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What is Christian Apologetics – part A

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

What is Christian Apologetics – part A

See the Apologetics Podcasts for an mp3 download of this study.

Definition of Apologetics:

Christian apologetics is the intellectual discipline wherein the intelligent effort is made carefully to delineate and to contend for the truth claims of the Christian faith before the unbelieving world, specifically, its claims of exclusive true knowledge of the one living and true God, in a manner that is consistent with the teaching of Holy Scripture.

 

Comes from the Greet root “apolog” – defense or reply to a formal charge.

 

Nature – both defensive and offensive

 

The Biblical Mandate of Apologetics:

1 Pet. 3:15-16 

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?  14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense [pros apologian] to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;  16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

 

Observations:

  1. command to “sanctify” (regard as holy) God in the face of persecution, and to be ready
  2. assumes a heart of faith “hope that is in you” that can be recognized by others
  3. implies that all Christians are capable of engaging in apologetics
  4. assumes communication with unbelievers
  5. calls on every believer to be ready on every occasion to give to anyone who asks, the reason for his faith in Christ.
  6. indicates the attitude that we should have when engaging in apologetics, “meekness and fear”

 

This passage does not say we can “reason” men into the kingdom of God.

 

The “Paraclete” is the master “Apologete”. 

 

Reymond – “A divinely initiated, regenerating work of almighty grace accompanying the gospel proclamation is alone capable of enabling men to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Faith’s Reasons For Believing, p. 20).

 

What comes first: Apologetics or Exegesis/Systematics?

If we start with apologetics and allow unaided fallen man to establish both the possibility and presuppositions of Christian theology, what must we deny?

What is necessary before anyone can engage in apologetics?

 

Aspects of the Task of Apologetics:

  1. To answer particular objections.  For example, resolve alleged contradictions between scripture statements.  Respond to hostile theories to biblical truths such as Christ’s bodily resurrection, His virgin birth, His miracles, etc.  Such discussions with unbelievers will naturally lead to the defense of basic Christian presuppositions (which leads us to #2).
  2. To give an account of the foundations of the Christian faith.  Such foundational issues may involve the following questions.
    • Does God exist?
    • Has he revealed himself?  If so, where and how?
    • Why do I believe these things?
    • How do I know that what I believe is true?
    • This leads us to the study of epistemology (branch of philosophy dealing with the theory of knowledge: what is knowledge, how is knowledge acquired, how do we know what we know.) 
  3. To challenge non-Christian systems.  This involves exposing the irrationality inherent within non-Christian systems of thought.
  4. To persuade men of the truth claims of the Christian faith.  Goal should be evangelistic not merely to “win an argument”.

The Existence and the Attributes of God – By: Stephen Charnock

Monday, January 4th, 2010

A dear brother in the Lord sent this quote to us, from Stephen Charnock’s book “The Existence and the Attributes of God”:

 

It is true, God’s will cannot be hindered of its effect, for then God would not be supremely blessed, but unhappy and miserable : all misery ariseth from a want of that which a nature would have, and ought to have : besides, if anything could frustrate God’s will, it would be superior to him : God would not be omnipotent, and so would lose the perfection of the Deity, and consequently the Deity itself ; for that which did wholly defeat God’s will, would be more powerful than he. But sin is a contradiction to the will of God’s revelation, to the will of his precept: and therein doth naturally tend to a superiority over God, and would usurp his omnipotence, and deprive him of his blessedness. For if God had not an infinite power to turn the designs of it to his own glory, but the will of sin could prevail, God would be totally deprived of his blessedness. Doth not sin endeavor to subject God to the extravagant and contrary wills of men, and make him more a slave than any creature can be? For the will of no creature, not the meanest and most despicable creature, is so much crossed, as the will of God is by sin (Isa. xliii. 24): ” Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins:” thou hast endeavored to make a mere slave of me by sin. Sin endeavors to subject the blessed God to the humor and lust of every person in the world.” Stephen Charnock’s

Take time to think and ponder:

When we stubborn, unregenerate, measly, nonrepentant, and sinful humans believe we who have violated God’s Moral laws have the right, and a free will, to override God and choose Him and grant ourselves salvation, we make ourselves a God, because we believe we can checkmate God and that He doesn’t have the power to do anything about it. Nor would He be Sovereign with the power to choose (elect) whom He wants to save. When one believes he or she can checkmate God they are on VERY dangerous ground.

