Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Matthias or Paul – Who was God’s Choice to Replace Judas? Did the Eleven Apostles Get It Wrong With Matthias?

When Judas hung himself after betraying Jesus Christ unto His crucifixion, the remaining eleven apostles were left to choose a replacement to return their circle to the number twelve, which represented the twelve Tribes of the Jewish nation (Israel and Judah). God’s plan was to take the Gospel to the entire world, beginning with the Jewish people (God’s chosen), as we see in Acts 1:8. Jesus told His disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to descend to them, and then, “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Paul emphasized it this way, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) The turning point – the point at which God made it clear that the time had come to reach out to the gentile (non-Jew) world with the Gospel – was the dream that God gave Peter, which led him to meet with and convert Cornelius of Caesarea to be a follower of Christ; the first gentile to be so converted. You can read this whole story in Acts 10.

So, the apostles went about selecting a replacement for Judas – not choosing of their own accord – but determining whom God would choose to fill the vacancy in the twelve. As we see in the story of this selection process in Acts 1:15-26, Peter quoted David’s prophecy of this moment in Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8. David had prophesied this moment with amazing accuracy, especially when realizing that the chief priests took the money that Judas threw back at them, after realizing what he had done, and purchased the field in which he hung himself, and called it Akel-dama, the Field of Blood. In using that prophecy, Peter was saying that there should be a replacement for Judas.

Now that we’ve explored why the eleven felt the need to replace Judas, let’s look at who Matthias was, and why he was selected. We know that the twelve apostles were not the only disciples of Jesus Christ. Several times, the Bible talks about the 70, and some about the 150. What this says is that Jesus had his inner circle of followers, the twelve apostles, including Simon Peter, John (son of Zebedee), James (the brother of John), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas (the doubter), Matthew, James (son of Alpheus), Thaddeus (son of James), Simon (the Zealot), Judas. Then, He had another concentric ring of 70 followers which grew to 150 and then to about 500. The total number of followers continued to grow until Jesus started talking about the price of discipleship, at which many fell away.

According to tradition (from writers of non-canonized texts), Matthias was part of the 70 and had been with the twelve from the beginning of Christ’s ministry, and even lived with them. Lastly, it is surmised that when the apostles started reaching out to specific regions, Matthias ended up in Aethiopia (modern Georgia – north of Turkey and Armenia), where he was stoned to death.  

Next, let’s look at how Matthias was chosen. Peter established the qualifications in Acts 1:21-26, which included having been with Jesus Christ through his entire 3 1/2 year ministry, personally witnessing His baptism by John the Baptist, His teachings and miracles, and His crucifixion. He also had to have witnessed Jesus after His resurrection. Given those factors, there seemed to be only two men who qualified: Matthias and a man named Joseph Barsabas. So, the apostles sought God on how to proceed. They settled on a the common method of casting lots, similar in nature to flipping a coin, something that they could not manipulate, but God could. The lots fell to Matthias.

Now, we can go back and look at whether Paul was the one God had chosen as His replacement for Judas, and the apostles somehow got it wrong. Or, was there another reason God called Paul? Paul was not with Jesus during His ministry on earth, and never witnessed His baptism, His teachings and miracles, nor His death or resurrection. In fact, he was a pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians to stop what the Jewish hierarchy considered a religion of blasphemy. It was during Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus that he was called to his apostleship. Because he did not meet the other qualifications, Paul considered himself to be the least of the apostles (Ephesians 3:7-8), but one chosen not by man but by God.

So did the eleven apostles get it wrong when they chose Matthias? There is no Biblical evidence to suggest that, and Matthias ended up dying for his efforts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just like the other eleven (save John who miraculously survived being boiled in oil, only to spend the rest of his days in exile on the Island of Patmos). No wonder so many fell away when they heard Christ teaching of the cost of discipleship. There is a lesson for each of us in that story (but, for another time).

Let me end with this speculation on my part. The reason for the number of apostles to be twelve was to honor the traditions of the Jewish nation, representing the twelve tribes. Once God decided that it was time to share the Gospel with the rest of the world, Paul was chosen above and beyond the twelve, specifically to take the Gospel to the people beyond those of the Jewish faith. So, God arranged a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ, and called him to his apostleship. This is further supported by the fact that as the Gospel was taken beyond Jerusalem in obedience to Jesus Christ’s instructions in Acts 1:8, more of the 70 were sent (in fact, Jesus had already begun this during His earthly ministry – Luke 10:1). The apostles did not, in my opinion, get it wrong. God just kicked His plan into high gear to send the Gospel to the rest of the world. Who better for that than Paul?

