In the last part of our series about Evangelistic Apologetics we looked at this question – If so, how is the battle going for you?
We are asking and answering seven basic questions about our involvement in God’s purpose for His Church:
- Why has God placed ‘you’ in this spiritual battle?
- What’s at stake in this spiritual battle?
- Are you really involved in fighting in this spiritual battle?
- If not, why not?
- If so, how is the battle going for you?
- What part does Evangelistic Apologetics play in this spiritual battle?
- What part are you playing in Evangelistic Apologetics?
We move now to question 6: What part does Evangelistic Apologetics play in this spiritual battle?
[Podcast version available at the end of this post.]
I am saddened as I begin this part of our series:
- saddened by hundreds of thousands of young people around the world who walk away from their belief in Jesus Christ every year after spending their childhood and teenage years in Christian churches
- saddened by the continual stream of people walking in and out of churches every Sunday never hearing the overwhelming evidence for the truth of Christianity
- saddened to know that many pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, educators and other Christian leaders oppose the idea of using apologetics (reasons for belief) in their ministry
I was one of those young people who walked away from Christianity after spending my childhood and teen years in church. I later became a strong atheist who mocked Christians for their beliefs. I accused Christians of having no evidence for the existence of God, the truth of the Bible and the reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was only because of the amazing grace of God that I am a follower of Jesus Christ today.
I, like so many other young people involved in churches, never heard about the evidence for Christianity as I grew up. I learned Bible stories, but not the evidence for the historical accuracy in those stories. I learned truth claims, but not the evidence for their truth.
What may have helped me as a child and teenager is something called evangelistic apologetics. It’s not a new thing. In fact, evangelistic apologetics is in the Bible and was used powerfully in the early centuries of the Church’s history. Evangelistic apologetics is what God brought to me as a young adult to demonstrate the reality and credibility of the truth claims of Christianity.
The problem is not that evidence for Christian truth claims does not exist, but that Christian leaders are withholding the evidence from the people God called them to lead. The Gospel of Christ is evidential in nature, but church leaders rarely present the evidence in a way people can understand and apply to their lives.
I believe strongly that Christian pastors, teachers and leaders are doing a great disservice to the Gospel by not including the evidence for the Gospel.
Can you imagine Jesus telling His disciples to “just have faith” instead of demonstrating His power and glory as evidence of His divine claims and answering tough questions thrown at Him by the opposition?
Jesus presented His disciples with evidence. Jesus calmed storms, walked on water, healed people of every disease, raised the dead and showed Himself alive to many witnesses after His own death. The disciples saw the evidence and believed.
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:35-41
“Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:25-27
“Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.” John 5:5-9
“Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them.” Luke 4:38-39
“And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.” Luke 6:17-18
“Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.” John 11:38-44
“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ John 20:26-28
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:1-3
The Bible is filled with evidence for the existence of God, the credibility of its Writings and the reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God gave us evidence so we would both believe and teach.
We will ask and answer the last question before us – “What part are you playing in Evangelistic Apologetics?”
And Jesus Said (Part Two) – Faith & Self Defense
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.