In this episode we learn from Ted Wright about the role that St. Paul played as a defender of the Christian faith, and what that means for you.Listen to “Episode 95: Paul as Apologist” on Spreaker.
Kurt: Well a good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of veracity hill, where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. So nice to be with you here. Well, wait, I’m not quite here. I’m actually attending the Illinois Family Institute worldview conference, biblical training for today’s culture. And today’s speaker is John Stonestreet. So for today’s program, we’ll be hearing from Ted Wright, one of the keynote speakers from the apologetics and evangelism conference back on April 14, in Hartford, Connecticut. And this talk is entitled, Paul as apologist.
Ted: So I want to begin this morning by asking a question. And this is going to be the interactive portion of the conference. And maybe there’s going to be maybe other interactive portions. But the first question I want to ask is this and this is just kind of an open forum, and I want you to just shout it out. I don’t know how often you were engaged in evangelism, or maybe just what I would call seat planting, you know, where you’re having conversations that you go to the coffee shop. But in your experience as a Christian, what has been your experience? What is it that’s been that’s kept people from becoming Christians? What are some of the things that people have said to you? So used to just tell me what are some things you can just shout it out? Anybody? Yes.
Ted: Absolutely. hypocrisy. People in the church are no different than anyone in the world. So why should I want to come to church is God really hasn’t changed your life? That’s a number one. Yes. In the background. sexual freedom. They want to become a Christian because I want to do what I want to do least they’re honest about it. Yep. True. Yeah.
Audience Member: The Bible’s not reliable. It’s been changed by man. How do we know *indiscernible
Exactly. Yeah, the Bible is a human document written by men. So well, how can we trust it? Yes, ma’am?
Ted: Absolutely. self sufficiency. Why do they need God? Yeah?
Audience Member: There’s no one perfect religion. They’re all have similarities.
Ted: All religions are the same. They all have some just a variation on the theme. Yes, in the back.
Ted: Yeah, exactly. It’s a personal thing. For me, I just pray God, and it’s my personal, you know, that’s my thing. I don’t really need to go to a church, or, you know, I’m from the south. So I have to say, Well, I have my churches on the lake or on the river. You know, when I’m going fishing, you know, I go out there and I can worship God better out there than I can go to a church. But there are all kinds of reasons why people don’t want to become Christians. And you guys touched on the intellectual reasons irrelevance clash of worldviews. I don’t think anyone said this. What about all the evil and suffering in the world? You know, what, what? How could there be a god? If you look at all the evil he just recently the news, you got Syria, the chemical warfare attack? You know, why would God if God is good, if there is a God, why would he allow evil in the world? And you have other things as well, pluralism that you mentioned, you know, all religions are the same relativism, it really doesn’t matter. There are all sorts of reasons why the Bible gives in John three says, Jesus said Men love darkness rather than a light because their deeds are evil. So people don’t really want the light they want to live in spiritual darkness. In so you know, that’s one of the reasons that Christ gives sin.
Ted: So we live in a culture, and every nation has a culture, and you know, you can talk about, you know, what, what the definition of a culture is, it actually the words interesting comes from a French word, or actually, it’s a French word, based on Latin word, which means to cultivate, to cultivate, which is very interesting when you talk about it’s an agricultural term. And it also indicates to care to honor to keep, that’s another great way to think about culture. So what I want to do now is I want to sort of give a couple of things we’re talking about our culture when I think out another. Another definition here, shared customs and beliefs. And the question that I’m going to be sort of posing throughout this talk this morning is in this again, this is something I just want you to think about what what kind of culture do you live in here? And I’m not talking about just an America I’m talking about in this community, or at least the community that you live around what is the culture how would you describe the shared beliefs? What are the shared beliefs and ideas that people have around you? Well, I want to give a little bit of historical perspective since since I am an archaeologist, I like to look at history. And that’s, by the way, that quotes from Roger Scruton, who wrote a great book on this, this is a book by a guy named Jim Nelson black. And this was published about 25 years ago, he wrote this very interesting thesis.