Lynn

Does God Control the Minds of Man? – by Gordon H. Clark

Friday, December 4th, 2009

gordon-haddon-clark“It is however a specific assertion that God controls men’s thoughts. Proverbs 21:1 says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord s the river of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.”

 

This verse states the general principle, and a particular example is found in Ezra 7:6, “And the king [of Persia] granted him [Ezra] all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.”God controls all governmental policies and decisions. Not only did God cause Pharaoh to hate the Israelites, he caused Cyrus to send the captives back to build Jerusalem. He also caused Adolph Hitler to march into Russia, and he caused Lyndon Johnson to escalate a war in Vietnam. God turns the minds of a ruler in whatever direction he wants. If now we have hesitated to say that Proverbs 16:1 asserts that God controls a man’s thoughts as well as his speech, Proverbs 21:1 says so clearly. God controls the thoughts, plans, and decisions of men. Gordon H. Clark – book “Predestination”

To Many People–Life Is Very Hard – by J.R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerTo Many People–Life Is Very Hard

(J. R. Miller, “Life’s Byways and Waysides”)

For the Christian, all of life’s conditions and circumstances are transformed.
 
Take the matter of CARE. Every life has ‘cares’. There are cares in business. There are cares in home-life. There are cares of poverty–but no less has the rich man his cares. Childhood has its anxieties; young faces sometimes appear careworn. No one can escape care!

To many people–life is very hard. But Christian faith transfigures care, for those who are Christ’s and have learned how to live as He teaches us to live. He tells us not to worry about anything, because our Father is caring for us. He tells us that life is a school, and that all our cares are parts of lessons which He has set for us. That means that every care has hidden in it–a secret of blessing–a gift of love which our Father has sent to us. Every time you come to a hard point in your life–an obstacle, a difficulty, a perplexity–God is giving you a new opportunity to grow stronger, wiser, or richer-hearted.

We try to make life easy for our children–but God is wiser than we are. He wants His children to have struggles–that they may grow strong, holy and noble!

Thus it is that common care is transfigured by the grace of Christ! It enfolds blessings for us. It carries in its ‘dreary form’ secrets of blessing for us. Even our ‘drudgeries’ have blessings in their wearisome routine; we get many of our best lessons out of them.

All we need to learn is how to meet our worries, and they are transfigured for us! Paul tells us in a wonderful passage how to get this transformation of care: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. God’s peace will then shine through all life’s frets. Thus care is transfigured, by the love of Christ in the heart.

With permission from Grace Gems

let nothing be wasted! by J. R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerLET NOTHING BE WASTED!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“Gather the fragments that are left over. Let nothing be wasted!” John 6:12

It seems remarkable, that He who so easily could multiply the five loaves into an abundant meal for thousands, should be so particular about ‘saving the fragments’. But Jesus would teach us economy. No matter how great our abundance, we should take care of the ‘fragments’. After we have eaten at our tables, there are hungry people who would be glad for the pieces that are left over.

This applies also to the fragments of time. Many busy people waste whole years of time in their life–in the minutes which they lose every day! If at the end of a year they could gather up all these ‘fragments’, they would have many basketfuls of golden time in which they might do much good!

Likewise, we should not waste our strength. Many people waste their bodily energy, using it in play, or useless amusements, when it belongs to God–and ought to be employed to its last particle for His glory!

Likewise, we should not waste our affections by allowing them to be given to unworthy objects or people.

There is no limit to the application of this principle. We must give account of everything we have, even the minutes of time, the little fractions of strength, and the smallest bits of bread on our tables!

“Gather the fragments that are left over. Let nothing be wasted!” John 6:12

With permission from Grace Gems

Would you see what sin is? – by J. R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerWOULD YOU SEE WHAT SIN IS?

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)
It was sin that nailed Jesus on the cross!

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

There is a picture which represents the after-scenes on that day of the crucifixion.

It is all over. The crowds have gone away. The evening sun is shining out again on Calvary. The body of the Savior has been borne to the sepulcher. The cross has been taken down, and lies on the ground. A company of little children, bright with the glow of childhood’s innocence, led to the place by accident or curiosity, are seen bending over the signs of the day’s terrible work. One of the children holds in his hand, a nail which a little time before, had pierced a hand or a foot of the patient Sufferer, and stands spellbound with horror as he gazes at it. His gentle heart is shocked at sin’s dreadful work! On all the children’s faces, the same expression of horror is depicted.

