Three Keys to Overcoming Paralysis of Fear as a Christian Case-Maker

Keith Thomas, Quest Ministries

The #1 reason why people do not engage in spiritual conversation is fear.  Just reading this might cause a cold chill to run down your spine.  Fear can paralyze us when we are emotionally overcome for any number of reasons; fear of not being prepared, fear of what others will think, fear of being stigmatized, and perhaps a fear of offending the other party.  Frequently, our fears can project imagined outcomes that are not based on experience or reality, but simply potential outcomes we would rather avoid. Naturally, people most often deal with fear by resorting to avoidance.  For many, the risk is just too great because of haunting fears.   As a result, people remain in the ruts of safety and inertia never venturing beyond “safe” (but silent) Christianity.   All too often, well-intended Christians become paralyzed due to fear. Consequently, they become hostages of their own life of Christian case-making paralysis.  Here are three reasons why your fears should be dispelled.

 First, Christianity stands on very solid evidential ground.   If people have not attended an apologetics conference or small group training where they are equipped with critical information on Christian case making, it is probable that they will be paralyzed by fear. When people come to grips with the evidences for the claims of Christ, the historical reliability of scripture, and basic strategies on engaging with unbelievers, fear is significantly minimized.  Remember, we believe the tenants of Christianity not because we hope it is true but because the evidence is so overwhelming and compelling.    Further, the circumstantial evidence is simply overwhelming.   It is true!  Confidence can soar when people are actually able to articulate what they believe and then give a reason why the evidence is so compelling.  Proactively seek out an apologetics conference or a small group where you can become equipped with solid apologetics training - not just a study!  A good small group leader will seek to equip you with training, not simply data or information! Good training will require you to deal with questions from a skeptics point of view as opposed to a solely Christian perspective.  When you possess a working knowledge of evidential apologetics material, you will feel a sense of confidence that enables you to to engage as a prepared special agent.

*Suggested small group apologetics training materials:

  • Cold Case-Christianity, J. Warner Wallace
  • I Don't have enough Faith to be an Atheist, Geisler & Turek
  • God's Crime Scene, J. Warner Wallace
  • On Guard, William Lane Craig

 Second, Understand your role and responsibility as it relates to engaging with unbelieving people. God does not call his followers to make converts, but only to be engaging communicators of the message.   Only God can enact conversion – we are simply the communicators of truth.

 1 Peter 3: 15-16  But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.

 Good Apologetics training will emphasize the believers role and responsibility in spiritual engagement.  Peter says  nothing about going out on evangelism ambushes attempting to gain converts!  The passage does indicate that as you live out your life in the normal context of life activities, your beliefs, conduct, convictions and character will automatically get noticed because they are so glaringly different from those around you.  Clearly, our lives should draw attention – not because of peculiarities, but because of our hope that wildly surpasses the average person.  The passage indicates that the believer is passive, but he is able to give a proactive response when he engages with others who do not believe.  When a person has a proactive response, it is a prime indicator that the person is ready and anticipating an opportunity to communicate the reason for his hope.  Some people thrive in going out on cold-call evangelism engagements, but the vast majority of people are not comfortable with these practices.  Fear not!  You can be a solid Christian case-maker in the ordinary context of life when you simply look for strategic engagement opportunities!  Understanding your role and responsibility in the process liberates you from manipulation, forced conversations and case-making paralysis.

Third, Fear is overcome by being a good listener who earns the right to be heard.  Learning how to become a properly equipped Christian case-maker means you listen attentively first.  People are far more open to a spiritual conversation when you are asking them about what they believe.  Discover what the other person thinks and believes by asking strategic questions.  Then artfully ask why they hold those views and how they came to hold those convictions.   An excellent book that helps you discover this art is Tactics by Greg Koukl.  A Christian case-maker who is calm, reasoned and tactful, anticipates engagement by preparing emotionally, intellectually and strategically. 

Paralysis due to fear is significantly reduced when we remember these three basic realities.  God has called each of us to be a Christian case-maker who is motivated by love and compassion for those who are spiritually lost. 

The Simple Message of Easter

The story-line of Easter is really a very simple and straightforward message.  Over the centuries the central theme of the gospel message is frequently clouded by numerous ancillary religious traditions or views.  Consequently, people can get confused.  In addition, popular cultural habits or traditions such as colored eggs, the easter bunny, new dresses, hats, ties or coats, spring festivals and numerous other practices and traditions.  Both religious tradition and cultural trends can distract people from the simplicity of these central truths.  The gospel has a straight forward central message that everyone should be able to communicate and articulate with comfort & ease.

