How does apologetics work? How can Christians defend Truths of the Faith with people who don’t believe as they do? Here are notes from a recent Bible study about how to defend Christmas – specifically, the Virgin Birth – to unbelievers. The principles of Faith Defense used in this study will work for defending any doctrine of Scripture with unbelieving friends and family members.
Job 1 – Preach, Teach and Defend
“And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” Mark 13:10 (keruchthenai – preached, proclaimed, heralded)
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20, (matheteusate – disciple [imperative, command verb]) (baptizoun – dip) (didaskontes – teach)
“I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” Philippians 1:16 (apologian)
“… always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. ” 1 Peter 3:15 (apologian)
How do we accomplish Job 1?
Four Pillars of Personal Ministry – 2 Corinthians 5
1) Please God – “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9
2) Persuade People – “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” 2 Corinthians 5:11
What is the “terror” of the Lord? – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20 … anapologetous – without defense
3) Reconcile Souls – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18
4) Represent Christ – “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
Here are some of the charges (kategoria) against Christmas:
1. Jesus is a myth … He never existed
2. Jesus was just a man, not born of a virgin – nothing special about Him.
3. Jesus was a revolutionary, but died trying to change the world. He failed.
4. Jesus was a good man and teacher, but nothing more.
5. Jesus was one of the world’s great prophets, but never claimed to be God. He would never have wanted His followers to start a religion using His Name.
6. Jesus was a healing prophet, but he was not crucified and did not rise from the dead.
7. Jesus was a false prophet and was rightly put to death.
8. Jesus was delusional, thinking He was God.
9. Jesus was just an illusion from Heaven to point us toward God.
10. Jesus is a creation, the product of relations between a god and his goddess wife who used to be people from another world.
11. Jesus studied in India as a teenager and returned to Israel to become a guru to Jews. His teachings were based on those of Buddha and were frowned upon by Jewish leaders, leading to Christ’s death. Upon death, Jesus became enlightened and merged with the Godhead.
12. Jesus is one of many gods who have visited earth.
13. Jesus is Lord and Savior, but not God (Jehovah) incarnate, not a God-man but inferior to God, not part of a Godhead. Jesus was a created spirit being, God’s only begotten son, sent to earth as a perfect human. His sacrifice became the “ransom” price to redeem mankind from sin and death. After Christ’s resurrection by God, He was “exalted” to a level higher than angels.
14. Jesus was a religious teacher who faked His death because of fierce opposition to His teaching. Jesus escaped, married and spent the rest of His life quietly raising His children.
15. Jesus is a manifestation of God, who is a combination of a series of personages who reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization.
16. Jesus was the son of a Roman soldier who had an affair with Mary. Joseph divorced Mary for her adultery and Jesus grew up in a world that would have nothing to do with children who were born without fathers. Jesus did what He could to enlighten people to be more compassionate to the poor and downtrodden, but was eventually eliminated by Jewish and Roman leaders in Israel.
17. Jesus is a memory implanted in the human race by space aliens.
How should we defend the story of Christmas against those who attack it? By using Paul’s Four Pillars of Personal Ministry: Please God, Persuade people, Reconcile souls, and Represent Christ.
How do we do that?
1) Know Christ and His Message (Knowledge)
2) Grow in Christ daily (Experience)
3) Develop a “strategy” for persuading unbelievers
4) Persuade unbelievers (Show Christ)
Our objective for this study is to “build confidence through evidence and persuade through evidence that will build confidence.”
In the next part of our study, we’ll see what we “know” about Christmas.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”