Ted: His thesis was he was looking at all these nations that existed before, and these nations are now dead, they’re now dead and extinct. And he wanted to try to find out what are some common characteristics of nations that die. And what he found was he compared the civilizations and brought out 10 warning signs for nations that are no longer in existence today. And I just, I just want to put this out there for food for thought you can think about this, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But again, what he’s doing is he’s not saying, you know, he’s not trying to like put the information into it. He’s gaining this from from like, what he’s learned from history. And this is what he said about when nations die, here are the 10, warning signs, social decay, you have lawlessness, a lack of respect to the law, loss of economic discipline, rising bureaucracy, these are all characteristic of nations that have fallen, such as the Roman Empire, Carthage, I believe, he looked at the French Empire as well. And I forgot in the book, it lists all the nations that he actually looked at. And these are the some of the common characteristics of these nations that have died. Another one is cultural decay, the decline of education, the weakening of cultural foundations, the loss of respect for tradition of the culture, interestingly, increasing in materialism, themes having themes or is very important to these cultures, these become sort of the driving force. And then the last one is moral decay. And a rise in immorality, he says is a is a key warning sign for a nation in decay, and then the decay of religious belief. And then to devalue that human life, which I thought was very interesting. The devaluing of human life is a indication that a culture is in decline. So again, think about America, think about our own culture, think about the culture that you’re in now. What do you think that you think? Is our nation is our culture in decay? I think a case can be made that it certainly is. But the problems actually run much deeper than this.
Ted: Several years ago, about three or four years ago, I was actually asked to speak and I don’t, I’m not, I don’t really take it. I don’t get political or anything. I’ve got my own views. But I was actually asked by a friend of mine back in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is where I lived for 25 years. He was actually the president of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party, of the Young Republicans. And so they have a monthly meeting. And they helped to have a guest speaker. And it’s a pretty large group of people. These are professionals, lawyers, we actually had in this talk, that were actually we had, I think, a federal judge, and we had a couple of people running for Senate House. And they asked me to come to speak to these Republicans about the history of America, and what can history teach us anything about where we’re going or anything like that? And I began to think about what in the world of how, what am I going to share with these people? What am I going to say? And I began to read and think and I began to think about, actually our own our own culture in our own constitution or own declaration independence as a country, we’re now living in a culture that believes that down is up and up is down, the web is dry, and that men are men or women and women or men or that that gender is is interchangeable. mean, it’s pretty much George Orwell said this many years ago and his book 1984 We now live in a time in which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent man. I think he’s absolutely right. The restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent man.
Ted: So what what do I mean by this? Well, what I mean by this, this in 1776, in the Declaration of Independence, it says this says, We hold these truths to be self evident, says that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What I want you to focus on is the first line, we hold these truths to be self evident. The question I want us to think about is this what is a self evident truth? I mean, what is a self evident truth? Very important. I believe that we are now in a time in our culture that is denying self evident truth and our founding fathers assumed that the country would work on a belief in self evident truth. And what is the self evident truth?
Ted: Let’s go over this a little bit. It’s what a professor at UT Austin Jay Budziszewski, a great, brilliant guy. He said, what we cannot know you can’t not know certain truths. In other words, right and wrong, there’s an innate sense of right and wrong implanted in the heart. And this is actually the apostle Paul wrote this in Romans chapter two verses 12 and 14. It’s the Romans who don’t have the law, they have a law written on their hearts, the law is written on the hearts what law? Well, the 10 commandments, in essence is written on the heart, the basic idea of right and wrong is written on the heart of men, because he said, the Romans don’t have the law, but yet they have a law written on their hearts. That’s sort of self evident. Truth is, in fact, we could think of the word conscience con is it’s an English word con science with knowledge, people have a conscience. But now we’re living in a culture that denies the conscience that or that ignores the conscience. So it’s knowledge, there’s knowledge is there everybody has this knowledge is being ignored, it is being completely wiped off the table. So what are we to do? I mean, what are we to do as Christians in a culture like this in which we are commanded by Scripture and by by Christ himself, to go into the world and preach the good news to all creation, this is the culture that we’re living in.
