Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “Jesus Christ”

The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas (Book Review 2)

Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak, The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World (IVP Academic, 2014). Paperback – Kindle 

Gospel in Marketplace of Ideas

Jesus chose Saul of Tarsus for a big task – take the Gospel of Christ to the Gentile world. Why did Jesus choose Saul? Why select a deeply devoted Pharisee from Tarsus to take Christianity to a world of pagans, idol worshippers and lovers of philosophy?

Saul viewed the Lord’s calling as extremely personal: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15-16). 

As the authors point out in this excellent book (be sure to read Book Review 1 which looks at the first four chapters of The Gospel in the Markeplace), Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, was well qualified to take the Gospel of Christ to the philosophers on Mars Hill:

“Paul was knowledgeable about the philosophical and religious beliefs of the Athenians. One prominent Athenian school was Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Cyprus and developed by a later Zeno from Paul’s hometown–Tarsus, another of the three great centers of learning in the Roman Empire (the third being Alexandria in Egypt). Paul would have had plenty of opportunity to learn about Stoicism and competing worldviews. No wonder, then, when Paul was challenged to explain the new foreign gods that the Athenians thought he was proclaiming, he brought together his knowledge of Scripture and Jewish traditions and theology with the practices of Gentile idolaters and philosophers.” (p. 13).

Read more…

The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas (Book Review 1)

Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak, The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World (IVP Academic, 2014). Paperback – Kindle 

Gospel in Marketplace of Ideas

I remember hearing as a young Christian that the Apostle Paul made one glaring mistake in his ministry and that was his sermon on Mars Hill in Athens. Even though that seemed to be the majority opinion of Christians I knew at the time, I had a hard time understanding how a man chosen by Jesus Christ as the Apostle to the Gentiles and called and sent out by and filled with the Holy Spirit would have made such an error.

Drs. Copan and Litwak make the point very well that what Paul did was approach the philosophers in Athens on their own turf, using their rules, and demonstrated the superiority of the Christian worldview. Isn’t that what every Christian is called to do?

I love the way the authors use Paul’s experience in Athens to demonstrate both the need for meeting non-believers in the marketplace and God’s supply of wisdom for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 15)

Church ApologeticsQuestion: In the Garden of Eden, was God truthful with Adam? “… but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) We find the answer in Genesis 5:5 – So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” God told Adam the “truth.”

What about Satan? Did he tell Eve the truth? “… Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) 

That would appear to be a violation of the Law (Principle) of Non-Contradiction: something cannot be both true and not true at the same time in the same sense or context. Humans could not “die” and “not die” in the same sense or context. Either humans do die or they don’t die. We know from centuries of human experience that humans do die.

(**Take note of the fact that Satan is willing to contradict logic and reason to get what he wants. As Jesus said about the devil – “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44)) 

These details from the beginning of the human race go to the heart of Evangelistic Apologetics – Truth. The attack on the Church concerns Truth.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 14)

Church ApologeticsIt would appear that things were not looking too good for God. He had great plans for the human race, but Satan moved in while God was away and messed up everything. The devil deceived the woman into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Satan (disguised as the talking serpent) told the woman that eating from the tree would open her eyes, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The devil was right about one thing – eating from the tree would open her eyes and she would know good and evil.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:6-7

What Satan did not tell them (because he’s a liar) was that knowing good and evil with eyes opened would be the worst thing that could ever happen to them and the race of human beings to come from them.

Read more…

Preach Like Jesus

Jesus and DisciplesNo one has ever preached the Gospel like Jesus Christ. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4:23) 

Jesus also taught His disciples to preach the Gospel in the same way He did. “So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” (Luke 9:6) “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

If preaching the Gospel effectively is something that interests you, here are four brief insights into our Lord’s method —  

Truthful … Powerful … Personal … Sacrificial

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 13)

Church ApologeticsThe human race faces seemingly insurmountable problems. More than seven billion of us on the earth and we can’t climb out of the mess we’ve made. Politics doesn’t work, religion doesn’t work, sending good vibes around the planet doesn’t work. We treat each other with little to no respect and care even less.

The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. Step two is controlling the problem. Another way of understanding the process is the management phrase – “Name It and Tame It.”

Identifying the problem includes knowing what it is, where it came from, how it works and where it’s going. Controlling the problem includes “knowing, reasoning, choosing and behaving.”

Let’s use those management techniques in identifying and controlling Satan’s attack on the human race.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 12)

Church ApologeticsThe history of the human race is, unfortunately, the history of Satan’s attacks on mankind. We see the stamp of his wiles everywhere we look. We also see the stamp of God’s mercy as well. Even as Satan destroys, God saves. Satan hates, God loves. Satan brings low, God raises high. Satan mutilates, God revives. It’s the story of all people everywhere, for all time.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 11)

Church ApologeticsSatan desperately wants to be “like” God. He wants worship, praise and adoration from other angels, human beings and all creation.  That desperation drives him in a way humans cannot understand.