Here’s a post-script on Joseph Barsabas: As the Gospel was sent to specific regions, Joseph was included. He ended up as the Bishop of Eleutheropolis, a Byzantine city south of Jerusalem, where he too died a martyr’s death.

Only God Can Remove Your Sin

I’m going to take a break from reviewing Bobby Conway’s One Minute Apologist videos to give you what I believe is a real-world application of apologetics – a real-world situation that has hit a little close to home with more than one person near and dear to me.

Up until the end of the 1930’s, alcoholism was considered to be a hopeless condition. The medical community realized that once the evils of alcohol had gripped a person to the point of compulsion, there was no hope. Such a person was doomed to be destroyed by alcohol with no chance of being healed. In 1939 a group calling itself Alcoholics Anonymous came out with a plan by which alcoholism could be removed from a person – a 12 step program for alcoholics to process and find their victory over this evil spirit of alcoholism. Allow me to group and abbreviate the 12 steps for the purposes of this posting.  

Step 1 is to come to the realization that you are powerless over alcohol, if left to your own resources.
Step 2 is to realize that turning to God, as you understand him, is the ONLY hope of healing from this disease.
Step 3, then, is to make the conscious decision to turn your life over to God and ask Him to take control of your will and your lives.
Steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 are to take moral inventory, admitting and turning over your wrongs to God and ask that these wrongs be removed from you.
Steps 8-12 are to ask God to help you make amends for harms done, and to continue this process on a daily basis.

That sounds a lot like the problem we all have with sin in our lives. We were all born with a sin nature that separates us from God, and no matter how hard we try, no matter what we do, we cannot cross the chasm between us and God of our own resources. Our condition is hopeless without turning to God, the only One who can remove our sin nature. The steps to this victory over death are the same basic steps as those of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program.

Steps to Peace with God

  1. To realize that the chasm between us and God cannot be bridged of our own power.  
    • Romans 3:23 – ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
    • Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
  2. To come to the realization that the only way out of death, our wages of sin, is to turn to Jesus Christ, who has paid the price of death for us.
    • 1 Timothy 2:5 – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”
    • 1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
  3. To make a personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, to turn our lives over to Him in order to cross the chasm between us and God.
    • John 1:12 – “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
    • Romans 10:9 – “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  4. To pray the Sinner’s Prayer through which we recognize our own sinful nature, repent of that sinful nature, and then to ask God to forgive us of our sins, come into our hearts and take control of our lives.
  5. From that point on, we are admonished to allow the Holy Spirit to continue bringing our sins to our conscious minds, that we can repent of them, seek forgiveness, and ask God to help us make restitution for them. And we are further admonished to pick up our cross daily.

In the very real-world situation of alcoholism, we can see that this process works to give people victory over something that left them hopeless without turning to God. In just as real a situation, and far more consequential on an eternal scale, God has given us that same opportunity for victory over our sins, and eternal life over death.

Did Jesus Raise from the Dead and How Could a Good God Send Nice People to Hell?

These two questions are difficult to answer for different reasons. The first is impossible from a natural perspective, and the second seems to contradict God’s character. If you look at the two questions together, it begs yet another question: how could God bring His own Son back from death, but not the rest of us? I’ll return to this third question after our review of Bobby Conway’s One Minute Apologist videos examining the first two.

To discuss the question of whether Jesus really raised from the dead, Bobby turns to Dr. Gary Habermas, whose life ministry has revolved around research into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, stemming from his own doubts as a young man. He revolves his defense by taking on the hallucination theory, which simply states that those who claim to have seen Jesus alive after His death were simply hallucinating. He makes the point that there is no historical evidence of any hallucination among any of the the people to whom Jesus appeared. He further makes the point that hallucination is a personal event. The theory of hallucinations breaks down when you consider the numbers of people that Jesus appeared to in different settings and different groupings. In all of these encounters, everyone that met Him were convinced that He was real and that He was who He said He was, and the theory of hallucinations breaks down. On top of all of that, it is historically documented that the tomb was, in fact, empty. A Roman guard was established at the tomb to assure that no one could steal His body, to make a false resurrection claim. Jesus was dead; the Roman government and the Jewish hierarchy wanted to make sure that His message died with Him. And, yet, His tomb was empty. That fact throws the hallucination theory out the window. The death and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most provably documented events in all of world history.

