Sharing Your Faith without Apology

In February, Dwight Landis let a workshop to help us in the art of apologetics and to encourage us to share our faith with those around us. We’ve posted the outlines for these lessons below in case you missed it.

Lesson 1: Fishing and Farming

Fishing and farming as it applies to evangelism.

 

I.          Fishing and Evangelism Similarities

a.      Need bait

b.      Need patience

c.      Go where the fish are

d.      Prepare for the fishing

e.      Know the type of fish you are trying to catch

f.       Expect to lose some

II.          Two principles of Evangelism

a.      Evangelism is a process (John 4: 35-38). Evangelism is the process of doing anything with an unbeliever that causes them to move closer to the decision to put their faith in Christ.

b.      God is responsible for the production (1 Cor. 3:5-7)

III.          Two Questions

a.      Can anyone know that God exists?

  i.     Cosmological argument – the law of cause and effect, says that every effect must have an antecedent cause (not every thing must have an effect). The universe is an effect. Therefore, it must have a cause. The inductive methods of science are incapable of addressing the origins of the universe. Explanations for the origin of the universe, or why is there something rather than nothing.

1.      The universe is an illusion: Rene Descartes punctured this balloon centuries ago with his analysis and became famous for his conclusion (Cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am). If the universe is an illusion, then someone must be having the illusion.

2.      The universe is eternal: While this was popular at one time, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding, and in 1965 scientists made a discovery of an omni-directional background radiation that they attributed to a big bang which brought the universe into existence.

3.      The universe came from nothing, a variant is that the universe created itself. Both variants violate the laws of logic. First, the only thing that can come from nothing is nothing. Second, it would be impossible for the universe to create itself because it violates the law of non-contradiction. (“A” cannot be “A” and “non A” at the same time and in the same sense). For the universe to create itself, it would have to be and not be at the same time. Another variant of this argument is that time + chance = the universe. However, chance is not a thing, it has no power or existence. While chance is a good way to express mathematical probabilities, it cannot do anything.

4.      The universe was created by a power transcendent to the universe. Romans 1, Psalm 19:1-3.

                                         ii.     Teleological argument from design: The intricate design of the universe and our solar system screams out for a creator.

                                        iii.     Argument from morality: Evil exists, therefore good exists. If good exists, there is a moral law. If there is a moral law, then there is a moral lawgiver.

b.     How can a rational person believe in miracles?

i.     Definition of a miracle: A supernatural act of God performed against the laws of nature in the external perceivable world.

ii.     If God exists as we’ve already shown, why would miracles not be possible for the One who created all things?

iii.     If there is a God who can act, then acts of God are possible.

iv.     Case in point, the resurrection of Christ. What is the evidence?

1.      The empty tomb, how did it become empty?

2.      Silence of the Jewish leaders, they would not have kept silent if Christ was dead. Since they knew that He was alive, they dared not say a word.

3.      Testimony of the disciples and their martyrdom.

4.      Disregard by the early church for the tomb of Jesus.

5.      Visible sightings by over 500 people who knew Christ before his death. (1 Cor. 15)

6.      Anecdotal references by secular writers of the 1st century (Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger).

Lesson 2: Turning objections into opportunities

Responding to objections with truth in a respectful manner.

       I.          Turning Objections Into Opportunities – Many unbelievers have an intellectual barrier to Christianity based on bad information.

      II.          Setting apart Christ as Lord – 1 Peter 3:15

a.      What does it mean to set apart Christ as Lord? Sanctification and living a holy life.

b.      There is a connection between setting apart Christ as Lord and someone asking us about the hope that we have. They need to see consistency in our lifestyle before they will ask us what gives us our hope.

    III.          Most frequently asked questions by unbelievers about Christianity.

a.      Can anyone know that God exists?

b.      How can a rational person believe in miracles?

c.      Isn’t Christianity just a psychological crutch?

d.      How accurate is the Bible?

e.      Why do the innocent suffer?

f.       Is Christ the only way to God?

g.      Will God judge those who have never heard about Christ?

h.      Isn’t salvation by faith too easy?

i.       What does the Bible mean by “believe”?

j.       Can anyone be sure of his salvation?

    IV.          Communication with unbelievers (Colossians 4:5-6)

a.      By outsiders, Paul means unbelievers. Conducting ourselves with wisdom means understanding who is asking the question and why.

b.      What can we learn from Paul’s analogy with salt? Salt has a pleasing flavor and is used as a preservative. If we say the right thing at the right time, it will have that effect.

c.      Paul speaks about a Godly lifestyle and gracious speech. The first one leads to the second one.

d.      Studies show that only 7% of effective communication involves the words. Non-verbal components make up 55%, tone of voice is 38%, and words are 7%. Yet most evangelistic training stresses the verbal presentation of the gospel, but it is vital to understand the profound impact that one’s lifestyle has in validating that message.

