Pastor Greg sometimes encounters people who think Christians are crazy for believing in God. Perhaps you do too? They ask things like, “Why would anyone become a Christian? Why should anyone place their faith in Jesus Christ – a man who lived over two thousand years ago? Can you prove that Jesus is real? Can you prove that He is God?” The Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:14-15 was writing to those who were being persecuted for their faith at varying degrees, up to and including imprisonment and martyrdom. Peter reminded us that we need to be ready to give an answer to our critics. With gentleness and reverence we are to be able to give a defense (apologia) to everyone who asks us to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ. We need to know and communicate the evidence for our faith when people demand that we PROVE IT! Christian apologetics is both the science and art of defending our faith by using reasons and evidence. Pastor Greg will spend most of June and July teaching us some evidence for our faith.
ENGLISH: defense ~~~ GREEK: απολογία (apologia)
Apologetics: “speaking in defense” of something.
“So, what makes Christians so arrogant that you think YOU ALONE have the ONLY RIGHT answer when it comes to understanding who God is and His plan for Creation?” ~ Critics of Christianity
If ‘truth’ does not exclude other points of view, then no assertion of a truth claim is being made. Actually, only an ‘opinion’ is being stated. Any time you make a truth claim, you are, by definition, referring to something that is contrary to that which is false. Truth (by definition) MUST exclude its opposite assertion. ~ Pastor G
The Parable of the Blind Men and The Elephant
(Some claim this is a parable about religion.)
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ~ John 14:6
I and the Father are one. ~ John 10:30
Four Fundamental Questions Of Every Religion
1) Our Origin ~ God made us in His image but we are distinct from God. We are not gods.
2) Our Meaning ~ We exist to be in relationship with and to WORSHIP God.
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ ~ Mark 12:30
3) Our Morality ~ Morality is not cultural or fluid. It is absolute. Based on the character of God.
4) Our Destiny ~ What happens after this life is based on our relationship with Jesus, not karma, good works or luck.
C.S. Lewis – Jesus’ claim to be God means He must be one of three things: Lord, Liar or Lunatic
1) Claimed to be God but knew He wasn’t = Liar
2) Claimed to be God, wasn’t, but believed He was = Lunatic
3) Claimed to be God, because He was God = Lord
(Just a good man or just a good moral teacher but not God is not a logical option.)
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
ALL of Christianity hinges on whether or not Jesus was really resurrected from the dead.
But now Christ HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-9
NON-SCRIPTURAL HISTORICAL SOURCES CONFIRMING JESUS LIVED (START HERE)
I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because twelve men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for forty years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled twelve of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me twelve apostles could keep a lie for forty years? Absolutely impossible. ~ Charles Colson (Watergate Conspirator)
QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND ALOHA GROUP DISCUSSION
READ: Pastor G’s quote above “If ‘truth’ does not exclude…”
1) Do you agree or disagree with Greg’s stance on truth? Is it possible for you and I to both have a “truth” even if they contradict each other? Why or why not? People often say things like “life YOUR truth” implying that you can live a truth different from my truth but both or truth. Is that possible? Why or why not?
READ: Revisit the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant
1) Some claim this is an accurate parable about all the world religions. That each religion is a blind man trying to understand what God is but each religion is only sensing one part of God. No religion has the whole answer. They say we are all trying to describe the same God and fighting with each other over our different perceptions. Do you think that is accurate or do Christians actually have the blindfold off, seeing God for who He really is? Explain your answer.
2) If the claim is true and one religion is as good as another because we are all just talking about a different piece of one unknowable God, why choose to be a Christian?
READ: John 14:6 and John 10:30
1) If we are all blind men trying to describe the same elephant and “all roads lead to heaven” what do we do with claims like these made by Jesus? (He made MANY such similar claims about being God.)
READ: The Four Fundamental Questions and Lord, Liar, Lunatic
1) Do you agree with the way Jesus answered the four fundamental questions? Why or why not?
2) When you think about the claims of Jesus (that He is God) can you think of any other options/explanations than the three C.S. Lewis presented? If so, what are they? Which explanation have you chosen to believe? Why?
READ: 1 Corinthians 15:12-22
1) Paul is essentially saying all of Christianity hinges on whether
or not Jesus was really resurrected from the dead and if Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead Christians should be pitied above all people because we’ve spent our entire lives on a falsehood. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Is it possible to still be a “Christian” and also not believe in the resurrection? Why or why not?
READ: 1 Corinthians 15:3-9
1) Paul presents this list of eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus as evidence? Do you consider it to be valid evidence? Why or why not? Paul doesn’t mention Mary as the first person to see the risen Jesus. Instead he says Jesus appeared “to Cephas (Peter).” Why do you think Mary’s name was left out?
2) Pastor Greg mentioned some extra-Biblical historical evidence for the existence of Jesus. Have you ever had someone insist that Jesus never existed at all or at least call His existence on earth into question? Have you ever heard someone say there is no evidence outside of the Bible He existed? Now that you know that is not true how will you answer such an objection in the future?
READ: Charles Colson’s Quote
1) Do you agree or disagree with Colson’s assessment of the difficulty in hiding a conspiracy? Why? Would you be willing to sacrifice your life to keep the secret of a lie you and your friends made up? Why or why not?