Ted: This is the culture that we’re called to go and reach. And it’s not just here in Connecticut, it’s here, it’s everywhere. It’s across the United States. And not just in the US, but also in Europe, and around the world. We live in a whole world that denies the self evident truths. self evident, truth is true for all people at all times, in all places, it has nothing to do with where you’re from, it has everything to do with reality, truth is that which corresponds to reality. So so that’s where we are today, we are in a time in which is really, really scary to live in. And what’s even more sad is that you can see at the bottom of the screen there, these, the Old Testament, the 10 commandments is actually codified, or it’s codified in the Old Testament, 10 commandments, the Decalogue. This is above the chamber of the US Supreme Court. And yet now we are not guided by this, we’re guided by whatever, whatever whim suits our fancy, or whatever the the, the flavor of the day is, as far as truth goes. So what I want to do this morning is talk about something, some person that we can learn from from Scripture as to how to go about doing this. And the apostle Paul, there is no better person to learn from the Apostle Paul. Well, why, Paul? Why look at Paul? Well, because we have a good record of his life, we can see it in Scripture, we can see what he did. And we can see the methodology they use throughout the word God, we have the book of Acts, we have Paul’s letters. So we have a good record of that. And Paul engages culture by practicing three fundamental mandates, what I call mandates that are found in the New Testament, this is stuff that you sort of already know as Christians, but I’m gonna put together so because there’s a missing part of it, we get one of it. Well, there’s one part that I think many Christians are actually would agree about, and that is the gospel mandate. And that’s, of course it all throughout Scripture. You can see this in the Gospels in Matthew 28, no, go into the world. You know, All authority has been given to me Go preach the good news, Acts chapter one, verse eight, you know, you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the world. So that’s the gospel mandate. So we are mandated as the church, this is not an option. We are mandated to go and share the gospel with the world, in Word Indeed, by verbally proclaiming the gospel that also by acts of love and kindness, and, and grace, in Christ’s name.
Ted: Okay, the second one, the second mandate, is one that, to be honest with you, I’ve been in apologetics for goodness, probably 15 years or so, as a public speaker, and I’ve been a senior pastor before. seminary professor, I still I still teach now seminary classes. And I get, there’s we’re doing, we’re pretty mixed on this. And the, the rational mandate is defend the faith, proclaim the faith, and then defend the faith. And in today’s culture, really, honestly, in order to accurately proclaim it, you have to defend it. Because I mean, and you know, we had just lost a great sight. Billy Graham just passed away. Of course, I live in Charlotte for 45 years, and I actually met Franklin I met his grandson Will, had an interesting interchange with Will, Franklin I’ll tell you about that later. But anyway, you know, when Billy Graham was preaching 50 years ago, you know, he could go and do it, maybe do a crusade here 50 years ago, most people would understand the language he’s talking about, but now it’d be like Rambo to come. Preach crusade here. I wonder. I’d probably 90% of people that will come to the crusade are already Christian. You know what we’re trying to reach lost people, people that don’t know Christ, that have no interaction with Christ or church whatsoever. We’re talking Muslims. We’re talking Jews, we’re talking atheist talking to agnostics, we’re talking to people who would not step foot in a church. What are we doing to reach them? How are we trying to reach them? Not only as a church, but also as individuals. I mean, many of you guys, I’m sure have jobs in which you know, most, you’re probably not a professional ministry, although I think ministry is everywhere. But what about your people at work? You know, yeah, I’m sure that everybody your work is not a believer.
Ted: So the question that I asked myself, and I asked you as well, what what are we doing? What how are the conversations going? When we’re talking to people do we are trying to steer the conversation to the gospel? But 1 Peter 3:15 says, always be ready to give an answer for the reason the hope that’s within you, but do this with gentleness or meekness and respect. That’s that is the apologetic mandate. And the word apologetics, by the way, is comes from that passage in 1 Peter 3:15. It’s worth Greek word apology, which means to give a rational defense for why you’re a Christian. And so Peter says that the Jude 1:3 says, defend the faith. And then the third one is the one really that we’re talking about today. And that is the rhetorical mandate, the rhetorical mandate, 1 Corinthians chapter nine. And we’ll do that here in a moment. And then Acts chapter 17, are perfect examples. And the Apostle Paul practiced all three, he practiced the gospel mandate, he preached the gospel, he defended the faith. And number three, the third thing, he communicated it in a way that was understood, he communicated that in a way that people can understand what he is saying. So we could say it this way, I’m gonna restate. So if you’re taking notes, we’ve got three mandates, the explicit gospel sound, reason, apologetics, and number three, effective communication, how are we communicating that? So we know the gospel, John 3:16, it’s all scripture. You know, for God’s love the world. Everybody knows that verse. That’s the gospel mandate. The the rational mandate is knowing why Christianity is true. Not just that I am a Christian. But why is Christianity true? Why are you Christian? Well, because he changed my life. And that’s a great answer. But you got to have more than just that you have to have more than just mere experience because other people have experiences. Mormons have experiences. Jehovah’s Witnesses have experiences. So ultimately, experience is not the best test for truth. But reality is correspondence to reality is the best test for truth. Is it true? I’m a Christian, not because it makes me feel good, although it does. But I’m a Christian, because I believe it’s actually true that it corresponds to reality that Jesus really is risen from the dead, that we worship a risen Savior. But the third is very important. And it’s the fourth point that I’m trying to make this morning. Is, is the is the rhetorical mandate and effective communication. How are we communicating what we know to this culture? And so we’re going to, I’m going to so don’t fret because I’m gonna show you some examples here of how Paul did this.
