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As you witness to people about Christ you will sometimes get into heated discussions. Some people will make their position clear because they have made a firm decision not to believe in God. While many will make an argument even though they are not really sure what they truly believe. Under some gentle but direct questioning often their beliefs will not stand up. This will often open the door for you to present the truth of the Gospel.
Today I am going to talk about a technique used in counselling, business and communication called “Three and Five Level Questioning” which is similar in many ways to Socratic questioning which was developed by Socrates. Basically, it is a model of questioning that will enable you to identify what a peoples real beliefs are.
This is a huge subject, and I am only covering it very briefly. The vital point is that all times you must rely on and listen to the Holy Spirit. He will direct and guide you as well as bringing all important scriptures that you have either read or heard to your memory. After all Jesus said that is what would happen when we speak to others about Him.
“But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14:26
Before I came to know Jesus, I was pretty much anti God, and didn’t want anything to do with Christians. Looking back, I thought them to be weak, and imagined them to be a little nerdy, or even the stereotypical the train spotter type. If I got into a discussion I would often argue that there was no God, and would clearly state that I didn’t believe in Jesus.
I made that decision myself and the honest truth is that I didn’t really base it on much evidence that I had discovered at all. It was just a belief system that I had developed over the years, based on a couple of TV programmes that I watched and mainly because my friends, family and work colleagues had a similar opinion.
If anyone was to have asked me why I believed that and had taken the time to actually drill down to see how strong my beliefs actually were, they would have very quickly discovered that I wasn’t really sure about what I believed at all.
Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer Me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” Matthew 21: 24-25
If you read the Gospels you will soon discover that Jesus asked a huge amount of questions when He encountered people. By doing this He was able to quickly see what was really in people’s hearts. So with that in mind I thought it would be helpful to go through a technique that I often use that works. I will sometimes do this to find out what an unbeliever truly believes
Key Point: We are not trying to win a battle, but rather to open the heart of the listener
It is essential that you are not confrontational as you do this. We might win the battle but lose the person who was defeated. The first thing an unbeliever must see in us is the love of Christ. At the end of the day God is love and that is what they must see in us.
People form their own perspective and views on life, which are built through, family, friends, experiences, learning, films, TV and much more. Asking a few simple questions will usually get you to a point where both you and the person you are in conversation with will discover just how firm the foundations of their beliefs actually are.
I am using open ended questions in this example. Closed questions invite responses that are often quite short such as “Yes”, “No” or “I don’t think so” etc. The idea here is to get a person talking to you. Therefore you need to ask questions that encourage the person to think about their answers.
You are in conversation and start to share Christ. After a few moments your listener says:
“I don’t believe in God at all. I think that we just die and that’s it. There is no heaven”.
Question Level One: “That’s really interesting, tell me why you believe that”?
Depending on the statement the person originally gave you, your question could include words like “Who, When, How, Where, How often”. (This is the easiest level and it is often known as data collection)
My answer before accepting Christ would have been “Er…well I saw a programme saying that aliens visited the earth thousands of years ago, so we come from them”. Plus I saw the film “Chariots of the Gods.
Question Level Two: “Great, so you are saying that by watching a film and then a TV programme, it actually gave you enough information to decide that there is no God or heaven.
Let me ask, what was the part of the film or programme that started to give you the feelings that there was no God?”
Other questions could include “What did you feel about, or think about, What does that mean to you, What are the implications of that, What interests you about that”? (This is digging a little deeper. It is known as the meaning, interest, feeling, attraction and interest level)
The truth is that if was to be asked questions of that sort about my beliefs I would have started to struggle to define what I truly believed.
Question Level Three: “Why did you decide to believe that”?
Other questions you could use are “Why is that important, Why does that concern you”? (The attitudes and values level) The “Why” question is important.
My children will often ask for something, like sweets, or because they want to do something. Sometimes the answer will be no. In almost all cases they will ask me “Why”?
This is the point where most people will either be certain of their beliefs or unsure of them. The good point is that you will in most cases know where you stand. The person who is firm in their beliefs will be a greater challenge, whereas the latter will be easier for you to share the good news with. Much of the time, asking questions builds rapport and makes it easier to share your own experiences as well.
In either case the Holy Spirit can move a person’s heart. Jesus saves the most opinionated and hard nosed people. I have seen it so many times over the years. Give it a try sometime.