Question: In trying to witness, sometimes I encounter people who shower me with questions and hardly wait for answers in between. How can I know if such people are earnest seekers or are merely baiting me with insincere questions?

Answer: When sincere individuals ask questions and you give them answers, they will not immediately rush ahead to ask another question. Instead, they will contemplate your answer and try to assimilate what you have said. They will discuss your answer with you and perhaps try to paraphrase it to gain a better understanding.

Those who ask one question after another without waiting for answers or who challenge you with allegations that invalidate the truth of the gospel are obviously trying to confound you. Often such people are playing to the audience,” trying to sound good to someone who is listening to the conversation. Even when there are no third parties, such challengers may merely be trying to prove their own “superior” knowledge to you or to themselves.

When you have answered one quesdon, never go on to answer a second until your listeners acknowledge your reply and show some understanding of it. To ascertain this, have them repeat or rephrase your answer. If they are unwilling and go on with a, “Yes, but…” statement, you can assume they are not really interested.

In witnessing, Christians should also know that there are certain propaganda statements that should never be answered. Instead, these need to be challenged. For example, a Jewish person might say, “In preaching your religion at us Jews, you Christians are trying to finish what Hitler started. You are trying to destroy us as a people.”

Confronted with such a declaration, a Christian who is trying to witness can make several mistakes. The first is to think that the one who made the statement really feels that way and that those words are his or her own perceptions. That is seldom, if ever, the case. No one with any real intellect could sincerely equate attempted genocide with a gospel statement made to someone who is free to accept it, reject it or even walk away. That is a propaganda statement, a contrived insutt with no relation to any set of facts.

Christians feel an imperative to be “nice” under all circumstances. Seeking to show God’s love and think well of others, they often will not be on guard against trickery or hostility from an unbeliever. Yet in the face of blasphemy against the name of God or scoffing or trickery, some guarded indignation is in order. Sometimes love must be tough. There is a time when, in the words of Jesus, we must be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10: 16).

Above all, Christians need to know that in witnessing we do not logically demonstrate the truth of the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who impresses people, not our eloquence or our elegantly set forth explanations. He is moving in the hearts of many Jewish people to draw them to Himself, but the forces of spiritual darkness often interfere and intervene. If we are careful to bathe our efforts at witnessing in intense prayer, God will give us the victory.