can witness without USING Scripture."
  3. He said, "One can witness with USING Scripture," but by this he meant directly quoting Scripture.
If he said #1, I agree with the guy. God word does not come only in Scriptural form, but also in the form of preaching that is not word-for-word Scripture and might not always contain that element. Often it will be wise to draw directly on Scripture when explaining the gospel, but direct Scripture quotation is not a magic spell that must be uttered to unleash God's saving power.

If he said #2, I agree you are right in the sense that anytime we speak the truth about Christ we are using the revelation of Scripture, which is behind what we say. It isn't something I would spend a lot of time arguing about, but you sound right.

If he said #3, it sounds like you are debating word usage or talking past each other. I suppose you could argue that he should be more precise and avoid a broad word like "using" when he means "quoting," but is that really something to get into a debate over?
On another forum, a guy posted this: “There are SO many missionary stories of people having been drawn to the Lord before they ever heard the gospel. These stories are so encouraging to see God at work in peoples’ lives.” Now, things like this really bother me, as this leads ppl to believe God uses mystical means to save ppl. He then goes on a rant of how Paul didn’t quote one scripture in Acts 17 on Mars Hill or in Acts 26 to king Agrippa. However, Paul used allusions to scripture in both instances. So, even if he didn’t quote scripture ver batim, what he said was saturated with biblical truth in both paces.
 
On another forum, a guy posted this: “There are SO many missionary stories of people having been drawn to the Lord before they ever heard the gospel. These stories are so encouraging to see God at work in peoples’ lives.” Now, things like this really bother me, as this leads ppl to believe God uses mystical means to save ppl. He then goes on a rant of how Paul didn’t quote one scripture in Acts 17 on Mars Hill or in Acts 26 to king Agrippa. However, Paul used allusions to scripture in both instances. So, even if he didn’t quote scripture ver batim, what he said was saturated with biblical truth in both paces.

That gets at what we are saying. We have now gone from "using" scripture to "being saturated with biblical truth." The latter is more subjective. And we can't deny that Paul quoted more pagan poets at Mars Hill than he did Bible verses.
 
He then goes on a rant of how Paul didn’t quote one scripture in Acts 17 on Mars Hill or in Acts 26 to king Agrippa. However, Paul used allusions to scripture in both instances. So, even if he didn’t quote scripture ver batim, what he said was saturated with biblical truth in both paces.

This is what I was trying to say in an earlier post. Paul the Apostle was never short on words but faced with sharing the Gospel without speaking according to the Scriptures, and I think Paul would have had nothing left to say. Sharing a Scriptureless Gospel is a tall order, to begin with – unavoidably sinful to attempt.
 
That gets at what we are saying. We have now gone from "using" scripture to "being saturated with biblical truth." The latter is more subjective. And we can't deny that Paul quoted more pagan poets at Mars Hill than he did Bible verses.
But what Paul said was scripturally based. That’s my point, that Paul didn’t just give solely a personal testimony but used scriptur.
 
But what Paul said was scripturally based. That’s my point, that Paul didn’t just give solely a personal testimony but used scriptur.

How many bible verses did he quote on Mars Hill? True, he mentioned the resurrection, but that by itself isn't a bible verse. Everyone believes his view is "scripturally based." By itself, that doesn't tell me much. In fact, he quoted pagan poets more than he did the Law and Prophets on Mars Hill.
 
How many bible verses did he quote on Mars Hill? True, he mentioned the resurrection, but that by itself isn't a bible verse. Everyone believes his view is "scripturally based." By itself, that doesn't tell me much. In fact, he quoted pagan poets more than he did the Law and Prophets on Mars Hill.
I’m not saying Paul said, “In the book of Psalms it says..” as he obviously didn’t say that. But we see him explaining God as Creator, Judge, Savior. Plus, it says some believed. What exactly did they believe? The word of God, the scriptures that Paul alluded to.
 
I’m not saying Paul said, “In the book of Psalms it says..” as he obviously didn’t say that. But we see him explaining God as Creator, Judge, Savior. Plus, it says some believed. What exactly did they believe? The word of God, the scriptures that Paul alluded to.

I understand that. Throughout this whole discussion, the phrases "based on Scripture" or "using Scripture" have been left undefined. That is why we are talking past each other.
 
He then goes on a rant of how Paul didn’t quote one scripture in Acts 17 on Mars Hill or in Acts 26 to king Agrippa.
Paul preached the gospel in both of those cases, whether or not he directly quoted Scripture. He proclaimed Christ's resurrection, forgiveness of sins, and the coming judgment, and he called for repentance. If someone is trying to offer those as instances of people believing without hearing the gospel, he is using examples that simply don't apply. They did hear the gospel. We actually use those passages to help define what a gospel sermon is.

Even if you were to claim that there must be direct Scripture quotation or the gospel has not been preached (and I don't know where you go to prove that), those examples from Acts would be of little use in a claim that people believed without hearing the gospel. In Athens, Paul continued to speak further to those who expressed interest, so we don't have a full record of all he said before people believed. With Agrippa, it's possible we do have a full transcript, but we aren't told that anyone believed.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Back
Top