The pattern to follow in helping others to understand the Bible is that provided by Jesus Christ and his apostles. In answer to questions, Jesus quoted scriptures and at times used appropriate illustrations that would help honest-hearted persons to be receptive to what the Bible says. (Matt. 12:1-12) The apostle Paul made it a practice to ‘reason from the Scriptures, explaining and proving by references’ what he taught. (Acts 17:2, 3) The material contained in this book can help you to do the same.
Instead of providing a broad, general coverage of each subject, Reasoning From the Scriptures focuses primary attention on questions that are currently being asked by many people.
This publication has not been prepared for the purpose of helping anyone to “win arguments” with people who show no respect for the truth. Rather, it provides valuable information that is meant to be used in reasoning with individuals who will allow you to do so. Some of them may ask questions to which they really want satisfying answers. Others, in the course of conversation, may simply state their own beliefs and they may do so with some conviction. But are they reasonable persons who are willing to listen to another viewpoint? If so, you can share with them what the Bible says, doing so with the conviction that it will find welcome response in the hearts of lovers of truth.
How can you locate in this handbook the specific material you need? Often you will find it most readily by turning directly to the main heading that represents the subject being discussed. Under all the main headings, the principal questions are easy to isolate; they are in boldface type that extends to the left-hand margin. If you do not quickly find what you need, consult the Index in the back of the book.
Advance preparation for a discussion is always beneficial. But if you are not yet familiar with certain sections of the book, you can still make good use of them. How? When you locate the question that most nearly corresponds to the point you want to discuss, look at any subheadings under it. These subheadings are set in bold italics and are indented under the questions to which they relate. If you already have some knowledge of the subject, a review of those subheadings and a quick glance at some of the thoughts under them may be all that you need, because they outline a helpful line of reasoning that might be used. Do not hesitate to express the ideas in your own words.
Do you feel that you need more—perhaps the actual scriptures, the reasoning to use in connection with those scriptures, some illustrations to help you to make clear the reasonableness of what the Bible says, and so forth? If so, you may want to show the person with whom you are talking what you have in this book and then read together the portion that deals with the question he has brought up. Even if you have not studied the material in advance, you can use it to give a satisfying answer. Everything is right here in the book, stated in a simple and concise manner.
Keep in mind that this book is only an aid. The Bible is the authority. That is God’s Word. When quotations in the book are from the Bible, impress this fact on those with whom you are speaking. Wherever possible, ask them to get out their Bible and look up the scriptures so they will see that what you are saying is actually in their own copy of the Scriptures. If some popularly used Bible translations render key portions of certain texts in a different way, attention is often drawn to this, and the renderings from a variety of translations are provided for comparison.
In harmony with the example set by the apostle Paul in referring to the altar “To an Unknown God” and in quoting some generally accepted secular sources when preaching to the Athenians (Acts 17:22-28), this book makes limited use of quotations from secular history, encyclopedias, religious reference books, and Bible-language lexicons. Thus, instead of making assertions as to the origin of false religious practices, the development of certain doctrines, and the meanings of Hebrew and Greek terms, the book shows the reasons for statements made. However, it directs attention to the Bible as the basic source of truth.
As further aids in paving the way to share Bible truth with others, the opening sections of this book provide a listing of “Introductions for Use in the Field Ministry” and a compilation of suggestions as to “How You Might Respond to Potential Conversation Stoppers.” Many other potential “conversation stoppers” relate to particular beliefs, and these are considered at the end of each of the main sections dealing with those beliefs. It is not intended that you memorize these replies, but no doubt you will find it helpful to analyze why others have found them to be effective; then express the ideas in your own words.
Use of this handbook should help you to cultivate the ability to reason from the Scriptures and to use them effectively in helping others to learn about “the magnificent things of God.”—Acts 2:11.