We’ve seen desperate people who will do anything to get what they want, but they are not supernatural beings with the mind and power of an angel. Satan is very old and has learned a great deal through the ages about how to wage spiritual war against God’s people. He is also very experienced in spiritual battles.

One of our biggest mistakes as members of the Church is underestimating Satan’s power and cunning. If you think I’m wrong about that, read Revelation chapters 12 and 13. Satan wants worship from the whole earth and he will get it, though for only a short time.

One of the best things we can do to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle with Satan and his forces (Ephesians 6:10-18) is to learn everything we can about him from the One who knows Satan best. God has given the Church a lot of information and insight into how Satan thinks, plans and works. For instance …

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 10)

Church ApologeticsHere’s an understatement - “the Bible is a very interesting Book.”

If you believe there is a God and that the Bible is God’s special Revelation to humanity (which I do), then you will find what He reveals about “the” attack on Christ’s Church to be not only interesting but also extremely important. I say “the” attack because there is really only one on Christ’s Church – Satan’s. It’s been that way from the beginning and will continue to be that way until the end.

Paul wrote concerning Satan in 2 Corinthians 2 that “we are not ignorant of his devices” (vs 11). He made that statement in the context of sexual immorality in the Corinthian church “as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1). This sin committed by a member of the Corinthian church was bad enough, but it gets worse. “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:2). Church leaders and members knew about this terrible sin and were “puffed up” about it! Instead of mourning over this terrible sin and correctly disciplining the man, they were “puffed up” (pephusiomenoi – to puff up, blow up, inflate, swelled … the word was used to describe someone swelled with pride).

It’s important that we as Christians and defenders of the faith learn the lesson Paul taught the Corinthians because it demonstrates how Satan works in the Church. We must not be ignorant of his devices.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 9)

Church ApologeticsPaul said something very interesting in 2 Corinthians 2 that pertains to our topic. He was writing in the context of loving and forgiving a brother in Christ.

“For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11

Paul made two important points about Satan:

  1. Satan can take advantage of Christians
  2. We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices

Paul was not ignorant of Satan’s devices, but unfortunately the vast majority of Christians today “are ignorant.” We’ve already seen that the majority of Christians in the United States do not believe Satan is a living being. That statistic shows just how ignorant Christians are of Satan’s devices because one of his primary devices is to get Christians to believe he’s not real.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 8)

Church ApologeticsThe stage is set, the battle ready, the players on the field, the stakes high – very high. God created, Satan attacked, humanity failed, God loved and sent, Jesus came and died, believers saved and sealed.

This thing we call “Church” is real. Jesus Christ is building His Church, so it’s very real. And what does Satan do now? He doesn’t stop, he attacks again and again. Satan is relentless. Why? Why would a defeated foe keep attacking? Because he knows what’s coming.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 7)

Church ApologeticsI write about Satan as if he’s a real spiritual being. All Christians believe that – right?

What if I told you that more than half of Christians in the United States “strongly agree” or “agree somewhat” that Satan is not a living being but is a symbol of evil? That’s based on a Barna Group study from 2009. Here are the results based on a nationwide survey of adults’ spiritual beliefs (1,871 self-described Christians were surveyed).

40% – strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

19% – agreed somewhat that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

10% – disagreed somewhat that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

26% – disagreed strongly that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

8% – not sure what they believed about the existence of Satan

That means less than one-third of Christians strongly believe in the existence of Satan.

So, how does that compare with what the rest of the country thinks about Satan? According to a 2007 Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans believe in the devil, while only 21% don’t believe in Satan and 8% are not sure. That’s up dramatically from 1996 when only 56% of Americans said they believed in the devil.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 6)

Church ApologeticsIt’s important to our understanding of why the Church is under attack to understand the “tension” between God and Satan. We saw it first in the Garden of Eden when God said this to the Satan-possessed serpent:

“Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15

Satan is a defeated foe, cursed by God, but that does not mean the devil is not active and powerful in this world. Fortunately, we know what Satan does, how he does it and why he does it.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 4)

Church Apologetics

“Nearly 1,000 Christians have been killed and over 450,000 of them displaced in Syria due to the crisis plaguing the country.” (News Headline)

“Pakistan church bomb: Christians mourn 85 killed in Peshawar suicide attack. Pakistan’s worst-ever attack on beleaguered Christians prompts warning by bishop for future of minority in Muslim countries.” (News Headline)

“The more atheists who come out of the closet and admit publicly what they stand for, the more difficult it will be for the fanatically religious to impose their bronze-aged morality upon the rest of us.” (Atheist organization website)

“We are so sick of hearing those ignorant and self-righteous Christians complain about the problems in our society.  Boo stinkin’ hoo.” (Atheist blog)

“Christians are a hateful, mean and nasty bunch of losers.” (Facebook comment)

Why is the Church under physical and verbal attack around the world today? What or who is behind the attacks? Before you name someone or some group, think about an important insight the Apostle Paul gave us.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 3)

Church Apologetics“Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What’s life all about?”

People have been asking these questions for thousands of years. I used to believe there was no meaning to life. We were born, we lived,  we died. That was it. No more, no less.