So, if God could bring His own Son back from death, how could He send nice people to hell? To discuss this question, Bobby turns back to Frank Turek. Frank begins by breaking down the question, stating that God does not send anyone to hell. But, He is too loving to take people’s free will away and make them accept His gift for eternal life in heaven. He makes the point that not everyone wants to spend eternity in heaven. Now, they may not fully understand the alternative of hell, but the idea of spending eternity with Jesus in heaven doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, especially those who have spent their entire lives running from Him.

What hell represents is that man is free and God is love. God will not make us love Him because that would violate everything that He is and everything that love is. But, we have to ask ourselves: why did God put His own Son through what He did? Why were the last instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples (present and future) before He ascended back into heaven that we should take His message to all the world (Matthew 28:18-20)? Why does God’s Word tell us that His will is that none should perish, but all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)? To wrap it up, God gave man the right to free will, which Adam and Eve spoiled by their own desires in the Garden of Eden, condemning us all to to a sinful, rebellious nature, for which God sentenced us to death. Then God put that sentence on Himself through the death of Jesus Christ, and has given us every opportunity to accept it so that we won’t go to hell of our own free will. And He did it all out of love.

Let’s go back to the third question that I postulated in the first paragraph: If God could resurrect His own Son from death, why not the rest of us? The simple answer is that God has given all of us the opportunity for resurrection – not immediate and bodily, as with the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ after His death. But, everything about His whole life, death and resurrection was exactly that: to give everyone an opportunity to be saved to eternal life. All you have to do is recognize your need for salvation, turn to God, and accept the death of Jesus Christ as the payment for your sins and His resurrection as your assurance of being raised to eternal life. It’ all right there for you to accept. Go to Steps to Peace with God for more information.

How to Answer Questions About What Happens to People Who Have Never Heard of Jesus Christ, and Are Miracles possible

Following the question of whether or not Jesus is the only way to salvation, comes the question about what happens to those who have never heard of Jesus Christ, the next tough question answered in Bobby Conway’s video series on the Tough Questions Christians Face. We know that the Bible says that all creation shows the glory of God (Psalm 19) so that all people are without an excuse (Romans 1:20). But, we also know that the Bible calls upon all Christians to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere, because God’s will is that none should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and Jesus, Himself, said that no one can come to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). So, we, who are called by His name have a job to do. God has entrusted us with the most important message that could come into anyone’s life, the story of Jesus and how He wants t give everyone the free gift of eternal life. Christ gave His Great Commission, to His disciples (present and future), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Why would he have admonished us to do so if people could come to salvation without the Gospel? It is true that we, humans, do not have the power to save. But, God has ordained us as His ambassadors, to speak on His behalf to a world that is desperate for His salvation.

The next tough question In Bobby Conway’s video series is: Are Miracles Possible? In a day when science supposedly has an answer – a natural explanation – for everything that happens, are some of these happenings actually miracles, and does God only exist in things that cannot be explained away by science? Dr. Norman Giesler answered this from CS Lewis who said, simply, ‘If God, then miracles.’ The creation itself was a miracle, a supernatural act of God. Even scientists agree that before creation, there was not time, no space and no matter, and all of a sudden, BANG, we have a universe. Science has all kinds of theory’s about matter colliding with anti-matter to cause this great explosion. But, where did the matter and anti-matter come from? How did nothing become matter and anti-matter? How did all of the finely-tuned reams of data that chromosomes pass on from generation to generation come from? No matter how you believe this universe and all that is in it has come to be, you already believe in miracles. Now, fast forward to the great flood, then on to Moses parting of the Red Sea, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His raising of Lazarus from the dead. His and His disciples’ raising of other people from the dead, cleansing of lepers, healing the blind, the deaf, the lame, the casting out of demons… Dr. Norman concluded by saying that there is no problem turning water into wine, if you can create water from nothing. Indeed miracles have happened, and still do.

