Recommended, Theology | 80 comments | 6 min read

How to Respond When Your Faith Is Questioned

Answering challenges during gospel conversations

Oct 3, 2023

Alistair Begg

Guest Contributor

Has the prospect of sharing your faith ever intimidated or scared you? I think if we’re honest with ourselves, all who have tried to be faithful in the realm of evangelism would answer with a resounding “Yes!” 

One of the reasons we may be fearful of engaging others in conversation about the gospel is that we imagine we need to have all the answers to the questions people will raise. It is, of course, good to be well-prepared, but we should always remember that only God opens blind eyes and softens hard hearts (Psalm 146:8; Ephesians 1:17-18). When men and women are born again, it is by the mysterious work of the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Romans 8:1-11). Without that, all our arguments are quite useless. 

However, as Gresham Machen observed, “Because argument is insufficient, it does not follow that it is unnecessary. What the Holy Spirit does in the new birth is not to make a man a Christian regardless of the evidence, but on the contrary to clear away the mists from his eyes and enable him to attend to the evidence.”

As you prayerfully consider your own evangelistic efforts, I hope this quick list of practical—and, I believe, biblical—tips for dealing with objections and questions while sharing your faith will be a help. Perhaps it will prompt you to be bolder and more loving in your next conversation with a neighbor, a loved one, or even a stranger. 

1. Be patient.

In seeking to deal with difficult questions, it is important that we avoid launching into people’s faces, attempting to answer before they have even fully asked their questions. If we’re going to be sensitive, loving, and understanding, we must have the patience and courtesy to allow people to complete their thoughts or questions (Proverbs 14:29; 1 Corinthians 13:4).

2. Do not drown people in details.

It is more than possible to smother an inquirer with a vast array of information, drowning him or her with all we’ve managed to learn. What we know is probably good and important, but we can be too eager for the first chance to descend upon someone with every detail we know. Don’t do that. 

3. Watch your tone.

We must answer people’s questions prayerfully and humbly but not condescendingly. As soon as such a tone creeps in, you’ll find people creeping out.While you certainly should always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” Peter quickly points out that it must be done with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

4. Provide thoughtful answers.

In our approach to answer difficult questions, we can easily forget conversational context. Are we talking to a college student, a doctor, someone who is wealthy, someone who is suffering? Consider the person’s real life and provide the answers that speak to that person individually. Anyone can search for an answer on Google, but God has equipped and called you to this conversation.

5. Shine the light in paths, not in faces.

During a routine traffic stop, a police officer shined his bright light directly into my window. I reeled back, blinded by the force of the glow. Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s Word is like that bright light, but instead of dimming our vision, Scripture directs our steps. When we answer a difficult question, we have a responsibility to shine the light on the  path to Jesus instead of blinding the person with personal judgment. When we avoid the piercing light of condemnation, we shine the light of Scripture in such a way that beckons people to discover God’s Truth for themselves. 

6. Take questions seriously.

You may be the only person who ever has the chance to answer a difficult question for this individual. Respond as though the eternal destiny of the questioner hangs upon your answer. A faithful answer to a genuine question may be the very key which God uses to open a man or a woman’s heart and mind to the truth of the gospel. For that reason, 1 Peter 3:15 tells us, “Always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.”

7. Trust in God to do the saving.

Our responses matter, but only Jesus saves people. We all need to recall and rest in these familiar words from Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Love, prayerfulness, humility, and other Christlike traits matter infinitely more than knowing all the answers.

With all these tips in mind, we must remember that the Bible is not a compendium that answers unbelievers’ most-asked questions. God’s Word has a far greater purpose: to bear witness to God Himself. And that, alongside glorifying and enjoying Him, is our purpose as well. Countering objections to our faith is a good endeavor, but only as doing so points others to “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  

About the Author

Alistair Begg is the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio, and Bible teacher on the daily radio and online program Truth ForLife. The hallmark of Alistair’s ministry is his expositional teaching through Scripture and his clear, relevant application of God’s Word to everyday life. He is the author of several books, the guest speaker at church pulpits and conferences around the world, and has been married to his wife Susan for more than forty years.

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80 Comments

  1. This article provides practical and biblically grounded advice for Christians navigating challenging questions and objections while sharing their faith. Alistair Begg offers insightful tips that are both encouraging and instructive, reminding readers of the importance of humility, patience, and reliance on God’s saving work in evangelistic efforts.

    One of the strengths of this piece is its emphasis on the relational aspect of evangelism. Begg underscores the significance of listening attentively, respecting the questioner, and providing thoughtful answers that address the individual’s unique circumstances and concerns. By highlighting the importance of maintaining a respectful tone and avoiding condescension, he encourages Christians to engage in gospel conversations with sensitivity and grace.