Ted: So if we were to put it another way, again, I’m just sort of going down here and rephrasing it, we proclaim, if you want a simple way to play, proclaim, defend and communicate the gospel, proclaim it, defend it, communicate the gospel, very important point. So two examples I’ll give on the first one is the apostle Paul in Acts chapter nine, verse 20. It says, This is what his practice actually says, immediately preached Christ in the synagogues that he is the Son of God. So here Paul is practicing the gospel mandate, he is preaching the gospel to the Jews in the synagogues. And it says in Acts chapter 17, now when they pass through, and Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where Paul, where there was a synagogue of the Jews, then Paul as his custom was, went into them, for the three sat and for three Sabbaths, reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, this Jesus, who you preach to you, whom I preached to you, is the Christ. So those are two examples of what Paul was doing. He went to the synagogue, see, proclaim Christ, and then he also went, and he reasoned with them, explaining and demonstrating that Christ indeed was the Son of God. Another example, to the Greeks. He did this says that while Paul waited for them, he was waiting for his companions in Athens. His spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city that is the city of Athens was given over to islands.
Ted: Let me just stop there for just a second. Let’s take a little pause and acts 17 let us read one more time, a little slower and think about it. Now while Paul wait for them in Athens. He had some time to sit around and reflect and make some observations about the city of Athens. By the way, has anybody ever been to Athens, Greece? It’s a beautiful, amazing place, Athens. So while Paul waited for them in Athens, of course, this was 2000 years ago, you had the Parthenon, and you think of all the history of Athens, I mean, some of the greatest philosophers, the greatest philosophers, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, all came from Athens. So while Paul was there in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him, when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Here’s the question.
Ted: When you’re making observations about Hartford, when you stop, and you’re sitting at the park bench, and you see synagogues and you see the mosque, and you see lost people, is your spirit, promote your spirit promote? Do you have a conviction, these people need to know Christ, I know that I would. And I know that you probably do as well. Therefore, he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews, and the Gentile worshipers and in the marketplace daily with those who happen to be there in the marketplace daily. That is where evangelism is done, it is not done here: It’s done out there. The second reference is this is the famous episode when he is there. It says Paul stood in the midst of Areopagus and said, Men of Athens, I perceive it and all things you were very religious, for, as I was passing through, and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription, to an unknown god, therefore, the one whom you worship without knowing him, I proclaim to you. So there in Athens, Athens was lined with Gods, there were many gods in Athens, it’s very polytheistic. And they had an altar to an unknown God. So Paul came to this altar, and knows what he did. He used the culture, he used something that they wouldn’t have understood in the culture, to explain to them the gospel of Christ. So here’s the question that we need to think about as the church and as Christians trying to reach our culture for Christ. What is it? What altars that are out there? Or what potential altars or what things what objects? Can we see that to help point people to Christ? And I get I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong answers, there’s various things there are all kinds of different things that might help show that Christ is Lord. But what can we learn a couple observations …
Ted:But what can we learn a couple observations about this, we can learn that there were two different cultures that Paul engaged. Number one, he engaged the religious culture, that is the Jews, he would go of course, Paul was a Jew. And so he would go to the Jews first. And then the second culture you would engage is secular culture that is the non religious culture of the Greeks and the Gentiles. But in both cultures, Paul practiced all three mandates, he would proclaim, he would defend and he would communicate according to who he was speaking to. So this brings up a very important point in our communication of the gospel. We are communicating the gospel today, the gospel of Christ, and I got it about a week or so ago was actually I have a personal blog and I wrote some some articles. I’ve been wanting to write it for a while on atheism, and it’s specifically on existentialism, Kierkegaard and Pascal, things like that. I began to think about the claim and think about this for a second, just with me. You think about what we’re saying as Christians just think about how crazy this might sound to people out there, were saying that a man that lived 2000 years ago, who claimed to be the Son of God, born of a virgin, died on the cross a Roman cross for their sins, that actually they inherited from the first man that lived that lives in the garden with his wife, that was tempted by a serpent.