     V.          Listening – Proverbs 18:2, 13, and James 1:19

a.      Some vital components to listening

i.     Make eye contact with the speaker

ii.     Focus on the speaker

iii.     Don’t interrupt

iv.     Don’t be thinking ahead to prepare a counter argument before the speaker has finished.

b.      Listening is:

i.     Active, not passive

ii.     Scarce, not common

iii.     Other centered, not self-centered

iv.     Difficult, not easy

c.      Positive characteristics of a good communicator (2 Tim. 2:14 and 24-26)

i.     What does Paul mean about not quarreling about words? Don’t get drawn into discussions of minutiae.

ii.     Why do you think he spoke with such conviction about this?

iii.     Positive characteristics of a good communicator – kindness to everyone, able to teach, and gently instruct.

d.      When discussing issues with unbelieving friends:

i.     Listen for expressions of interest that have common ground with yourself (personal background, family, vocation, hobbies, recreation, and culture.) ii.     Listen without judging for previous or present religious experience and whether that experience is positive or negative.

iii.     Listen for expressions about Christianity (boring, narrow minded, hypocritical, etc.)

iv.     Ask clarifying questions: were you raised in a religious home, was it a positive or negative experience, why or why not, etc.

    VI.          Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Before answering this question, let’s first note that the question assumes 3 things:

a.      There are such things as “good” and “evil” to begin with

b.      The question assumes that God never has good reasons for suffering, but scripture says that God does have reasons for suffering

i.     Fallen state of creation (Romans 8:19-22)

ii.     Punishment for sin (Judges 2:11-15)

iii.     Suffering inflicted by Satan (Job 1-2)

iv.     Drive sinners to repentance (Psalm 119:71)

v.     Purification of the church (1 Peter 4:17-19)

vi.     To develop patience (James 1:2-4)

vii.     To correct believers (Proverbs 3:12)

c.      The question assumes that there is such a thing as a good person, but scripture and life attest that we are all broken and miserable (Ps. 14:1).

  VII.          The Classical Proposition

a.      An all powerful God could end evil and suffering,

An all good God would end evil and suffering

But evil and suffering exist, therefore either:

i.     God does not exist (go back to the arguments for existence of God)

ii.     Evil does not exist (Hinduism and Christian Science)

iii.     God is not all powerful – Just because God hasn’t eliminated evil and suffering yet doesn’t mean that He won’t eventually. He allows it to exist to give time for many people to repent and turn to Him. If God were to remove all evil tonight at midnight, how many people would be left at 12:01?

iv.     God is not all good – God did two things that show He is all loving. First, He created man with free choice instead of as robots. Love always requires choice. Second, He provided a solution by sacrificing His own Son that we might be saved.

b.      If a person needs to give a brief answer to this question, the best one is a quotation from Boethius, a philosopher and Theologian of the 6th century who said that “The price of evil is something that God must allow if we are to have freedom.”

 VIII.          Is Jesus the only way to God? Anyone who asks this question is probably thinking that all religions are the same and there are many ways to salvation. To counter this we need to show them that each religion makes specific truth claims that are mutually exclusive with the other religions.

Here is a summary of beliefs that will help:

a.      Hinduism

i.     The world is an illusion, evil is an illusion

ii.     Reincarnation (the soul passes to another body upon death)

iii.     Present state of every person is a result of karma

iv.     Each person is born into a caste system determining their social class

b.     Buddhism

i.     Don’t believe in god

ii.     Man does not have a soul

iii.     Believe in karma and reincarnation

c.      Islam

i.     Believes in god (Allah)

ii.     Scripture is the Koran

iii.     Works based salvation based on performing five practices

d.     Mormonism

i.     God was once a man, and as he is now, man may become

ii.     Satan is the brother of Jesus

iii.     Works based salvation, we must do our part

e.      Jehovah’s Witnesses

i.     Have their own bible called the New World Translation

ii.     Deny the doctrine of the trinity

iii.     Jesus is not God but an archangel

iv.     Works based salvation

f.       New Age religions (roots are in Gnosticism)

i.     People become gods by enlightenment

ii.     God is an energy that is all things, and all things are one

iii.     Morality is relative, there are no absolutes

iv.     Salvation is an awareness of our own divinity and oneness with all things

g.      Christianity

i.     God is trinity

ii.     Jesus claimed to be, and is God

iii.     Salvation is by faith, not works based

iv.     Christianity is narrow since Jesus claimed to be, and is the only way to the Father and salvation. Truth is always narrow, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Truth is always intolerant of error.

