What are the Christian Essentials?

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

Through the years of Christian development and especially in recent times, there has been a dwindling of understanding concerning what exactly makes someone a follower of Christ. What is a Christian really? What does someone need to believe and do in order to adopt such a distinct worldview like Christianity? What separates a Christian from a Latter-Day Saint or a Muslim? With all of these questions in mind, let’s look at what others have laid out as the Essentials of Christianity and see if it is a biblical understanding of what makes someone a Christian.

Most sources you find will list out 5 to 7 Essentials that must be affirmed in order to be a Christian. For instance, gotquestions.org says that there are 7 Essentials (2), yet the Gospel Coalition has up to 20 Essentials (3)! Specifically, 10 Essential beliefs and 10 Essential behaviors as written by Kevin DeYoung, respectfully. But are there truly this many Essentials or are we misunderstanding what an Essential actually is in Christianity? I think we should start by identifying what an Essential is before pinpointing how many Essentials there are and what they actually entail.

An Essential is a fundamental core value, whether a deed or doctrine, that if removed from the other fundamental core values of said belief system would completely cause that belief system to collapse on itself. Islam, for example, has the 5 Pillars of Islam (3) that indicate the basic tenets of the faith that make someone a Muslim. These would be the Islamic Essentials. These 5 Pillars of Islam include the Shahada (Profession of Faith), the Salat (Daily Five Prayers), the Zakat (Giving of Alms), the Saum (Fasting of Ramadan), and the Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca). If a Muslim does not affirm the Shahada, the other 4 Pillars are useless. If a Muslim does not affirm all 5 Pillars, then their Islamic belief should be called into question for either heresy or ignorance.

Now can or does Christianity have a small list of criteria that distinguishes Christians from other belief systems? Yes and for Christians there are even less Essentials than Islam. In fact, I would argue that Christianity has only 4 Essentials. Not 5 Essentials, not 7 Essentials, and certainly not 20 Essentials.

These 4 Essentials are the Nature of God, the Hypostatic Union of Christ, the Gospel, and the Inspiration of Scripture. Let me explain each one individually in further detail below and show why there are only 4 Essentials at the root of Christianity. I refer to them as the “Four Cornerstones of Christianity,” but we will stick to the Christian Essentials for simplicity sake. First of the Christian Essentials is the Nature of God.

1) The Nature of God

The nature of God is comprised of 2 unique beliefs: Monotheism and Trinitarianism. The belief of Monotheism affirms God’s unique oneness and the idea that there is only one God (5), while Trinitarianism affirms God’s tri-unity as three persons, yet one being (6). As Dr. Michael Brown would put it, God is “complex in His unity” (7) and this truth is best known as the doctrine of the Trinity. Now the Christian Essential regarding the nature of God also includes His divine attributes as He is omnibenevolent (all-loving), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-enveloping), and omniscient (all-knowing). God is eternal, immaterial, non-contingent, non-physical, personal, and uncaused. I believe St. Anselm of Canterbury sums up God’s divine essence best when he concludes in his Ontological Argument the following:

“Therefore, if that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone, the very being than which nothing greater can be conceived is one than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence there is no doubt that there exists a being than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality (8).

Suffice to say, Christians believe God to be indescribable in His grand majesty and He is beyond human comprehension, yet He is near to all who seek Him with sincere hearts. He is the one true, triune God and His presence is near to our souls. But how does God, a being beyond definition, interact with His Creation? How could God bridge the gap between finite minds and His infinite mind? Well, that leads us to the second Christian Essential: the Hypostatic Union of Christ.

2) The Hypostatic Union of Christ

The hypostatic union of Christ is similarly divided into 2 distinct sub-Essentials: that Jesus is both fully God (9) and fully man (10). Hypostatic originally means “personal,” so the hypostatic union of Christ really means the personal union of Christ. In this case, the personal union of two natures within the person that is Jesus.

At certain points in time (11), Jesus adopted a second nature and that would be His human nature. This was for the sole purpose of bridging the gap between Creator and Creation. As the ultimate mediator, Jesus inhabits the best of these two natures. He is both the only good God and the only sinless man. He is the mediating messiah who has taken the task of healing the world from the sin in the Garden of Eden and is at the same time the ultimate human ambassador for the holy Godhead (12).

If His deity is denied, then you find yourself aligned with cults that deviated from Christianity like the Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses, and large portions of the Church of God Movement. These cults most likely came from early historical heresies like adoptionism, arianism, nestorianism, and the like. If His humanity is denied, then you find yourself conforming to some heretical views such as docetism, apollinarianism, eutychianism, and other deviations of the Hypostatic Union (13). Needless to say, Scripture is quite clear that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

If Jesus was not fully man, then He could not be the unblemished sacrifice that atoned for the sins of the world. If Jesus was not fully God, then He could not be the Messiah that the Old Testament proclaims will enter the world and save it from itself. Jesus fully inhabits both natures and if we do not believe this Essential, then Christianity collapses as a worldview. Jesus is one person with two different natures that are in complete harmony. These two natures are not contradictory, but complementary. Understanding the Hypostatic Union is the second Essential of Christianity and the next Essential is the Gospel.

3) The Gospel

The Gospel is grounded both in the historical reliability of the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead back to life (14), along with the theological understanding that salvation is by God’s grace and not of works because of Christ’s atonement on the Cross (15). We will observe the biblical and theological side of the Gospel, before going into the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

Now there are many quick ways to understand the Gospel, so we will observe the two most common explanations that reveal what the Gospel message is and why it is an Essential in Christianity. When it comes to understanding the message of the Gospel, Scripture paints the best picture. The most common Scriptural guide in understanding the Gospel is the infamous Romans Road. It goes as follows:

The Romans Road

  • Romans 3:23 | Everyone has sinned and is fallen.
  • Romans 6:23b | Sin leads to death and therefore everyone who has sinned will die.
  • Romans 5:8 | God gives grace and Jesus pays our sin debt.
  • Romans 10:9 | Salvation to all who confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead.
  • Romans 10:13 | Whoever calls on the Lord will be saved.
  • Romans 5:1 | We are justified by faith and now have peace with God.
  • Romans 8:1 | We are no longer condemned to Hell for our sin.
  • Romans 8:38-39 | Nothing can takeaway our salvation because it is sealed by the love of God.

Now the Romans Road is a great resource to use in sharing the Gospel, but not all of us can memorize or remember that many passages of Scripture on the spot. So how do we explain the Gospel in a shorter and more straightforward way? Here is how I share the Gospel whenever I present it to people: 

The 4-Point Gospel Message

  • Creation | God created everything and it was good.
  • Condemnation | Adam sinned and we inherit his sin debt now that everything is bad.
  • Propitiation | Jesus atoned and paid our sin debt, which causes those who repent and believe to be free from sin’s consequences.
  • Salvation | We receive new life in Christ and enjoy living for the Lord.

