Evangelism

4 Apologetic Methods for God’s Existence

The word apologetic doesn’t mean what it sounds like. It comes from the Greek word ἀπολογία–to speak in defense of one’s worldview. In our case, Christianity. Therefore, when discussing the 4 different types of apologetic systems, I am referring to the various methodologies Christians use to defend their faith. Are you ready to learn? Let’s begin.

The first methodology is entitled Classical Apologetics. It focuses the use of logical criteria such as the law of noncontradiction, self-consistency, comprehensiveness, and coherence. A famous apologist, William Lane Craig, often uses the classical approach when debating the Christian worldview.

For example, he may argue for the teleological argument, which states the intricate design in nature points to an intelligent Creator. Other common classical apologetic positions include the moral, ontological, and cosmological arguments.

Christian philosopher Norman Geisler summarizes this position well: “The basic argument of the classical apologist is that it makes no sense to speak about the resurrection as an act of God unless, as a logical prerequisite, it is first established that there is a God who can act” (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics).

The second approach to apologetics is known as Evidentialism. It’s primary focus is to ground the Christian faith on historically verifiable facts. Instead of arguing for unequivocal proof of God through logical necessity like Classical apologists do, Evidentialists argue that a high degree of probability can be articulated in favor of Christianity. The evidence for creation, prophecy, deity of Christ, and especially the historical significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead are the main subjects in this apologetic approach.

The apologist who pioneered the evidentialist approach was Joseph Butler (1692-1752). In 1736 Butler published The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature. Butler wrote this work to transform the old metaphysical and rationalistic argumentation in Britain to a more scientific and empirical form of reasoning.

He admitted that revealed religion like Christianity was gripped with intellectual problems, but could still be found probabilistically reasonable and justifiable. But not objectively definitive like the Classical approach.

The third apologetic position is Reformed apologetics. It attempts to argue for the Christian faith on the authoritative word of God through revelation rather than empirical or scientific knowledge.

This position would encourage the believer to base their truth in God, not through scientific inquiry, but with the presupposition or fundamental assumption that the Christian faith is already true. There is no need to ground reasoning in God by the physical sciences alone since it’s already intuitively understood by all human beings. Thus, all are without excuse (Rom. 1:20) when they deny the existence of God.

This approach was inspired by John Calvin from the 1500s and has become popularized in recent times by Cornelius Van Til. This is what Dr. Van Til said that summarizes his perspective:

“I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other beliefs, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else.” -Van Til

The main criticism of this view is that it uses circular reasoning to argue it’s case. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy that occurs when the conclusion of an argument is used as a premise of that same argument. In other words, the premise would not work if the conclusion wasn’t already assumed to be true.

Proponents of this view have offered a rebuttal to this claim.

“We agree that presuppositional apologetics is the ultimate biblical approach to apologetics. The common accusation that the presuppositionalist uses circular reasoning is actually true. In fact, everyone uses some degree of circular reasoning when defending his ultimate standard (though not everyone realizes this fact). Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and, therefore, not fallacious.” – Answers in Genesis Darius and Karin Viet

The final apologetic system is called fideism. The term comes from the latin word fide, meaning “faith.” Instead of being rational (Classical), empirical (Evidentialist), authoritarian (Reformed), it is intuitive (Fideist). Furthermore, fideism maintains that human knowledge of truth is most especially found in the heart or will rather than in the intellect. For example, Fideists would contend that no matter how intellectually sophisticated an argument becomes for the existence of God, those who are living a rebellious sinful life will reject it.

People reject Christianity because Christianity is found in a person, not a religious system or intellectual program. A person requires a relationship. So then, you may know about someone, but until you meet them, intellectual knowledge makes no difference. Fideists would argue the same is true in Christianity.

Fideism was popularized by Martin Luther and was further stressed by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. He once said, “It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.” This statement expresses the idea that belief and obedience are interconnected. Therefore, if one doesn’t love God or obey Him, it’s almost impossible to convince him or her to intellectually commit to God.