Ted: You get where I’m going with this? You see how it kind of sorta it’s begins to sound kind of crazy to the world. I think to them. We understand this as Christians, but think about how it sounds to them. Think of how outlandish it’s an outlandish claim, pretty crazy claim that I mean Jesus, the Son of God, this man live, who is this man who lived 2000 years ago, we have to contextualize the gospel, we have to explain it in a way that they will understand it. We can’t just assume they understand when we say Jesus, that they understand who Jesus was. They don’t know who Jesus is, we do. That’s why Paul explained it. He reasoned with them. And he communicated that. It’s not just enough today, to just proclaim it we can to proclaim it, yes. But we also have to defend it. And we have to communicate it in a way that people understand it. And that’s the important. It’s not just one, it’s all of these. And here is really a key phrase, a key verse, it really brings us all together.
Ted: For us. It’s 1 Corinthians chapter nine, I want you to write this down, know your audience and know who it is you’re speaking to. Paul says this, this really is a great insight into how Paul was thinking, and what what he was thinking about when he tried to reach the culture of Christ. He says, Though I am free that in other words, they were slavery back then though I am free to belong to no man. I said, I willingly make myself a slave to everyone why? To win as many as possible to win them. That’s why I become their slave. To the Jews I become like a Jew do when the Jews to those who under the law, I became like one under the law, though I myself am not under the law. So as to when those under the law, to those not having law, I became like one not having a law, though I am not free for God’s law, that I’m under Christ’s law. So as to when those not having the law to the weak, I become weak to win the weak, I have become all things to all men, that by all possible means I might say something, I do this for the sake of the Gospel, I do this for the sake of the gospel, he says that I might share his blessings. So what are we doing? What are we, you know, who are we becoming like, you know, do we want to become like a muslim to win the muslim? You know? I don’t mean, we convert to Islam. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s not what Paul’s saying. But he’s saying, can we identify with him? Can we empathize with them, empathize with people who are immigrants, and people who are not from this country, to understand and have compassion on them so that we can communicate the gospel to them, instead of posturing and saying, it’s us or them situation. It’s trying to empathize, to reach out to share the gospel. Because if we don’t do that, frankly, we’re not going to win the world for Christ if we don’t empathize and reach out to people where they are in their sin and in their error, that we’re not going to reach the world for Christ. It’s just simply not going to happen.
Ted: The world is so divided today. Alister McGrath sort of emphasized this point. Effective, apologetics is grounded in the knowledge of its audience. This audience is not static and predictable. It’s not the same irrespective of age, social location, country of origin or language. Rather, it is dynamic and changing. The apologist needs to know his or her audience, speak its language and share its common flow of life. So very, very important point to make here. Effective apologetics. In other words, if we’re going to be effective, we have to know audience. And one of the things I learned from being a pastor, it’s so funny how things that you wish you had known when you were a younger, you know, Minister, now you learn as you get a little older, is that, in fact, I actually met Rick Warren on one occasion it’s been several years ago, we were national doing a conference and I used to work for cross examined. And Frank Turek. Some of you may or may not have Frank Turek is. He runs cross examined, wrote a book. I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist with Norm Geisler and Frank and I were both mentored by Dr. Geisler and so Frank and I were there in Nashville, and Rick Ward was there. And Rick knows Frank and Frank has been out to Saddleback in California, and he spoke at Rick’s church and got to meet Rick, he’s a great guy and real down to earth. And, you know, there’s some people don’t like him, but he said something very interesting, very, very fascinating. And he’s, I’ve actually seen the quote before later in some internet, memes, things like that. They said, it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.