Still too complex? Try this simplified version of my way of sharing the Gospel instead. In all honesty, I use the Abridged 4-point Gospel Message more often because more people can understand it. Anyways, here it is:

The Abridged 4-Point Gospel Message

  • Creation | God made everything good.
  • Condemnation | We made everything bad.
  • Propitiation | Jesus has made everything better, so now we should believe in what He did and put all our trust in Him.
  • Salvation | Enjoy new life with Christ.

Because the Gospel in it’s biblical and theological sense is so simple to comprehend, as it should be, we will move onto the historicity of the resurrection since it carries so much weight in the defense of Christianity. For another Scriptural explanation of the Gospel in the form of a video, I would refer you to David Wood’s great YouTube video called “What is the Gospel?” (16). Bottom line: when it comes to the Gospel, keep it Scriptural and simple. That’s what Jesus did and that’s we will continue to do as Christians.

Paul the Apostle once said that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain (17). If we cannot defend this claim, then our faith is in jeopardy. When it comes to defending the resurrection of Jesus, there are many approaches to take and ways to go about supporting this quintessential truth. Some might use extra-biblical sources or manuscript evidence, but I like to keep this just as simple as a Gospel presentation and use basic logic. I have a three point argument called “The Resurrection Argument From Reason” that concludes the resurrection of Jesus to be the most logical explanation of the historical evidence. This argument goes as follows:

The Resurrection Argument From Reason

  • The empty tomb of Jesus is due to either the apparent death theory, the conspiracy theory, the displaced theory, the hallucination theory, or the resurrection theory.
  • Based off of the evidence, it is not due to the apparent death theory, the conspiracy theory, the displaced theory, or the hallucination theory.
  • Therefore, it is due to the resurrection theory.

Now this is a very short argument that is inspired by analytic philosopher William Lane Craig and his “A Case for the Historicity of Jesus’ Resurrection” argument, as well as the contributions of New Testament scholar Gary Habermas. For more information regarding the resurrection of Jesus, I would point you to both William Lane Craig’s book, On Guard, where his previously mentioned argument can be found and to the book, Did the Resurrection Really Happen?, which is the written version of the third and final debate between Gary Habermas and former atheist Antony Flew concerning the resurrection. Last of the Essentials is the Divine Inspiration of Scripture.

4) The Divine Inspiration of Scripture

The inspiration of Scripture is the final Essential and it is the root belief that guides the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture. For those unfamiliar, the inerrancy of Scripture is the idea that all that God says to be true is true. At the same time, this final Essential gives us Christians the other three Essentials. In order to understand biblical inerrancy, we must properly understand biblical inspiration. If the Bible was not divinely inspired, then why should we believe the Bible to be inerrant as the infallible Word of God?

The idea of inspiration can be traced far back in history to the Israelites and their beloved fondness for the Torah, as it was the very Word of God that inspired Moses to write those first five books of the Bible. It was the Law that the Hebrews lived by and this was the start of the canon of Scripture. Since then, that understanding of the holy canon of Scripture now includes the entirety of the Old and New Testaments. Once belief in the inspiration of Scripture is established, we can then conclude the inerrancy of Scripture.

We believe the Bible to be God’s inerrant Word for a number of reasons. When it comes to presenting said reasons the Bible must be divinely inspired, I have both an argument and an acronym from Charlie Campbell (18) that will aid in remembering key reasons to believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God. First, we’ll observe my own argument for the inerrancy of Scripture below:

The Inerrancy of Scripture Argument

  • The inerrancy of Scripture is due to either chance, divine inspiration, or human manipulation.
  • It is not due to chance or human manipulation.
  • Therefore, it is due to divine inspiration.

With this in mind, the divine inspiration of the Bible logically infers the inerrancy of God’s Word. If God was behind the scenes guiding the process of developing the canon of Scripture, then why can we not conclude that it is without error in its truth claims? But can we empirically prove that because the Bible is inspired, that it is also inerrant in its truth claims? Using Campbell’s M.A.P.S. acronym, we can do just that. The M.A.P.S. acronym goes as follows:

  • M = Manuscript Evidence
  • A = Authors’ Forthrightness About Failures
  • P = Persecution Endured By The Early Christians
  • S = Son of God’s View of Scripture

In short, we Christians believe the Bible to be God’s inspired Word because Jesus believed it was and not the other way around. Because we believe it is inspired by God, we also believe it to be God’s inerrant Word. We support this claim with the M.A.P.S. method of providing evidence. Our understanding of the other three Essentials hinges on our understanding of this final Essential.

Like the above picture, the Essentials of Christianity all work together and uphold the very essence of what Christianity is as a whole. Everything is built off of these four key pillars of our faith. If you remove one pillar, the whole worldview collapses.

Therefore, just as a Muslim has the 5 Pillars of Islam, we too have the 4 Pillars of Christianity. When you understand the foundation for Christianity, then you will understand the Christian faith. When you understand why you believe what you believe, then defending what you believe is that much easier. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. The Four Posts of Avila, Spain (1566) by Francisco de Arellano
  2. https://www.gotquestions.org/essentials-Christian-faith.html
  3. https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2013/09/12/what-are-the-essentials-of-the-christian-faith/
  4. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/medieval-times/islam-intro/a/the-five-pillars-of-islam
  5. Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10-13, 1 Corinthians 8:4b-6, Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5
  6. Genesis 1:26, 3:22-23, 11:7, Isaiah 6:8, Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14
  7. The Real Kosher Jesus (P. 134-135). See also Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Vol. 2: Theological Objections (P. 3-14) by Michael Brown for a theological understanding of the Christian Trinity in response to Orthodox Judaism, along with The Forgotten Trinity by James White for an exegetical understanding.
  8. https://www.princeton.edu/~grosen/puc/phi203/ontological.html
  9. John 1:1-3, 10:30; 20:28-31
  10. John 1:14, Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:14-18
  11. Genesis 14:17-20, 16:7-14, 18:1-33, 22:11-18,  32:24-30, Exodus 24:9-11, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11-25, Daniel 3:23-28; John 1:14-18
  12. In his book Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth, John MacArthur & co. make the following statement regarding Jesus being an ambassador or messenger of the Godhead: “When the biblical account associates “the angel of the LORD” with a theophany, “messenger” might provide a better translation than “angel,” because this title denotes the function or office of the individual, not his nature. In addition, the Scripture speaks of him [the angel of the LORD] as actually being God. He bears the name “LORD,” he speaks as God, and he displays divine attributes and authority. Most significantly, however, he receives worship (Matt. 2:2, 11, 14:33, 28:9, 17). Given what John 1:18 says about the Son-that “no one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” -the appearances of God in the Old Testament must have been the Son, not the Father. The phrase “made him known” in Greek (exégeomai) is the word from which we derive the verb exegete and its cognate noun, exegesis. Literally, the Son of God “exegeted” the Father to mankind (P. 241).”
  13. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/historic-heresies-related-to-the-nature-of-jesus/
  14. John 2:19-22, 1 Corinthians 15:1-22; Galatians 1:6-9
  15. John 14:6, Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0maL4cQ8zuU
  17. 1 Corinthians 15:13-14
  18. Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted (P. 93). See also The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce and From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible by Norman Geisler & William E. Nix for more information on biblical inspiration and biblical inerrancy.