Lesson 3: Mastering the Message

The Gospel in a nutshell

       I.          The Gospel in Miniature – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

a.      Christ died for our sins

b.      He was buried

c.      He rose again the third day

      II.          God’s Position

a.      John 3:16-17 — How does God feel toward us? (He loves us)

b.      Matthew 5:48 — What does God require of us? (perfection)

    III.          Our Condition — What are We Like?

a.      Romans 3:23, Isaiah 59:1-2 — We are all sinners, our sins have separated us from God, and He has hidden His face from us.

b.      What are the consequences of our separation from God? Both Physical and Spiritual Death

c.      How can this separation described in II Thessalonians 1:7-9? Everlasting destruction and punishment.

    IV.          God’s Provision

a.      What has he done? Romans 5:6-8, 1 John 4:10, 1 Peter 3:18 — He has provided propitiation for our sins (turned away God’s wrath from us)

     V.          Our Response

a.      What do we need to do? John 1:12-13, John 5:24

i.     Receive Him

ii.     Believe in His name

iii.     Believe in the Father who sent Him

    VI.          Two Questions

a.      How good must we be to qualify for heaven?

i.     Two Possibilities

1.      Good Deeds can get us to heaven (most world religions are based on this belief). But there are 4 Problems:

a.      Good deeds are arbitrary (what is a good work, who determines it, how many do we have to do, how well do we have to do?)

b.      The offer no assurance of salvation. There is always uncertainty

c.      They ask God to approve of evil. Any system that demands less than perfection must allow some evil.

d.      They contradict the Bible (Romans 3:2)

2.      Good Deeds cannot get us to heaven

a.      God’s standard for entering heaven is perfection as stated in Matthew 5:48.

b.      Christians view sin in theological terms, unbelievers view sin in sociological terms

c.      God’s justice demands payment for our disobedience and Christ paid that debt.

d.      A double imputation is involved in our salvation. All my sins are imputed to Christ. All His righteousness is imputed to me.

e.      When we belong to Christ, God views us differently. We have positional sanctification.

f.       What about Good Works? Ephesians 2:8-10 — Good Works are very important, but they are not the means of salvation, but the result of our salvation.

b.      What does it really mean to believe? Isn’t that too easy?

i.     Theologians pinpoint three levels of belief

1.      Noticia — to be informed about the facts regarding Christ

2.      Assentia — to acknowledge the truth intellectually, to believe that the facts presented about Christ are true

3.      Fiducia — to receive the solution personally to trust in Christ that He has saved me and is now in charge of my life.

4.      All three levels are necessary for belief unto salvation

ii.     Two Key Points to Remember

1.      There may be doubts, faith is not the absence of doubts. It’s the decision based on the evidence.

2.      Don’t be afraid of making a commitment. It’s not a commitment based on what we will do but on what Jesus has already accomplished.

iii.     Isn’t salvation by faith too easy?

1.      Nothing of value is ever free. Something of value could be free to us if it were paid for by someone else.

2.      Free is not the same thing as easy. Salvation is not easy.

a.      It wasn’t easy for God the Father. He had to execute His wrath on His own son, who was innocent.

b.      It wasn’t easy for the Son. He had to suffer the full force of God’s wrath on the cross.

c.      It isn’t easy for Man. Man has to give up his pride and admit that there is nothing he can do to make himself righteous before God.

Lesson 4: Telling Your Story

       I.          Model Testimony from Scripture (Acts 22:1-22)

a.      Constructing your own testimony, you should do three things.

i.     Talk about the process God used to bring you to an understanding of your need for Christ.

ii.     Describe the events or people God used to bring you to Christ.

iii.     Talk about your life since you received Christ.

b.      Observe the things that Paul included about his story regarding his life before Christ, his decision, and the changes in his life after his decision.

c.      Prepare a 1-3 minute version of your testimony and write it out. It’s important not to leave the impression that everything is perfect.

d.      Role play giving your testimony to a partner.

