Christian Apologetics: Week One, What is It?
Tonight we begin our journey in the study of Christian Apologetics. I am teaching this course at “The Outlet”, the High School Ministry of Exciting Whitefield Baptist Church.
What you will see first is the outline I used (filled in) in tonight’s lesson. Below that will be a short article explaining each point of the lesson. We are doing this, first, in the event any of the Youth miss a lesson they will be able to retrieve the outline and lesson so they will not miss out on each week’s lesson. Second, so that other people may be able to pull from (and use) this as a guide to teach Christian Apologetics to their family, in a small group, or their own High School ministry.
We start by asking the question: What is Apologetics?
What is Apologetics?
- Apologetics means _DEFENSE_.
(Acts 22:1, 25:16; 1 Cor 9:3; 2 Cor 7:11)
- Apologetics is __BIBLICAL__.
- Jesus appealed to _MIRACLES__.
- Jesus appealed to __FULFILLED_ __PROPHECY_.
- The Apostles appealed to Jesus’s __FULFILLED_ __PROHECY__ and __MIRACLES__.
(Acts 2:22, 25-31)
- Other apostolic examples:
(Acts 14:17; Romans 1:20; 1 Cor 15:3-8)
- Apologetics is for __BELIEVERS__ as well.
- Apologetics provides __INFORMATION__.
- Apologetics is __COMMANDED__.
A problem we see today, among other things, is a sort of religious pluralism running rampant. That is the view that religion is like shopping at a Supermarket for what fits your needs the best.
Among the religions of note: Judaism: a monotheistic religion of the Jewish community based on the laws revealed to Moses and recorded in the Torah; Hinduism: a religion tradition of the Indian subcontinent that comprises of a various number of different gods; Islam: the monotheistic religion of the Muslims, revealed through the Prophet of Allah Muhammad; New Age: a collection of Eastern-influenced metaphysical thought systems which conglomerates a host of different theologies, hopes, and expectations held together with a teaching of salvation by “correct thinking” and “correct knowledge”; Christianity: a Religion based on the person and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth; Atheism: which is the theory or belief that God does not exist; Buddhism: an Asian religion founded by Siddartha Gautama which teaches enlightenment; and there are many many more.
Obviously, all of these religions cannot be correct. Either there is a God or there isn’t. If there is a God, only one of these religions is correct, which is where Christian Apologetics comes into play.
Christianity says that religion, rather than the supermarket example, is like an antidote to a deadly sickness. If there is a God we should follow the evidence where it leads and commit and surrender ourselves accordingly.
If you are in the Emergency Room with a severe illness, which is 100% lethal you want to make sure you are given the proper antidote to that sickness. The reality is this: we all are going to die. But, what happens after death? This is what we are faced with. Preference of what you take for this illness does not matter whatsoever; rather, this ailment – namely, death – deserves the one and only way of healing.
Christianity puts forth Jesus of Nazareth, not as your favorite flavored cough syrup but, as The Way, The Truth, and The Life; the only way to cure this ailment with 100% assuredness.
As Christians, our task before us is to put forth our case for Jesus of Nazareth being that ONLY way.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS?
The word Apologetics, yes, sounds like you are making an apology, however, it is anything but that. Christian Apologetics is not telling someone you are sorry for being a Christian.
Apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia”, which means DEFENSE – as in a court of law. Therefore, Christian Apologetics involves making a case, a defense, for the truth of the Christian faith.
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: (ESV)
- Acts 22:1: “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense (apologia) that I now make before you.”
- Acts 25:16: “I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense (apologia) concerning the charge laid against him.”
- 1 Corinthians 9:3: “This is my defense (apologia) to those who would examine me.”
- 2 Corinthians 7:11: “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear (apologia) yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS IS BIBLICAL:
Some make the claim that Apologetics is unbiblical. They say you should just preach the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do His work. Christian Apologetics aim is not to circumvent (to go around) the Holy Spirit and it readily admits that the saving power of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is His and His alone what it does do is go hand in hand with Evangelism.