    Furthermore, Begg’s emphasis on trusting in God’s sovereignty in the process of salvation serves as a comforting reminder for believers. He reminds readers that while their responses matter, ultimately, it is Jesus who saves. This perspective encourages Christians to approach evangelism with confidence in God’s power and faithfulness.

    Overall, Alistair Begg’s article offers practical wisdom rooted in Scripture, equipping Christians to engage confidently and compassionately in sharing their faith with others.

    Best regards,
    [mathew]

    Reply
  2. In light of the current storm that was set off about Pastor Begg’s advice to a grandmother, I wonder how are we to speak in truth, with grace, to a dearly loved Christian brother, who clearly has given the wrong advice? I struggle in knowing how to address this, because I do believe GOD wants us to be united in His Name.

    I can only bring it to prayer, and 1 Corinthians 6 weighs heavily on my mind.

    Reply
    • Janet – thank you for highlighting your response in prayer! We are joining you in prayer and pray that this will be a unique opportunity for the world to see how Christians respond to conflict within the body in a counter-cultural way. May we be the salt and light in a dark world!

      Reply
  3. So helpful, thank you, if gives me the faith and the strength to trust the Holy Spirit to guide me while I study the Bible and have what I need to share with others.

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  4. Good reminders from all the points. Thank you.

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  5. Thanks for sharing, especially number 7. Trust God to do the saving. Plant the seed. Sometimes we want to try to convince people regarding the road to “Salvation. I needed to e reminded of these good 👍 pointers. Again, thank you.

    Reply
  6. I absolutely LOVE Alistair Begg’s teachings. He is so insightful and always Bible based! I read his 365 Daily Devotions (completed Volume One) today, Volume Two and look forward to all his topics; such good advice since it relies on HIS WORD. “How to respond when your faith is questioned” was very informative and a great perspective. I so enjoyed his direction and advice. THX BSF for this great teaching by Alistair Begg.

    Reply
  7. I have difficulty in defending my faith with very disgruntled people who attack me verbally for my faith especially when that person initiates the argument. I usually say something like “I can see you feel strongly in your unbelief. I will pray for you” and then I put distance between us, if possible. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • I would just say” What information have you discovered that causes you to feel so strongly?

      They don’t believe in prayer, so by telling them you’ll pray for them only antagonizes.

      Reply
  8. I have shared this on my Facebook page. I pray all will read it with a open heart. And it will give them the peace of mind, that calls them. We just need to know the true way to share His truth to them in love.

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  9. Strong teaching by Alistair! My experience with “soul winning” was working with pastors who were committed to personal evangelism. I ride shotgun so to speak and learned the ropes. Eventually I was able to take the lead and assist others.

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  10. Amen and thanks. Why have I not receiving more from BSF. I had it at first but it just went away.

    Reply
  11. wonderful comments on how to defend my faith thank you for your words and the scriptural references.

    Reply
  12. I really enjoyed tonight lesson chapter 5 questions. Jesus knew people hearts.

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  13. This was very encouraging. It is a great challenge to be lights for Jesus and use every opportunity to share God’s mercy, grace and incredible gift with others.

    Reply
  14. As a OGL, would this article be considered appropriate to share with our group or does staff send it out to all registered members? ~Sara F

    Reply
    • Sara- please share!

      Reply
  15. In all that we say and do we must allow the Holly Spirit to lead us.
    Thank you for sharing this with us. It will help me with my wittnessing to others about Jesus and the importance of accepting Him as our Lord and Saviour.

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  16. Thank you for these words to encourage us to share our faith in Jesus with others!

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  17. Very helpful. Thank you so very much

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  18. So encouraging! I found point #5 especially thought-provoking. May God empower us all to light the path to Jesus for each person we engage with with the gospel!

    Reply
  19. Excellent reflections from Pastor Alastair as usual.
    I feel at least several of these points are useful when the believer is confronted by opinions and statements on social media – it is tempting to instantly respond to the deluge of opinions by adding our own comments to the post – just like I’m doing here! Anyway, Prov. 14:29 definitely comes to mind. Perhaps Jesus’ practice and Scripture can force the believer to withdraw from the use of social media ‘commenting’ entirely, and only interact with the non-believer in-person, in real situations? Just a thought…. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Thank you! What I have found helpful in speaking my faith to others is an arrow prayer….”Help me Jesus”.

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  21. Thank you for the post by Pastor Begg. I listen to him regularly and appreciate his insight into Scripture.

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  22. Love this, information. Praise God.
    God is so very good to us.

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  23. Thank you pastor so very much for the clear explanation of how to share the truth to others. It is paramount especially for me to know these nuggets as I come from a hindu faith.

