Quote that Scripture (Secretly…)

Believe it or not, I have found that most non-believers agree with almost all of what the Bible says – especially when it comes to the pitiful state of humanity and the need for transformation – as long as they don’t know that the Bible says it.

For example: Take anyone struggling with any kind of addiction or self-control problem. Chances are if you said, “I know what you mean, it’s like that which I want to do, I don’t do and that which I do, I don’t want to do!” they would say “exactly.” You could then follow up with something to the effect of, “wouldn’t it be great if we could just be totally changed into a new person, almost like being born all over again with a second chance?” Likely, you’ll get a positive response. And if that person seems to be jiving with what you’re saying, you now have a perfectly open door to humbly, gently introduce them to Jesus with a “you know, that’s what my faith is all about – being made new.”

I could give 1,000 examples like this, and not one of them might fit a situation you know of. However, I’m sure you have someone on your heart that needs to hear the Truth of the Word. Just remember that the power of God’s Word isn’t dependent on making sure someone knows that they can turn to page 2,597 of the KJV to read it. God’s Word is powerful. Period.

In I Cor. 9:20-23, Paul talked about adjusting his approach of sharing the gospel so that he could be as effective as possible and not needlessly offensive.
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (ESV)

Last week, I wrote about how the Bible stands the test of truth and relevancy, regardless of whether a person thinks it is of God or not. This should give us confidence to use the messages of the Bible in “normal” conversation. If we are going to become weak (and I use the word “weak” here to describe not physical weakness, but spiritual or emotional weakness) in order to win the weak, we need to meet the weak humbly, and on their level.
When a person is struggling with life, family, spiritual or other problems and you have a chance to comfort or counsel them, it might not be the best idea to lead off with “Well, the Bible says…” Some people aren’t always ready to hear that. Some people have been hurt by Christians, others might be skeptical and others might just want to feel like someone is actually listening and cares for them and isn’t just trying to convert them.

This does not mean we can’t share the truth of the Word with them. In fact, you can still quote relevant Scripture, just don’t give a reference immediately. Have you ever been reading your Bible and come across text that all of the sudden is in a completely different font and format? Chances are, you’re reading a Biblical author quote another part of Scripture, but they might not give you the reference for it and you’ll have to look at the footnotes to find out where that quote comes from. It happens a lot in the Bible!
We need to be able to help people understand what the Bible says – this idea fits with the very nature of the writing of the New Testament itself!

Jesus spoke primarily in Aramaic. I’m sure he spoke Hebrew and probably some Greek and Latin as well. However, the entire New Testament was originally written in Greek! Why? Because it was the lingua franca, the common language, of the world the NT writer’s lived in. When translating and telling of all Jesus said and did, it would have been impossible to translate everything from Aramaic to Greek in a 1-to-1, word-for-word basis. But it was definitely possible to convey the meaning of all Jesus taught in one language, to another, and the disciples and Paul wanted as many people as possible to understand, not just know the good news. We know that God’s Word does not “return void,” (Isa. 55:11) but does that mean that if we walk into downtown Little Rock quoting scripture in Norwegian, and nobody around speaks Norwegian, that it will produce an abundant harvest?

I am convinced that memorizing Bible verses is important, but not nearly as important as grasping the concepts and principles they convey – and those principles are universally understood by the human heart.

Is The Bible True Because It’s God’s Word?

No. The Bible is not true because it is God’s Word.

Don’t. Panic. Keep. Reading.

Absolutely, the Bible is God’s Word, but that is not what makes the Bible true.

The Bible is true because it is true. Profound, I know. But please, hear me out.

You see, something that is true accurately reflects reality. This is how we know there are some things God cannot do. If someone told you that God said He has made a circle in the shape of a square, you can know without a doubt either that person is wrong, lying, has gotten his information from a bad source or has completely different definitions of what squares and circles are. Why? Because even if a deity was supposedly behind this phenomenon, the law of non-contradiction stands. A square and a circle cannot be the same thing at the same time in the same way. To say otherwise is literally nonsense. (There is no sense to it.)

It would be the same kind of nonsense to say God could lie. He, in His very nature and definition, would not be God if He did or could. If the Bible contained a lie or any “square-shaped circle” statements, we would have to say that it (or at least the specific book it is found in) is not of God.

The Bible contains no such untruths. The Bible is historical, and archaeology continues to prove it so. The Bible is prophetic and has been proven accurate in predicting future events. The Bible contains no contradictions — even if it appears so on the surface — that a little context cannot rationally explain.

The Bible is 66 books written across a 1,500-1,600 year time span by more than 40 authors, all of whom carried a single over-arching message consistent with all the others.

No contradictions. Nothing proven false.