What are your thoughts? Which apologetic approach do you find most beneficial? Do you think all of these approaches are valid? Why or Why not? Please comment below. Have a good day!

How do we Fish for the Souls of Humankind?

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” -Matthew 4:19

Today, my son and I were playing the Catch and Count Fishing Game by Melissa and Doug company. The fishing rods have a magnet attached at the end of the pole that connects with another magnetic circle on the fish. Each fish has a different color, fin arrangement, and number. The game is really useful for hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem solving, and interpersonal skills, but most importantly, it reminds my son of the gospel message.

Every time my son and I play, he tells me of the time in children’s church when Jesus said we should make fishers of men. It’s such a joy to have your own son remind you of the importance of evangelism. While he may not perfectly understand this analogy, he does know it’s crucial for believers to fish for the souls of humankind.

Are you currently fishing for the souls of people? Do you think about how to share the gospel with your friends, neighbors, family members, or co-workers? I want to encourage you that God has given you the best fishing pole (The Word of God) and the bait (grace) to bring the most hardened fish (sinners) to a relationship with the Almighty One.

Maybe you are hesitant to cast out the fishing line in fear of rejection from others. Don’t worry. Jesus said that when you follow him, you will make fishers of men. He didn’t say you “might” make fishers of men.

As Christians, our call is to be faithful to what God commanded: To go and make disciples. To make fishers of men. When we use the right fishing pole (the Bible), the right bait (grace), you might be surprised how many fish (people) begin to nibble (inquire) about the good news of Jesus Christ. May God bless you in your endeavors!

How to Share the Gospel with Confidence and Ease

image

Last summer, Time to Revive, an evangelical non-profit organization led by Kyle Lance Martin, marched through the city of Kokomo, Indiana. They helped revive and equip our churches to share the gospel effectively with our neighbors and loved ones.

It was an exhilarating experience. The churches, who were normally divided by subtle differences in church government, politics, and end-times eschatology, came together with the most important common ground shared: Jesus, the God-Man, died on the cross for the sins of the world (John 3:16).

Instead of arguing over secondary issues, the churches imitated what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2: “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

This strategy worked. The churches were united. And they were not united by liberal ecumenicism telling them to forsake their core beliefs of Christendom to get along. Instead, the churches realized their differences were only preferences, not biblical requirements. Thus, unity came as a result of obedience for God to be glorified (Eph. 4:4).

In fact, one of the pastors belonging to the Wesleyan Holiness Movement was surprised he was praying with a Pentecostal. Baptists and Presbyterians were evangelizing together. Even predominately white churches were serving the community with black churches. This doesn’t happen that often in America. And that’s why I believe it was a move of God.

When God moves, he is not concerned with denominational preferences. He is not weighing the pros and cons of traditional versus contemporary service. And he surely is not involved in racial segregation–He died for that. Racial Reconciliation is not a social issue; it is a Gospel issue!

How was the gospel preached? 

Each individual involved with Time to Revive received a couple of Bibles and wristbands. The Bibles and wristbands are color-coded by themes: Yellow represents sin, black symbolizes death, red stands for God’s love, blue shows faith, and green corresponds to life.

image

The first step is to walk up to someone and ask, “How are you? Is there anything I can pray for you about?” Nine out of ten times, the person says, “Of course.” After they inform you what’s on their heart, you actually pray for them…right there.

Next, you give them a color-coded wristband as a reminder you prayed. Usually the person looks at it. “What is this?” they may inquire. You tell them each color represents a theme of the Bible. Would you like for me to share these themes with you? Once they agree to this, you have your Bible ready to flip to each verse. The nice thing about it is these verses are already marked for you in the Bible. Because there are thumb-tabs that directly flip to your page, there is no need to panic. It’s all there for you to adequately explain the gospel.

image

Once you go through the gospel, on the back of the Bible there is this question: “Is there anything or anyone keeping you from accepting the free gift of life in Jesus today?” If they confess there is nothing holding them back, you simply pray for them. There is a paragraph on the back that shares God’s message.

