Daily Devotional 10-16-14

The Five Questions


volume 13, number 42, October 16, 2014

. . . everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, Joel 2:32.


As Jim Thornton reported recently, this past weekend was a powerful time of  evangelistic ministry at Clemson University. He mentioned that four students called on the name of the Lord after we asked them the five questions. So, many have wanted me to share with them the five questions. So here they are with a few words on how I use them to transition into the gospel of grace. I got the idea of the five questions from my good friend Dale Cutlip of Globeworks International. We had Dale to our church in West Hartford, Connecticut a number of times, and he devised five questions we use to give us a means to transition into gospel conversations. I kept Dale’s first three questions and changed the last two. What follows is a typical conversation I have with students concerning the gospel. Before I get to this, let’s remember a couple of important preliminary statements. First, this is merely one means of evangelism. There are certainly many other ways to evangelize. If you have your own method, then wonderful. You probably do not need another one. Second, prior to going out to share the gospel with this or any other method, you must earnestly seek the Lord in prayer for several things. You need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s anointing on your efforts. You need Holy Spirit power to convict, to regenerate, and cause people genuinely to repent and believe the gospel. You have nothing and you are nothing in yourself. And you need to ask God to direct you to people who are open and responsive to the gospel. I am amazed almost every time I go on a college campus to see how God directs people to me who are ready to hear and receive the gospel. Third, I have discovered through trial and error that the most productive way to approach students or others in public places is to find people who are standing around, waiting to go into a restaurant, waiting on a friend, etc. If people are walking quickly then they probably will not stop to answer your questions. However, I will also say that recently I have found a helpful way to speak with people walking rather quickly. I will say to them, “Pardon me, I am wondering if you could help me with something.” Most people, unless they are really, really busy, will stop and give you a minute or two. And fourth, the objective is to use the five questions as a questionnaire to get you into a gospel conversation. This is not a survey because a survey connotes the collection of data, which I am not doing.


So, here’s what I do. I walk up to students and say, “Hi. I am Al Baker and I am part of _____ Church and we are seeking to get a feel for people’s religious views here on campus. I am wondering if you could give me two minutes to answer five questions.” If they say, “Yes” then I proceed. If they say “No”, then I ask if I can give them a gospel tract. If they don’t want the tract I say, “Okay. Thank you for your time.” If they give me the opportunity to proceed with my five questions, I say:


1. USA Today and CNN conducted a poll recently and found that people have a greater interest in spiritual things today than ten years ago. Would you say that is true of you today?


2. Do you believe in a supreme being some call “God” and do you believe that he answers prayer?


3. Do you have a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple you attend regularly?


4. I hope you live to be ninety years old, that your life is a long and productive one, but let’s face it, we could die today, couldn’t we? If you died today, what do you think would happen to you?


5. Let’s say you and I did die today and we stood before God and He asked, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What do you think you would say?


In response to the fourth question some say, “I don’t believe in heaven.” Others say, “When we die, it is simply over. We go back to the dust. There is no afterlife.” To this, I try to bring in my presuppositional apologetics and say kindly and patiently, “You know the true God and you know there is a heaven.” If they say, “No, I am an atheist. I do not believe in heaven.” I respond by saying, “That’s not what the Bible says. It says the heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands,” (Psalm 19:1). I may also quote Romans 1:18-20 to reinforce their willful suppression of the knowledge of God. I also say when they deny there is a heaven or hell, “You know that is not true. The Bible says that eternity is written on your heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It also says that it is appointed for men to die once, and then comes the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27).


In response to the fifth question, if the person gives a works oriented answer like, “Well, I would tell God that I have tried to live a good life, that I have never purposely hurt other people, that I have tried to live by the golden rule;” then I say to him, “As we began our conversation I thought I may have good news for you, but now I am absolutely certain of it. If you have another five minutes, then I can tell you what the Bible says you ought to say to God, how you can know for certain you can have eternal life. Is that something you wish for me to do?” If they say, “Yes,” then I proceed into the gospel. If they, “No,” then I say, “Okay, I understand. May I give you this gospel tract that explains what I would like to say to you?”


You will notice that I ask for permission to go forward. That’s because I originally asked for two minutes of his time, and I want to respect our agreement. If he gives me permission to go further, then I will do so. From there I go into the gospel by using what I call “The three problems and the three solutions.” My friend Harold Sheppian has this gospel presentation boiled down to its essentials in the form of a gospel tract. I have it attached below.


My burden is to see God’s people move out of their comfort zone and go to the lost in their communities. This a good means to do so. The benefit, at the very least in the church, is an outward focus, an evangelistic culture, which comes to the local church. In most churches, after this evangelistic culture becomes firmly entrenched, they find numerous conversions, people joining by profession of faith.