There is no other comparable book. No other holy book is so diverse yet unified. No other book is so earthy and practical yet heavenly and transcendent.

The message and principles in the Bible accurately represent reality, regardless of whether a person claims it is of God or not. Look at how perfectly it describes the fall of humanity and the state of mankind! The great British journalist Malcom Muggeridge once said, “The depravity of man is the most empirically verifiable fact, even as it is the most intellectually resisted.” It’s obvious from history that humans have an evil nature, but people still want to deny it. Moses told us so 3,500 years ago! He was right then, and it is still true today.

You see, the principles of the Bible can stand the test of truth whether you think God inspired them or not. But the Bible is such an unlikely, impossible work that the only way its existence can be rationally, plausibly explained is that God was behind it!

Of course there are events in the Bible that haven’t been definitively proven, but overwhelming evidence makes it easy to have faith to trust God with the things I don’t understand.

The Bible is God’s Word. And while people can question or attack the idea that the Bible is inspired by God, they will always run into the problem that it is true. That’s how we can know it is from God and that some other holy books are not.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this series: “Using the Truth in Regular Conversation.”

Why Bother With Apologetics?

Truth, tolerance, logic

If you believe in Jesus, then apologetics is for you; it is not just for “intellectuals.” The clearest definition I’ve heard is that apologetics is the communication and defense of the Christian gospel. I have heard some speakers say that “God does not need His people to defend Him.” Of course that is true in a literal sense, as if God is in danger. But God certainly uses people to speak for Him. God certainly does not accept blasphemy. And God does engage people intellectually. “Come now, let us reason together says the Lord…” (Isa. 1:18 ESV) So, if you’re thinking, “our faith doesn’t need defending,” I would challenge that assumption.

Consider I Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

The word translated to “defense” in this word is the Greek word apologia, from which the word “apologetics” comes. The word is used seven other times in the New Testament (Acts 22:1; 25:16; I Cor. 9:3; II Cor. 10:5-6; Phil. 1:7; II Tim. 4:16). Apologia was a word used to describe the defense that a lawyer would make for a client in a court of law. It does not imply a clever “one-liner” response.

I can’t remember who it was, but I once heard someone compare the need for teaching apologetics to teaching a missionary the language of the nation he is evangelizing. That’s a great illustration because that is what apologetics is all about – speaking the language of our culture. And the language of our culture is skepticism.

Christianity Today recently ran an article titled “Watch Out, Pastors, Millennials are Fact-Checking Your Sermons,” which revealed a Barna Group survey showing that about 40% of church-going Millennials will research and fact-check truth claims made by their pastor. Millennials are those born between the 1980’s and 2000s. They are the now teenagers through age 33.

They have good reason for this. Millennial Christians cannot afford to be uneducated in their beliefs. We live in a time where the Christian faith is put on trial daily. If Christians, especially those in high school and college, do not know how to defend their faith with truth and logic, or if they make any false claims, they will be intellectually chewed up and spit out.

For years, Christians have thought that sensual temptation is the biggest danger for the college-goer, but that is secondary. The biggest problem for the Christian in college is that they are made to feel stupid for believing in Jesus. Church, we must prepare our young people to face the intellectual challenges that the world is bringing upon them. Christianity is for the heart and mind.

Non-believers have legitimate questions to ask us such as, “If God exists, and is all loving and all powerful, why is there so much suffering and evil,” or “Why do you believe the Bible is the word of God other than because it says it’s the word of God?” or “What evidence is there that Jesus actually rose from the dead?” A lack of reasonable, logical answers to these and other questions are barriers to belief.

But there are good answers to be had, and I have personally witnessed people come to faith in Christ shortly after meeting a Christian who could dialogue with them and answer some of these questions. It was like the spiritual and intellectual walls of Jericho came crashing down and the Holy Spirit flooded the city!

For so long, we have been taught that we should believe that what the Bible says is true because the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says it is the Word of God. This does no good unless we realize that we ought to believe the Bible is the Word of God because what the Bible says is true! The truths of the Bible do not need to be taken on “blind faith.” God’s word can stand up to any challenge, and that’s what apologetics is for. We have a most reasonable faith.

However, we must always remember the second half of I Peter 3:15: “…do it with gentleness and respect…” The art of apologetics is not a weapon. It must always be associated with evangelism. Winning an argument is not the goal. Winning a soul to Christ, is. Our world is searching for answers, and it is our duty as Christians to do our absolute best to show them that answer. There are many resources available to help you and your church delve into this wonderful, rich world of apologetics. Check out the “ASK” program at RZIM.org or visit sites such as apologetics315.com or bethinking.org to get started.

Please watch this video and pray.

Our Californian brothers and sisters need us to help carry this burden. Please do not neglect them in prayer. Continue reading “Please watch this video and pray.”