The questions and people’s answers have led to a host of differing views about the meaning of life: pragmatism, existentialism, theism, logical positivism, absurdism, nihilism, humanism. I chose to live a form of secular humanism as an atheist. Theism seemed a bit ignorant and illogical, so it didn’t interest me until someone approached me with a method of determining the truth or falsity of the Christian message. It was my introduction to evangelistic apologetics and understanding why the Church is under attack.

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 2)

Church Apologetics

We come to the question – Why? Why is the Christian Church here in the United States and around the world under such severe attack today? What did we do to make so many people so angry?

Two-thousand years ago this month, Jesus was a teenager in the little town of Nazareth. He was obedient to His earthly parents and “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:51-52).

Jesus was well aware during His teen years about why He was on earth. He went to the Temple in Jerusalem when He was 12 years old to talk with the teachers who were there. Mary, Jesus’ mother, asked Him why He had gone to the Temple instead of going home with her. He said to her – “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them” (Luke 2:49-50).

That was an interesting statement for many reasons, one being that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was standing with Mary in the Temple. Joseph was a carpenter. So, what was the “Father’s business” Jesus mentioned?

Read more…

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack

Church ApologeticsThe Church of Jesus Christ is under attack. While that shouldn’t surprise any Christian, the method for responding to the attack does surprise many. We’ll call it “evangelistic apologetics.”

One evidence that most Christians don’t know what apologetics means comes from the question I often hear from them – “why would you want to apologize for being a Christian?”

Some pastors I’ve talked with through the years about emphasizing apologetics in their church (especially with children, teens and young adults) either chuckle, roll their eyes or get upset with me at some point in our discussion. They tell me that apologetics should not take the place of evangelism. It’s unfortunate they see apologetics that way because biblical apologetics is evangelistic – thus the name of this series of studies.

Read more…

Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 17)

Saint PaulWe began this special series about whether Paul was an Apostle or a fraud last summer. It was for the purpose of answering the many questions we receive anytime we refer to one of Paul’s letters to address a point of Christian theology. Though we are usually asked why we defend Paul, that is not our purpose. We reference Paul’s letters because we believe his writings are apostolic and inspired by the Holy Spirit. They are, as Peter wrote, Scripture (2 Peter 3:14-16).

Here’s a reminder of what we wrote in the first part of this series -

“For the person who does not accept Luke, Acts, 2 Peter, Hebrews and all of Paul’s letters, I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do to help you. You’ve chosen to throw out every possible piece of evidence that would tell you anything about Paul. That’s like a trial judge who disallows every piece of evidence that would prove the defendant not guilty just because the judge does not want the defendant found not guilty. The court is stacked against the person in that case. The same is true in the way many people handle the evidence for Paul’s apostleship. If the evidence could possibly support Paul’s legitimacy as an apostle of Jesus Christ, they throw it out. That’s not reasonable, logical, ethical or legal, so there’s nothing I can do to convince you because your mind is made up and closed to the possibility of being wrong. You have come to the table of discussion with presuppositions, preconceptions and thick ear plugs. You do not want to know, so you won’t know.”

The battle about Paul’s apostleship and his writings is far from over, even though the evidence is overwhelming in favor of God’s choice of Paul to open “the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). We will continue to add to this series as we receive more questions about Paul’s apostleship and whether his writings should be considered Holy Scripture.

Faith&SelfDefense

Faith Defense at Christmas

Virgin Mary with Baby JesusChristmas is a time of love, peace and joy – so why think about faith defense at a time like this? Because the beautiful story of God sending His “only begotten” Son into the world to save the world from sin and death is under attack.

Faith defense is necessary because of the constant spiritual danger our young people and families face in a world intent on driving Christianity into the ground. It’s a futile attempt on the part of the enemy, but that’s what the enemy does – attack.

Christians must be prepared and ready at all times “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 NKJV) However, contending for the faith does not necessarily mean we come out swinging. No, in fact, Jesus told His disciples “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

So, how do we do that? How do we defend the faith as sheep in the midst of wolves? How can we be wise as serpents and harmless as doves? We find the key in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colosse. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:5-6

Read more…

Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 13)

Saint PaulThe question is not frivolous or trivial: was Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ or a fraud? We’ve seen from the history of the early Church in Luke’s second letter to Theophilus (known to us as the Book of Acts) that Jesus Christ personally called Paul to be an apostle (Acts 9) and that the Holy Spirit called Paul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 13).

About half of the Book of Acts references Paul’s ministry to Jews and Gentiles, and Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. However, even with that overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe that Paul was an apostle and go as far as to call him a fraud. In calling Paul a fraud they also call his writings fraudulent, which is a major issue for Christians. Most of the Paul-challengers I’ve heard from also believe 2 Peter is fraudulent, partially because the letter supports Paul’s apostleship and his authorship of Scripture.

If Paul is fraudulent, then what do we make of the writings of one of Paul’s most famous students, Luke? Can Luke be trusted if his mentor is a fraud?

Read more…

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,354 other followers

%d bloggers like this: