Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 3)
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.
In the last part of our study we saw Satan ending his testing of Jesus and departing from Him “until an opportune time.” That’s an important insight into how Satan works. As you study in the Bible about the devil, you’ll see that he’s a brilliant “opportunist.” Satan took advantage of the next “opportune time” by using one of Jesus’ own disciples against Him.
“And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.” Luke 22:2-4
“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” Matthew 26:14-16
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded … I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’ Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.’ And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’ But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, ‘Buy those things we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.” John 13:1-5, 18-30
“And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48
“Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.’ And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” Matthew 27:3-10
Satan carried out his plan for Jesus by using “an opportune time.” However, Satan’s plan had a fatal flaw. Jesus’ death on the Cross and resurrection from the dead was the method God used to reconcile people to Himself and give them eternal life (e.g. Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:16). It was also God’s method of responding to Satan’s own rejection of Him many years before.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. ” Ephesians 3:8-12
“… that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:18-23
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:13-15
Look at what Jesus did to Satan by His crucifixion and resurrection. He “disarmed” Satan. He made a “public spectacle” of Satan. He “triumphed over” Satan. Jesus beat and humiliated Satan and the principalities and powers under Satan’s control. So, why is the Christian Church here in the United States and around the world under severe attack today? Because God has chosen to demonstrate His manifold wisdom “by the church” to the principalities and powers in heavenly places and they are angry about it.
Satan and his forces know their end – “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10) This age is the only opportunity for Satan to do something in response to his defeat. He’s a defeated foe, but not yet restrained. When God does restrain Satan in the future the devil will have no power to affect the world until God sets him free again, but then for only a short time (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10). So, while Satan’s free now he will do everything in his power to hurt the Church. The devil accuses us daily before God, but Jesus is our Advocate before the Father (e.g. Revelation 12:10; 1 John 2:1-2) He will persecute Christians through any means available to him, but God has given us the weapons to fight the spiritual battle with him and his forces effectively and efficiently (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Thinking about how Jesus defeated Satan and now uses the Church to demonstrate His triumph reminds me of the modern phrase – “in your face.” It’s an aggressive way of confronting an enemy with evidence of your dominance and their defeat. How does Satan react to Jesus putting the Church “in his face?” “… our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan is angry and vicious. He’s out for revenge and he does it by attacking the Church. There’s nothing Satan can do against Jesus since the Lord is “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named” (Ephesians 1:21), so the devil attacks us.
Jesus said of Satan – “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10a) In contrast, Jesus said of Himself – “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b) What a difference between Jesus and Satan. Satan, the defeated, lashes out in his anger and steals, kills and destroys. Jesus, the Victor, reaches out in His Love and gives life abundantly and eternally.
No wonder the Church is under attack. So, how do we respond to Satan and his evil forces? How do we share the Gospel with people who reject Christ? We’ll look into that in the next part of our study.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”