No one with pure and gentle heart, can ever look at the death of Christ on the cross–with any but feelings of amazement and horror at sin’s awfulness!

It was sin that wreathed the circlet of thorns for His brow!

We say the Jews crucified Christ; yes–but WE helped to do it!

Our sins drove the nails!

Would you see what sin is? Stand by the cross and ponder its terrible work, there in the death of the Redeemer. See what it cost the Lamb of God, to take away sin!

With permission from Grace Gems

Nothingless than a living Christ will do for us! by J.R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerNOTHING LESS THAN A LIVING CHRIST WILL DO FOR US!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:4

If your faith stops at the cross–it misses the blessing of the fullest revealing of Christ!

You need a Savior who not merely two thousand years ago went to death to redeem you–but one who also is alive to walk by your side in loving companionship.

You need a Savior who can hear your prayers, to whose feet you can creep in penitence when you have sinned, to whom you can call for help when the battle is going against you.

You need a Savior who is interested in all the affairs of your common life, and who can assist you in every time of need.

You need a Christ who can be a real friend–loving you, keeping close beside you, able to sympathize with your weaknesses.

You need a Savior who will come into your life, and will save you, not by one great act of centuries past–but by a life warm and throbbing with love today, and living again in you.

A DYING Christ alone, will not satisfy our heart. We must have the living One for our friend! Nothing less than a LIVING Christ will do for us! And that is the Christ the gospel brings to us: one who was dead–and is now alive for ever and ever!

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!” cried the psalmist, and cries every redeemed soul. It is only as we realize the truth of a living Christ–that our hearts are satisfied. We crave love–a bosom to lean upon, a hand to touch ours, a heart whose beatings we can feel, a personal friendship that will come into our life with its sympathy, its inspiration, its companionship, its shelter, its life, its comfort. All this, the living Christ is to us!

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” Revelation 1:18

With permission from Grace Gems

When I grumble about the weather – by J.R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerWHEN I GRUMBLE ABOUT THE WEATHER

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“The Lord has heard all your grumblings against Him!” Exodus 16:8

Does God really hear every discontented word which I ever speak?

Does He hear when I grumble about the weather . . .
  about the hard winter,
  about the late spring,
  about the dry summer,
  about the wet harvest?

Does He hear when I grumble . . .
  about the frosts,
  about the drought,
  about the high winds,
  about the storms?

Does He hear when I grumble . . .
  about my circumstances,
  about the hardness of my lot,
  about my losses and disappointments?

If we could get into our heart, and keep there continually, the consciousness that God hears every word we speak–would we murmur and complain so much as we now do?

We are careful never to speak words which would give pain to the hearts of those we love. Are we as careful not to say anything that will grieve our heavenly Father?

“I tell you this–that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak!” Matthew 12:36

“He who complains of the weather–complains of the God who ordains the weather!” William Law

With permission from Grace Gems

We must hew our agags to pieces – by J.R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerWE MUST HEW OUR AGAGS TO PIECES!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“Since he had no sword, he ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill the giant and cut off his head!” 1 Samuel 17:50-51

If he had not cut off the giant’s head
–the old Philistine champion would have gotten up by and by, and walked away; for he was only stunned, not killed, by the stone. David made sure work of his victory!

A great many of our attacks upon sin in our own hearts, and in the world–only stun, and do not kill the evil. We walk away, thinking we have done a fine thing. But shortly, we meet the ‘old giant’ again, stalking abroad as before! He soon recovers from our blow, and we have to fight the battle over; and perhaps we fight it again in the same half-hearted way–and thus on and on, to the end of our life!

Most of us have had just such experience as this, with our own evil lusts and passions. We overcome them very often, and think each time that we are through with them–but soon again they are as active as ever.

We need to learn a lesson from David–and finish our victories by cutting off the head of every giant we strike down!

There is no other way of killing sins!

The life is in the head–and the head must be struck off–or the enemy will be facing us again in a day or two, with but a scar on his forehead!