“Lord, I know I am a sinner, but I thank you for Your Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for my sins and rose on the third day so that my sins could be forgiven and I can be with you forever. Thank you for loving me. I am ready to follow You and give my life to You. Please help me along the way and allow me to know You better each day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have any further questions, you can learn more on their website http://www.timetorevive.com. I hope this was an encouragement to you. Have a great day!

How to Share your Faith on Halloween

1471963_10154734218330282_4270773749354111336_n

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Pet. 2:12).” 

Halloween was originally called All Hallows’ Eve, a pagan holiday when dead ancestors were remembered. This tradition became a cultural phenomenon and is now celebrated in many different ways by people from all around the world.

Businesses see Halloween as an opportunity to grow in their revenue before the end of the year from the sale of candy and services to customers. Others view this holiday as a fun-filled sugar high for kids in cute costumes. Concerned parents perceive Halloween as an evil holiday that focuses on the occult, devils, and worship of all things dark and demonic. Whatever your position is, don’t let the opportunity for a conversation about the spiritual dimension and eternal life slip by.

Last week, the Secular Student Alliance–an educational non-profit organization for Atheists, planted tombstones in the lawn at our local college university. They called it Graveyard of the gods. It featured a number of ancient gods like Zeus, Osiris, and Saturn who are considered mythological today. It also raised an important question: What’s stopping Allah and Yahweh from joining the mix?

“The important thing to note here is that religions come and go like fads or trends. In another thousand years, the big three [Christianity, Judaism and Islam] could very well migrate onto this list of deceased gods and religions,” said Sam Thomas, president of the NGSS. “Who knows, they may even be taught as myth. Religions and their gods come and go, most of which are forgotten.”

This frightful display on campus ironically led to a constructive conversation between Atheists and Christians. For instance, one Atheist said it was only a matter of time before Jesus and other self-proclaiming gods will cease to exist. The Christian rebutted this false accusation with two points.

First, he demonstrated that Yahweh has existed much longer than the Egyptian, Roman and Greek gods, as well as Islam. Therefore, the notion that the God of the Bible will come and go like fads or trends is not a historically accurate statement.

Second, there is no debate in scholarship that Jesus of Nazareth historically existed in Palestine 2,000 years ago, unlike the mythological gods that were created by ancient civilizations. The more appropriate question would be, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?”

The Christian contended 7 proofs for the resurrection: empty tomb of Jesus, eyewitness testimony from women, Jesus’ Apostles’ new found courage, changed lives of James and others, a large crowd of eyewitnesses, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and the disciples dying for Jesus.  Though the Atheist was not convinced, the discussion still led to a positive experience and there was a greater appreciation for belief in the Christian religion, spirituality, and the afterlife.

You have heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I see Halloween as an opportunity to speak to non-Christians about death, the afterlife, demons, and God because people are looking for more than just candy and a good time. They are on a quest to find answers to life’s most important questions, and as Christians, we have the hope they are looking for!

What did Jesus instruct us to do in Matthew 5:15?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; or does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Next year, I want to challenge you to share your faith in Jesus Christ to the outcasts, broken-hearted, pagans, common folk, and the sinners and tax collectors. Don’t turn your lights off and hide from the people. Instead, combat spiritual warfare and turn lemons into lemonade. Give candy and put a gospel tract in there. Preach the gospel on the public sidewalk. Challenge them to the “good person challenge if you want. Here is a video below that helps you to do that. Whatever you do, give a defense for the gospel, doing it with love and respect. God bless!

Keep Enduring Through Trials because of the Joy of Your Salvation in Christ

th

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pet. 1:6-7).”

