"Christian Apologetics"

(Changing the World: Engaging the Culture)

Part IV

 

April 2018

  

    "Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)  God invites us to reason with him. Reason is the ability to think, understand, and form judgments based on facts. The mind is the intellectual or rational faculty in man: consciousness, intelligence, intellect, memory, and opinion. The mind operates in the brain. We can love God with our heart, soul, and mind; that's why God can be known and experienced through these faculties. God places no premium on ignorance. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6a) Ignorance is lack of knowledge, and the cure for ignorance is information and education

 

  Salvation regenerates the spirit, renews the mind, and heals the body. The gospel affects every aspect of our being. "For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (I Corinthians 1:22-24) The Jews were looking for a sign; and the Greek word for sign is semeion: which means sign, token, signal, miracle, or portent. The Greeks were searching for wisdom, and the Greek word for wisdom is sophia: which means skill or wisdom. The Jews demanded evidence, so Christ proved his identity. Nicodemus attested to this. "This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (John 3:2) Seeking miracles for their own sake is vain, because trying to use God as a genie lamp doesn't work. Seeking to know God brings the miraculous into manifestation. The Greeks were proud of their intellectual prowess. They were master orators and academicians, were absorbed in philosophical pursuits. Pursuing knowledge for knowledge's sake is futile. Jesus was knowledge personified. "The officers answered, No man ever spoke like this Man!" (John 7:46) Desiring knowledge for truths sake, leads us to Jesus.

 

   At the age of twelve, Jesus exhibited remarkable intelligence. "Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers." (Luke 2:46&47) The Greek word for astonished is existemi: which means confuse, astound, amaze, to be insane, and be amazed. The teachers were amazed at his wisdom, and were overwhelmed with his comprehension. It's often assumed Christ was endowed with His ability at birth. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52) He was studious and observant throughout his life, as he applied himself to spiritual and mental development.

 

   When Jesus was incarnated, he laid aside his divine attributes, not His divine essence. "But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:7&8) The Greek phrase no reputation is Kenoo: which means to empty, make void, or nullify. Jesus suppressed the expression of deity, not possession of deity. His humanity was genuine; yet His being was divine. Homoioma is the Greek word for likeness: which means likeness, image, copy, or appearance. He was truly human, not a phantom: He grew and developed like any other human being. "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil." "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:14&17)

 

   Jesus Christ was the perfect union of God and man: fully human and fully divine. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory." (I Timothy 3:16) As we've seen, the Lord Jesus Christ reached maturity through hard work, so He could fulfill his mission. If we're going to reach our potential, we'll need to follow Christ's example. "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1) "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." (I John 2:6) Strong men and women of God must be prepared by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge of God, to be able to capture this generation for Christ.

  

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"Christian Apologetics"

(Changing the World: Engaging the Culture)

Part III

 

March 2018

  

     Some people get confused about the term Apologetics or Apologist. It sounds like apology or apologize, but they're antonyms, which means they're opposite in meaning. An apology is something you say or write, to show you're sorry. Apologize means: telling someone you're sorry you did something wrong. Apologetics explains or defends an idea. An Apologist is someone who defends or speaks in favor of a cause, making the case or vindication of a matter. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." (I Corinthians 14:33) It's important to be clear and precise, because it helps in convincing people of truth, and persuading them to act. "But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37) Pseudointellectuals engage in psychobabble, which is a misnomer. Psychobabble is language that sounds scientific; but really isn't. They say a lot of words; without saying much that matters. "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise." (Proverbs 10:19) Some folk use nebulous terms such as: could have been, might have been, should have been, probably, most likely, we think, we feel, or the general consensus. There's nothing wrong discussing possibilities, but truth isn't vague or indistinct, it's based on empirical data.

 

    At the end of the 1982 school term, I resigned as a full time educator, and signed up to be a substitute teacher. The Evangelistic ministry was growing, and it gave me flexibility to travel. I left the teaching profession altogether in October, 1986, so we're in our 32nd year of full time ministry. While substituting at a local junior high school, I had an encounter worth mentioning. During the lunch break, I was witnessing to a faculty member who was open to the gospel. Another teacher heard what I was saying; and interrupted me when I said Jesus was the only way to God. He said there were many roads to heaven. The Lord gave me an answer to his statement. "My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer." (Psalm 45:1) I said, If what you're saying is true, Jesus lied. He said he went to church, so he should have known that Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) Jesus excluded all other ways to heaven. "I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:11) "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." (I Timothy 2:5) "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10:1&9) "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) I was leaving on a trip to preach in Michigan, and I asked him if all I had to do was start my car, get on any road, and it would take me to my destination. He began to stammer, and conceded that only certain roads would lead me to Michigan.

