Knowing What to Say and How to Say It
After Jesus's death and resurrection, he spent forty days on earth, appearing several times to disciples before he went back to heaven to be with his Father. It was during this time that he gave them some additional teaching and some final instructions.
Probably the most important message Jesus gave the disciples at that time was what has come to be known as the Great Commission, a command that goes like this: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:19–20).
It was because of the disciples' obedience to this command that Christianity spread throughout the world at that time and why it continues to be the dominant faith of the Western world today. The disciples who heard that command all played a part in taking the gospel to the world around them, and they were later joined by the apostle Paul, a former persecutor of Christians who became the most important and influential Christian missionary of all time.
The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, didn't begin his traveling ministry of preaching, teaching, and writing immediately after he became a Christian — though he did preach in the city of Jerusalem. In fact, he spent three years training in Arabia with Jesus Christ himself before he began his missionary journeys. (See Galatians 1:11–12, 15–18.)
Christians through the centuries have taken Jesus's command to his disciples of that time to apply to all believers, even those who don't go into what we would consider “fulltime ministry.” In other words, believers today are charged with the responsibility of making new disciples.
But what does a believer need in order to win converts to Christianity? Obviously, he or she would need to know a little something about the Bible, particularly the works and teachings of Jesus Christ as well as the writings of the apostle Paul. Without that, ministry to others would be all but impossible.
If you're going to encourage fellow believers and influence nonbelievers, you're going to have a good grasp of what the Bible has to say about God, sin, forgiveness, and discipleship. You're going to have to know enough to be able to boldly encourage other Christians and confidently field questions — even objections — you may hear from those who don't yet understand the message of salvation through Christ.
That is what the apostle Peter meant when he wrote that we should always be ready to give an answer to those who ask about the hope we have within us and to do it gently and respectfully. (See 1 Peter 3:15.)
If you want a good foundation of Biblical truth to present to those who aren't yet believers, a good place to start is the New Testament book of Romans. This book is often referred to as the Gospel according to Paul, and it contains a great overview of the message of salvation.
There are few things more damaging to the reputation of the Christian community than those well-meaning but ill-prepared believers who try to tackle the task of introducing people to Jesus Christ without a good knowledge and grasp of the message of salvation as it is laid out in the Bible. On the other hand, there is nothing more powerful than a believer who is equipped with a solid grasp of the fundamentals of the faith as they are presented in Scriptures.
There are a lot of great reasons to read, study, and know the Bible, one of the best of them being that it gives the believer the ability to present a clear, concise, and (most of all) Biblically accurate picture of the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.