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.
… sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence … ~ 1 Peter 3:15
ENGLISH: defense ~~~ GREEK: απολογία (apologia)
Apologetics: “speaking in defense” of something.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. ~ Romans 1:18-20
PAUL SAYS TWO VERY IMPORTANT THINGS HERE
1) What is known about God is evident within us, as human beings. Clearly, we were designed by God.
2) God’s eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen in the rest of creation as well.
4 CLASSIC PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
1) The Cosmological Argument
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. ~ Genesis 1:1
2) The Ontological Argument
3) The Teleological Argument (The Argument From Design)
This is Paul’s basis in Romans 1.
4) The Argument From Religious Experience
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ~ Jeremiah 29:13
GOD CALLS TO US ~ GOD PURSUES US
“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. ~ Matthew 18:12-14
GO DEEPER ~ PERSONAL REFLECTION
AND ALOHA GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
READ: 1 Peter 3:15
1) We’ve studied and discussed this verse before but re-read it with fresh eyes this week. Does it really matter if you know why you believe in God? Why or why not? Does it really matter if you can explain it to someone else? Why or why not?
READ: Romans 1:16-32
1) Our focus is primarily on verses 16-20 but for greater context of the bigger point Paul was making, what is your first reaction to this larger passage in 16-32?
2) Why does Paul say he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? Do you ever feel ashamed of the Gospel? Do you find yourself hiding your faith from others, not speaking your faith aloud in certain situations? If so, why is that? What is Paul wanting us to think about when he says “I am not ashamed…?”
3) Why does Paul say the wrath of God is being revealed? What caused this wrath to be seen? What is the wrath of God? Is God justified in exhibiting wrath towards people who behave in these ways Paul is describing in this passage? Why or why not? Having read this, is “wrath” something that only happens in the Old Testament, and the New Testament is a totally different concept of God? Why or why not?
4) What does Paul mean when he says people are “without excuse” if they choose to still deny the existence of God? Do you agree or disagree?
5) Paul says God gave people over to degrading passions and lusts and impurities, etc. What does it mean that God “gave them over” to these things? Can God still be a God of love and do these things?
READ: Genesis 1:1
1) Critics will say – if everything has a cause then something must have caused God and something must have caused the thing that caused God all the way back to infinity. The Bible presents a world view of God as the uncaused cause – the original cause – He has always existed. In the beginning, there was only God. What do you think about this? How would you explain God’s eternal nature to someone who was asking you? Do you understand how God could have just always existed?
READ: Jeremiah 29:13
1) Do you think this is true? Is this true for everyone? Can anyone be assured of eventually finding God as long as they have searched for Him with all their heart? Why or why not?
2) How would you advise a seeking friend to go about “searching for God?” What are some specific words of advice you would offer?
READ: Matthew 18:12-14
1) Pastor Greg said, regardless of whether or not we are actively searching for God, He is always calling to us, pursuing us. Do you believe that as well? Why or why not?
2) Jesus once said, “My sheep know My voice.” How might that relate to a person sensing that God is calling to them or pursuing them? Have you ever heard Jesus’ voice? Share it with the group.
3) C.S. Lewis described his conversion moment this way:
“…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Why do you think C.S. Lewis did not want to meet God? When he finally does meet God and confesses faith in Him he refers to himself as a dejected and reluctant convert. Why do you think that is? Do you know anyone who is kind of like C.S. Lewis in this way? How can you help them to recognize God’s steady pursuit of them?