Monday, May 26, 2008

1006 - what is apologetics


Claims are more powerful when they’re backed up by solid evidence. It’s easy for a vacuum salesman to say his product is the best but the claim is more convincing when he shows it sucking up coffee grounds from your carpet. If evangelism is telling others about the forgiveness that comes from trusting in Jesus, then apologetics is showing them that this message is true. There are numerous ways to do this. The Bible records several apologetics that God uses to demonstrate His message is true and that His messengers can be trusted.

When Moses worried no one would believe the Lord had appeared to him, God gave him ability to perform miraculous signs so people would know he was telling the truth (Exod. 4:1-9). Jesus said the miracles His Father gave Him to do testify that He was sent by God (John 5:36, Matt. 9:6, Acts 2:22). Christians today can’t perform supernatural acts such as these, but we can show people evidence these amazing things really happened. For example, Paul made the point that Jesus’ resurrection was a well attested fact, being witnessed by over 500 people; most of whom were still alive at the time he wrote and could verify its truthfulness (1 Cor. 15:3-6).

God describes fulfilled prophecy as proof that His Word is authentic. We know He is the only true God because only He has given us detailed information about events before they happen. In Isaiah 41:21-29 He taunts the false idols and mocks their inability to speak or know the future. As with miracles, this power isn’t ours to wield, but we can show people all the specific prophecies in the Bible that have already come to pass, many of which foretold the life and death of Jesus.

Another apologetic method is to remind people that the beautiful world we live in points to a Creator (Rom. 1:18-20, Ps. 19:3). The intricate design built into every level of our universe, from encoded DNA to the clockwork precision of the planets, speaks volumes about the mighty power of God. A related truth is that people of all cultures intuitively know the difference between good and evil (Rom. 2:14-16). There may be variations in laws and customs but there is universal agreement when someone is mistreated, that they know what’s been done to them is wrong. We all know the right thing to do internally but we’re experts at finding reasons not to hold ourselves to the same standard.

The Bible itself is an apologetic for what it claims to be: God’s supernatural revelation to mankind. There is nothing else like it. Written over a period of 1,500 years by 40 people from different cultures, lifestyles, and personalities and yet it presents a unified consistent message; God is here and He wants you to trust Him. And we know it hasn’t been adjusted over the years to fit together because legions of scholars have analyzed this and concluded that the Bible we have today is historically reliable. It has consistently proven itself trustworthy time and time again through archeology and historical corroboration from people of other religions. The reason all the sixty-six books in the Bible fit together so well is because ultimately there is One author who directed it all.

One of the most effective apologetics is the Christian life, someone who has been transformed from a slave of selfishness and greed to a radiant new creature of love and concern for others. Witnessing such a changed life provides confirmation that our message is genuine. This apologetic can’t be underestimated. Nothing destroys credibility more quickly than a failed product, whether it’s an exploding vacuum or a hypocritical Christian. God repeatedly tells us to live in love, peace, unity, and respect to show the world His message of salvation and freedom from sin is true (Matt. 5:13-16, John 17:21, 1 Pet. 2:12, 3:1-2).

As powerful as it is, apologetics can never take the place of evangelism. People need to hear how they can have peace with God by trusting in Jesus because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). The use of apologetics is simply a way we can confirm this message is true. When you share Jesus with people, listen carefully to their concerns so you’ll know what type of apologetic might be helpful to them. Remember that this isn’t a brain competition and resist the temptation to show off how much you know. God loves them and wants them to know the truth, to repent, and to believe in Him (1 Tim. 2:4). We are to share His message with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15-16).