Matriarchal Christianity Examined

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

In this blog-post, we’re going to examine the claims of Matriarchal Christianity and discover whether or not the Holy Spirit is a woman. What is Matriarchal Christianity exactly? It’s the idea that God as a triune being is comprised of three persons: the Father, the Mother, and the Son, with the Mother being the Holy Spirit.

Eisegesis vs. Exegesis

This philosophy is deeply rooted in a problem that relates to the context of Scripture. By context I mean to say the historical record, the culture, the time period the text was written, and the grammatical prose that reflects the author’s intent. In simpler terms, this question stems from a matter of eisegesis versus exegesis to study Scripture.

The practice of eisegesis is when one projects their own biases and ideas onto whatever text they are reading or studying. The practice of exegesis is when one finds the original meaning of a text they are reading or studying based on its original context. Eisegesis guides meaning from outside sources into the text (subjective interpretation), while exegesis guides meaning out of the text itself (objective interpretation). With this in mind, let’s quickly discover whether or not the Holy Spirit is a woman as we examine the claims of Matriarchal Christianity.

God Incarnate

In Scripture, there are certain verses and passages that reveal the nature of God, along with how He chose to reveal Himself in a way that we humans could comprehend. In fact, Jesus as a person within the Godhead has appeared and interacted with humanity in various physical forms (2). This is commonly known as a Christophany where Christ appears or manifests Himself on Earth.

But isn’t Jesus a man? Doesn’t the Bible clearly state that He is a man? Doesn’t that make Him a male? The Bible and extra-biblical sources do say that Jesus was physically born and became a man, but He was more than just a man. As God, Jesus adopted a physical body and was fully human when He lived on the Earth. Yet He never was less than God either. This is known as the Hypostatic Union where Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

Well, what about God in general? If Jesus has appeared and adopted the body of a man, doesn’t that mean the Father or the Holy Spirit can too? No because of the three persons within God’s triune nature, only the Son appears physically as a human in history. Jesus is the only member of the tri-unity of God who can be seen since He does take on a physical form in history (3), while the other two persons do not adopt a physical form.

Remember that God is not a physical being to begin with, so He does not have the physical characteristics that are typically associated with a man or a woman (i.e. anatomy, chromosomes, cognitive function, DNA, etc). In fact, God is beyond the bounds of His own Creation and is free of those specific characteristics that are distinct to both men and women. God is an uncaused being that is eternal, immaterial, non-contingent, non-physical, and personally caused the universe into existence.

God’s Pronouns

With that said, what we find in Scripture are numerous references to the Holy Spirit in the masculine sense. This can be seen in various places such as Isaiah 64:4, Romans 8:26, and 1 Corinthians 12:11, for instance. Yet, we also find allegory and prose that alludes to God being described in the feminine sense as well (4), so then what are the correct pronouns for God? Do we refer to God in the feminine or masculine sense?

Before answering this, we must reiterate some simple truths. First off, is God sovereign over all His Creation? Yes. Okay, did the Holy Spirit inspire the authors of the various books within the Bible to clearly and perfectly relay His message truthfully? Yes. Therefore, how God in His sovereignty allows Himself to be referred to in the Bible reflects what His preferred pronouns are and how we should refer to Him as God.

Next, do those passages referenced above about the Holy Spirit being described with feminine verbs indicate that He is in fact supposed to be referred to in the feminine sense? No because we see this sort of usage all throughout both the Bible and other texts where the gender is switched to express an idea better or just as an exception to the rule. Just because there are two verses that appear to be used in the feminine sense towards God, does not mean that God is to be referred to in the feminine sense.

Those exceptions to the rule do not supervene all of the other references to God in the masculine sense. They’re simply exceptions to the rule and that’s it. The vast majority of the Bible is geared to calling God a He and each person within the Trinity a He, so we should refer to Him in that way as Christians even if God is a gender-less being.

Even if God wanted us to attribute the feminine sense to Himself or any person within the Trinity, then He would have made the distinction clear. But Scripture overwhelmingly supports the masculine verbiage in reference to God. Since God has chosen to and prefers to be referred to in the masculine sense, then we should respect that decision. The Trinity consists of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It does not consist of the Father, the Son, and the Mother.

In order to properly understand the text in the Bible, we must allow context to dictate our conclusions and not our culture. In order to know who God is, we should hear and read how He is referred to in Scripture. Projecting our culture onto another culture’s original understanding of God is dishonest to say the least.

As believers in Christ, we should have a proper knowledge of God and understand who He reveals Himself to be and the manner He chooses to do so. Cultures and interpretations change, but context is timeless when we understand the text. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels
  2. https://www.gotquestions.org/theophany-Christophany.html
  3. John 1:18
  4. Judges 14:6 and other references to the Holy Spirit in the original Hebrew of the book of Judges use the feminine verb for “came upon” as we see it in modern English. Also, Matthew 23:37 is another example where those that support the view of Matriarchal Christianity reference as evidence of this idea. Although, this is simply an analogy of how Christ describes his heart for the Jewish people and how He longs to care for them like a mother hen. For more information on Matriarchal Christianity, you can read more here: http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume3/spirit.htm.

Leaving So Soon?

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

There is an epidemic in the church. This brewing problem has been growing exponentially since the 1950s when the youth culture truly took root in the West. It was a time of peace after WWII when the war for the hearts of the next generation flourished under the guise of prosperity and progress.

Whether that be the technological advancements, the race relations that led to the Civil Rights Movement, or the sexual revolution that changed the way we process perversity versus pleasure. This youth culture, Gen Z especially, has been in the process of a mass-exodus of sorts in fleeing the church to join the culture. According to various studies, “70 percent of youth stop attending church when they graduate from high school. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church (2).” As my good friend Andrew Morrison keeps saying, “we are on the verge of a second 1960s counterculture revolution” and this revolution is going to get ugly.

Now who exactly is leaving and why are they leaving so soon? To be precise, the youth from middle school to college are leaving the church. By ‘the church’ I mean that as both Christianity specifically and religion in general, as the youth embrace the pressures of society to conform to the inward and outward expressions of sin. This grand departure is happening primarily in the Western part of the world (i.e. North America and Europe), which is due to a number of circumstances.