      II.          Question 1: Once you gain eternal life, can you lose it?

a.      Many Christians do not feel saved, but we need to rest on God’s word. (1 John 3:20)

b.      Passages affirming eternal security — John 10:28-29, 1 John 5:13

c.      Doesn’t a Christian have to work to maintain his salvation? No, the gift of salvation is maintained by His power, not ours. See Jude 24, II Corinthians 5:21, and Galatians 3:3.

d.      Then why can’t a Christian just go off and sin as much as he wants? Sin is not compatible with the believer’s new self. There are incentives for righteous living.

i.     The sin will still have bad consequences in this life.

ii.     A life abiding in Christ is more abundant (John 10:10)

iii.     Peace of mind that comes from obeying Christ (Romans 5:1)

iv.     Rewards in heaven

    III.          Question 2: How do we know that the Bible is reliable? There are three aspects that we need to address to answer this question.

a.      Authenticity of the Bible (can only be answered by manuscript evidence)

i.     Quantity of manuscripts

1.      Old Testament – The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has augmented the existing Massoretic text, the Septuagint, and the Codex Babylonicus.

2.      New Testament – There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts and over 8,000 Latin manuscripts of the New Testament. By comparison, for Caesar’s Gaelic Wars, we have only 10 copies!

ii.     Quality of manuscripts – How many differences do we see between the earlier and later manuscripts?

1.      Old Testament – There are very few copy errors between the Dead Sea Scrolls (150 BC) and the later manuscripts (Massoretic texts and the Codex Babylonicus of 1000 AD).

2.      New Testament – Few variations from earlier tests (200 AD) to later texts (1000 AD). Most of the differences in the later manuscripts are due  to differences in spelling, punctuation, or style.

iii.     The time of the manuscripts – How close are they in time to the original authorship?

1.      Old Testament – The Dead Sea Scrolls have been dated to about 150 BC while the Old Testament was written between 1500 and 400 BC.

2.      New Testament – The earliest complete copies are between 300 and 400 AD. However, large portions of the New Testament have been found, and they are dated between 175 and 225 AD. A minor fragment of John was dated to about 125 AD. The New Testament was written between 50-90 AD. By contrast, Caesar’s Gaelic Wars was written just before the time of Christ, but our earliest copies are form 1000 AD.

3.      Miscellaneous facts

a.      The King James version of the Bible was translated in 1611, but scholars only had 6 manuscripts to work with that were dated from about 1000 AD.

b.      In the late 19th and early 20th century, more manuscripts were discovered that dated back to 300-400 AD. (Codex Vaticanus, Codex Siniaticus, and Codex Aleandrinus)

c.      The Bible was divided up into chapters by Stephen Langton in 1221 AD. Robert Stephanus divided the chapters into verses in 1551 AD.

b.      The Accuracy of the Bible

i.     Internal Evidence

1.      Eyewitness claims and first hand information (II Peter 1:16 and John 19:35)

2.      Claims of Historicity (Luke 2: 1-3), references to Pilate in the New Testament and to the Hittites and Philistines and other people groups in the Old Testament.

3.      Claims to be the Word of God (II Timothy 3:16)

ii.     External Evidence

1.      Archaelogical Evidence – Late 19th century discoveries of the Hittite and Philistine cultures.

2.      Other ancient secular reports – the writings of Josephus confirm the general outline of the Gospels.

c.      The Authority of the Bible – The authority is established by all the fulfilled prophecies. Below are a few.

i.     Old Testament – The 4 kingdoms in Daniel’s prophecy regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2:27-45). Babylon, Medo/Persia, Greek and Roman Empires are predicted hundreds of years in the future.

ii.     Old Testament prophecies about Jesus in the New Testament

1.      Birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

2.      Buried in the grave of a wealthy man (Isaiah 53:9).

Think you’ve mastered the art of apologetics? Take our Quiz to find out!

1.      What were the 3 proofs presented in class for the existence of God?

2.      Give at least 3 reasons from the scripture why God allows suffering.

3.      Define Evangelism.

4.      There are 2 kinds of evil as a result of man’s fall. What are they? (choose the 2 best answers)

a.      Demonic evil

b.      Natural evil

c.      Social evil

d.      Moral evil

5.      Give proof for the resurrection of Christ.

6.      Regarding the question of the Bible’s reliability, what are the 3 main issues that begin with the letter “A”?

7.      An unbeliever tells you that his good works will get him into heaven. What are the problems with this statement?

8.      Name at least one non-Christian historian in the 1st or 2nd century that wrote of Christ.

9.      Name two types of external evidence for the reliability of scripture.

10.   Explain in one sentence why God allows evil.

11.   Give one reference in the Bible which claims that all scripture is inspired by God.

 

 

Sarah Donawerth