The only way to get a real victory over vices–is to decapitate them! Bruises and wounds are not enough. There must be thorough work done, in the name of the Lord. Half-way measures will not avail.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5

“Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 15:33. Like Samuel, we must hew our Agags to pieces!

With permission from Grace Gems

He saw that they were in serious trouble! by J. R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerHE SAW THAT THEY WERE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side. After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.
He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning He came to them, walking on the water.” Mark 6:45, 46, 48

Jesus did not come immediately; indeed, it was almost morning when He came, and the disciples had been struggling all night in the storm. Yet He had not been indifferent to them meanwhile. From the mountainside where He was praying–He kept His eye upon them. “He saw that they were in serious trouble.” All that dark night, He kept a watch upon that little boat that bore His disciples in the midst of the waves.

There is something very suggestive in the narrative. This ‘boat in the storm’, is a picture of ‘Christ’s friends in this world, in the storms of life’. Sometimes we think we are forgotten–but from His place in glory, Christ’s eye is always on us! He sees us struggling, battling with the waves, beaten, and distressed. He has full sympathy with us in all our struggles. It ought to be a great strength and comfort to us in trial, to know this. Jesus intercedes for us in our distresses!

It may not be best always to deliver us immediately–but His prayer continually ascends, that our faith may not fail in the struggle. This also should encourage us.

Then, He always comes in time. He may delay long–but it is never too long. If we call upon Him in trouble–we may be sure that He hears and sees us, and knows just how hard it is for us to endure; that He prays for us that we may not fail, and that He will come at the right time for our deliverance!

With permission from Grace Gems

There are Jebusites in every Christian heart! by J.R. Miller

Friday, December 4th, 2009

j-r-millerTHERE ARE ‘JEBUSITES’ IN EVERY CHRISTIAN HEART!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem, to fight against the Jebusites who inhabited the land.” 2 Samuel 5:6

The Jebusites still held a stronghold in the heart of the country, never having been dislodged. Just so, there are ‘Jebusites’ in every Christian heart!

In every heart, there are little ‘Jebusite strongholds’, which it seems impossible for us to conquer. Sometimes it is a secret sin which lives on, unconquered, amid the general holiness of a life. Sometimes it is a remnant of the old nature–such as pride, worldliness, selfishness, lust, or bitterness. There are many other such citadels of evil, which rear their proud towers and defy conquest.

“We all have our faults!” we say, and under this ‘cloak’ we manage to tuck away a large number of dear idols that we do not want to give up!

We ought to give attention to these unsubdued parts of our life–that every thought, feeling, and temper may be brought into subjection to Christ. It is perilous to leave even one such unconquered stronghold in our heart!

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ!” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Permission from Grace Gems

Quote From The Reign of Grace – by Abraham Booth (1734-1806)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

abraham-booth1“In morals, integrity holds the first place, benevolence the second, and prudence the third. Where the first is not, the second cannot be; and where the third is not, the other two will be often brought into suspicion.” Abraham Booth (1734-1806) “The Reign of Grace”

Quote by Walter Marshall

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

“That faith which receives not holiness, as well as remission of sins from Christ, will never sanctify us; and therefore it will never bring us to heavenly glory.” Walter Marshall (1628-1680) 

 

“The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification” by Walter Marshall is perhaps the finest work available on the doctrine of sanctification. Just because it was written some 360 years ago is proof that the truth of God never changes. This work is something that is greatly need in the life of every person that call themselves Christian.

Conference on Christianity and Roman Catholicism (9 lectures)

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

1. Bleating Wolves: Evangelicals & Catholics Together, John Robbins
2. The Structure of the Roman Church-State, Richard Bennett
3. A Brief History of Roman Persecution, Richard Bennett
4. The Roman Church-State Doctrine of Authority, Robert Zins
5. Justification and the Roman Catholic Doctrine of Salvation, Richard Bennett
6. The Occult and Roman Superstitions, Timothy Kauffman
7. The Political Thought of the Roman Church-State, John Robbins
8. The Economic Thought of the Roman Church-State, John Robbins
9. Romanism and the Westminster Confession, James Bordwine

 

With permission from Trinity Foundation

Justification and Judgment by John Robbins

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Listen to this very good message:

 Justification and Judgment – (1 lecture)
A Sermon on Matthew 7:21-23, John Robbins

With permission from Trinity Foundation