It is crucial for all believers to have a strategy for a simple gospel presentation.  Get confortable with a style of sharing the message that is brief and to the point.  Also keep it concise so that it is easy for the person to follow.  I personally like to set the person up with a question before I provide  answers.  So use questions strategically to set up an opportunity to present the central message of the gospel.

God's Quest

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Psalm 99:3

"Let them praise your great and awesome name!  He is holy!"

Since the beginning of time, He has been on a quest to establish a family of followers.   God seeks to build this family of people who desire to follow Him and worship Him.   He loves people and seeks to have a relationship with as many people as possible.  God's love is boundless and he desires that all men have eternal life - however there is a problem.

God's Position

Matthew 5:48"So then, be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Few people really think about what it takes to gain entrance into heaven or obtain a relationship with God.  By default, the vast majority of all people who believe that there is a heaven simply hold to a "good works theory."  Specifically they believe people can get into heaven if their good works out - weigh their bad deeds.  The truth of the matter is that God cannot allow any sin into heaven.   Few people really fully realize that without perfection - Heaven is simply a reincarnation of a fallen earth.   The "good works theory" falls short of perfection because no amount of good works we do can make us perfect.  Further - since Heaven is perfect, how could God allow any imperfection (sin) in without ultimately contaminating the whole place.  The reality is, God's must demand absolute 100% perfection for entrance into Heaven.

Our Problem

Romans 3:23

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

All men are sinners and sin separates us from having a relationship  with God and experiencing His glory.  Because God is perfect and holy, God cannot allow sin in His presence.  Sin creates a barrier between God and man - it prevents us from having a relationship with God or having fellowship.  Further, because heaven is a perfect place - men cannot enter into heaven due to sin - men and women are alienation from God.   As a result, mankind is unable to bridge the gap  - we are relationally alienated from God because of our sin.  This means sin prevents us from becoming apart of God's family.  Man is in a particularly difficult situation - if fact, hopeless.  It the process ended here, mankind would be without hope, but God provides a solution for any person.

God's Provision

2 Corinthians 5:21

"God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God."

Pilate found no reason for even an accusation against Jesus (John 19:4).  But Christ voluntarily went to the cross to pay for the sins of all humanity.  He paid our penalty for sin. (1 John 4:10)  Oddly, Jesus was mocked as being "King of the Jews" but the crown that He wore was a victors crown over the power of sin for humanity.  The blood that came from His body is what paid for our sins.  Because of His payment - we can be declared righteous.  People have a means to obtain a relationship with God and ultimate entrance into heaven.

1 Corinthians 15: 3-5"For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received - that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve."

When Jesus died on the cross he took on our penalty and guilt for sin.  Jesus died on good friday but three days later, he rose again from the grave.  Jesus proved that he had conquered death.  Having faith means that one believes that Jesus did die on the cross and he rose from the dead  - taking on our penalty for sins.  God has made it possible for any person by faith to become apart of God's family.  Christ death becomes the solution to our sin problem.

Our Decision

Romans 6:23

"For the wages of sin is death (eternal separation), but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

John 1:12

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God to those who believe in His name."

God's solution to Man's sin and alienation problem is solved by Jesus Christ paying the price for sin on the cross.  Each and every person can be declared perfect when they place their trust in Jesus Christ alone.  Jesus paid our price on the cross and His resurrection solidifies the promise of victory over death.  Now anyone who believes that Jesus was the son of God, that he died on the cross, was bodily resurrected on the third day then appearing to the apostles and other before He ascended to heaven will become apart of God's family.

The Gospel message is simple and straightforward.  It is a wonderful opportunity for all of humanity to gain fellowship with God. The cross provides us freedom from the guilt of sin and the empty tomb provides us with the promise of victory over death. The beauty of the gospel message is that it is a simple yet profound message available to anyone who believes.

Sharing the Gospel Message of Easter

It is important that you know how to share the essential message of Easter. Forming great questions customized for the person you know is critical.... think about a great question before you meet with different people.   Here are some questions that might be good for you to ask someone.....

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  • What is your best Easter memory?
  • Did you have any Easter traditions when you were a child?
  • Does Easter have any significance to you?
  • What do you think of the historical Jesus?
  • Do you think the resurrection account is true?
  • Why was Jesus death necessary?

Hopefully this might lead to explaining this simple Easter message.  Five simple points that you can use the fingers of your hand to share the simple gospel message!   Everyone has their own style but the message is fairly straightforward and simple.   Create a mnemonic tool that will help you share the message in a simple and direct manner that gets to the point of the gospel!  As you enter into the Easter season remember to prepare your heart personally but also have a vision to actively share the gospel message with people who simply have no idea that they are alienated from God and how God provided a solution for humanity.