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Recap from first Aplogetics Course

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on August 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm

This is the place to air it out! The Defenders meet here and we discuss the weeks lessson and answer questions. So without waiting for much fanfare here we

In 2 Corinthians 12:10, God says to Paul:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(ESV)

Do you think that this statement undermines the command that we should be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have? Why or why not?

In Colossians 4:6, we are commanded:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)

What could Paul mean by saying our conversation should be seasoned with salt?

Francis Schaeffer described apologetics as providing “honest answers to honest questions.” Have you ever been tempted to provide a less-than-honest answer to a question about the Christian faith? Why do you think this temptation arises?

Michael Murray has described a certain type of evangelism this way:

“The sledgehammer apologist thinks that apologetic arguments deliver the intellectual equivalent of knockout punches by making it impossible for the unbeliever to rationally continue in their unbelief.”

Is this the kind of defense you want to make? Why or why not?

Christians who share their faith are sometimes accused of proselytism. What do you think is the difference between the kind of evangelism Peter is recommending and the kind that would be seen as proselytism? Is there a difference?

In John 8:45-46, Jesus says to the Pharisees:

“But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”

Why do you think Jesus asked this question? Why do you think the Pharisees rejected his message?

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul writes

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

Is this verse relevant to sharing and defending the Christian faith? What perspective does it give us on evangelism?

Leonard Ravenhill tells the story of Charlie Peace, an infamous British criminal who, when the gospel was presented to him said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees, and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” Do you feel this sort of urgency about the gospel? Do you think this sense of urgency is common?

 

21 Television host Larry King has noted that the best talkers are curious: “They ask ‘Why?’ and they want to know more about what you are telling them.” Has your experience confirmed this? Do you ever find yourself asking questions even though you are not truly curious about the answers?

How might Christians respond to questions about high-profile religious leaders who have fallen into immorality? Are such incidents necessarily disastrous to our witness?

BUILDING ON The Foundation Application

Before you became a Christian, what were your conversations with Christians like? What sorts of conversations made you more or less open to the gospel?

Can you remember a conversation you’ve had with a non-Christian about the Christian faith that you would consider a good, purposeful conversation? What do you think made it a good conversation?

Other than working through this series, what sorts of things could you do in order to “be prepared” when someone asks you to defend your faith?23

One of the pre-conditions Michael listed for defending the faith is making sure the lordship of Christ is a settled fact in your life. What spiritual obstacles might be standing in the way of wholehearted obedience to the command to give a reason for your hope? (Feel free to keep the answer to this question private or discuss it with your group leader later.)

Just as the people who ask us questions may do it with the wrong motives, what are some wrong motives we might have for defending the faith?

How would you respond to someone who says that Christians are brainwashed?24

How might you respond to a person who showed no interest in Christianity?

Is sharing your faith hard for you? Why or why not?

Prayer

Spend some time meditating on Ephesians 2:3-5 and use it as the basis of a prayer of thanksgiving for your own salvation:

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (NIV)

In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus commanded his disciples:

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV)

In obedience to Christ’s command, pray that he would send workers into his harvest field.25

Suggestions for further reading:

Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking by Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1990).

Is Your Church Ready? edited by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003).

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000).

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2004).

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  1. I don’t believe that 2 Cor 12:10 undermines 1 Pet 3:15 because, well, we trust God but still lock our cars, right?

    Colossians 4:6 I believe refers to wholesome conversation. It’s kind of like food that has calories vs. empty calories. What’s the point of eating the empty calories when the purpose of food to provide nutrients and sustenance for the body?

    I do not want to be a “sherman tank” of evangelism. In the end a person must come to Christ through the drawing of the Holy Spirit and not because of my intimidation tactics. I am merely the vessel that God uses to reach someone.

    I was born-again as a child. Up to the point of my salvation I stayed awake late into the night talking to my beloved grandmother, asking all kinds of questions. When I wasn’t talking to her I was reading a big children’s story Bible that served as my “book of answers” in Grandma’s absence.

    I’ve always had this curiosity to the Word, the Lord, and the faith. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t.

    Preparation for these auspicious conversations means retaining that child-like curiosity about the Lord and the faith and being obsequious in seeking answers to the questions one may be faced with.

    One obstacle I have is taking the personality and attributes of my earthly father and ascribing it to my Heavenly Father. I view the Lord in very much the same way as my dad – which is not a good thing.

    I believe one wrong motive one may have for defending the faith is to find false comfort in their ability to answer questions as a confirmation of salvation.

    If someone told me to my face that Christians were brainswashed I’d inform them how painfully obvious it is they’ve never met a Marine (ok, just kidding…kind of.)

    I would pray for those who show know interest in the faith and continue to do until God leads me otherwise.

    My faith is hard to share so I usually try and live it out.

    • Thanks L. great insight and seeing God as our Father allows us to enjoy his perfect fatherhood where our earthly fathers failed us. We allow His predect love to make up for others short comings.

