In Thessalonica, in Acts 17:2, Paul “reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” As Paul preached Jesus Christ, there are certain things he did that we should consider doing as we deal with people in personal work. While we tell them about Jesus, we should also:
Reason with them – Acts 17:2 – to reason is to speak in a logical way or to support or justify with reasons. Is 1:18 says, “Come now, and let us reason together…” The gospel is very reasonable; it makes perfect sense. You don’t have to resort to emotional hype and marketing strategies in order to get people to hear the gospel. You don’t have to resort to guile and craft. Build your case like attorneys build theirs. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reason with folks.
Convince them – Acts 18:28 – to convince someone is to overcome their doubts, to make them feel sure. Apollos was able to convince Jews who were initially opposed to the gospel “that Jesus was Christ.” And likewise, our preaching ought to be so powerful, reasonable and understandable that we are able to convince someone that it is true. They can be convinced that the gospel is worth believing. You don’t talk them into it. You simply help them to trust in Christ. Listen, if you aren’t convinced, you are surely not going to convince someone else.
Shew them – Acts 18:28 – to shew is to make something evident by logical procedure; to explain it or to prove it. Apollos was very mighty in the scriptures and he could explain and prove the gospel with the logic of a great apologist. You ought to know what you believe and why you believe it. You should be able to show anyone right from the scriptures anything they need to know about Jesus. You say, “But that will take a lot of study and practice.” You’re right. That’s what Paul said it would take in 2 Tim 2:15. But with something as valuable as eternal life, why wouldn’t you devote yourself to understanding the Bible well enough to be able to help someone else get it.
Dispute with them – Acts 19:8 – to dispute is to argue or to debate. In Ephesus, Paul disputed with Jews and Greeks concerning the kingdom of God. He had to deal with folks that believed some things contrary to the Bible. He had to handle their objections. He wasn’t trying to win arguments with them; he was trying to win them through and to the word of God. In fact, through Paul’s ability to dispute with them, the word of God prevailed [Acts 19:20]. Many turned away from their former beliefs [Acts 19:18-19]. Thus, sometimes you encounter opposition. Paul and the men who preached with him did. And you will, too. You should be able to answer the gainsayers [Titus 1:9]. Every time the Pharisees tried to tempt and trap Jesus with clever opposition, he beat them with sound replies.
Warn them – Acts 20:31 – to warn is to tell a person of a danger or a coming evil. For three years, Paul warned the Ephesians, “night and day with tears.” Paul preached to Felix of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come and Felix trembled. People need to be warned about the judgments of God in the Bible. When was the last time you saw that kind of reaction to preaching? The eternity awaiting the lost is absolutely worse than anything they could ever imagine. It’s worse than anything they have ever witnessed on earth. There is no reason to soften the truth here. The fear of God is a good thing [Ps 19:9; Prov 14:27].
Expound the truth for them – Acts 28:23 – to expound is to set forth point by point or to state in detail. Paul’s letters are not rambling and disorganized. He expounds the truth point by point in great detail. Likewise, when we preach, our presentation should be well organized and each point should build upon another so that the hearers gain understanding as we speak.
Persuade them – Acts 28:23 – to persuade is to induce someone to believe something. Paul was persuasive, when he “expounded and testified the kingdom of God.” And we should be persuasive, too. We shouldn’t be high-pressure salesmen. We shouldn’t press someone to make a decision to believe the words of God or to trust Christ when they aren’t ready to do so. But neither should we be dead-pan, lifeless, monotone manikins when we preach. We have good news and we should be so sure of the gospel that we can highly recommend it to anyone who is interested.
Conclusion: we have studied these verses in the Acts of the Apostles to help us understand that there is much a personal worker can do to help those who haven’t yet believed the gospel. We should employ every Biblical method that the Holy Spirit leads us to use when dealing with souls. We aren’t following a program. We are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who must be convinced that Jesus is their only hope of salvation.