What we see in Scripture is Jesus and the Apostles examples of doing Apologetics. Their examples affirm the value of Apologetics.
JESUS APPEALED TO MIRACLES:
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” John 14:11
JESUS APPEALED TO FULFILLED PROPHECY:
“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Luke 24:25-27
THE APOSTLES APPEALED TO JESUS’S FULFILLED PROPHECY AND MIRACLES:
MIRACLES: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—” Acts 2:22
FULFILLED PROPHECY: “For David says concerning him, “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” Acts 2:25-31
With the arguments being made, the apostles sought to show their fellow Jews that Christianity was in fact true!
OTHER APOSTOLIC EXAMPLES:
In dealing with non-Jews, the Apostles sought to show the existence of God through His handiwork in nature.
“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:17
In Romans 1, Paul says that from nature alone all men can know that God exists.
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
The Apostle Paul also appealed to eyewitness testimony of Jesus’s resurrection to show further that Christianity is true!
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
APOLOGETICS IS FOR BELIEVERS AS WELL:
For some, Apologetics is not discovered until after making a profession of faith (I am one example of this). Many Christians did not come to believe as a result of investigating the authority of the Bible, the evidence of the resurrection, or as a response to the philosophical arguments for God’s existence: they simply responded to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Christians who believe but do not know why oftentimes become insecure and uncomfortable around non-believers and believers alike. A feeling of insecurity can quickly breed a certain defensive mood when challenges arise on issues of faith, morality, and truth – rather than MAKING a defense. This happens, simply, because of a lack of knowledge regarding the rational grounds for Christianity.
When this feeling arises, some believers can be pushed in the opposite direction of our ultimate command of Jesus:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
The solution to this is for believers to become informed in doctrine, the history of their faith, philosophy, logic, and other disciplines as they relate to Christianity.
APOLOGETICS PROVIDES INFORMATION:
In today’s culture assumptions are widely held. Incorrect assumptions can be challenged by both information and argument. Here are a few examples of incorrect assumptions: 1) Jesus never lived; 2) You cannot prove God exists; 3) there are no such things as miracles; 4) there is no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead; and 5) the Bible wasn’t written until hundreds of years after the life of Jesus.
APOLOGETICS IS COMMANDED:
“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,having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15
Here, the Apostle Peter is writing to strengthen Christians who are suffering for their faith. The reason they (and by extension we) can endure and even find hope in suffering is Jesus of Nazareth Himself. Only giving the response “Jesus” when someone asks, though, in an example of failing to give a full apologetic
1 Peter 3:15 will be the life verse for “A Reasonable Hope”.
“When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment, He replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
We have to go further than just saying “Jesus” even if we, as Christians, know His name is sufficient for all things. The task of EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN is to first honor Jesus as Lord in our heart; then our task is clear: we must always be prepared to explain why Jesus is our hope, why it is more than reasonable to place one’s faith in Him and Him alone.
Simply put: every Christian is commanded to be an Apologist for their faith.
Starting next week we will dive into making a case for Christianity by first starting with the question, “Does God exist?”. We, over the next few months, will build a comprehensive case for the hope that is within us. But, again, first things first: our task is to show that belief that there is in fact a God is reasonable.
After showing that a God does exist, we must answer the question “Which God exists?” because remember, only one can be correct.
After that we will dive into the questions of “Where did the New Testament come from?” and “Is the New Testament reliable”; we will do the same in the Old Testament before moving forward with “Do Miracles Happen?”, “What about Prophecies?”, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?”, and “Did Jesus claim to be God and is He the only way?”
From there we will go where the Holy Spirit leads us. But after this, the plan is to look further into the other religions, show where they break down, where they are false, and where they are contradictory.
Enjoy the ride because our Lord is quite more than REASONABLE!