Ted: In other words there’s not a one size fits all church. I used to think as the administrator that well every church has to look like my church and sound like my church and have the same kind of music, you know, that I like, you know, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it takes all kinds to churches to reach all kinds of people. And it takes all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people. In other words, you have people that you engage with, that you can reach that I can never reach. And in the same way, I have people in my realm of influence that that you could never reach, because I’m engaged with them. I’m in the soil, of the culture, and you are in the soil. So the best people to reach Hartford are the people of Hartford, the best people to reach the people of Boston are the people of Boston because Boston has a particular culture. And that’s definitely the prayer and New York same way. I’ve got good friends up in New York, who ran a ministry called New York apologetics and they’re doing they’re just getting started. And it’s the mission field is wide open.
Ted: So what I’m saying is this is that apologetics is ground level, it’s ground level is not a blanket, you know, you read apologetics books, and you read how to defend the faith. But at the end of the day, it has to be down on this level has to be lived out among the people and you know, ways to reach people that I don’t you know, this culture the way that some of us do not know it. So that’s that’s very important point to make here with demographics and his book, mere apologetics. It is if to be effective, you have to know who your audience is. And that’s not just true with apologetics, that is true of any effective communication, if you’re going to be an effective communicator. In other words, me speaking to you, I mean, I’m assuming that you guys are believers in the fact that you’ve come to this conference means that this is a subject you’re interested to, or interested in. So I’m trying to communicate in a way that impacts you in the same way. Think about your audience, the last people, what is how can you reach them for the gospel of Christ? All right. Let me just give you a few statistics here. And then I’ll open up for some Q&A here, let you guys speak. But who is our audience?
This has been going on now for some years. And it’s actually this was when I when I wrote this PowerPoint lecture. This was several years ago, I gave it a conference in North Carolina. And it’s actually gotten worse. This was some research that George Barna did. This is religious youth culture in America.
Ted: And it’s something that some people have called sort of unofficially, the youth Exodus crisis. In George Barna says, Do we live in a post Christian culture, and here is some of the some of the research here. And it’s kind of maybe hard to read some of those physics. So I’ll just sort of lay it out here, post Christian, highly post Christian. And here’s some of the here’s how they categorize this post Christian? Is 60 met 60% of these questions, nine or more factors, highly post Christian 80% 12 or more factors. In other words, it’s 80%, highly post Christian in our culture, these are young people don’t believe in God, they identify as an atheist or agnostic. Faith is not important in their life. They have not prayed to God in the last year, they have not made a commitment to Jesus, and they believe that the Bible is inaccurate. So this this is, and this is this was done about five or six years ago, there’s been some new research out now that show that the the young people that that that area of unbelief, and atheism is continuing to grow. So what are we going to do about it? I mean, if you think about it, if you look at, look at our church, look at here, there’s not a lot of young people in here at all. Not to say that you guys are not young, but I admit it, but it’s true. And a lot of churches is back I got a lot of friends in Europe. And these a lot of churches in Europe are just filled with the elderly folks. And that’s great. That’s wonderful.
Ted: But if we don’t reach out to the young people and try to win them for Christ, then the church is going to die. In fact, that’s happening in Europe, their churches are closing up in mosques are opening up. And that’s now beginning to creep in into America. Churches are getting closed doors and mosques are beginning to open door. So it is a matter of it’s getting to be critical in here in America and in Europe as well. That we reach out and try to reach the culture of Christ. The factors go on, there’s 15 of these. This is from the research, you can go to a Barna.org and type into the search engine the youth crisis, have not donated money to a church and not attended a Christian church agree that Jesus committed sins, don’t feel a responsibility to share their faith, have not read the Bible in one way cannot volunteer to church have not attended Sunday school and not attended a religious group and do not participate in house church. Again, these are some of the criteria. And then Barna says this is a great quote from him. This is what his conclusion of research is our research suggest. Listen to this, that most of the efforts of Christian ministries failed to reach much beyond the core Christian eyes America is often much easier to work with this core more audience than to focus on the so called nuns. The data give evidence that some cities and younger generations are more gospel resistant than the norm. And part Christian leaders have to realize that many efforts fall short because they imagine the post Christian population is hanging on his very words, new levels of courage and clarity will be required to conduct beyond the Christianize majority.