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  24. Thank You so much for the helpful words to tell others about God. I also enjoy your sermons on Family Radio ,thanks for your teaching.

    Reply
  25. This is so helpful and timely. It’s just what we were asking about.

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  26. Thank you, Pastor Alastair, very encouraging!

    Reply
    • Thank you Pastor Alistair,
      This is very helpful indeed. The synergy between the BSF study this year and the series you started “what did Jesus say” from John’s gospel help me to grow in my faith, to magnify God and mature his people as an online BSF group leader. And now this! May God bless you abundantly.

      Reply
  27. I love the facts of the article. I’m sure I’ll find them very helpful.

    Reply
  28. Pray for me. I want to point my daughter to Jesus who is The Only Perfect One

    Reply
  29. I am a huge Alistair Begg fan, and enjoyed reading his blog. I just wish he had said one more thing: never fear to speak up about your faith to someone who’s seeking, but DEPEND ON THE HOLY SPIRIT to lead your words! Don’t practice ahead of time what you might say – just let the Spirit lead.

    Reply
  30. Glory to God it’s quite helpful 🙏

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  31. I know a lost person, living a rather trouble- free life and sees no need for church or religion. Although she has faced trials in her life, she has approached all of these in her own strength, making a plan of her own in order to solve the problem and bring about her desired outcome. She is a self-absorbed person, and everything she does, plans, and orchestrates is to bring glory to herself. How do you witness to a person like this?

    Reply
    • Dear Susan, thank you for sharing – we will be praying with you and for you! Only the Holy Spirit can truly convict someone of their need for salvation, we are praying for that divine work! Your heart and perseverance is deeply encouraging

      Reply
    • Sounds like she is depending on self not knowing she needs Jesus. I would probably have a nice conversation with her and say “you could save time and money if you depend on Jesus to solve your situation rather than spending for consolation. Tell her about Jesus
      and testify what He has done for you. Jesus is our everything, no matter the problem/situation. We all need Him. “Casting all our care upon Him because He cares”

      Reply
  32. I loved this…….I have a 41yo son who has been questioning me for years and questioning the Christian faith for years…………..his questions are hard and sometimes I find myself avoiding the conversation. 🙁

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  33. This was so simplistic, kind and loving with advice on our response when our faith is challenged. Thank you!

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  34. Just what I needed! I have had this very issue pop up lately. I definitely need to be more prepared when surprised by challenging judgements.

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    • Excellent reminders. Walk softly and carry a big stick. Let the Holy Spirit direct our responses.

      Reply
  35. I really enjoyed this,wonderful,helpful message. I thank you so much.

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  36. I listened to him once and now, I have been continuously listening to him. Praising God for Ptr. Alistair’s wisdom and ministry; profoundly bringing both insights and rebukes. Glory to our one and only God!

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  37. Thank you for these words of wisdom and peace that we can rest in God’s words and trust Him to complete His good works in us as willing children.

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  38. Alistair Begg has been used of the Lord in my life for years. I especially love to hear him speak to the Lord in prayer.

    He is on You Tube. Join me in having breakfast with Alistair daily.

    Also, his books are wonderful and make good gifts.

    Reply
  39. This is great. I have subscribed to Truth for Life a long time. Alistair is a wonderful teacher and preacher. I especially like his sermon series. I’m currently listening to his series on the Fruit of the Spirit.
    Thank you for sharing this with our BSF community.

    Reply
  40. Beautiful article,thx a lot pastor

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  41. You have thought about all of my issues, but salvation will come by God and the Holy Spirit talking about may be the what the person needs to hear it more than 1 time. These are the steps needed for this person.

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  42. I love Alistair Begg’s common sense & insightful teaching! What a blessing that He agreed to write for BSF. Thank you for continuing to give us practical & quality teaching materials.
    May we all be humbly bold for Christ!

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  43. What a joyful surprise to see BSF sharing the teachings of Pastor Alister Begg. Thanks! This blends nicely with this weeks study!

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  44. Pastor Begg, I grew up with your radio teaching MOONs ago, just re-caught your energy the past 10 months. I now live in CA but try hard to wake up to watch your worship services & pulpit teaching ( 6am my time).

    Under His Grace…..

    Reply
  45. Our small group was just talking about these “tools” to share Jesus Christ…. we need to also testify of Him in our actions as well! Reflect the Light!

    Reply
  46. Dear Pastor Begg,
    I have grown so much your teaching for past 30 years, so thanks you for your faithfulness to the gospel. I loved this as it answered the question of HOW to approach someone or answer their question in a loving way.

    Please do another article for this site that includes the WHAT of the gospel. Specifically, what do you say to someone who doesn’t believe in a God who would let disasters happen and little children get deathly diseases. Thanks.