Toughest Questions Christians Face (continued)

The next tough question is one of the hardest questions to answer, one of the largest stumbling blocks keeping non-believers from accepting God’s love. In the next One Minute Apologist video in the series on the Tough Questions Christians Face, Brett Kunkle, apologist at Stand to Reason, takes on that question: Why Does God Allow Suffering and Evil? When asked if there are any reasons why a loving God would allow suffering, Brett answers that there certainly are, even if we do not know what those reasons are. God is God, and we are not. There is an infinite chasm between His wisdom and ours; we cannot expect to know everything He knows. In Deuteronomy 29:29, God tells us,“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us…” God is a God of reason, and has a reason for everything He does. Sometimes we need to know what those reasons are, and sometimes we don’t – or may not understand if He told us. Parents, have you ever told your children, “I’m the mom (or dad), that’s why.” We take our tiny children to a doctor, who sticks a needle in their arm and causes pain. The child would not understand why that needle is important, and does not have the level of knowledge to know that the shot he/she is getting is to protect them from something we as adults know is out there, but they do not. As a parent, you have a morally sufficient reason – and a responsibility – to get your children the care (medical or otherwise) that they need, whether they understand that or not. We have to trust that the Creator of the universe knows what He is doing and is acting to in accordance to His plan.

But, God has not left us with no answers to this question. God tells us that we need perseverance, we need to learn to love deeply, and to care for others in need. How do we get that depth of character, of love and understanding to do that? God tells us in Romans 5:3-5, “…we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” God loves us, and wants what is best for us, and part of that is to help us learn to love and care for Him and for others, through Him.

The next video deals with the question of whether Jesus is the only way. The argument from the world is that there may be only one destination, but there are many paths – choose on and be sincere, that’s all it takes. But, can’t we be sincerely wrong? In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” In Acts 4:12, we read, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” The question comes back to us as to why we have to be so narrow in our response. When we go to a doctor, we expect that doctor to diagnose and prescribe a treatment for our condition. We need that diagnosis and prescription to be narrow, to actually solve our medical problem, not just take a shotgun approach and hope something works. If our car in not running properly because of a fuel mixture problem, we don’t need to have our mechanic tear apart the transmission to find a fix.

Jesus said that He is the only way. That is either the biggest con-job in the history of the world, the biggest psychotic delusion in the history of the world, or it is true. It cannot be true and untrue. If it’s true, then what happens to those who do not accept – or have never had an opportunity to accept – Jesus as the only way? That is the question of the next video in this series, which we’ll cover in my next posting. In the meantime, you may want to look at Steps to Peace with God.

The Toughest Questions Christians Face

I want to move into reviewing a new video series, also part of the One Minute Apologist series by Bobby Conway. This series of seventeen video shorts (each from 1 to 3 minutes in length) deals with the toughest questions that we face in defending our faith. I don’t know how long it will take; I’ll just have to dig in and see how much it makes sense to cover in each. Remember that these are from the One Minute Apologist, not a resource to give you exhaustive (and exhausting) information with which to bury someone who dares question our faith. Rather, it is to give us quick ways to respond to such questions in ways that allow the person question our faith to see that there is viable evidence of the truths contained in the Bible, and upon which our Christian faith is built.

Let’s begin by looking a quote by Voltaire, which says: In beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since. The point of that is to scoff at the very idea that God should be just as we think He should be, or as we would like Him to be. But it begs the larger question of whether God is merely some invention of the human mind, as atheists might think.

This is the question that Bobby Conway asks Sean McDowell, professor, speaker, author, apologist, in the first video in this series on the Toughest Questions Christians Face. The problem with believing that God is a human construct of any sort is the amount of compelling evidence that He is real. Everything from the creation to the incredible amount of information contained in a single cell. Add the fact that the laws of physics have to be incredibly fine-tuned to sustain life, and the historical evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the most historically documented life in world history.

The second video examines a question that I have dealt with in other posting: whether or not the Bible is Historically Reliable. For this video, Bobby Conway returns to an interview with Frank Turek. Frank begins answering this question by listing six lines of testimony that begin with the letter ‘E’.

  1. Early Testimony – scriptures of the Holy Bible are ancient documents, with the New Testament being a testimony of the life of Jesus and the beginnings of the New Testament Church that was available as early as 70 AD.
  2. Eye-Witness Testimony – there are some 140 details between the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John that have been verified by eye-witness accounts, or could only have been known by an eye-witness.
  3. Embarrassing Testimony – which are details that the authors of the books contained in the Holy Bible would not have shared unless they were verifiably true.
  4. Excruciating Testimony – which are details that led to the brutal death of the people teaching them. Who would do that unless these details were true and more important than their own lives. They could have saved themselves by simply denying things like the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  5. Expected Testimony – Biblical prophecy from which we have expected testimony of the fulfillment of the prophecies. We see this all through the Bible, especially the New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy surrounding the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  6. Extra-Biblical Testimony – there are 10 ancient, non-Christian sources from the time of Jesus Christ that reference Jesus Christ. When you put the testimonies of these sources together, you get a storyline that is congruent with the life of Jesus Christ.

