Knowing and defending the truth of the Gospel

KNOW THE TRUTH, DEFEND THE TRUTH

Reading: 1 Peter 4:11-13 from The Living Bible

11 Are you called to preach? Then preach as though God himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies so that God will be glorified through Jesus Christ—to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

12 Dear friends, don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you. 13 Instead, be really glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory in that coming day when it will be displayed.

Luke 12: 11, 12 (NIV)

11 ‘When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.’

Knowing what is true and false is very important…

  • It’s not always easy to know what to believe
  • One person says this and one person says that. Who’s right?

Is Christianity really true?

Is Jesus Christ the only way to get right with God?

Indeed, is there a God to get right with!

You and I need to know the truth because it sets us free… it frees us from doubt and stress about what to believe…

Of course, what we believe can change over time… 

  • We might reject something that at one time seemed ‘obviously’ true, such as Santa Claus coming down the chimney
  • We might come to accept something that at one time seemed a bit mad, such as advice given to us by an older person!

But there are some people, notably certain atheists and humanists and secularists, who try hard to undermine the truth of Christianity

  • An atheist refuses to accept the existence of God
  • A humanist is an atheist who believes that we can all live happily together by being tolerant and decent to one another… without reference to “a god”… They do not believe in the supernatural or life after death.
  • A secularist thinks that we are better off without religion of any kind influencing national life

In promoting their views, some of these people also try to undermine Christianity and your faith by using…

  1. Mockery
  2. By distorting Bible truth
  3. By focusing on the church’s weaknesses and ignoring its strengths
  4. By making false accusations about God and Christians
  5. By opposing Christian initiatives in society

There are various methods they use to achieve these aims:

(The best way to win a war is to know your enemy!)

1)  They refer to God and Jesus as ‘myths’… They say: “How can you believe that fairy-tale stuff?” and equate them with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus…

  • Mockery of this kind is intended to make Christians seem immature and make belief in God seem like a fairy story
  • In truth, they don’t have any alternative to offer to the existence of God… only that ‘somehow’ everything evolved from a cloud of gases and a big bang!
  • Funnily enough, the same people that say God is superstition will quite happily accept superstitious nonsense such as, ‘Touch wood’… ‘Cross your fingers’… ‘Lady Luck’… ‘Horoscopes’ …
  • And they use the expression “Oh, my God!” regularly.
  • They have no hope in this life or the nextdeath snuffs you out and that’s that, they say… No eternity; no heaven; no hope.
  • Compare their miserable attitude with that of the Christian, who not only believes in God but also believes what God says about salvation and hope in this life… and after we die.

But we must also accept that we have sometimes given our opponents ammunition to use against us by presenting Bible events as stories:

  • Adam did not eat an apple… Goliath was not a giant or ogre… Jonah did not sit on a stool inside the big fish (whale)… There is no mention of a stable or a donkey in the Christmas account… Jesus did not walk around with a halo hovering above his head… Angels are not pretty little girls with silky wings… and so forth.
  • We must be careful not to give the impression that Bible events are nothing more than religious fairy stories.

2)  They say that science and archaeology have proved that the Bible is full of errors

  • The truth is that there is not a single shred of evidence to support that viewpoint, in fact, quite the opposite
  • Archaeological evidence continually confirms the Bible account
  • Scientific discoveries only serve to show what an amazing world has been created… not through a series of accidental happenings but by intelligent design …through ‘a Creator’
  • Evolutionary theory is just that… a theory! Many scientists do not accept that everything somehow ‘evolved’ over millions of years from a slimy mass into our beautiful, complex and extraordinary world… The only one like it in the universe… NOTE!
  • Many scientists, both past and present accept the biblical account.
  • It is true that there are minor errors that have crept in as different copies have been made of the original manuscripts… but they are very few and very far between.

3)  They call Christians hypocrites… in particular, they point out the weaknesses and failings of individuals Christians or groups

{Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another}

  • The failings that we see in Christians serve as a reminder that the Bible is true… All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory… everyone needs to be saved from sin… that’s why Jesus came!
  • However, we have a promise that even when we do wrong, there is forgiveness and the chance of a ‘transformed’ life… with God’s help and power, as we trust in Jesus
  • Anyone who commits an evil act must answer to God… but it is wrong to dismiss Christians as hypocrites because of the behaviour of a tiny minority or because of some weirdoes.

On the other hand, we need to be careful how we behave and constantly check our lives out with the Holy Spirit… what the Bible describes as “walking in step with the Spirit” People are watching!

4)  They say that children should not be indoctrinated or “brainwashed” by Christians

  • Children should be “free to make up their own minds”
  • So they want Christian assemblies banned from state schools
  • Or they want every “faith group” to be promoted equally in schools, including humanism (belief without God)

There are three responses to these demands…

1)  First, our country’s heritage is Christian… our laws, charities, hospitals, schools were all founded on Christian principles and run according to those principles

2)  Second, children always ‘make up their own minds’ eventually … but they are influenced by a whole range of things … some good, some not so good! Being a Christian is “good” … Christians are invariably law-abiding, kind and decent people

3)  Third, Christianity gives hope, security and love, which is surely something that all parents and grandparents want for their children?