Ted: So anyway, saying they’re basically what Barna is saying, folks is that we’re preaching to the choir. We’re preaching to the choir. I mean, that’s great. I listen, I’m came from the south. So I know all about preaching to the choir. In fact, that’s not a lot in my southern churches. And below my friends, I came, I was a pastor of a small church in North Carolina for about seven years. And there again, there’s nothing wrong with having a gospel singing or having a thing, but you know, who’s gonna come to those other Christians? Christians will go to a gospel second, you think an atheist is gonna go, You know what, let’s go to a gospel singer here, Jesus Christ, they’re not going to do that. I mean, that’s great. You want to encourage each other. But the question is, but what are we doing to reach the last people? What are we doing to reach the lost sheep of the world? Christ came to seek and say the last, and what are we doing? What are we doing for that? Yes.
Ted: Exactly exactly but you know that we there are some non believers that do will trickle in, but you’re gonna get it’s a very small minority of people who would go to her to a Christian. And honestly, it’s not just let me just say, and again, I’m not here to bash on my brother. And you’re saying, I care about reaching the world for Christ. But I see this also in apologetics in an enmity apologetics ministries are focused on they’re just debating other apologists about really interesting topics. But ultimately, what are they doing to communicate to the last? They’re just arguing and debating over a little things that just at the end of the day, don’t matter? They’re not they’re not essentials? I mean, I think it was Augustine who said, in the essentials, unity, the non essentials, liberty, and all things love, and many even apologetics ministries, not definitive media. But many apologetics ministries are focused on just debating the minutiae of the Christian faith. These are in house debates. And non believers look at this ago, they just argue with each other, they can’t agree about this, you know, but the question I have is, what are we doing to reach the culture for Christ? What are we doing? The people who would never go to apologetics conference? Who would never look at politics website? What are we doing to reach those people?
Ted: Well, I want to leave you, I don’t wanna leave you hanging, I’m actually going to leave you with some something to go with. As I mentioned earlier, I was formerly with cross examined, and Frank and myself and, and others, we would actually go around to college campuses. And we would give, in fact, in the book, it is a great book of a couple of other to recommend a couple of books for you to sort of if you don’t, if you’ve never read anything in apologetics, these are two great beginner books. The first one is by Geisler and Turek, it’s called, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. It’s great. But what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna summarize that whole book in four questions. And in fact, they’re so easy to even carry these with you. And this is a great way to begin a conversation, or at least to know where somebody is on the scale. And number one, is this, does truth exist? Is there such a thing as truth? Truth exists? The second question, Does God exist? The third question, are miracles possible? And number four, is the New Testament reliable? Those four questions will really put you right in the ballpark of showing that Christianity is true. And I don’t mean by proving it beyond a reasonable doubt. I mean, but again, it’s a probability that it’s highly probable that if truth does exist, and relativism was not true, then you can certainly go to the next step, then you can show arguments and there’s some really great arguments that God exists. But don’t I would even go to try to show that Jesus Son of God, if somebody who’s an atheist is someone who is an atheist, you start with him, showing them that that God exists. Because if God doesn’t exist, that Jesus can’t be a son of God, you just aren’t, you’re just gonna be arguing against the wall.
Ted: If you’re trying to argue that Well, Jesus said, He was the Son of God and know that, well, I don’t even believe in God. So you have to first show that truth exists, that God exists. And if God exists, then it opens up the world to miracles, if the universe is not a closed system, though the universe is what see as lucid. That’s the deal. If there is a God, then miracles are possible, and why why do we bring Why don’t we say that miracles are possible because many people today who are atheists tend to be on the more scientific side of things and more engineering types, and so they look at the universal software closed system, Big Bang cosmology and things like that, not that that necessarily disproves God.
Ted: In fact, I think it actually shows that God does exist. There. In any case, if the universe is not a closed system, then miracles are possible. And the central claim of the Christian message is that Jesus is risen from the dead. That’s the claim that he was God in the flesh, that God came down and live in human flesh, took on the sins of the world, and then rose again, on the third day, that is a great miracle. But the greatest miracle of all, is actually on the very first page, the very first birth verse of the Bible, in the beginning, God created the heavens in the earth. If God can create the earth out of nothing, then he could certainly, you know, resurrect man from the dead, he could certainly come back from the dead. So miracles are certainly possible. So once we’ve established that the fourth question, which we’ll get into, we talked about archaeology later today is is the New Testament, you can add historically reliable is the New Testament historically reliable, because if the New Testament can accurately give us historic, accurate historical information, then the New Testament is where we learned about Jesus risen from the dead. On the third day, is some of the writers and said, the epistles, you know, We were eyewitnesses of his glory. And that’s one of the things that you need for accurate history. You need eyewitnesses, you need historical records. And third, you need archaeological evidence. And we’re going to talk about those three things. We talked about archaeology later on. So does truth exist? Does God exist? are miracles possible? And is the New Testament reliable?