 

   Then I brought up the subject of absolutes. Two plus two is always four: it's not nine, twelve, or fifteen. That reminds me of a conversation between an absolutist and a relativist. The relativist declared there were no absolutes, so the absolutist asked him if he was sure there were no absolutes. He said he was positive there weren't any absolutes. The absolutist asked him again, are you certain there aren't any absolutes? The relativist became angry and said, absolutely! Let's return to the Junior High School incident. The teacher, who had interjected himself in my conversation with the other instructor, said if people were sincere; that's all that mattered. I asked him if a person woke up at three o'clock in the morning, and they were sincerely sick, and sincerely went to the medicine cabinet, and sincerely, accidentally, took poison; would they be sincerely dead? He didn't say anything after that. "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist." (Luke 21:15) What differentiates Christianity from religion is the person of Jesus Christ. Religion primarily is a system of rules and regulations, while the Christian faith revolves around The Lord Jesus Christ. Take the founders of religion out of their movements, and nothing is changed. Take Christ out of Christianity, and you have nothing left. Great men and women have lived and died; but Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead.

 

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"Christian Apologetics"

(Changing the World: Engaging the Culture)

Part II

 

February 2018

  

     Another method of soul winning is street evangelism. "And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits." (Mark 6:7) A multiplication factor occurs when believers work together. "Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor." (Ecclesiastes 4:9) When believers cooperate, a synergistic result happens. Which means the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects. There is an acrostic for the word TEAM. Together Everyone Accomplishes More. "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19) The key is agreement. The Greek word for agree is Sumphoneo. Sum means: together, and Phoneo means: make a sound, speak. Christians working together can do great things; but even alone, much can be done. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them." (Acts 8:5) Philip ministered to the Samaritans as he went among the people.

 

    Christian Apologetics gives a reason for our hope in Christ. What is the basis and rational of this ministry? I Peter 3:15 says we should be able to tell people the reason we believe in Jesus and the bible. Christ said: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37) My heart can't rejoice in what my mind rejects. Telling people, we believe in the bible, because our parents believed in the bible; and our grandparents believed in the bible, doesn't give a reason for our faith. There are religious people who believe in other books; because their parents believed in those writings; because their grandparents believed those books. The Apostle Paul went to Mars Hill and declared the gospel to the Athenian philosophers. "For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you." (Acts 17:23) We're sent to the educated and uneducated. "I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise." (Romans 1:14) Telling somebody we believe something, just because, doesn't make sense. Knowing why we believe what we believe, strengthens our faith and gives us boldness.

 

   As a young minister, I was envious of older preachers who had stories to illustrate their messages: I asked the Lord about this, but he didn't speak to me about the matter until 30 years later. I was ministering in South Carolina, and I was relating something that happened to me to make a point in my message. Deep in my spirit, God told me, now you have stories to share. Years before, I hadn't lived long enough to experience anything. "I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread." (Psalm 37:25) David could speak from life's experiences, and tell people what the Lord had done for him. "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy." (Psalm 107:2) God gives us what we need to answer the critics, so don't be afraid of facing opposition, it's par for the course. "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist." (Luke 21:15) Fear is a tool of Satan: who wants to paralyze our faith. My acrostic for fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Faith drives fear away. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (II Timothy 1:7)

 

    Risk takers are movers and shakers. We're called to be world changers; not pew sitters. Pioneers blaze the trail and make things happen; while spectators watch things happen, and conversationalists talk about things that happen, and then there are those who wonder what happened. When Jesus commanded Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water; it seemed like a daunting task. That first step was the most important, and each successive step became easier. It takes motivation to get started, and motivation comes from purpose. "Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34) "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)

 

     Christians in school encounter strong opposition to their faith, and some instructors think their mission in life is to De-Christianize believers. Many Colleges and Universities are antithetical to Christianity. Ironically most institutions of higher learning were founded by Christian organizations. Campus life and social mores have undergone a dramatic shift away from biblical standards. What we believe determines how we live. "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7a) The battle for the mind is underway, and we need to rise to the challenge because the next generation is at stake: and all it takes for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing. That statement was made by Englishman Edmund Burke, who was a noted author, orator, philosopher, and statesman. David answered the question of his older brother Eliab.. "And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?" (I Samuel 17:29) Before David arrived; Goliath taunted Saul and his army, morning and evening, for forty days. David's motivation was Goliath's insult to God and Israel, because he didn't want his people to become slaves to the Philistines. Our purpose is to capture the next generation for Christ, so they won't be indoctrinated with secular humanism. We shouldn't cede the public domain to the secularists, because science and logic substantiates creation and the bible, and refutes naturalism and evolution..

