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.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11-12

As easy as it is to get caught up in viewing attacks on the Church as coming from people (“flesh and blood”), we must grasp what’s really going on. It’s the only way we can possibly comprehend the work God has given us to do during our time on earth and how to do it with the right attitude toward our fellow humans.

One of the main things God wants us to do during this lifetime is “stand against the wiles of the devil.” Why? Because the devil’s “wiles” (methodeia – craft, deceit, cunning device, trickery) are what we really face as followers of Jesus Christ.

To say that Satan is crafty, deceitful, and cunning would be an accurate statement. Jesus called the devil “the enemy” (Matthew 13:39), “murderer” and “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). But wait a minute – didn’t Jesus create Satan? The apostles wrote that Jesus created everything, including angels, and Satan is an angel (John 1:1-3, 10; Colossians 1:16-17), so why would Jesus call the devil the enemy, a murderer and the father of lies if He created him?

Jesus shared an important insight into Satan’s history in Luke 10. The Lord sent 70 of His disciples out with the command to heal the sick and tell them that the Kingdom had come near to them. The 70 returned with joy and told Jesus that even the demons were subject to them in His Name. Jesus said to them – “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18) That may seem a strange thing for Jesus to say to His disciples, but it makes perfect sense when we understand He was addressing the supernatural realm of His authority.

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades. He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me. Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Luke 10:1-17

Jesus sent His disciples “two by two” for the purpose of demonstrating His power through their healing the sick and for saying to the people that the “kingdom of God” had come near to them. The disciples were representatives of the King and thus carried His authority wherever they went. Jesus told His disciples that at the judgment of the world He would reject the people who rejected them and their message. Why? Because people who rejected the disciples’ message rejected Jesus and God the Father Who sent Jesus. When the 70 disciples returned from their ministry, they rejoiced that “even the demons” were subject to them in Jesus’ Name. It was in that context of Jesus’ supernatural authority as Judge of the world that He said – “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Was Jesus referring to Satan’s fall from his position as a leading angel (Ezekiel 28; Isaiah 14)? The fact that the Kingdom of God had come to earth because King Jesus had come (Matthew 12)? Christ’s triumph over Satan through His death and resurrection (Colossians 2)? Satan’s final defeat after the Millennial Reign of Christ (Revelation 20)? or was Jesus thinking of all of that when He said He saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven?

Jesus said something else of importance to the 70 disciples –

“And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:18-20)

In the context of the Lord’s disciples rejoicing that demons were subject to them in His Name and Jesus seeing Satan fall like lightning from Heaven, the Lord told His disciples that He had given them authority over all the power of the enemy. However,  Jesus told them that something even greater than having the spirits subject to them was that their names were written in Heaven.

Jesus then said this –

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” Luke 10:21-24

It is good to remember as Christians that we know what prophets and kings desired to know. It’s good to remember that God has given us power over the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-18; James 4:1-10; 1 Peter 5:8-11). However, the most important thing to remember is that because of the great gift of Christ our names are written in Heaven (Revelation 20:11-15). We take that knowledge into the battle knowing that we win because Jesus won it for us.

Someone may ask why spend time focusing on what Satan is doing and has done when the subject of this series is Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack.  Look at each word in the title and think about why it exists:

Evangelistic – we preach the “good news” because there is “bad news” that began with Satan

Apologetics – we “defend” the Christian worldview because of anti-Christian worldviews fostered by Satan

The Church – those who Christ redeemed by the shedding of His Blood on the Cross

Under Attack – the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental attacks on those who Christ redeemed

What Satan did and is doing is behind every aspect of evangelism, apologetics and the attacks the Church faces. That’s why Paul wrote we do not fight against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In the next part of our study, we’ll look at why the world is in such a mess and how Evangelistic Apologetics can make a difference.

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”