Why do we need to defend the Christian faith?

*The contents of this broadcast will be addressed in greater detail during our ABBI class Thursday night on Apologetics.

Stephen:  Why do we need to defend the Christian faith?

Pastor Joel: Man who was studying religion at UCC…Young man in Abura who believed Christianity is a white man’s religion…young man who wondered how God could condemn someone who has never heard the Gospel.

  • Worldly philosophy: says all religions are essentially different ways to approach the same God, and are therefore equally valid.
  • Worldly culture: says what right do you have to say that your culture is superior to my culture?
  • Worldly ethics: says what right does God have to send people to heel who have never heard the Gospel?

Stephen: Does the Bible ever tell us to do this?

Victor: Yes, 1 Peter 3:15 Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

apologia: means to give a verbal defense, by use of reasoned arguments and statements.  We must be able to give a reasonable defense of the Christian faith, because what believe about Jesus and the gospel ultimately determines where we will spend eternity.

Stephen: What are some ways that we should use an ordered defense of the truth?

Pastor Eric:

Preaching: We state a proposition and seek to convince from the scriptures that we are to do something.

Evangelism: We take God’s word and move systematically through it to present a case that an unconverted person is under God’s wrath and therefore needs to receive God’s save grace through faith in the person and work of Christ.

Debates: Debates could be on many different levels with those who are in different Christian traditions, different world religions (including atheism), and religious cults.

Stephen: Where do we commonly see the Christian faith and the Bible come under attack?

Pastor Joel:

  • Science: How can the Bible and the Christian faith be true if science and evolution contradict it?
  • History: How can the Bible and the Christian faith be true if they are not historically reliable?
  • Philosophy: How can we know anything for certain, and what right do you and your Bible have to tell me that things I want to do from my own heart are sinful.
  • Ethics: How can the Bible and the Christian faith be true if it presents a God who is all-powerful and good, but created a world that is now full of evil?
  • Religion: How can the Bible and the Christian faith be true, if there are so many different religions in the world?
  • Culture: I thought that Christianity was just a western religion
  • Theology: How can you say that a man is justified before God by faith alone, ifJames 2 says that Abraham was justified by works?                                 

Stephen: Why are you spending time addressing common ways the gospel and Christian faith are being attacked?

Pastor Eric:

  • God commands us to defend the faith:

When the skeptic observer confronts the believer: 1 Peter 3:15 Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason.

When the believer has blasphemous thoughts creep into his mind: 2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

When false teachers invade the church: Jude 1:3 It was needful for me to exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

When unruly members of the church contradict sound doctrine: Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

  • The intelligence of mankind demands we defend the faith: Intelligent people ask questions, and a fundamental principle of reason is that it should give sufficient grounds for belief. An unjustified belief is just that—unjustified.
  • The those without Christ need a reasonable defense of the Christian faith: We should look before we leap. This does not mean there is no room for faith. But God wants us to take a step of faith in the light of evidence, rather than to leap in the dark.  Evidence of truth should precede faith. No rational person steps in a elevator without some reason to believe it will hold him up. No reasonable person gets on an airplane that is missing part of one wing and smells of smoke in the cabin. People deal in two dimensions of belief: belief that and belief in. Belief that gives the evidence and rational basis for confidence needed to establish belief in. Once belief that is established, one can place faith in it. Thus, the rational person wants evidence that God exists before he places his faith in God. Rational unbelievers want evidence that Jesus is the Son of God before they place their trust in him. (Geisler)

Stephen: Do you think you can just convince people to be saved, just because their is strong evidence that the gospel is true?

Victor: No

  • Man’s heart naturally suppresses the truth: Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold (hold back or supress) the truth in unrighteousness;
  • Man’s heart cannot understand and embrace the gospel apart from the gracious work of God: 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Romans 3:11-18There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
  • Man’s heart naturally runs from the light: John 3:20 Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Stephen: So what ultimately causes us to trust in Christ and the gospel message?

Pastor Eric: It is the grace of God alone.  Faith is both in and from God. I am not saying that humans do not make a choice to depend upon Christ for salvation, nor am I saying that humans cannot resist the gospel once they are presented with it.  What I am saying, is that apart from God’s grace sending the message and turning the lights on in the heart of a man, he will not and cannot be saved.  This is a work of God’s grace.

John 16:8 The Spirit will reprove (convict) the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Romans 2:4The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

1 Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that your faith and hope might be in God.

Romans 10: 14-17How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard…So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Stephen: How does God bring us to trust in Christ and the gospel?

Pastor Joel:

  • Nature tells us there is a God: Psalm 19: 1-3The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Romans 1:18-20 That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
  • Our conscience tells us that we have broken His laws and have no hope of salvation apart from Him: Romans 2:1 Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself. Romans 2:14-15When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.
  • The Gospel stands as our only hope of salvation, and we are commanded to embrace it by faith alone: Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: Ephesians 1:13You trusted in Christ, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel.
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