START WHERE HE IS
T. PIERCE BROWN
In my teacher-training and personal evangelism classes in past years, I have tried to emphasize that in teaching almost any thing, one must proceed from the known to the unknown. One must start where a person is to lead him to where he should be. Many years ago I showed four filmstrips to a family. When I got to Acts 2:38, I asked, “Do you understand that the Bible teaches that one must be baptized for the remission of sins?” He replied, “Yes, but how do you know there is a God?” I am ashamed to confess that I had not tried to find out where he was spiritually and intellectually before we began the study.
I thought I had learned my lesson, but yesterday I had it impressed upon me again that one of the reasons we fail in our personal–or impersonal–efforts to win a person to Christ is that we do not start where they are. In some cases, we appear to neither know nor care where they are, for we are only concerned with having them get to where we think they ought to be.
The man with whom I was studying eventually had to face Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” I have had the feeling, and in my ignorance and arrogance have stated, “Anyone who cannot understand that does not need to worry about it anyway!” That may be so, but the man revealed that he thought it meant, “He that believes that he is already saved from his past sins and is baptized shall be saved in heaven.” The fact that I think it illogical, unreasonable and even stupid, and do not see how any honest, sincere, thinking person could possibly arrive at that conclusion, does not change the reality that here was a man who apparently had that idea.
After all, how many times have you heard “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” without hearing anyone ask or tell, “He that believeth what and is baptized into what, or for what shall be saved from what?” How did you learn what you know? By being taught, or by osmosis? If this fellow had been taught (and apparently had) that he was saved before baptism (you have heard of folks like that, haven’t you?), why wouldn’t it be logical to him to think it meant, “He that believeth he is already saved?”
But my primary point at this time is that it behooves all of us who try to teach, especially in private or personal teaching, to learn to listen more and talk less, especially until we learn where a person is in his thinking, for we cannot lead him from where he is not!
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600