 

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"Christian Apologetics"

(Changing the World: Engaging the Culture)

Part I

 

January 2018

  

    Due to keen interest people have expressed in this series on Christian Apologetics, we're going to repeat the articles we began in September 2015. "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter." (Acts 17:32)

  

    There will be modification of material as needed: either insertion of new information, or deletion of repetitive phrases to improve the subject, and make it more cogent. The primary focus of Revelation Power Ministries continues as we pursue this (Christian Apologetics) avenue of evangelism. It's an outgrowth of what we've been doing for 42 years. "For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." (I Corinthians 16:9) As God directs we'll look forward to more debates and creation events. We have plans to write booklets preparing believers to make the case for God, creation, and the bible.

 

    "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." (I Peter 3:15) Peter encourages believers to know why they believe what they believe. Here, the Greek word for defense is apologian; which means: to speak in one's own defense, defend oneself, making a case, or vindication. Jesus never shied away from legitimate questions. In this scripture the Greek word for reason is logon, which means: statement, declaration, speech, message, or proclamation. The Amplified Bible elucidates this scripture. "But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect." (I Peter 3:15)

 

    The Christian faith isn't a blind leap into the dark, but a reasoned faith based upon logical, historical, and spiritual truth. We don't commit intellectual suicide when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal saviour. The gospel appeals to our spirit (pneuma), soul (psuche), and body (soma). The word for soul, psuche, is the organ of intellectual activity and mental processes. Some critics believe Christianity is based on superstition, fable, folklore, legend, or myth. Nothing could be further from the truth. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." (II Peter 1:16)  The Bible contains information only the Creator of the Universe would know.

 

    Christian Apologetics is one method of reaching the lost. We'll look at this in greater detail later, but here are several methods of Evangelism. Personal Evangelism-telling people what God has done for you. The Samaritan woman told the Samaritans how Christ changed her life. "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did." (John 4:39)

 

    The Gadarene Demonic was tormented, and no one could help him, but Jesus cast out Legion, many demons, from the madman. After his deliverance; he was sitting, clothed, and in his right mind, and wanted to travel with Jesus: "However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled." (Mark 5:19&20)

 

    Power Evangelism-The supernatural manifestation of signs and wonders. "Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased." (John 6:2) Miracles arrest the attention of people, and God's presence and ability prove his love and care. In the early 1980's I was preaching a revival in a former beer tavern, and the meeting helped start a new church. A minister came out on Monday night, and he was going to interrupt my preaching, and declare me a false prophet. Ten minutes into my preaching, the Holy Spirit led me to pray for this man about a heart condition. I had never met this man, so he was startled, because the week before his doctor told him he had a serious heart problem. The Lord healed him, and a few nights later he was filled with the Holy Ghost. He persuaded several fellow ministers to attend the revival; and they were filled with the Spirit, also thirty nine people came to Christ that week. "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Romans 15:18&19)

 

    Mass Evangelism-promulgation of the gospel on a wide scale. "The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it." (Psalm 68:11) This would include crusades, television, radio, books, internet, e-mail, facebook, texting, twitter, and any other way of communicating. In the last days the message of Jesus Christ will saturate the planet "For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14) Jesus said this would happen before the end of the age. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14) We should use every means available to reach the lost. No doubt, there will be new ways of disseminating the word of God, and methods of broadcasting the good news may change: but the message is timeless. "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matthew 24:35)

 

    Market Place Evangelism-making Christ known where we live and work by sharing our faith in the daily concourse of life. "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men." (II Corinthians 3:2) Folk may not read the bible, or go to church: but they can see the love of God through us. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Moral relativism is rampant; and ethics are on the wane. Men and women dedicated to the Lord, and my wife and I know many who are, stand out in stark contrast by how they conduct themselves. Light is more perceptible during the darkest hour of the night. "That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." (Philippians 2:15&16)

 

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"What’s Growing In Your Garden?"

 

April 2018

  

     Life started in a garden. “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:11) We start a garden in the planting season, and we plant what we want to harvest. “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” (Genesis 2:8) There’s a time to sow. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1&2) Then there’s the growing season; when we wait patiently until our plants develop a root system and begin to grow. “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) Next comes harvest time; where we enjoy the work of our labor. Even with all the work it takes to care for the garden; there are some things that grow, which aren’t good to eat. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16&17) In order to have a good garden, it must be cultivated. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

    According to the word of God, our life is like a garden. “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:17-20) There’s a time to work in the garden. “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4) We must sow the word in good ground. “The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11) Words are seeds. Don’t blight your garden with unforgivness, bitterness, gossip, and lies. “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” (I Timothy 6:11) We need to keep a daily check on our garden. “A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence.” (Proverbs 13:2) “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Let’s make sure we bear fruit pleasing to the Lord, and we’ll reap a beneficial harvest. “Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5&6) We create the world we live in, by the type seeds we sow. Soil represents the heart, so let’s plant God’s seed in delta soil and we’ll have a bountiful harvest.

  


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