“That’s fine that you believe in Jesus; but that’s not truth for me.”
“Oh, a Christian? So, you’re a mythologist!”
“The Bible is just a bunch of words written by monks in the Middle Ages to keep society under control.”
“You know, I used to go to church, but I stopped going. Everyone there was a hypocrite.”
“You’re so brainwashed! Jesus was just a good man. How can you believe he was God?”
Every Christian, if serious about walking with God, will come up against statements like these at some time or another. Every single person outside the family of God has one or more objections to the Gospel. Some objections, like those above, are obvious and easily articulated. Some are deeper within the person – perhaps ignorance to the person of Jesus, or rooted in a hurtful encounter in times past. Either way, it is the duty of the sincere believer to answer any encountered objections with truth, tact, and wisdom.
In this self-study course, we will look at principles for dealing with objections that non-believers may have to the Gospel. Because individual objections could well number in to the thousands, we will deal with two main categories – intellectual objections, and personal objections. Each of these categories encompasses many more objections, but each category has broad strategies and techniques useful for addressing any questions or attacks that may arise. In addition, we will examine some tools that are useful in answering objections. However, first we will start by looking at a passage of Scripture to set the tone.
One of the best-known and well-stated passages about dealing with objections to the Gospel is 1 Peter 3:15. It reads, “…in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” We will briefly mine this verse for the truth it contains, and see what we can learn.
First, we are to set apart Christ as Lord. This clearly means that we must be in right relation to Christ in order to adequately deal with the objections of others. We should have submitted to his Lordship by confessing our sinfulness and asking him for his free gift of salvation. Furthermore, we should be in a state of fellowship with Christ, rather than indifference or rebellion.
Next, we are to be prepared to give an answer. We should know Scripture, what it says, and what it means. We should know evidences and apologetics. We should also be regularly engaged in answering questions about the Gospel. All of these things prepare us more and more. Further, it is important to be prepared with truth. A sound and full knowledge of the truth is the best way to spot and counter error. Studying error itself has some value, but much less value than studying truth!
Moving on, we should give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have. We are not limited to answering a certain type of person; we are told to answer everyone. Furthermore, we are not told where these people are or what their objections will be. It could be anyone, and they could have any objection. The believer who seeks truth and seeks to defend truth will assuredly hear some strange objections. Even so, we are told to give an answer!
Finally, we are to do this with gentleness and respect. Our reputation is not at stake when we are called to give an answer to an objection. Jesus said, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) This gives us freedom to be gentle and respectful. We do not need to argue, threaten, or convince. A close reading of 1 Peter 3:15 shows that it say we are to give an answer, not to make someone else believe or agree with our answer. And, as we will see shortly, gentleness and respect are in fact incredibly powerful tools to use when dealing with an objection!
Questions to Consider
What are the most frequent objections you have heard to the Gospel? How have you answered them in the past?
Why should we be prepared to answer objections?
Write two pages on some instances where Jesus dealt with objections the Gospel.