From personal online investigation to public inquiry with others in this age range, I have whittled down the leading reasons as to why the youth are leaving so soon to 5 options. These 5 options include a) unable to freely question, b) not enough reason to believe in God beyond morally therapeutic deism (3), c) not challenged or tested to do otherwise in their way of thinking, d) objective truths have been exchanged for relevant subjectivism, and e) other undisclosed reasons that are specific to the individual. Regarding the last option for instance, the problem of suffering has caused a lot of people to leave because of both immense personal doubt and sorrow, along with the theological implications over any given situation of suffering (natural disaster, miscarriage, rape, etc). Another notable example for the final option would be the controversial views of the church as it is both pro-life and for traditional marriage, rather than pro-choice and in support of non-traditional forms of marriage.

This ‘generation gap’ of the youth rebelling against the truth has been an issue that has always been present within the church as it lies in direct conflict with the culture and its way of thinking. For the youthful in particular, one of the greatest choices one can make is whether to go with the flow downstream (i.e. the culture) or go against the flow upstream (i.e. the church). Once one chooses either option, they must therefore reject the other for we are to be in the world, but not of it as Christ’s church (4).

The question remains: how do we avoid leaving so soon or if we have already left, how do we come back home to Christ and in fellowship with His church? As I have thought upon this topic, I believe the answer lies in one of my favorite books in the Bible: the book of Colossians. It is here where I think the young believer, such as you or someone you know, can find solutions to this inveterate problem in the church.

Just as the prodigal in Luke chapter 15 left to indulge in sin and was still a son of his father, we too are sometimes in a state of being a prodigal, but we do have the hope of always being a child of God as believers. There is always the hope that no matter how far a believer temporarily runs away from God, they still have the opportunity to turn back and ask for forgiveness. In the book of Colossians, we find 5 factors that will guide us on the straight and narrow or for those of us who have already left so soon, a way back home. The first of these factors is a matter of the mind.

1) Protect Our Minds

“I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument… See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (5).”

In this day and age, the battle for the mind has never been a more intense struggle for the youth. Whether we acknowledge it or not the Enemy, the World, and even our own sin nature desire to corrupt our minds to the point of permanent decimation. Do not give in to those temptations. Resist and fight back by protecting your mind as you hold fast to the truth of Christ’s victory at the cross and pray for the LORD to do a work within you.

Know what Jesus died and rose again for in the first place. Know the truths of Scripture. Most importantly, stay on guard spiritually. This is where apologetics is key for personal devotion in the believers life. Apologetics is the sledgehammer of evangelism because it destroys strongholds of skepticism hiding in our hearts, but also acts as a chisel of continuous refinement as we seek to be more Christ-like as believers. Apologetics protects the mind, but prayer solidifies that defense like nothing else.

By knowing the truth and consistently learning to be better equipped mentally, the believer is that much more ready for the battle of the mind. Nothing can stop the truth and if Jesus is the truth (6), then we can have full assurance in times of doubt that what we believe is worth fighting for in the end both mentally and spiritually. Fight off the mental warfare of this world system that is intent on crushing you.

Get up and brush off those books. Be a student of God by protecting your mind with the truths of God’s Word and His glorious Creation through the avenue of apologetics, while at the same time constantly praying for God to shield your mind from what knowledge cannot protect you from. We live in the information age and we should act like it for once as the church. The best offense is a better defense. Be an apologist, not an apostate. Be informed, not uninformed.

2) Purpose In Our Minds

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth (7).”

After the mind is protected, it must be redirected to the things of God. To purpose in our minds and to think upon the spiritually good, rather than the spiritually bad will ensure a sober mind for the backsliding believer seeking to please God. Be sober and be vigilant as the Apostle Peter once said (8). Think like Christ thinks. As Daniel purposed in his mind to honor the LORD by obeying the Mosaic Law (9), so too we must purpose in our minds to honor God above all else through the process of renewing our minds (10). It will take time to reconfigure the way you think, but it is a natural change as you turn back to God.

3) Purpose In Our Church Body

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (11).”

From the mental to the social, Paul lines out how we should purpose and aim as the church to live as one body of believers submitted to the authority of God’s Word. There must be a deliberate attempt to be in constant fellowship with other believers because it is what unifies the Bride of Christ in a way that glorifies God. We bear burdens, we forgive sins, we wisely teach, we wisely admonish, and most of all love because He first loved us.

As Christians, either we are one or we are none. As was said by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses (12).” Be active in both the local church you attend and the church at large. Pray with believers and seek God. Camaraderie is the key in a community, especially for us as the church. As the 1st century Christians lived (13), so we should live in fellowship with one another in Jesus name.

4) Purpose In Our Hearts

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (14).”

For most, if not all who leave so soon, it is a matter of the heart. By a matter of the heart, I mean to say a combination of internal motivations and external attitudes we may have in our day-to-day living. These things must change as we purpose in our hearts not to live like we once did, but to live according to what the LORD insists for each and every one of us. The Israelites had to purpose in their hearts as they chose to love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength (15). Once you know how to love God, only then will you be able to love.

Later on in history, we find Ezra the priest and scribe displaying this fourth point in action as he “set his heart” on learning the Word of God, living out the Word of God, before teaching others in a like manner (16). Yet before any outward actions took place, Ezra had to fix his heart and aim it towards God. We must do likewise, if we intend on getting right with God before our inevitable prodigal exodus or on the way back from one. We must set both our minds and our hearts on the things above, not on the things below.

5) Purpose In Our Speech

“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (17).”

Nothing says that you are looking to change quite like the way you transform the way you speak to others. How do you communicate to people? To family? To friends? To enemies? Can you truthfully say that you speak with a courteous and tactful manner that stands out from when you chose to leave God or before you were even with God? Is there a difference in the way you talk from when you were a prodigal to now as another member of the pasture of the Good Shepherd?

Eventually, on the way back to the loving arms of the Lord you should notice a change in the way you speak. Not just in vocabulary, but most importantly the intent of your speech in the first place. Why do you talk in the first place? What is the intent in what you say when, where, why, and how you say it? Jesus put special emphasis on what we say (18) as it can lead to either our declaration of our salvation in Christ or our damnation away from His grace.

In his book, Fool’s Talk, author Os Guinness lays out the biblical pattern in which every believer should speak both publicly in social gatherings and even privately in our hearts and minds. He argues that everyone is a fool. Either you are a fool for Christ or a fool of the world. As Jesus put it when preaching on the Beatitudes, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (19), so in all things learn to speak wisdom. Like salt, speak in a way that preserves the humanity of whoever you talk to, while simultaneously expelling the hardheartedness of their sin nature. It’s about time we spoke like fools.