When I first came to faith in Jesus, I preached virtually every weekend in the open air. I went to various places–downtown, bars and clubs, parks, social events, concerts, you name it. If it was a place where people gathered and could hear God’s word proclaimed, I was there.

One day I decided to share the gospel at a Nine Inch Nails concert. Many wore black gothic clothes and told me they worshipped Satan. I kept reiterating that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, not a scary gargoyle creature. I told them not to be deceived but to repent and put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ.  My goal was to balance the truth of God’s wrath and judgment with his mercy and grace.

While preaching this message, a man approached me, opened two beer cans, and poured it on my head. As I was dripping with beer juice, I looked the man squarely in the eye and told him–Jesus loves you. It was the grace of God that helped me love this person regardless of the mistreatment I endured from him. He walked away and continued shouting, “Hail Satan.” Afterwards, a man came up to me, was impressed with the genuineness of my faith, and proceeded to ask me questions about Jesus.

Though the Apostle Peter mentions in this passage that Christians will experience trials in this life, it pales in comparison to the glory that will be revealed at Christ’s return. The word trial here doesn’t mean the inner wrestling with evil inclination, but undeserved sufferings from real, physical and/or emotional persecution from others. Can you remember the last time you were persecuted for your faith? How did it make you feel? Do the promises of God help alleviate the pain?

Suffering will rob us of joy if we do not remember God’s word. He is telling us, “hang in there, don’t give up, trust in me.” No matter what happens to you, keep enduring through trials because someday every tear of sorrow will be wiped away. Also, you never know who is watching you during your greatest trials. If the mistreatment by the beer guy didn’t happen, would my conversation about Jesus have taken place? Only God knows.

Extending Grace in a Culture of Revenge

Carnegie-1903There are 5 members of my family. I have two older brothers, Tyson and Brian. They are both in the medical field working as doctors. My Father made his living as a Physical Therapist and business owner while my Mom stayed at home. I had a great experience growing up. My family demonstrated mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

Grace is what I want to speak to you about. Grace is defined as getting something you don’t deserve. It comes from the Greek word charis, which means favor, blessing, or kindness. Grace is giving a blessing we don’t deserve. I want to share moments in my life where this type of grace or blessing was shown to me by members of my family.

My Dad is a huge Baseball fan. He built a Baseball field in our backyard and was the coach of my team throughout my youth. One day, before a game, my Dad and I got into an argument and we refused to talk. He still put me in the lineup and let me play in the game. When it was my turn to bat, I hit the ball over the fence, which we call homerun. It’s like scoring a goal in soccer. As I was rounding the bases, everyone, including my Dad, was cheering for me. When he gave me a high five, I ignored him. After the game, I felt really bad. However, my Dad wasn’t angry with me. He chose to forgive. I didn’t deserve to have this grace extended, but He chose to forget about the situation.

It was my 16th birthday. I just got my driver’s license and wanted to show off to my friends my Mom’s brand new Mustang convertible car. One friend asked if he could take the car for a ride. I said, “Go right ahead, but don’t drive past the end of the street.” Immediately, He got into the car, sped down the end of the street, and ignored my instruction and kept speeding down the road. As he took a turn, he hit a mailbox and fence. It damaged the side of my Mom’s car. When she found out about it, her face was hot with anger. It was the first time I ever say my Mom really upset. The amazing thing was she forgave me just a day later and cooked me dinner. I didn’t deserve this blessing and affection. This was grace.

My oldest brother and I got into a heated argument one day. I decided to get out the boxing gloves and told him, “I can take you, wimp.” My brother said alright, but I got scared. I ran in circles around our yard so he couldn’t catch me. Finally, he gave up, but I think he was showing mercy to me. He didn’t want to beat me up even though I deserved it.