In reality, these anti-Christians are trying to deprive children of the chance to hear the good news about Jesus Christ

5)  They quote some obscure verses from the Old Testament to try and show that the Christian faith is founded on weird practices and cruel behaviour

  • They usually quote from Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy
  • We need to realise that the Bible must always be read in context … We don’t ‘pluck’ out an odd verse here and there… We must read the whole passage. {E.g. “There is no God”}

The Old Testament is principally about God’s relationship with the nation of Israel (the Jews)

  • Particularly during their time in the wilderness, God imposed some strict rules governing their conduct, which are not needed today
  • However, it is interesting that we are increasingly aware that the apparently ‘peculiar’ practices described in the early Books of the Bible are, in fact, not so strange after all… In particular, guidance about diet, suitable foods and other health matters
  • The Old Testament helps us to understand our fallen (sinful) human condition better and thereby understand why Jesus Christ came into the world to save us.

6)  They accuse God of being a tyrant and cruel to those who oppose His will

  • They point to the complete destruction of groups of people, notably in Jericho, where every living creature was wiped out
  • And how about hurricanes and earthquakes that kill thousands?
  • This is obviously a tough issue!

We have to appreciate that events thousands of years ago took place when conflicts were settled in ways that we now consider to be brutal

  • It is also fair to say that enemies of the Jews had plenty of opportunity to settle matters peaceably and obey God… but chose to resist Him and fight “to the last man”
  • However, we must also realise that God is not Father Christmas! People can sneer at Him and oppose Him… but they must also accept the consequences of their actions
  • One of the descriptions of God in the Bible is as a “consuming fire”

So don’t mess with God!

7)  They say that there is no absolute truth… it’s all relative… it all depends on circumstances

  • They argue that decisions have to take account of the situation in which we find ourselves… nothing is definite.
  • Now it is true that we behave differently in different settings… compare sitting in church with being at a social event or hanging out with your mates

And it is also fair to say that there are occasions that call for unusual action…

  • For instance, you might steal rather than let your children starve
  • You might lie rather than cause great distress or aid a criminal!
  • You might kill someone who was about to slaughter your family

Under these unusual circumstances, we have to exercise good judgement and wisdom… while doing the best we can to be godly…

  • It is also important to realise that the 10 Commandments are not God’s final word on our behaviour … neither are they some sort of religious regulations!
  • They are God’s guidelines for successful living, not a list of threats!
  • The final word is found in The WordJesus Christ
  • While circumstances will sometimes dictate our actions, it is also ridiculous to say that nothing is every completely “true” as that would mean that nothing is ever completely “untrue”, which is clearly nonsense
  • We sometimes ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?”… but better still, perhaps, what is the Holy Spirit telling us to do here and now?

8)  They say that Christianity is oppressive and consists of a rigid set of rules and regulations

  • We have to take some responsibility for them making this accusation…
  • Christians have sometimes been like the Pharisees of old and created a world in which Christians are in a straitjacket of “do nots

We may also have confused conversion with sanctificationConversion is when we accept that Jesus Christ is the Saviour and died for the sins of the world, including our own … It is the start of the journey, not the end point

  • The process of being changed into the person that God wants us to be is referred to as sanctification
  • Over time, the Holy Spirit shows us that some aspects of our behaviour need to change
  • We go from ‘pleasing ourselves’ to ‘pleasing God’… it takes time
  • It isn’t so much “keeping the rules” as “keeping in touch with God” through reading the Bible, prayer and hearing talks at church

So

It’s important to realise that we are in a battle with people who want to suppress Christianity and confine it something that only happens in private

How should you react when faced with these challenges?

Make sure that you know whose side you are on.

  • Imagine turning up for a match (game) and not knowing which team colours to wear!

Jesus made it clear: “Those who are not for me are against me

Remember that accusations only come from Satan… his name means “the accuser”. So if you are ‘accused’ by someone, you’ll know its origin!

Know your Bibles, especially the New Testament.

  • You need to “feed” from God’s Word… read it carefully, slowly, expectantly…

Be ready to admit that you are not sure… but find out and get back to the person with an answer.

  • Where possible, turn the turn the tables on your inquisitors and ask them some searching questions

Keep a smile on your face, stay polite, keep good eye contact and try not to be rattled. Avoid sounding smug but be firm.

  • Although people may sometimes laugh and jeer, deep down they want to know the truth, so telling them what the Bible says is for their benefit
  • If they ask why we should believe what the Bible says when there are other ‘religious’ books, offer to supply them with a New Testament and they can decide for themselves.

Don’t get drawn into a pointless argument about unimportant detail… instead, keep stating what you believe

  • Of course, you first need to be clear about what you believe!

Pray for your enemies and those who oppose you.

  • Don’t hate or despise them or you will be doing the devil’s work for him.

Gain courage from the fact that you are not alone

  • God has promised to be with you by His Spirit. He will do His work through you if you let Him.

Remember that whatever happens, God has spoken through His Son… and He (not opponents of the Gospel) will have the final word


-- Download Knowing and defending the truth of the Gospel as PDF --


Comments are closed.