So, through the first two videos of this series, we now have a defense for people who question whether God is real or a construct of the human mind, and for the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Why Christianity Can Lay Sole Claim to Being the One True Religion

The final videos in Bobby Conway’s series on worldviews in Right Now Media examine the claims that Christianity is the one true religion, based on the evidences of discussed in the videos to this point.

The first point is one that was made a couple postings back. The heart of Christianity is Jesus Christ, God the Son, who descended to us as a human, conceived of God the Holy Spirit, born of a human mother to be the one true mediator between man and God. We see this in scripture in Paul’s teaching of Timothy, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5).

If I could pick one of the videos as the climax of this series, it would be, What is a Four-Point Case for Christianity. Here are the four points, with a few comments from other apologists I’ve studied.

  1. Does truth exist? Obviously the Bible can’t be true if there is no truth. But, then no other religious writings could be true, either. It’s pretty obvious that there is truth. If someone tells you that there is no truth, just ask them if they think that statement is true.
  2. Does God exist? Even the most skeptical scientists have come to the realization that there simply cannot be a world as immense, complex, and well-tuned without having an intelligent creator that is outside of our world. That creator also had to be personal with a desire to create something with meaning. Otherwise, our existence means nothing.
  3. Are miracles possible? If everything has to run that it was designed with no interventions by the creator, then the Bible cannot be true. The greatest miracle is the very first verse of the Bible, “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) If that verse is true, every other verse in the Bible is at the very least, possible. So, miracles are possible, and if that is not true, then there could be no God, and there wouldn’t be any creation.
  4. Does the Bible tell us the truth about history? In other words, is the Bible historically reliable. As we examined several posts back, the best archaeologists in the Middle East use the Bible as a primary source for their research, because it has never been wrong, and the more we learn, the evidence emerges of just how true the Bible is. One great evidence of the truth of the Bible is what we call ‘embarrassing testimony,’ things that nobody would have admitted to, certainly not written about, if they were not true. Example: at the crucifixion, the disciples all ran away, leaving the women behind. Is any man going to make that up. There is also eye-witness testimony, and what is called excruciating testimony, meaning that these men died, and they knew they would likely die, for what they said and how they continued to teach the Gospel. There is also prophecy, things that were foretold and then happened years later.

We can have faith in the in the Bible because it has proven itself true, accurate, prophetic, and purposeful. No other religion has all of that and a savior who claimed that He was God incarnate and then proved it.

The final video in this series is one that encourages parents to send their kids to Summit Ministries, which is designed to prepare students to take on challenging conversations. In this day of skepticism, we must be prepared to defend our faith – to study to show ourselves approved…rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) I will end by saying that I know nothing about Summit Ministries, but am certainly going to check it out. Perhaps I’ll write a daily posting on what I find.

How Many Worldviews Are There and How is Christianity Unique Among Them?

Continuing with videos through Right Now Media, I want to continue with another series by Bobby Conway on worldviews. This series starts with an interview with Dr. Norman Geisler, author, professor, theologian, and world-renowned Christian apologist. In answer to the basic question of how many worldviews there are, Dr. Geisler limited his response to religions, and basically just listed what he says are the 7 basic worldviews.

  1. Theism – holds that there is a God beyond the bounds of this world, who created the world and can intervene and do miracles within the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the three religions in this broader worldview.
  2. Deism – holds that there is a god similar to Theism, except that they believe that god does not intervene and cannot do miracles. Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Voltaire were deists.
  3. Finite Godism – holds that there is a god, but he is limited; his hands are tied by the world he created. Plato, Rabbi Harold Kushner (author of ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’) held to this worldview.
  4. Panentheism (different from Pantheism) – holds that god and the world are intertwined. Alfred North Whitehead, who developed the of Process philosophy ; John Cobb, a contemporary of Alfred Whitehead; and Charles Hartshorne, who developed Whitehead’s philosophy in what is known as Process Theology.
  5. Pantheism – holds that god IS all and all is god. Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, and Christian Science are the best examples of philosophies in this worldview.
  6. Polytheism – holds that there are many gods. Ancient Greeks, Romans, modern Wicca, and Neo-Paganism are all religions within this worldview.
  7. Atheism – the belief that there is no god. Much of the world today live as atheists. Whether they have examined the existence of any god or not, their belief systems revolve around explanations of the world without any god(s) at the helm.