Recently, while studying at the seminary, my wife and I spoke to a gentleman about ministry outside our apartment. We were planning on eating dinner soon, but this man continued talking to me. I told Olya to go ahead to our room, cook the meal, and I will be there in a few minutes. Those few minutes lasted for 30 minutes. She called me and said, “The food is ready. Please come now.” I said okay; just give me 5 more minutes. That turned into another 30 minutes. Finally, she called me on the phone and said the food is cold. When I got to the apartment, the food was still there on the table. She put it in the microwave, served me the meal, and was only upset for a moment. She decided to still love me even though I didn’t deserve it at the time.

Like me, most people here have experienced some type of grace or forgiveness in their lives. But when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. The examples above were conditional grace. My Dad might have forgiven me because he didn’t want others to see his anger. My Mom could have shown me grace so that she didn’t have to deal with any more confrontation. My wife could have forgiven me so that bitterness wouldn’t enter into her heart, making our marriage worse. See there is benefit in this type of grace for both people.

But the grace of God is unconditional. It doesn’t benefit Him like it does for us. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. Read Ephesians 2:1-9. Here we see that God shows both mercy and grace. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. Consider this illustration: you were stopped in your car going 30 kilometers over the speed limit. The ticket is high and you can’t pay it. You appear before the judge with nothing to say. He hears your case, and to your surprise, he cancels your fine. That is mercy. But the judge doesn’t stop there. He walks you outside and hands you the keys to a new car. That is grace.

In mercy, God chose to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  In Romans 5:10 the Bible states, “Through Jesus he reconciled to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

That’s why salvation is found in no one else but Jesus. He is the only one worthy to pay the penalty for our sins demanded by God’s holiness (Revelation 5:4-5). Only when our sins are dealt with in Christ can we enter heaven. We cannot pay our own way. There is no amount of good works or religious acts that we can do to earn God’s favor. Repeat: It is only by grace that we are saved. When we confess this to God, turn from our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”

If you are a believer here this morning, I want you to think about your life. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I extend grace to others out of duty or because of my love for Christ? Am I trying to earn God’s favor by attending church services, dressing modestly, and reading my Bible, or because I want to be holy, please God, and have a relationship with Him? Lastly, I want to challenge you to think of at least one way you can extend grace to someone this week, whether it’s sending a card, smiling at a stranger, sharing the good news of Jesus, or anything that would extend grace and love towards others.  

For unbelievers: If you want to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, do it now! God promises He will answer your prayers. If you don’t know what to say, you can say this out loud: “Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner who deserves Hell. I also realize you are a loving God who doesn’t desire for people to perish, but to be saved. You died on the cross for my sins and I am eternally grateful for that. I accept your free gift of salvation. With your help, I am willing to forsake my sin and put my trust and faith solely in you. Thanks for your marvelous grace. I believe all these words are true and declare them in the name of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Use Your Time Wisely For God

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14

Idea: The average American lives to be 78 years old. If you multiply this number by a year, that gives 28,470 days of life. The first 15 years are spent in childhood and early adolescence. Approximately 20 years are devoted to sleeping. Toward the last 10 years of life, our health becomes limited and our ability to thrive wanes. When you consider eating, traveling, work, and other life duties, your down to perhaps 20 years of focusing your complete attention on serving God and witnessing for Christ. 

Now suppose you spend time watching Television, surfing the internet, playing sports, shopping, and other extracurricular activities. You are down to about 10 Christ-focused years. That’s 3,650 days, or 87,600 hours to seek God in prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, and evangelizing to the lost. 

Application: Our time is shorter than we think. Invest your time wisely for God’s kingdom. Everything around you will pass, but only what you do for Christ will last. I challenge you to calculate your time spent on worshipping God this week and determine how much free time you have if you tarry to 78.

Prayer: Father, teach us to number our days. Remind us that you are sovereign over the destinies of our life and we have no idea what the future holds. Planning and investing are not wrong, but help us to rid ourselves of arrogance, self-confidence, and pride so we can grow closer to you. In Jesus name, Amen.