5 Verses on Public Faith
Recently, I’ve found three interesting things about Public Faith. The first was a very common sense idea about being a Christian who is public with their faith rather than private. This quote comes from a video clip of Tim Keller. He said:
All Christians should listen and learn about faith issues from the point of view their friends who don’t self-identify as Christians. There will be a percentage of those people who want to talk with you about faith.
It makes sense, right? Some people who aren’t Christians would like to talk with a Christian about faith. They are genuinely curious to know what moves someone to take the gospel of Jesus Christ seriously.
Secondly, George Barna released some starling statistics on evangelism: Almost half of Millennial Christians (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith. I’ve linked the Barna website above, so you can read it in context. The statistic makes it seem like many young Christians are against giving away the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
However, the third thing I found was a reaction to this statistic recorded by a Christian with his own social media company that helps churches. His name is Brady Shearer. Commenting on this statistic, he first asked the question of what brought us to this place? His answer is that what he learned about evangelism as a teenager was all about a drama called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames” that Christians were invited to bring their unsaved friends to watch. He described it as an attempt to scare people into heaven by dramatizing what will happen in Hell and quickly trying to get people say “the sinner’s prayer.”
His problem with this method and a few other methods that he names in a video he made is that it ends up as a substitute for conversation, interaction, and relationship with another person.
That brought me back around to something else Tim Keller said about public faith and how it relates to listening as well as speaking:
The point of public faith is to encourage Christians to listen to and learn from their friends who don’t self-identify as Christians right now. There are two reasons: 1) some of them are going to be interested in talking with you about faith 2) in all cases if you listen and learn from those who don’t self-identify as Christians you yourself become far better at understanding your own faith and far better at articulating that faith to people.
Here are 5 verses to help you consider what it is to be public with your faith.
1. ISAIAH 43:10-11
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.”
In this Old Testament prophecy, Isaiah has a vision of the nations gathered before God’s throne. The question posed is who can save? When the evidence is gathered it is God’s people, whom he redeemed from slavery that are presented for all to see. They are the witnesses to God’s working in history.
2. ACTS 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Jesus alludes to the verse from Isaiah above in his last words to his disciples before he ascended back to the right hand of the Father. The idea is that as God’s people were to be the witnesses of His power in history, so now the apostles will be witnesses in a greater way because they have seen God’s ultimate work in history by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
3. LUKE 24:45-48
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
This is Luke’s recollection of the same event. He recounts what happened and the charge to be witnesses. He also records the content of what they witnessed - that Christ suffered and rose on the third day. Repentance and forgiveness now come to all the nations in His name.
4. ACTS 26:27-29
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
This is one of my personal favorite verses on public faith. Paul is not trying to sell something to Agrippa. Paul is not trying to force or trick him. In fact, Paul is in the position of weakness so all he has left to do is to be honest. And he honestly wants all men to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ - and without chains on their hands and feet.
5. ACTS 17:30-31
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
This last verse is from another speech by Paul in another part of the book of Acts. We can waste time wondering about the time when people were ignorant of God, or we can look ahead to the time when God will judge the world by Jesus Christ. Many people are crying out for justice in this world. It is coming. How will we prepare for that day of justice when Christ is revealed? Let us repent and throw ourselves on the mercy of the world’s merciful judge.
If you are a Christian, what verses move you to be public with your faith? If you don’t self-identify as a Christian, what questions does this article bring up for you?
Word & Table is a place where the curious, the visitor, and the skeptic are all welcome. We respect questions and the people who ask them. Why not come and be heard?