Final Thoughts

It’s a hard road leaving sin to seek the Savior, but is totally worth it in the end. Adjustments will be made both consciously and unconsciously as you grow more spiritually attuned to God’s liking and as the Holy Spirit does His refining work within you. If we return back to God, then we will radically change in three main ways: our thought life, our feelings, and our speech. This trifecta can be seen in the return home for the prodigal son of Luke 15 and is a pattern that has been seen in every prodigal throughout time.

Be against the flow, not with it! Return to the Lord and all His goodness! Put on the full armor of God and doing all to stand up to sin, stay standing. I pray that God would do a mighty work in you as He guides your mind, heart, and words to be in alignment with His Word.

Why are you leaving so soon? Your life with God has only just begun! Stay and see what the triune God has in store for you. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. http://www.churchleaders.com/children/childrens-ministry-articles/166129-marc-solas-10-surprising-reasons-our-kids-leave-church.htmlhttp://crossexamined.org/youth-exodus-problem/. See also Galatians 5:7-8 when Paul the Apostle address the same issue in the first century.
  3. http://www.christianpost.com/news/top-3-false-christian-beliefs-leading-americas-youth-astray-american-family-association-172100/
  4. NASB John 17:9-16
  5. NASB Colossians 2:4, 8
  6. NASB John 14:6
  7. NASB Colossians 3:2
  8. KJV 1 Peter 5:8
  9. NASB Daniel 1:8
  10. NASB Romans 12:2-3
  11. NASB Colossians 3:12-17
  12. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community (P. 86)
  13. NKJV Acts 2:42, NKJV 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, NKJV Hebrews 10:23-25
  14. NASB Colossians 3:23-24
  15. NKJV Deuteronomy 6:5-7
  16. NASB Ezra 7:10
  17. NASB Colossians 4:5-6
  18. NASB Matthew 12:36-37
  19. NLT Luke 6:45

 

 

Isolated Together

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

Believe it or not, there once was a time when people had to talk in person. Face-to-face, breathing the same air, in the same space, and hold eye contact. Crazy right? It was a time where people did this crazy thing called personal communication. A blissful span of time where when one person wanted to interact socially with another person, they would actually interact with that person socially. But that all changed with one simple, yet immensely influential tool: social media.

It is the connective tissue of the 21st century. The webbing of the social spider that travels back and forth across the internet. In today’s world, it is not too hard to go about your day without being confronted by the ripple effects of social media. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Kikme, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube or the like, their presence is well known to almost everyone. Yet have we ever stepped back and asked “Just as there are good side effects to social media use, can there be bad ones as well?”

Unequivocally, the answer is yes. While social media has paved the way for great advancements in society such as the expansion of globalization, introducing us to the information age, a more-informed public, and instant communication. On the flip side, it has also brought with it negative side effects with short and long lasting impressions on modern mankind. For the sake of time, I will focus on three briefly in this blog-post: the physical effects, the sociological effects, and the spiritual effects. First let’s start with the physical effects.

The Physical Effects

If it was not apparent already, social media has over time altered human anatomy and the way we move about in life. This can be seen in how some people have severe curves in the vertebrae due to slouching over a computer desk (or a mobile device) when interacting online. This curvature is evident in their backs or necks, along with the rise in the general population being diagnosed with some form of nearsightedness. Various studies on this issue have concluded that “Between 1970 and 2000, myopia — nearsightedness — prevalence in the U.S. rose from 25 percent to nearly 42 percent among people ages 12 to 54” (2) and with the spike of online interaction via social media, the numbers have continued to climb.

Other common symptoms include, but are not limited to obesity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and even more serious addictions that are directly caused by the abuse of social media. These more serious addictions that stem from the gateway drug of the digital world range from substance abuse to an increase in anxiety related mental health issues in adolescents. This is due to such variables as the amount of information available online through hyper-networking, the brain seeking different stimulations to hit high dopamine levels, and the addictive nature of social media leading to misconstrued fantasies. Studies now show that Gen Z is one of the most depressed and least sexually active generations too, which can be indicative of the effects of social media. In the long run, social media is changing us physically.

The Sociological Effects

Allen and co. in the Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology 31 [(1):1-14 · July 2014] conducted an experiment exploring the effects of social media on adolescents (i.e. Gen Z) and concluded that

Mixed findings are reported regarding the role that social media plays in fostering social connectedness, which suggests that young people may experience both positive and negative psychological outcomes. As a result, this article argues that online tools create a paradox for social connectedness. On one hand, they elevate the ease in which individuals may form and create online groups and communities, but on the other, they can create a source of alienation and ostracism (3).”

This ostracised Gen Z has formed a socio-conscious isolated togetherness where they are together, but isolated in attention and activity. Similar to how people disengage on an airplane flight, they are all heading to the same destination with the same people for a specified duration of time, but are completely removed from social interaction whatsoever with their fellow neighbors. Why?

Hard to say, but being isolated together is something we all do in certain situations like riding the bus or waiting in line at the DMV, except now Gen Z does it to friends and family. Not total strangers, but those closest to them both in culture and community. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd that they would rather stare at blue lit phones, than enjoy the company of their loved ones? For Gen Z, we are setting the example that this is normal and they are following our lead.

Regardless, social media also plays off of this “us vs. them” mentality innate in all of us by giving us an outlet to feed our egos in moments of complete social isolation. We can pretend we are together with someone we know virtually, when in reality we are alone with strangers or even with no one around. Odd how instead of expanding our social circles when introduced to new personalities in our world, we keep our small circles squares and inevitably block ourselves into our own tiny bubble castles with those we would rather talk to, instead of talking to those people.

It’s amazing how Christians still wonder why evangelism is dead in the West. We chose to preach to the church, instead of the community. We would rather exchange cute quotes with those who believe what we believe, than share worldviews with those whose beliefs delineate from our own ideas regarding what is true. A pluralistic society like America can quickly become poisonous if the bridges that bring us together are burned down in the face of filtered tolerance.

The Spiritual Effects

This is the most important effect and I see it a lot. Less praying and more posting. Although social disconnectedness is bad, along with physical deterioration from electronic overuse, nothing is worse than spiritual separation. As we spend more and more of our time online, we spend less and less with God. We prefer tweeting, rather than serious study of God’s Word. We would rather check Instagram for hearts, then check our hearts for sin.

This spiritual separation is our ultimate devolution and is yet another blockade from connecting with our great God. With all of our attention on ourselves, we blur the line between who we are and who we say we are to the world. As we jump into the matrix of the digital world, we place our masks on and dance along with the masquerade of happiness that so many of us lie about. A lot of us pretend to be content and happy, yet our “good vibes” cannot rebuild this spiritual separation.

