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.
apologia (απολογία) ~ “defense”
… 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
ACCORDING TO JESUS, WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
1) GOD IS SPIRIT!
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. ~ John 4:24
2) GOD IS OMNIPOTENT!
… “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” ~ Matthew 28:18
ἐξουσία, exousia ~ (GREEK)
Power to act. Power, weight, authority, moral authority, spiritual power, physical power.
3) GOD IS FATHER!
Abba ~ ARAMEIC
… When you pray, say: ‘Father …” ~ Luke 11:2
4) GOD IS LOVE!
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. GOD IS LOVE, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. ~ 1 John 4:16
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:35
IF GOD IS SO LOVING, GOOD AND POWERFUL, WHY IS THERE STILL EVIL AND SUFFERING AND INJUSTICE IN THE WORLD?
1) FREE WILL!
If He’s good, He would. If He could, He would.
If you’ve ever used this argument to explain your doubt in the existence of God, proceed with caution when commandeering other people’s pain to build your case against God. Because, it’s insulting. ~ Pastor Andy Stanley
Extraordinary suffering often leads to extraordinary confidence in God. ~ Pastor G
There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.
~ Corrie Ten Boom
My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9a
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9b
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
ACCORDING TO JESUS, WHAT IS GOD LIKE?
5) GOD IS JUST!
If God is so loving, good and powerful, why is there still evil and suffering and injustice in the world?
2) GOD HAS NOT YET, BUT WILL, ONE DAY SOON, GET RID OF PAIN, SUFFERING, EVIL, INJUSTICE, ETC. IN THE WORLD
There is no justice without judgment!
If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. ~ John 12:47
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9
Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-12
QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
AND ALOHA GROUP DISCUSSION
READ: John 4:24
1) What does it mean that “God is spirit?” What are the ramifications of that truth? How can you be sure that you are worshiping as you should (in spirit and in truth)?
READ: Matthew 28:18
1) Since Jesus has “all authority” aka “all power” many complain that He could just snap His fingers and “fix” everything that is wrong in the world? Based on His character and His rules for His creation why won’t He do that?
READ: Luke 11:2
1) How do you feel about calling God “Father” or even “Daddy?” In what ways does God remind you of a perfect parent?
READ: 1 John 4:16 and John 13:35
1) What does it really mean that “God IS love?” John says if we “abide in love” then we abide in God and God abides in us. How can we know if we are abiding in love? How can you be sure God is abiding in you? What is the definition of “love” according to God? How is it sometimes different than the way human beings often define love?
1) Why is “Free Will” so important to God? Is having free will important to you? Why or why not?
2) Pastor Greg said “Extraordinary suffering often leads to
extraordinary confidence in God.” He cited Corrie ten Boom and the Apostle Paul as examples. Can you think of others you know whose suffering actually brought them closer to God? Why do you think that is?
READ: 2 Corinthians 12:9
1) By the time they finish this conversation Paul is actually REQUESTING to suffer EVEN MORE! Why is that? If you were in Paul’s position would you respond the same way? Why or why not? Have you ever considered that some of your suffering might allow you to be closer to God, be used more effectively, more powerfully for God’s greater purposes in the world? Why or why not?
1) Pastor Greg said “There is no justice without judgment.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
2) If someone assaults you and it goes to trial and you are hoping for justice what needs to happen? What does the judge need to do?
READ: John 12:47 and Matthew 25:31-46
1) Jesus said He did not come into the world to judge the world but the Bible also says He WILL one day judge the whole world. Is this a contradiction? If not, why not?
READ: 2 Peter 3:9
1) Are you glad the Lord gave you time to repent before He came back? Do you have any fears about Judgment Day? Do you have the assurance that you will receive God’s grace? Why or why not?
READ: 1 Peter 2:11-12
1) The actual Greek word used refers to us as “aliens” and “foreigners” in this world. Have you ever felt like an alien? What do you think of Peter’s conclusion that our conduct toward non-believers can win them over to become followers of Jesus? Does it remind you of Jesus’ words in John 13:35? Why or why not?