  2. Dan, it may be easier to number these questions, so we can reference them.

    In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says to Paul:
    “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(ESV)
    Do you think that this statement undermines the command that we should be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have?
    This statement does not undermine the command. Actually right after it in the same verse we read: “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” It is saying we should open our mouths and start proclaiming the miracle of Christ’s power in our lives. He sustains our hope through these miracles. The more we open our mouths boasting of His power, the more our hope grows.

    In Colossians 4:6, we are commanded:
    “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)
    What could Paul mean by saying our conversation should be seasoned with salt?
    The salt is the truth of Jesus Christ, which should permeate our conversations.

    Francis Schaeffer described apologetics as providing “honest answers to honest questions.” Have you ever been tempted to provide a less-than-honest answer to a question about the Christian faith? Why do you think this temptation arises?
    The temptation arises because you don’t want to be criticized or to be a poor example of a Christian for not knowing something.

    Michael Murray has described a certain type of evangelism this way:
    “The sledgehammer apologist thinks that apologetic arguments deliver the intellectual equivalent of knockout punches by making it impossible for the unbeliever to rationally continue in their unbelief.”
    Is this the kind of defense you want to make? Why or why not?
    The nonbeliever must come to believe through faith not reason. I think the defense should make the nonbeliever question how much he/she really knows about scripture and doubt whether what he/she knows is accurate. Often the criticisms are unsubstantiated roadblocks that need to be eradicated in order to soften that person’s hardness of heart .

    Christians who share their faith are sometimes accused of proselytism. What do you think is the difference between the kind of evangelism Peter is recommending and the kind that would be seen as proselytism? Is there a difference?
    Forcing people to convert counters what Peter was recommending. This way is really just manipulation and controlling. It does not leave room for the Holy Spirit to work, but rather demonstrates how you think you are in control.

    In John 8:45-46, Jesus says to the Pharisees:
    “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?”
    Why do you think Jesus asked this question? Why do you think the Pharisees rejected his message?
    They could not convict Jesus of sin, because He was sinless. It reinforced that they were being influenced by lies and would rather believe lies than the truth.

    In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul writes
    “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
    Is this verse relevant to sharing and defending the Christian faith? What perspective does it give us on evangelism?
    I addressed this issue above regarding proselytism. We should not witness in order to glorify ourselves. Arguments in apologetics should be lacking in our pride of ourselves but full of the glory of God kingdom.

    Leonard Ravenhill tells the story of Charlie Peace, an infamous British criminal who, when the gospel was presented to him said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees, and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” Do you feel this sort of urgency about the gospel? Do you think this sense of urgency is common?
    Ouch! I certainly have not been urgent enough.

    Television host Larry King has noted that the best talkers are curious: “They ask ‘Why?’ and they want to know more about what you are telling them.” Has your experience confirmed this? Do you ever find yourself asking questions even though you are not truly curious about the answers?
    I am always curious and like conversations in which both people can exchange ideas and learn.

    How might Christians respond to questions about high-profile religious leaders who have fallen into immorality? Are such incidents necessarily disastrous to our witness?
    Everyone sins. This point just reinforces how humans are sinners and we can’t save ourselves.

    BUILDING ON The Foundation Application
    A very influential conversation in my lost years occurred at a party years ago with one of my best friends. Being my usual self at parties, I would bombastically exclaim: “Prove God,” fully ready to enjoy one of my favorite past times (debate). My friend replied: “Ben, if you can prove love, you can prove God.” He then left the room leaving me no time to debate. His comment stuck with me for many years. Why? For one, he wasn’t trying to win an argument. Two, he led me to dig deeper into my very topic by just indicating an attribute of God. Three, he rattled my cage by not fighting back…being a person that loves intellectual conflict. He didn’t even elaborate on the claim, but rather just let the Holy Spirit show me the love of God.

    I have actually encountered someone who said Christians are brainwashed. I had just finished spending one or two hours trying to provide a defense. I didn’t actually respond to that comment, since I took it as an attack rather than a point made in an argument. I pay close attention in my witness to contentiousness, because I do not want to end up being the same way. Contentiousness ruins your witness.

  3. That has been a hard lesson for me: learning to pick and choose my battles. It takes wisdom to find out whether the nonbelieve questioning you is really interested in learning more about your faith, or is just being a #&*! filled with a devilish desire to ensnare and trap. Usually, however, I can tell by the person’s tone, athough that is not always the best indicator as a genuinely interested person can just be heated with emotion and conviction at the moment and not realize it. Thoughts?

    • Thanks all for sharing we need to encourage all the others to chip in. In your post you mentioned picking your battles. We all face the same challenges I am passionate about my beliefs and can over whelm people without even knowing it. I have to return to 1st Peter 3:15-16 (1Pe 3:15 HCSB) but set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1Pe 3:16 HCSB) However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.
      When we fail we need to seek forgiveness and focus on the word. No matter how much we study other writings the Word must have priority over all. Remember it’s the gospel that leads to salvation and repentance as well as feeding the Christian life daily.

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