In the last part of our series about Evangelistic Apologetics we began looking at this question – What part are you playing in Evangelistic Apologetics? We are asking and answering seven basic questions about our involvement in God’s purpose for His Church: Why has God placed … Continue reading Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 33)
I highly recommend a new online evangelism training course from Engage 360 Ministries. It’s called Engage Your World. Registration is now open for the next section of the interactive online training course which will run from March 9th-May 24th.
In the last part of our series about Evangelistic Apologetics we looked at this question – What part does Evangelistic Apologetics play in this spiritual battle? We are asking and answering seven basic questions about our involvement in God’s purpose for His Church: Why has God … Continue reading Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 32)
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 … Continue reading Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 31)
We are continuing to report about HOW atheist street epistemologists do what they do. If this is the first time you’ve read anything in this series, we invite you to read these articles when you have time. You may find the background helpful – Street Epistemology: Basic … Continue reading Street Epistemology: Basic Tactics, Part Eight
In the last part of our series about Evangelistic Apologetics we looked at this question – If not, why not? That question was in the context of this question – Are you really involved in fighting in this spiritual battle? We are asking and answering seven … Continue reading Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 30)
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.” 1 Timothy 1:18-19
We are currently answering seven questions about the spiritual battle Christians find themselves fighting every day. In our last study we looked at the Battleground and the Players on the Field of Battle. We now move to the Strategy of War.
Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World (Baker Books, 2017) by James Emery White is about our children and grandchildren, who White says, were born between 1995-2010. Based on those birth years members of Gen Z are already filling our schools and universities and beginning their careers. They will be the parents of a new generation and will lead business, education and government in the near future.
There are other researchers who date Gen Z a bit differently than White. Some date the births of this new generation from 1996 -2012 or even to the present (2017). However, for the purpose of this book review I will use White’s dating.
White wrote that “the rise of the nones and the coming force of Generation Z will inevitably challenge every church to rethink its strategy in light of a cultural landscape that has shifted seismically. If the heart of the Christian mission is to evangelize and transform culture through the centrality of the church, then understanding that culture is paramount.” (White, James Emery. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World (p. 12). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Conversion: How God Creates A People by Michael Lawrence (Crossway, 2017) is part of the 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches series from Crossway. Lawrence, who is the lead pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, has a PhD in Church History from Cambridge University and MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also authored Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church (Crossway, 2010).
Dr. Lawrence started his book with Scripture, which I always appreciate because all of our thoughts should begin with God’s Word. Here’s what he chose to use –
“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Pet. 2:10)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Christians often focus more on what they “get” than what they “give.” We get a lot from God. We are “saved” by grace through faith. That is not from ourselves. God gives it to us. We don’t work for it. We don’t deserve it. God gives it and we receive it.. Nobody can boast about being saved. God’s does it all and gets all the credit for doing it all. We are saved because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross not because of anything we did, do or will do. Salvation is not based on our works. It’s all based on God’s grace.
What we often forget is the next verse – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God saves us with a specific purpose in mind – serving Him through good works. We are not saved “by” good works, since there’s no way a sinner can perform any works that are “good” in God’s view, but we are saved “for good works.”
So how does that work? Let’s look at “work-walking” in the New Year – keeping this important point in mind. Work-walking has nothing to do with being saved. Salvation is by grace through faith. Work-walking is about serving God after salvation.
The first part of a reading plan for Christian apologists is to read the Bible indepth, in context and often. If you haven’t read the first part of the series, please read that along with this new part.
The original writings of the Bible were in three ancient languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but parts of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic. All of the New Testament was written in Greek.
The Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages, including English, so why bother learning to read/study the Bible in the original languages? Aren’t translations good enough to learn everything God wants us to know about His Word?
Christian apologists must be thinkers. That means they must also be readers. Thinkers read. Readers think. The goal is to become a better thinker for the purpose of becoming a better truth communicator with both Christians and non-Christians. The goal is not to keep what you learn to yourself or amaze your friends with “feats” of knowledge. The goal has not changed since Jesus and His apostles told Christians what to do with the gifts the Lord gave them: 1. glorify God, 2. make disciples (teach them to obey Christ), and 3. equip the saints for their work of ministry for the edifying of the Body of Christ (to name a few).
Your passion for representing Jesus Christ to the world will drive what you read, how often you read, who you talk with, and what you tell them.
Here is the first part of a “Top Ten” list for reading based on what I’ve found most helpful through the years.
“Developing A Biblical Worldview: Seeing Things God’s Way” by Dr. C. Fred Smith (B&H Publishing, 2015) is an excellent book for any Christian interested in making disciples and defending Christianity.
Everyone has a “view of the world” that affects their perspective on life and guides the choices they make every day.
“… most people within any particular subculture, or demographic group, have a shared worldview that enhances the quality of community life and facilitates communication between group members. Our own worldview is affected by the perspectives that we see and hear.” (Introduction to Developing A Biblical Worldview, p 1)
Christians also have a worldview and it’s based on the Bible, God’s revelation of Himself.
Os Guinness wrote in his new book, Fool’s Talk: Recovering The Art Of Christian Persuasion (IVP Books, 2015), that his own journey to faith was more than intellectual. He said it included a long, slow, critical debate in his mind during his school years.
