Meeting Objections

REPLYING TO OBJECTIONS — Guidelines

I. WHEN.

Your reply will be different according to WHEN the objection comes up:
1. If it is before you get to the gospel: try to return to your salvation message.
2. If it is after you have shared the gospel: discuss it in a way that keeps the door open (explained below)
3. If after many times of sharing, excuses come up, be encouraging.

II. APPROACH
1. Find a way to agree with some aspect or show that you understand
2. Talk about yourself – it is non-threatening
3. Don’t attack the person: rather, explore the idea together.
4. Look at the objection not as a threat but as a request for more information
5. Converses in a way appropriate to the individual’s personality type.
6. Look for ways to relate the conversation back to the cross and forgiveness.

III. GOAL … your goal is salvation, not just to win an argument.
1. Don’t assume that answering objections will make the person into a Christian.
2. Only the Holy Spirit creates faith, and it is through the gospel.
3. Even if you don’t WIN the argument, you have accomplished something by letting the person know that there IS another way to look at the issue.
4.  This allows the conversation to proceed, and as you continue, make it a point to include Jesus in your sharing, keep the relationship going through attentive listening and not demeaning the other person.
4. Only YOU know that it is essential to keep Christ central — the other person won’t do it for you.

IV.  ATTITUDE
The person you’re talking to is not an opponent.
Don’t set an impossible standard for yourself: even after hearing Jesus, many did not believe.
Be satisfied with giving the “reason” you believe.  Only God can make the person accept your reason.
Be satisfied with giving the “reasons” why the particular objection has not caused you to reject God.

V. TYPES OF OBJECTIONS:

Learning to answer objections can seem less daunting if you stop to check what kind of objection it is. Below are four common types of questions and four types of answers:  

(the bold print indicates abbreviations to use in the activity that follows)

    MISUNDERSTANDINGS (terms or concepts)

    CONTRADICTIONS (between Bible places, or between Bible and actions)

    QUESTIONING TRUTH (really in Bible? Any proof? Is it for today?

SELF-WILL (not want to give up a sin, or not want to be accountable to God)

(note that none of these four needs to make you feel that your discussion partner is an opponent)

VI. TYPES OF ANSWERS: (there are only a few ways you can answer)

PROCLAIM a Bible truth Romans 4:2-3

    ILLUSTRATE or tell a story. Romans 7:1-4

COMMON SENSE, show it is reasonable (called “apologetics) Acts 17:17

   ENCOURAGE or exhort. Acts 2:40

VII.  Activity: for each objection listed below, can you determine which of the four types it is, and then which of the types of answers could be used?   Check under the question mark if you have run into this particular objection.

EXAMPLES: Can you fit these into the types above? ? Objection type Answer type
1. I don’t think the Bible actually says that Jesus is God
2. I don’t understand why you say Jesus is a substitute?
3. Nobody’s going to tell me what to do: I’m my own boss.
4. what does it mean to be “justified?”
5. I don’t care what the Bible says, I don’t want to stop living together.
6. If God is love, why do the innocent suffer?
7. Because of science, we know someone can’t rise from the dead.
8. The Bible says we must be more righteous than the Pharisees, but in another place says we’re saved by faith, not by works.
9. Prove to me that God really exists.

Return to How To Witness overview 

See another author’s “ten things you should know about apologetics

View Ravi Zacharias five-part grid for examining truth of a worldview.

VIII. Answering specific Objections

About the Bible, such as
Bible’s reliability,
Bible and evolution

About God, such as
  God’s existence and God’s nature (why do the innocent suffer?)

About Christians, such as
  Why so many denominations

About Current Issues
Moral Issues 

IX. Objections to Parts of the Salvation Message:

1.Problem

After you’ve said “What part don’t you agree with”, if the person answers, I don’t agree that I am a sinner, you can
1.go through the ten commandments, for example, asking if he has ever done anything on the list, such as told a lie. If he has only done one, he is a sinner.
2.  make sure your friend knows what is meant by sin; he may think it is only “big” things, but you can explain that even something small is a symptom that we are not perfect. See more details at Human Problem.

2.Answer
After you’ve said “What part don’t you agree with”, if the person answers:

I don’t agree that Jesus is God

I don’t agree that Jesus solved the problem of sin

3. Invitation
After you’ve said “What part don’t you agree with”, if the person answers: “I don’t think faith is enough — you also need to be good,” you can say:

If it depended even to a small degree on being good, you would never know if you were good enough.
It is also like saying that Jesus’ work on the cross was not sufficient.
Christians are not against doing good: it is just that doing good is not a basis for knowing that God has accepted you. Doing good is a result of knowing you are accepted, because trusting Jesus results in you having “new life,” which shows itself by doing good. More on faith

If the person answers, “I don’t agree with baptism,” you can share that:
Christ told us to baptize
baptism was the accepted custom of the New Testament Christians
Baptism has many promises associated with it. More on baptism.

4. Benefits
after you’ve said “What part don’t you agree with”, if the person answers: “I don’t believe there is a heaven, ” you can say that:
You can still believe in Jesus for the benefits in this life
After you die, you will go to heaven automatically even if you don’t think there is one.

If the person says “I don’t believe God will give me (one of) these benefits,” you can say that:
All the benefits come together; if you have one, you have them all.
Some benefits have conditions: for example, experiencing fellowship is based on being around other Christians.  More at Benefits

written by Jim Found, July 2002    Return to How to Witness Guide