Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | April 27, 2013

Honest Questions, Gentle Responses



It was John Coble’s turn “on the box” on a cool sunny Saturday afternoon at Atlanta’s annual Dogwood Festival. The crowds were streaming in at the 12th Street entrance at Piedmont Park, and our evangelism team was engaged in preaching, handing out tracts and having gospel conversations.


John had only been up for a few minutes when he attracted the attention of a slightly built woman in her fifties. “Lisa” stood across the street for a few minutes, listening intently as John proclaimed the gospel, but her interest emboldened her and she approached John’s footstool.


Several of us were standing nearby paying moderate attention. After all, open air preaching attracts a fair number of scoffers, pranksters, blasphemers and the occasional “drive-by shouting,” so an approaching person didn’t immediately set off alarm bells.


The woman began asking, politely, some reasonable questions: How could we claim the Scriptures are true, men wrote them, it all happened long ago; the usual comments of a skeptic. What made the exchange noteworthy wasn’t the woman’s comments, but her demeanor. Lisa seemed genuinely interested in John’s replies.


I have had the pleasure of laboring in the gospel with John on several occasions and have always been endeared to his reasonable and calm approach to preaching. Frankly, I’m a little “over the top,” so our styles are a great contrast. Rather than confront the woman strongly with the law, he engaged her with questions. Why didn’t she believe? he asked. Had she read the Scriptures herself? What did she think would happen to her when she died?


A growing crowd of people were drawn to the exchange. As the woman expressed her doubts, and her desire to believe, it became apparent to us that the Spirit of God was working in her soul. So John kept asking her questions, and provided carefully considered answers. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) In this case, grace was flowing to both the inquirer and the inquired.


Others were gathering and asking questions and John turned his attention to them. I approached Lisa and was able to continue the conversation John had so carefully cultivated. The LORD was clearly doing a work of repentance in Lisa, and she left with a New Testament and made a promise to read it.


All of us who witnessed the exchange were touched by the grace and patience exhibited by John, and in turn, by Lisa. There was no doubt we had witnessed a work of regeneration in those long minutes, the fruit of which will only be known in eternity. But we thank God for the richness of His mercies toward fallen sinners through His humble servants.




  1. What a great post and example!

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