“On one side, I listened to the arguments of such famous atheists as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, and on the other side to such Christian thinkers as Blaise Pascal, Fyodor Dostoevsky, G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.”
Guinness began writing books more than 40 years ago (The Dust of Death: A Critique of the Establishment and the Counter Culture, and the Proposal for a Third Way) and quickly became known as one of the best thinkers in Christianity. He went on to write more than 30 books (e.g. The Call, Doing Well and Doing Good, The Devil’s Gauntlet, Dining with the Devil, Time for Truth, In Two Minds, God in the Dark, Unspeakable, A Free People’s Suicide, The American Hour, Long Journey Home, The Case For Civility, The Global Public Square, Renaissance: The Power Of The Gospel However Dark The Times) while working as a freelance reporter with the BBC, as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, and as a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies. He is also the founder of the Trinity Forum and project director of the Trinity Forum Study Series and was the lead drafter of the Williamsburg Charter and the Global Charter of Conscience. Guinness is currently a Senior Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.
Dr. Guinness (DPhil, Oxford University) is known around the world as an influential speaker, social critic and thought-provoking writer. So, with all that he’s already said, what else can he possibly write that Christians should read?
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-5
In our last post, we asked seven questions about the spiritual battle Christians find themselves fighting every day.
- 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 answered the first question. Now let’s look at the second: what is at stake in this spiritual battle?
First, we need to define two terms:
What does it mean to ‘leave’ something or someone?
What does it mean to leave ‘the faith?’
I understand walking away from a weak belief in something, but ‘leaving the faith?’ That’s hard to fathom for several reasons.
If teachers are teaching and preachers are preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), no Christian should wonder why the Church is under attack. It’s not a secret. God is not trying to hide from us that the Church is under attack. In fact, God has made it abundantly clear in His Word that Satan is His enemy and our enemy and is attacking us continually using a sophisticated system of spiritual forces working at many levels of life on this planet and in this universe.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
Ephesians 6:10-18 is often referred to as “spiritual warfare” and that’s not a bad name for what is occurring in the spiritual realms. We may think our enemies stand before us in flesh and blood, but the real enemies live in the spirit world. That’s why God tells us to use “spiritual” weapons to battle with these spiritual beings. A primary weapon we have available to us as Christian warriors is Evangelistic Apologetics.
“The only worldview that is true is God’s view of the world.”
In the last part of our study we saw that the undeniable end of Satan’s worldview (“you will be like God, knowing good and evil”) was great wickedness and every intent of the thoughts of the hearts of humans being “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Satan’s worldview is every worldview except one – God’s.
We’ve seen in previous articles that worldviews that grew from Satan’s lie included atheism, agnosticism, polytheism, pantheism and panentheism. How did they develop and what can we learn from their development to understand how Satan is attacking the Church today?
Jesus chose Saul of Tarsus for a big task – take the Gospel of Christ to the Gentile world. Why did Jesus choose Saul? Why select a deeply devoted Pharisee from Tarsus to take Christianity to a world of pagans, idol worshippers and lovers of philosophy?
Saul viewed the Lord’s calling as extremely personal: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15-16).
As the authors point out in this excellent book (be sure to read Book Review 1 which looks at the first four chapters of The Gospel in the Markeplace), Saul of Tarsus, Paul the Apostle, was well qualified to take the Gospel of Christ to the philosophers on Mars Hill:
“Paul was knowledgeable about the philosophical and religious beliefs of the Athenians. One prominent Athenian school was Stoicism, founded by Zeno of Cyprus and developed by a later Zeno from Paul’s hometown–Tarsus, another of the three great centers of learning in the Roman Empire (the third being Alexandria in Egypt). Paul would have had plenty of opportunity to learn about Stoicism and competing worldviews. No wonder, then, when Paul was challenged to explain the new foreign gods that the Athenians thought he was proclaiming, he brought together his knowledge of Scripture and Jewish traditions and theology with the practices of Gentile idolaters and philosophers.” (p. 13).
Have you ever wondered how we got here? I mean how we got from the Garden of Eden to, well, this … life as we know it now.
Yes, I know it’s just a small jump from Genesis 2:25 to Genesis 3:7, but isn’t that really a huge jump from living on a perfect planet to the mess it became? I think it is a huge jump and a big disappointment. I read Genesis 1 & 2 and Planet Earth sounds like a really nice place to live. Genesis 3 & 4? Not so much. I’m telling you, it’s a big disappointment.
But, here we are; all of us in the same situation. As complicated as life appears, it’s really quite simple. We’re all doomed. No, really, we’re all doomed. That is the truth of the matter. We have no hope … without God. And there is the rub. We have no hope without God, so believing that God exists is the starting point for everyone.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6)
But what about people who don’t believe God exists? What about people who believe there’s a God, but the god they believe in is not really God? What about people who believe there are many gods and none of them are the real God? What about people who believe God is in everything or everything is God? How in the world did we go from one God in the Garden of Eden to no God, different God, several gods, millions of gods, everything’s god, god’s in everything?
Back to Genesis to figure this out.