    Reply
  47. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, I feel so defensive sometimes as I am questioned by a 14 yr old about what i am studying at BSF this week, I don’t have to have all the answers it’s the SPIRIT who will speak to her heart.

    Reply
  48. Thank you for this excellent and helpful article. Alistair Begg has by God’s grace an amazing teaching gift to make things clear, and understandable. So grateful for his work!I have listened to him for 8 years and he has helped me grow tremendously!

    Reply
  49. Very helpful article! It actually answered a worry that i was being nagged with just today as to how i could speak to my sister about God, and the questions she may have!

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  50. All during the pandemic we streamed Alistair preaching at his church.
    His teaching of Scripture is excellent. He says he doesn’t try to make the Scripture relevant: he shows how relevant Scripture is!!
    Helps for talking to the unsaved…. Thanks BSF!!

    Reply
  51. i
    I have listened to Alister for years. He inspires with the way he delivers the message of Jesus Christ. Keep putting up his articles. Very timely and useful.

    Reply
  52. Thank you for sharing Pastor Alistair Begg’s helpful & encouraging message.

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    • Very helpful article by Alistar Begg….He is a true believer and a wonderful speaker of the WORD…..I have heard him preach on American Family Radio and Moody Radio….

      Reply
  53. I very much appreciate Alistair Begg’s teaching and helpful, scriptural insights!

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  54. Reading Pastor Begg’s comments took me back to the first time I asked someone about Jesus. Her gentile, sincere responses completely captivated me and took me where I never thought I would go. It was the beginning of a complete life change for me.

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  55. I LOVE HIM, and this was very helpful!

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  56. Really appreciate Pastor Begg’s teachings. Thank you so much.

    Cynthia

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  57. My experience with unbelievers is that they do not have questions. They are confident that they do not need the Lord because they are good people. They are not interested in seeking the truth….or at least what I believe in.

    Reply
    • True enough. However, they may be wondering why you think it’s so important for your life. And in our conversations with them, as we bring up how the Lord and our study impacts us and influences our life, maybe we could ask them questions with gentleness and respect. Such as “how do you deal with the painful circumstances that come into your life?” A good question often begins an interesting discussion.

      Reply
      • Dawn – love that insight!

        Reply
      • Dawn, this is great advice. As you said, with an emphasis on gentleness and respect we should ask curious questions. A curious question is one that truly seeks an answer and doesn’t have tones of accusation or judgment. Before you question someone, ask yourself if you truly care about this person, and if you do (which hopefully is true), it will inform how you speak to them. I think you gave great advice, I just wanted to add this important step that I always have to remind myself.

        Reply
  58. Information was very helpful.

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  59. Allister is a favorite voice I listen to nightly. I am amazed at how often his message feels custom made and so many times pinpoints the topic I’m studying. Feels God sent. I am so thankful for him.

    Reply
  60. I am so grateful for your sharing Alistair Begg’s blog on sharing the gospel! This is an equipping for me, encouraging me to continue on the path that Jesus has called me to by leading others to HIM alone. He is the light for our paths, not to be blinded to our faces!

    Reply
  61. So helpful and to the points of addressing our concerns with “ having all the answers for all the questions” which more often becomes a rationale for not speaking to others about our faith in any substantial way. Thank you to Alistair Begg!

    Reply
  62. Thank you so much for your insight. For me, the Bible is not an easy read, even in my second round of books presented by BSF. One thing that has helped me is the final lesson question that provides an opportunity to jot down a key thought that I learned from the notes, lesson, or lecture.

    At years end, I collect and summarize all of those last question responses…This process serves me well as a personal review of God’s word, and also when I discuss my faith with others.

    As we prayerfully consider sharing God’s word, your thoughtful words of caution will be most helpful.

    Reply
  63. I was helped, once again, by Pastor Begg’s writing on evangelism. More and more, the Lord is showing me my role to love the person, in His strength, and then to leave to Him His amazing work of grace in a person’s heart.
    Thank you BSF.

    Reply
  64. Thank you! I want to point others to Christ, and need all the help I can get on how best to do that.
    God bless!

    Reply
  65. Thanks for sharing this informative information with us. It has been very interesting to see how we can share our faith and don’t feel afraid to share with Jesus with others.

    Reply
  66. I love Allister and his love for God. He is one of my favorites that I listen to on Bott Radio Network. Whether in the car or online, the word of God is faithfully taught. No prosperity preaching, just biblical truth.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing this with BSF members
      Alistair Begg is insightful and encouraging in his teaching. I want to feel more comfortable in sharing the gospel. These tips were very helpful

      Reply
    • Very helpful in our daily life.

      Blessings

      Reply

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