1. In 1 Peter 3:15, all Christians are commanded to be ready to make a ‘defense’ for the reason of their hope in Christ:
· The word ‘defense’ is from apologia, which means “a speech in defense of what one has done, or of truth which one believes”
· The formal use of this word is used by Paul in Acts 22:1; 1 Corinthians 9:3
2. Peter, however, uses the word in the context of an informal inquiry by a friend or neighbor:
· E.g., someone asking “Why are you a Christian?”
· To such Peter says that we should be ready to give reasons why we believe
3. In this series, we shall examine some of the evidence that exists for placing one’s faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God
4. In doing so, I hope to accomplish two objectives:
· To strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ
· To help prepare ourselves to be able to do the very thing enjoined by Peter in 1 Peter 3:15
[In this lesson, I wish to establish some basics for Christian apologetics that are important for all to realize...]
I. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS AN INTELLIGENT, RATIONAL FAITH:
A. IT APPEALS TO THE ‘MIND’ AS WELL AS TO THE ‘HEART’…
1. God expects us to use our minds - Matthew 22:36-38; John 8:32
a. I.e., we do not have to commit “intellectual suicide” in order to have faith!
b. This is important, for as one person said, “My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects!”
1) A “weak faith” may be the result of the heart trying to believe in some thing the mind cannot accept
2) But the “strong faith” God requires involves both the mind and the heart
2. So it is important that we present reasons why we believe in an intelligent and rational manner
“We cannot pander to a man’s intellectual arrogance, but we must cater to his intellectual integrity.” - Paul Little
B. DOES THIS MEAN WE CAN OFFER 100% PROOF…?
1. No, but there is virtually nothing of which we can be 100% sure (e.g., who our parents are)
2. Yet, we often make 100% commitments with less than 100% proof; e.g., flying on an airplane…
a. We cannot be 100% certain that we will have a safe journey
b. But the statistical evidence is strong enough to convince us that we will
c. So though we may not have 100% certainty of arriving safely, when we step on the plane we make a 100% commitment!
3. So the question becomes: “Is there enough evidence or proof to warrant making a 100% commitment to Christ?”
a. I believe that there is
b. Certainly enough evidence to commit myself 100% for Him, rather than be 100% against Him!
1) There is no other alternative - Matthew 12:30
2) Jesus is like an airplane; either we get on board totally, or we get left behind!
[So the Christian faith is to be an intelligent, rational faith. As an example, consider the next basic...]
II. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS A HISTORICAL, FACTUAL FAITH
A. CHRISTIANITY APPEALS TO HISTORY, AND THE FACTS OF HISTORY…
1. “The facts backing the Christian claim are not a special kind of ‘religious’ fact. They are the cognitive, informational facts upon which all historical, legal, and ordinary decisions are based.” - Charles Pinnock
2. It will be my purpose in future lessons…
a. To present these historical facts
b. Then demonstrate that the Christian interpretation is more logical than any other
B. BUT TO BRIEFLY ILLUSTRATE THAT CHRISTIANITY IS BASED UPON HISTORICAL FACTS…
1. Consider Luke 2:1-5; 3:1-2
2. Notice the appeal to time, places, people and events that actually existed in history
C. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, THEREFORE, IS A HISTORICAL FAITH THAT APPEALS TO CERTAIN FACTS OF HISTORICAL OCCURRENCE…
1. Not a philosophical faith appealing to philosophies of men
2. Not a faith based upon myths and legends
[As we consider the evidences for the Christian faith, it is also important to bear in mind that...]
III. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS AN OBJECTIVE FAITH
A. IT IS A FAITH IN AN ‘OBJECT’: JESUS OF NAZARETH…
1. Faith in who He was: The Christ, the Son of God
2. Faith in what He did: He rose from the dead on the third day
B. IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE ‘WHAT’ WE BELIEVE…
1. The old cliché “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe in something” is inconsistent with the Christian faith
2. Consider John 8:24; Romans 10:9
a. Note that it is not faith in of itself that is important
b. But in Whom (the object) our faith is based!
[And then consider that...]
IV. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS BASED ON PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH
A. TRUTH IS ALWAYS OPEN TO EXAMINATION…
1. So is the Christian faith
a. Cf. Acts 2:22 - Peter appealed to the crowd to examine what they themselves knew
b. Cf. Acts 26:24-26 - Paul invited Agrippa to examine the evidence
2. Unlike some religions (esp. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons), the Christian faith is open to honest examination
B. TRUTH IS ALWAYS OPEN TO NON-TRUTH (FALSIFICATION)…
1. That is, it is open to be proven wrong
2. To illustrate, if you don’t believe Jesus was raised from the dead…
a. Use the evidence that is available, and…
b. Attempt to prove by it that He wasn’t!
c. Do this and then we shall see which interpretation of the facts is more logical (intelligent and rational)
[Before I close this lesson, I wish to address one last question: “If the Christian faith is such an intelligent, rational, historical and factual faith, then why do many people reject it?”]
V. WHY PEOPLE REJECT CHRIST
A. AS IN THE DAYS OF CHRIST, IT IS USUALLY DUE TO ONE OF THREE REASONS…
1. Ignorance - John 7:40-43
a. Some rejected Jesus as the Christ because they were ignorant of the historical facts concerning His birth
b. So many do today for a similar reason: lack of accurate information!
2. Pride - John 12:42-43
a. Pride in wanting to be approved by men kept them from confessing Jesus as the Christ
b. Today, many do not want the ridicule or rejection one might face for following Christ
3. Moral Problems - John 3:19-20
a. Some people reject the evidence because it means having to change their lifestyle
b. Today, many people in efforts to justify their immorality…
1) Accept only that evidence which supports theories which allows them to continue their lifestyle
2) Reject any evidence which may support a doctrine which would condemn their behavior and require a change
B. WHAT IT OFTEN BOILS DOWN TO IS THIS…
1. The rejection of Christ
a. It is not so much a problem of the ‘mind’ but of the ‘will’!
b. It is not so much “I can’t” but “I won’t”!
2. There is enough evidence to convince the honest and sincere seeker
3. But there is not enough evidence to force a man against his will when he is determined to reject it!
1. It is with these basics in mind that I shall endeavor to give evidence that warrants faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Son of God
2. I shall not attempt to prove anything “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” for that is not possible
3. But I shall try to show that it is more logical to believe in Jesus, than for one not to!
And we shall begin by examining the evidence that demonstrates Jesus to be a true, historical figure, a person who actually lived!