A Reading Plan for Christian Apologists – Part 1.1
The first and most important part of a reading plan for a Christian apologist is to have a powerful grasp on God’s Word – the Bible. We addressed that in Part 1 of this study and will continue to emphasize the importance of Christian apologists (and all Christians) being actively involved in regular Bible reading and study for the rest of our lives.
Before moving to Part 2 of the reading plan, I’d like to share personal thoughts about some of the “overarching” truths about God and the Bible I believe every Christian apologist should acknowledge. I’ve been involved in ministry for almost 45 years and am familiar with the fact that Christians disagree on many things. However, I believe Christians can and should agree on particular truths concerning God based on the clear teaching of the Bible.
Coming into Christianity from atheism these overarching truths struck me powerfully during my early years as a Christian. Reading the Bible as a new Christian is different than reading it as an atheist investigating the credibility of the historical text. The Holy Spirit illuminates the Holy text for the believer and shines the light of grace and truth through Jesus Christ.
Overarching Biblical Truth About God
God is Supreme, Sovereign and Perfect.
God is Supreme in Being … Sovereign in Rule … and Perfect in all His Attributes.
A truth that is overarching is a truth that dominates and overshadows everything else. I believe that the Supremacy, Sovereignty and Perfection of God is an overarching truth and as such dominates and overshadows everything and everyone. If it is true that the Bible teaches God is Supreme, Sovereign and Perfect, then every other truth would be impacted by that truth.
We see this overarching theme throughout the Bible. In fact, the first chapter in the Bible states emphatically that this is true:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (God is Supreme)
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (God is Sovereign)
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (God is Perfect)
This theme of God’s Supremacy, Sovereignty and Perfection continues throughout Scripture all the way to the end of the Bible.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (God is Supreme)
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away … And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (God is Sovereign)
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (God is Perfect)
“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” (God is Supreme)
“But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (God is Perfect)
“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” (God is Sovereign)
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (God is Supreme)
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.'” (God is Sovereign)
With that as our spiritual road map, let’s see what we learn about God’s Supremacy, Sovereignty and Perfection in Holy Scripture.
- Highest in authority; holding the highest place in authority, government, or power
- Highest; greatest; most excellent or most extreme; utmost; greatest possible
- Situated at the highest part or point
Hebrew – עֶלְיוֹן ʻelyôwn, Most High (e.g. Genesis 14:18-19; Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalm 7:17; 46:4; 83:18; 97:9)
Aramaic – עֶלְיוֹנִין Elyon, Highest One (Daniel 7:18, 22, 25, 27)
Aramaic – עִלָּיָא Illay, Highest, Most High (Daniel 3:26; 4:2, 17, 24, 25, 32, 34, 5:18, 21, 25)
Greek – ὑψίστοις, hupsistos, Highest, Most High (Luke 1:32, 35; 6:35; 8:28; Acts 7:48; Hebrews 7:1)
- Brought to consummation or completeness; completed; not defective nor redundant; having all the properties or qualities requisite to its nature and kind; without flaw, fault, or blemish; without error; mature; whole; pure; sound; right; correct.
Hebrew – שָׁלֵם shalem, perfect, finished, whole, complete, blameless
Hebrew – תָּמִים tamim, perfect, complete, blameless, unblemished (Psalm 18:30)
Greek – τέλειος teleios, perfect, full grown, complete in all its parts (Matthew 5:4
Ramifications of this Overarching Truth
Christians believe, rightly so, that God is One Being in Three C0-Equal Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When God spoke to Israel and explained His ancient plan to redeem His people, He spoke as One Being and Three Persons –
“Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, And My right hand has stretched out the heavens; When I call to them, They stand up together. ‘All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The Lord loves him; He shall do His pleasure on Babylon, And His arm shall be against the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; Yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper. ‘Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord God and His Spirit Have sent Me.’ Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:12-17
Jesus Christ revealed Himself to be the First and the Last, the Almighty God –
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8
“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.” Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20
The Holy Spirit revealed Himself to be God, hovering over the waters of creation, proceeding from the Father, testifying of the Son, guiding the saints –
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26
“The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
“You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.” Psalm 104:30
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority,but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:12-15
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Acts 5:1-4
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2;13
“Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all …” 1 Corinthians 12:3-7
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:16-21
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray intheir heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Hebrews 3:7-11
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:1-2
Christian apologists deal with truth and the greatest truth of all is that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are Supreme, Sovereign and Perfect. That means everything they say and do are dominated by Supremacy, Sovereignty and Perfection. Everything they say and do are true and without error. God does not make mistakes.
There are many things in the Bible that are difficult to understand and explain. However, difficulty in understanding and explaining does not mean they are not true. The overarching truth about God’s Supremacy, Sovereignty and Perfection is where we go when we do not understand, when we struggle to explain.
There are many things in life that are difficult to understand and explain. However, difficulty in understanding and explaining does not mean they are not true. The overarching truth about God’s Supremacy, Sovereignty and Perfection is where we go when we do not understand, when we struggle to explain.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 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. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.