The only cure to this disconnect with God is to disconnect from social media and all other distractions that draw us away from God. We then are able to reconnect with God when we are at a distraction-less state and ready to commune with our Maker. For the sake of our spiritual channel of relation to God, we may need to cut down on our consumption of social media and our desire to connect digitally.

Conclusion

By this point, you may think I am some sort of Amish, “technology is Satanic” types of people that completely avoids anything modern. That could not be farther from the truth. In fact, I use social media all the time! It’s my job as a content creator and I use it frequently for ministry too. The only reason I would be against social media use is when it affects me or others physically, socially, and/or spiritually. If one or all of those factors are hindered, then it is time to unplug and fix those because your body, your social circles, and our God matter more than viral videos.

Is social media bad? No, not at all. Does it have both good and bad connotations when using it excessively on a daily basis? Yes, it does.

Like fitness, the pursuit of being physically healthy and in shape is not bad at all. Indeed, it is really good for you and has lots of benefits. But when someone decides to workout every single day for hours on end they hit a point where their conventional habit turns into an addiction with negative effects. As Dr. Holly Parker, a Harvard University psychologist and certified personal trainer, once said in an article for Fox News, “The benefits you want from working out—getting leaner, stronger, healthier—reverse when you don’t take breaks” (4). Put plainly, too much good can be bad. Use social media however and whenever you want, but take a break when needed.

In short, it really is a balancing act as you use social media to touch base with loved ones and meet new people, while in the same respect getting instant news and entertainment. With that, there has to be a point where you must decide when you have had enough for one day. Take a break and do something else. There is no need to be online 24/7.

It’s not healthy to stay wired all the time. For once, take a break for not only your own sake, but for the sake of others. Learn to understand the value of life and time by taking moments throughout your day-to-day routine to appreciate the simply astounding things no app could ever capture. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. http://www.thegazette.com/subject/life/health-social-media-affects-the-teens-tweens-physical-and-mental-health-20150226
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260289323_Social_Media_Use_and_Social_Connectedness_in_Adolescents_The_Positives_and_the_Potential_Pitfalls. See both this link http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/social-networks-and-health-communicable-but-not-infectious and this link http://www.med.upenn.edu/chbr/documents/AmyGonzales-PublicHealthandSocialMediaTalk.pdf for more information regarding the effects of social media on our sociological state of being.
  4. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/27/how-much-working-out-is-too-much.html

Discipled and How to Stay That Way

Photo Cred: (1)| Updated: 5/27/2019

Discipleship. It is the process where the knowledge, skills, and teachings of a person or society are passed down onto the next generation, in order to preserve the ideals of a former time. It is the evolution of information from one generation to the next that bears great significance in almost every culture. From the śrāvaka system of followers in Buddhism to knighthood in the European Middle Ages where a child would work their way from Page to Squire to Knight (1), the passing on of discipleship has always been key.
Even in modern times, academics has become a sort of discipleship, although instead of strictly studying under only one mentor there is the luxury of accumulating mass amounts of information under many mentors within a short span of time. Yet there are other ways of discipleship, such as craftsmen with a specific skill set like a woodworker or a mechanic. Regardless, discipleship is a key to human development.
So then, what is discipleship in Christianity and why is it so crucial for Christians? In simple terms, a disciple is “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another (2).” In this case, that would be the doctrines of Church Tradition, which originate with the teachings of Jesus that were rooted in Judaism. Even then, Judaism was directly instructed by God to the Hebrew people who passed it on through each and every generation. Within a Christian context, there are 5 varying levels of discipleship: the 1, the 3, the 12, the 70, and the masses. Shown below is an example of this breakdown of those that Jesus discipled:

  • The 1: Peter
  • The 3: Peter, James the son of Zebedee, and John
  • The 12: Peter, James the son of Zebedee, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot
  • The 70: the appointed 70 (or 72) sent in 35 (or 36) pairs into the cities that Jesus would eventually go
  • The Masses: The crowds that would gather during specific moments of Jesus Christ’s 3-year ministry

If we were to use this template for one of my mentors, Andrew Morrison, it would look something like this for the men he mentored at one point:

  • The 1: Bailey
  • The 3: Bailey, Chris, and David
  • The 12: Bailey, Chris, David, Zachary, John, Jeremiah, Yomar, Daniel, Jaden, Samuel, Taylor, and Jeffrey
  • The 70: the youth group of students
  • The Masses: all the students that have ever interacted or met Andrew