Now, let’s look through this video series to examine what makes Christianity unique. First, do all religions lead us to God? Simply put, the answer is ‘no’. Religions teach things that are opposite to each other; and opposites cannot both be true. One particular point that Dr. Geisler made is that we can tell a counterfeit from the real thing, not by examining the similarities, but by the critical differences – those points over which religions teach clear and critical differences. For instance, some religions teach different ways to God. But, only Jesus Christ teaches that there is only one way to God, only one truth, and only one life; and that way is through Him (John 14:6).

Being interviewed about what distinguishes Christianity from other religions, Craig Hazen, Professor of Comparative Religion and Apologetics at Biola University, makes the point that leaders of other religions actually hate probing claims made by their religion, because they know what their religion can’t hold up to such scrutiny. Christianity, on the other hand, invites people to come and explore its claims and find out that they are true. He points out the claim that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Jesus did not rise from the grave, Christianity is just not true and your faith is worthless. And, yet, we know through forensic investigations that His resurrection is one of the most accurately recorded events in all of history.

One last look at the uniqueness of Christianity for this posting, Bobby Conway interviews Frank Turek, Apologist, Author and Speaker, who said Jesus came to live a sinless life, with two natures – that of God and that of man – and went on to be our mediator. One point that he makes is that in order to be a mediator, one must have one foot on both sides of the divide between us and God, which makes Jesus uniquely qualified to fill that role. Jesus mediates between us and God by taking our sins upon Himself. While all other religions require that we work our way to God, in Christianity, God comes to man through Jesus Christ and offers a free gift of salvation.

We’ll continue in my next posting.

Winning the Battle of Defending Your Faith

Let’s begin by bringing three Bible passages together for us to consider. The first is what we know as The Great Commission, in which Jesus gave His final and most important instructions to His disciples – current and future:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The second passage is Peter’s encouragement to:

“…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15)

The other is from Paul’s mentoring of Timothy:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

When you put these three passages together, you can see that it has always been that our most important job as Christians – to work in the harvest of souls – is more than simply sharing the Gospel and encouraging non-believers to pray the sinners prayer. It is imperative that Christians be prepared to defend our belief in Biblical truth. This is no easy task today, living in an entire society of competing voices teaching different worldviews, many of which are taught in schools as ‘settled science’.

There are a number of good resources available. One of them is Right Now Media Library, undoubtedly the largest collection of Christian learning/training/research videos and materials on the entire internet. This is not a free resource, but many churches buy a group membership for their members. If your church does not, it is well worth having a discussion with your church leadership to see if there is a way to make that happen. If that is not a possibility, consider joining as an individual member. Go to their main page, by clicking on the link above, and search on the word ‘apologetics’ or ‘defend’. Pay particular attention to the number of series with 1-6 minute videos that address issues that come up in real life, and will give you something with which to answer questions/attacks on our faith.

If you have not been following these posts on my website, go to my posting of January 11, 2021, called INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL APOLOGETICS…SHARED UNAPOLOGETICALLY to get an idea of how these short lessons can give you just what you need to help people question their own worldview, and see that perhaps a Biblical worldview is worthy of consideration.

My goal is to give you some of these quick ways to defend our faith with meaningful statements/questions of real consequence.  

Here’s one to end this posting. I’m using the ‘One Minute Apologist’ with Bobby Conway, available in video form on Right Now Media. The first video in the series is ‘Why is There So Much Doubt?’ The first part of that answer is that it is easier to believe something for which there is critical mass, or stated more bluntly, it’s easier to believe something when it’s popular. The argument is that we are shifting from a pro-Christian culture, to only a remnant of Christians who are seen as believing outdated concepts. Our defense of this is simply that truth does not follow the masses – the truth is often with the minority – the remnant.  

The second part of the answer to why there is so much doubt is the emergence of pluralism. With many people talking about what their God demands, it is easy to become confused as to what the truth is and why there are so many different religions to so many different Gods. Because our Christianity has been relatively safe from criticism and competing philosophies up until recent times, we’re not used to having to find God and God’s truth through the competing noise. Our defense is knowledge, Paul’s admonition to study the Word so well that we can ‘divide it rightly the word of truth’, or ‘accurately handling’ as some versions of the Bible interpret that.  

