SESSION 23: DEFENDING THE FAITH (APOLOGETICS)

Ask:

What should our response be to those who question and challenge our faith?


But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:15-16


Teaching Time:

It is not your job to convince anyone of who Jesus is and the stories of the Bible.  Evidence shows God being revealed to people in 3 ways.

  • From God directly, such as the case of Moses.
  • From the Holy Spirit either directly on indirectly through others.
  • From Jesus, such as the case for Paul.

Thankfully for what Jesus has sent to us, we now have the Holy Spirit revealing all things to us.


But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:3-5


But, evidence can be used as a way to defend the Gospel to nonbelievers' whose eyes are blinded from the truth by Satan and are unable understand the bible.  A skeptic will be a skeptic all day, but through our defense it may be possible to allow a little bit of vulnerability for the Holy Spirit to enter.  If God wants to reveal himself to anyone, he will, but we are called to defend the faith and should be obedient to that. True belief is not an emotional response, but one rooted in our mind that allows us to give our whole heart.  God will use all things for his good for those who are doing things for His purpose.  


New Testament Evidence

27 books of the NT


There are 3 things that every historical document is judged under


Internal Evidence Test


Does it claim to be true?


  • 'Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. ' Luke 1:1-4
  • 'For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. ' 2 Peter 1:16
  • 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. ' 1 John 1:1


They have claimed to have seen the risen Jesus and are willing to die for him. 


External Evidence Test


Is there literary evidence for the NT?


There are multiple other historical documents that say:

  • Jesus claimed to be God\
  • That confirm he lived
  • That he did miracles
  • The locations of where he lived and died

Writings such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Thallus, and Pliny the Younger all make references to Jesus.


There are archaeological items that support this. 

  • We have found an Ossuary (coffin for bones) of Caiaphus who oversaw the condemnation of Jesus
  • We have found an inscription that points to Ponchus Pilate who condemned Jesus to death
  • We have found an ankle bone with a nail through it from the time period and area that gives account to the fact of crucifixions being performed and how


Overall

  • NT has eyewitness claims
  • Accurate copied information
  • People were willing to die for it
  • Many early manuscripts
  • Archaeology supports it



Old Testament Evidence

39 Books


Evidence outside the OT


Although a lot has been destroyed as it was so long ago, some archaeology still remains.

  • Inscription found with the name Goliath found on it.  Its date and location match the story.
  • IN the 90’s found a reference to the house of David. 
  • We know where Jericho is
  • The Hezikah tunnel still stands


Scribes took extreme precision in copying text. 

  • Jewish scribes would train for years
  • Went in a room with certain lighting
  • Used the proper animal skin or papyrus
  • They wrote one letter at a time, couldn’t memorize lines and rewrite
  • If they found 3 or more mistakes in any chapter, the would toss the entire script
  • Took such reverence they would not even write Gods name, just three dots. 


We have parchment from Isaiah found in the dead sea scrolls dating from 100-150 BC that speaks to the prophecies of Jesus long before the NT was written or Jesus lived. 



Look at Jesus

  • He is God in human flesh
  • Jesus believed and trusted the OT. 


'For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. '

Matthew 5:18



Jesus rose from the dead, the tomb was empty


Claim made by women

  • In that time, women's testimony was worthless.  Weren't educated the same. 
  • Why would apostles make that up if it weren't true?  

Religious leaders claimed the apostles stole the body.

  • They would only make that up if the body was gone and the tomb was empty.
  • Would also mean they weren't at the wrong tomb. 

Jesus appeared to people

  • Appears to Paul, who persecuted Christians
  • Appears to the 500
  • Appears to women
  • Appears to James, his brother, who didn't believe during his lifetime
  • Appears to the 12

Apostles willing to suffer and die for this conviction

  • Doesn’t show that its true, but it shows that they really believed it.


Application:

Ask yourself these questions


  • Why do you believe what you believe? (Consider asking this question to others.  What a great segway to sharing the Gospel)
  • What struggles do you have answering that question?
  • What do you need to do to feel more confident responding to nonbelievers' arguments against the Bible?
  • What other arsenal for the defense of your faith do you feel you need


The more confident you can be in your faith and being able to at least respond to skeptics, the more likely you are going to be able to engage and develop good relationships with nonbelievers and open doors to be able to share the Gospel!



Where do we get it wrong?

  • The Bible is not testable today
  • We can validate our belief with the fact that we "just believe" solely and not with evidence of scripture or what God has done in out lives (our witness).
  • It is only the pastors responsibility to know the Word of God.
  • Defending the faith is the same as arguing. 



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