Ted: So here’s the book. Again, if you want to get that it’s a great book to start with the those four questions actually, they break them up into 12 apologetic points. And the whole book is just a just a, an explanation. They go into much more detail about those four questions. Does truth exist? Does God exist? Are miracles possible? And is the New Testament reliable? But I’ll just summarize with four questions. They are but they’re really 12 apologetics questions. Excellent book, it’s very small book. It’s about the size, maybe it’s half size of your Bible. It’s by Pierre Craig and Ron Celie. It’s a pocket handbook on Christian apologetics. You can get this on Amazon, relatively cheap. It’s not an expensive book at all, a little paperback, but it just basically it’s like a little encyclopedia about like, how do you answer the problem of aimless, like, if someone were to say to you, well, you know, how can there be a god of there’s evil in the world? Well, how would you answer that? Well, this little book here will give you a great little summary of how to learn how to answer that question. All right.
Ted: And so I want to end with this. And then I’ll open up for questions from you guys. And it’s in Acts chapter 17, verses 30 to 34. It says this. And so this is after he had preached in Athens to these philosophers, and where they had heard of the resurrection of the dead, as some of the people that you talk to when they hear about Jesus, some mocked, while other said, Will, Paul will, who you know, does matter. So Paul departed from them. However, some may join him and believed among them were Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Maurice and others with them. So what response will people give, proclaim, when you defend, and when you communicate the gospel as Paul did, you’re gonna get the same response Paul did, some will mock, some will be interested, and some will believe, same response. So don’t be discouraged. Don’t be discouraged, but you’re just doing you’re just following along with the possible because some we’re gonna mock you. In fact, probably the majority of them will mock you. And that’s to be expected. Some will be interested, some will plant seeds, and others will believe.
Ted: And um, it reminds me of something that one of our one of my friends Greg Koukl from stand to reason would say in this in some apologetics conversations, I think a lot of people who begin to study apologetics and begin to study reasons for their faith, you begin to get really excited, you need to learn some things like wow, I, you know, always wanted to know why this is the case or why the Bible is historically reliable in archaeology or, you know, God exists, things like that. You get excited about it, you want to share this with people, you know, you kind of become overzealous and people kind of like, stand back, like, you know, okay, chill out, dude. You know, you’re kind of who, you know, blow me away here. But what what Greg says this, you don’t have to close the deal with every conversation. You don’t have to like in other words, what you want to do is you want to plant the seed. That’s right, exactly. Move it forward, plant the seed, and let the Holy Spirit water it and then someone else will come along, they will grow. So perhaps in your conversations at work here around the community, you can plant seeds for the gospel for further Conversations for later so you can dialogue and have discussions about why you think that Jesus is the Son of God and why he is indeed risen from the dead.
Ted: At the end of the day, really, we have to be what Christ said that is, in our culture, the salt be the salt of the earth. He says that you are the light of the world, a town. A built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither two people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put on a stand and it gives like everyone in the house in the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and not praise you praise your heavenly Father in heaven. So that’s what we want. We want to be solid, we want to be like, we want to be winsome and loving. But yet also we want to be wise as serpents get as innocent as does it preach the gospel in reaching this world for Christ. And then alive.
One last slide, Francis Schaeffer, I love this, and I got to end with this one. It is important to remember first of all, that we cannot separate true apologetics from the work of the Holy Spirit, nor from a living relationship in prayer to the Lord on the part of the Christian, we must understand that eventually the battle is not. It’s not just against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. We live in a spiritually dark world it is spiritual warfare is spiritual warfare. It’s an it’s a warfare of ideas, and we are praying for the scales that the evil one would fall off the people around us and they might see the God of truth, the Christ that loves them that came to this world..
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