The third part of the answer to why there is so much doubt is the moral decline that America is experiencing now. The phrase ‘everyone is doing it’ seems like a legitimate excuse. Our defense is knowing that their is fundamental right and wrong; even a thief knows that stealing is wrong; a liar knows that lying is wrong; a murderer knows that killing is wrong.

Well, that’s a look at the basic question of answering why there is so much doubt in this world today. In my next post, I’ll continue on with Bobby Conway’s ‘One Minute Apologist’ videos.

Introduction to Biblical Apologetics…Shared Unapologetically

That title may seem like a conflict in terminology. But, given that ‘Apologetics’ is defined as ‘making a defense’, it makes more sense that we who believe what the Bible says would share it without apology. But, there is a huge gap in today’s world between sharing and defending our faith.

We need to start by looking at some research done by the Barna Group and Answers in Genesis, the folks who gave us The Creation Museum and The Ark Adventure. By the way, if you have not been to either or both of these Christian sites, you really must. If you care at all about defending our faith in today’s world, it is a trip worth your time, energy and money – and it’s not that expensive. So, go! Take your kids, take your church youth group, take your church’s young parents group, take your church’s Sunday School teachers.

Back to the research project, in which the Barna Group found that 70% of the children of church-going families are leaving the church as soon as they are out on their own.  Yes!  Read that sentence again. SEVENTY PERCENT of children brought up in the church are leaving as soon as they can make those decisions for themselves. So, Answers to Genesis surveyed this group of young adults to find out why. They received a smattering of reasons, but THE most prevalent was that they did not believe the Bible stories they were taught in Sunday School – they did not want to perpetuate the stories that even their teachers didn’t believe. To put an exclamation on that statement, young adults who had been brought up in Sunday School left the church at a higher percentage that those who were just taken to church. (Already Gone by Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, and Todd Hillard – Answers in Genesis)

What that tells us is that it is not enough to simply share Bible stories with our youth. We have to tell them these stories are TRUE and that WE believe they are TRUE. Furthermore, we need to teach that there evidence – real scientific evidence – of these truths. Let me give you a scenario to demonstrate. Let’s say that little Johnny goes to Sunday School and learns about Noah’s Ark. The teacher uses a picture of cute little arks bobbing on the water with cartoon animals sticking their heads out of the windows (we’ve all seen it), and maybe a cute little song about the animals coming 2 by 2.

The next day, Johnny goes to school and shares what he learned with his friends on the playground. Along comes Billy, the playground bully, who teases Johnny for believing such a nonsense story. What does Johnny do? NOTHING! Because nobody told Johnny that the story was true, or even that his teacher believes it to be true. Nobody gave Johnny any clue that there was any real evidence that it is true. We might as well be teaching our children with Aesop’s Fables!

What if we teach these stories as if they are true – because they ARE – and tell our children about the evidence that’s out there. Now, little children may be too young to understand all the science behind that truth. But, we can at least teach them that if there were no world-wide flood, we would not find fish fossils on top of mountains! Then, we can teach them more about the science as they progress to the point that they are ready for that.

We need to teach people at all ages how to defend our faith. Gone are the days when the Bible is just accepted as the ultimate authority. Here’s another example; this one for adults. We live in a day when even most Christians don’t really believe the Biblical account of creation. Face it; it’s true. Most people – even most CHRISTIANS – believe that evolution is real science and that the Bible simply short-cuts the story to 6 days. So, if evolution is true, we’ve had literally eons of animals being born and dying, each generation getting more complex until, voilà, we have man in some primitive form.  OK, here’s a question for you to ask people who believe that: If evolution is true, and eons of generations of animals have come and gone to get us where we are today, then why did Jesus have to die on a cross? Think about that for a minute. Why did Jesus die? To pay our ‘wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23a). Why? Because death was the penalty for sin, for the original sin of Adam and Eve. If there had already been eons of death on earth, then death did not come as a penalty of sin and we have no ‘wages of sin’ to pay. So, Jesus would not have had to die to pay that price for us to save us from our sin.

That is the way we have to teach our Bible classes in a day when everyone questions everything, and there are so many voices competing for our minds and souls.