So what is expected of a disciple? What does a disciple of Christ do and what did the disciples do when Jesus was still on Earth? In retrospect, the disciples were expected to do a lot from Jesus such as having authority over unclean spirits (3), instructed them to feed the 5,000 (4), commanded them to not rebuke those that cast out evil spirits in His name (5), and even giving up family to follow Him (6). These are just a few examples from the Gospel of Mark, but there are numerous other instances where Jesus expects His disciples through faith in Him to do the remarkable.
But what do we do once our mentors leave us and move onto the next calling God has drawn them towards in life? In actuality it is quite simple: do what your mentor did. Now I know that can be a vague answer, so allow me to breakdown what most mentors do by using the greatest example which is Jesus.
In the few years that Jesus had a ministry, He did some distinct things that every mentor does concerning discipleship. He chose His disciples (7), He lived life with His disciples (8), and taught them all that they needed to know before it was time for Him to leave (9). Put simply, the disciples of Christ and the disciple of any mentor is a) selected, b) schooled, c) and sent (10). This third and final point is when the discipleship cycle repeats itself. When Jesus left to go to Heaven, each of the twelve took on disciples to teach what they were taught to bring about the furtherance of the Gospel message. For instance, Peter discipled John-Mark, while John discipled both Prochorus and Polycarp.
Contrary to some, the twelve didn’t choose Jesus, rather Jesus chose His twelve disciples (11). After Jesus chose them, then they chose to answer the invitation and follow Him. Likewise, when your time comes to disciple another, you must choose them first as the disciple-maker. Then that person that you choose, whoever it may be, must decide whether or not to follow you as you follow Christ.
Regarding living life together, Jesus ate with his disciples, had the twelve report back to Him regarding their mission trips and outreaches (12), along with private sermons during their travels (13). It was this intimate exposure and schooling that led to the ultimate martyrdom of 10 disciples, the suicide of Judas Iscariot due to self-inflicted condemnation, and John’s death in exile on the island of Patmos. The effect that Jesus had on those who knew Him best was extraordinary.
This same effect will be present in the relationships that a mentor and a disciple have with each other. An unbreakable bond of friendship or sadly for some, an absolutely heartbreaking end for either the mentor or the disciple. The key to the heartbreak is forgiveness because for you mentors, your disciples will fail you and for you disciples, your mentors will fail you. Forgiveness and grace must always be present in these interactions of learning. Mentors choose wisely and disciples follow discerningly.
Now one more point must be addressed and that is this: the difference between parenting and mentoring. The two are usually smashed together, but I see them as separate roles that one can have in their lifetime. A parent, whether father or mother, has the role of equipping their children with how to live in life. They teach us how to dress, how to behave, how to talk, how to eat, how to maintain personal cleanliness, how to treat others, and other skills that we all need to know. All the necessities and essentials of life, in order to properly operate in our given society or culture. Basically, our ultimate well-being during our upbringing.
A mentor is someone that chooses you to learn a specific skill or share a certain message. They are the sports coaches, the school teachers, and the managers that we all have had in our lives. They teach us how to perform in our selective sport or how to be the best that we can be at our jobs that may become careers. They may teach us mathematics, science, history, or any other academic pursuit, but nevertheless teach us the specifics of said pursuit.
Parenting is a familial, whether biological or adoptive, inherited affair that has the sole purpose of teaching the generalities in life to your child(ren). Mentoring is a non-familial, chosen affair that has the sole purpose of teaching the specifics in life to your student(s). In other words, a parent may teach you how to change the oil in your car or how to change a tire, but a mentor teaches you every facet of what the car is and how to build one to its fullest potential. How to survive versus how to thrive.
Back to the topic at hand, how does one stay discipled? You stay disciplined in the ways of your mentor by living out what was taught to you by your mentor. In this case, follow them as they follow Christ. Do what they did. What did they do? They did their best to emulate what Jesus lived. He selected His disciples, He schooled them in all that they needed to know, and once they were done being schooled were consequently sent out to select new disciples in Jesus name.
Discipleship was and never is easy. It costs a lot. A lot more than you could ever imagine. The role of a mentor is costly because you have taken the responsibility to pour everything that you know to be true into this soul that may or may not take in what you have to say. Jesus referred to discipleship as a daily dying of self (14) and this is the best description of discipleship. Die to self to give life to another. The ultimate sacrifice for there is no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend (15).
Press on and stand strong. It may be time to leave your mentor to be a mentor, but do not be afraid because you follow Jesus. Don’t become distracted with the affairs of this life. Be attentive. Don’t attend a church. Be the church. Don’t be a church goer. Be a church constructor. Above all, be a fisher of men by being a disciple-maker. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. http://www.lordsandladies.org/steps-to-knighthood.htm
  2. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/disciple?s=t
  3. Mark 6:7-13
  4. Mark 6:33-44
  5. Mark 9:38-40
  6. Mark 10:28-31
  7. Mark 1:14-20, Mark 2:14
  8. Mark 2:15-17
  9. Mark 4:33-34
  10. My Dad created this three-word description of discipleship: selected, schooled, and sent out.
  11. John 15:16
  12. Mark 6:30
  13. Mark 8:14-21
  14. Luke 9:23
  15. John 15:13

The Coin Argument

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/21/2019

I have heard many ask “If God exists, then why is there so much evil in the world?” and there are many responses to this question all throughout history. There are even great Christian thinkers like Alvin Plantinga and Ravi Zacharias who have delivered great responses to this problem of evil. If I was asked this question, here is one way that I would respond and that is with the coin argument.

If God exists, then why is there so much good in the world? The question in its very nature is problematic because it relies on a partial-variable. It depends on the assumption that God and evil cannot both exist.

If this assumption is true, then God and good cannot both exist. Thus, leaving the universe amoral, which we all know is a flawed and true conclusion. It is true based off of basic deductive reasoning from our previous premises, yet flawed because evil and good are both quite evident in our universe.

For examples of evil look no further than the horrors of war, famine, pestilence, natural disasters, and the like. For instances of good look no further than the sacrificial love of a mother for her child, giving to those that are in need, treating others the way you want to be treated, and so on. The existence of evil and good is too evident in the world to ignore.

Let me use an analogy to further my point: let’s say I have a coin. You say that if I flip this coin 100 times with it landing on heads every single time in a row, then there must be no coin maker. Now I say if I flip this coin 100 times with it landing on tails every single time in a row, then there must be a coin maker. Let’s surmise that such a scenario occurs where you’re right: the coin lands on heads 100 times in row. Does your conclusion logically make sense that there is no coin maker? No and neither would mine any more so than yours because it is focused on the coin’s mathematical probability of landing on heads or tails. When the focus should shift to “where did we get the coin in the first place?”

That’s the root issue here. Where do objective moral values come from in the first place? For the sake of time, objective moral values will be abbreviated to OMV. In my analogy, the coin represents OMV and likewise each side of the coin represents one side of those OMV (heads = objectively negative moral values -> “evil” and tails = objectively positive moral values -> “good”).

Therefore, as is the case with all things there must be an objective standard to determine what are objectively negative moral values (evil) and what are objectively positive moral values (good). This objective standard can only be 4 things: from something less than myself [nature](1), from something equal to myself [individual](2), from others equal to myself [society](3), or from something greater than myself [God](4).

Now, how am I obligated by something less than me [nature](1) to obey these OMV? There’s no need to be obligated by nature since nature is beneath mankind. Why should I lower my standards to comply with values of nature? When something within nature kills it is survival of the fittest, yet when we kill it is murder. So, should I obligate myself [individual](2) to these OMV? Do I have that absolute authority? If so, I myself can remove that absolute authority if I want to, which throws out the second conclusion all together making it obsolete.

Then can others [society](3) obligate me to OMV? Why does the majority have that absolute authority over the minority (myself)? How does a single variable like majority vs. minority suddenly change who can enforce OMV? If there is a society that can, then which one? And if there is one, what happens when that society eventually crumbles like every society before it has in the past? Thus, this objective standard must be greater than myself [God](4) because it (He) is superior to me and can rightfully demand obedience to these OMV as He is greater than I.

Hence, evil and good can only exist if there is a set of OMV determined by an objective standard [God](4) that can enforce these OMV onto us. This is the most logical and reasonable conclusion. God as the objective standard gives us the ability to discern what is evil and good. Without Him, nothing is sin while everything is live and let live. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/

The Value of Time

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/21/2019

Time. It is the most valuable resource in the universe and in life. As Charles Darwin put it, “A man who dare waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Time is a mysterious thing.

What Is Time?

It is not quite like other resources, such as water or oxygen because it is not limited by the boundaries of space. In fact, it does not actually inhabit any space or  physical matter like water or oxygen. Time is simply here, but is hard to comprehend sometimes why it is here. Some argue that time is its own dimension or reality.

Why is the universe limited by an ever increasing range of numbers that eventually will stop when God decides that it is time for a new earth and a new heaven (2)? Why even place this limit upon the universe? Why didn’t God just create an eternal universe, instead of a transient universe? Why is time so valuable you might add?

Unlike water or oxygen, time can never be stored or saved for later. Time is ever ending. It’s like a bowl of sand being poured out slowly, but surely until the bowl is completely empty. Once the bowl is empty, that’s it. Time has run out. As scary as that sounds, that is the reality of time.

