Next weekend we’ll be jumping in to a 4 week series on “apologetics.” Apologetics is a discipline of study that essentially allows believers in Jesus to understand and give reasonable, logical, and practically helpful reasons for why they believe. To have a basic understanding of why you believe in Jesus is a biblical charge, as Peter encourages us to “regard 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” (1 Peter 3: 15). This doesn’t mean that we need to be able to answer all questions or to write a book to prove how smart we are to those who doubt Jesus. It does mean that we should feel comfortable in our own skin when we are questioned, eager to share what we do know, and willing to investigate the questions we cannot answer right there on the spot – like nice people, not jerks.
The point of being able to logically and reasonably defend your faith is not to win an argument – it is to win a person. We see that in Paul’s final letter to Timothy: “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2: 16-22). This captures the spirit of Jesus-like apologetics: kind, gentle, patient, able to teach. The content that we have to share will not get very far if a life of love and care is not being demonstrated first. This is crucial.
Because there is so much to teach in the area of defending faith in Christ, I get overwhelmed fast with how little I know. But the reality is that most of our seeking and skeptical friends and family members are not looking for a dissertation from us. Most of our friends are looking for a few solid answers to a few deeply rooted questions. It is in this light in which we are approaching this next series. In the course of having lunch, grabbing a drink, playing a sport, or at a play date with the kids, could we articulate a few solid answers about why we believe? Our hope that after this series, this would be possible, and that you’d feel very comfortable in doing so.
The first question we will be addressing is foundational to the worldview of any believer or Theist for that matter: Is there a God? There are not too many hard core Atheists out there, but many espouse the gentler version of Atheism, which is Agnosticism, that says “I don’t really know if there is a God.” We’ll discuss how modern Science supports the existence of God. The next natural question that follows a positive response to the first question is, “will the real God please stand up?” For millenia human beings have been worshipping; are some prayers more effective than others based on who is prayed to? How can we really know the true nature and personality of this Creator? This week we will discuss true marks of divine revelation. The third topic we will cover is the problem of pain. It is difficult for many to reconcile the concept of a loving and all powerful God who allows pain, evil, and other atrocities to happen. The series will wrap up addressing a question that I was posed with back in my college days, “Isn’t is arrogant to say the Jesus is the only Way to God (or heaven)?”
One goal of this series is that you would be able to answer these questions on the back of a napkin, or a coaster. Another goal of this series is that God would stir up your heart and help you to be bold to hang out with, or make friends whom, are far from Jesus. Answers to tough questions encourage our faith, but let’s not be satisfied with that. Let’s be unsatisfied with having friends that we love who are deceived, and happily living in ignorance. Perhaps you are the one who will begin a conversation that allows people to begin to open up their minds, and ultimately open up their hearts to the God who loves them and died for them.
Undoubtedly these messages will just be scratching the surface of some huge topics, and will likely drum up more questions. To help address this, and to further equip you, we will have an Apologetics Learning Community off the heels of this series. During the series you will be able to text in your questions, and we will try to address them in this smaller setting. Betsy McPeak who is a great resource in this area will be facilitating this time. To find out times and to RSVP for this learning community click here.