Another way of understanding time is that it is like throwing a stone or firing a gun at a specific target. Both the bullet and the stone will travel for awhile at various rates of speed before colliding with the target, thus ending their course. Time is like the distance the bullet and the stone travel. The “trigger-man” so to speak is God and He caused everything into being, which includes the starting point of time and the endpoint.

Then again, is time even linear to begin with in the first place? Some say time is linear, while others propose it is cyclic like a cone (i.e. the Big Bang Model), along with a few that say it may even be an ever expanding sphere of sorts (i.e. a balloon being blown up). Now I’m no scientist, so I cannot determine which view is correct. What I can do is present each theory briefly to help us better understand time.

For the traditional view of time, that camp argues that there was a first cause. Since that first cause, there has been a sequential series of events moving on a horizontal plane to an unknown end. Think like a ruler or a simple line with two end points.

In the cyclic (cone) group of thinkers, they presume that time is a lot like the way people understand the universe in that both are expanding in the shape of a cone. There was a starting point where the first cause occurred, but since then it has been expanding. These thinkers use the phenomena of red-shift stretching across space as proof of this theory.

The third camp does likewise in that they use red-shift as evidence for their view, but to a different extent. They argue that time is a lot like a big ball that is slowly growing in size until it finally pops. An easy example would be to refer to the way oxygen fills up a balloon until it explodes. In a way, they believe time is a swirling twirl of cause and effect colliding in an incomprehensible pattern that is interwoven like a ball of yarn. A chaotic masterpiece.

Why do I bring up these various ideas of time? Because I want you to know how much we do not understand about time. How much we barely know. How much we as human beings under-appreciate time and undervalue it. Life’s most valuable resource.

What Does The Bible Say About Time?

The Bible, God’s inspired Word, has a lot to say concerning the concept of time. The actual word “time” appears in the NASB translation of the Bible 626 times. To say that time is important to God is an extreme understatement. Some passages of Scripture that come to mind would be Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where King Solomon reflects on the concept of time and seasons. In the chapter, he asserts that “there is an appointed time for everything.” Essentially, every single moment in time matters. There are no coincidences, but only opportunities. With this in mind, nothing can be random because something caused those “random” moments.

Time is a lot like the wind. We cannot actually see it, but we can observe its effects on our environment. Time is an effect-full, yet invisible force of nature that guides everything within the universe, including the universe itself.

Time is also like a loan from God. When God first created the universe, a countdown was started. From that point onward, time has been counting down to the moment when the universe ends. With this in mind, everything within the universe also has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We are born, live our lives hopefully to the fullest, and then die. It is the cycle of everything in the universe.

Because we are limited by time, we are also on a countdown to our own inevitable end. Eventually, our time here in the material realm will be done as we transition into the spiritual realms of either Heaven or Hell. If you adhere to the Naturalist worldview, then this is it and you have nothing to look forward to after death. Those who hold to a theistic worldview can look forward to a better or worse eternity. For the Naturalist, nothing. Even in this life there is nothing. From the Naturalist’s worldview, you have no meaning, purpose, or value.

Now let’s observe the other position. That there is meaning, purpose, and value because there is something beyond the material as the theistic worldview asserts. Where does this meaning, purpose, and value come from? Just as the meaning, purpose, and value of a work of art comes from the artist giving their artwork these qualities, we too find these same things in God.

Since we derive our meaning, purpose, and value from God it would only make sense that those must be fulfilled in this life. I mean why would God instill these desires in our hearts, if not to see us follow His plans for our lives and satisfy these desires within our lifetimes? C.S. Lewis once spoke of this predicament when he said “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists” (3).

The question remains: how do we fulfill these desires and how does this tie back into the value of time? Well, let’s go back to what the Bible has to say on the topic of time in a bit more detail. This will clue us in on how to appropriately answer this question in a way that is both emotionally and logically reasonable. If time is a variable in which we are contingent on, then how do we use it to our benefit to satisfy our ultimate desires? In the book of Exodus, reflection and remembrance is a key theme that carries throughout this book in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Specifically, Exodus 13:10-14 where the LORD instructs the Hebrews on how they are to reflect and remember how God delivered them from the land of Egypt by taking them to the Promised Land. This aspect of reflecting and remembering time is also of note in Exodus chapter 34 where an entire chapter is dedicated to this idea of remembrance, particularly Exodus 34:21 where the Hebrews are commanded by God to rest. The key lesson here is that there is a time and a place for everything. God formulated this philosophy when He created the universe by spending six days working and one day resting. Thus, fulfilling what we would call the work week.

Next, we jump to Nehemiah 2:6 where we can use time as a measurement to map out our lives or God can for that matter (4). Yet at the same instant, be men and women of our word. Nehemiah did this when he gave King Artaxerxes, accompanied by the Queen, a definite time of when he would return. A promise was proclaimed.

There are “God-Moments” when God enters time and accomplishes His will for His glory by allowing us free agents to bring about these so-called “God Moments” (5). Time can peel away inner heartache that can unveil who we are or what we have become (6). Time is a witness of the past (7) and is always brimming with opportunity (8) for us to fulfill our God-given desires.

Final Thoughts

How do I spend my time? Good question. How should I spend my time? Better question. If time is a loan from God, then how much time has God given me? No one knows. I don’t know and you don’t know. That is what makes this life so interesting and so risky. Our time is set, yet we are not informed of how much time is set.

That is why we must use our time wisely, in order to make the most of the time we are given from God. We must redeem the time (9) as we wait expectantly for the appointed time to be fulfilled and remain alert for that to pass (10). We use our time wisely when we set out to fulfill the God-given desires of our hearts by abiding in Christ, which will in turn satisfy our craving for ultimate meaning, purpose, and value.

Love your loved ones. Fellowship with friends. Work hard and do not become sluggish in what may end up being your final moments. The past grows as the future shrinks, so this is the time to seek God. This life that you and I live is an ever ending marathon. A journey one might say that is not over until we enter eternity.

This is just a brief summary of why I uphold the value of time and treasure it far above anything that this life can offer. How will we use this gift? What will we do with our time? Well, that’s up to you. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-5
  3. Mere Christianity (bk. 3, chap. 10)
  4. Exodus 9:5; Psalm 75:2; Daniel 2:16
  5. Judges 16:28
  6. Job 36:10, 15
  7. Isaiah 30:8
  8. John 7:6
  9. Ephesians 5:16
  10. Mark 1:15; 13:33

The Lovely Trinity Argument

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/21/2019

This blog-post is a little different than past blog-posts in that I will be showing you briefly my first argument for the Christian Trinity. My argument is called “The Lovely Trinity Argument” and was heavily inspired by the works of C.S. Lewis, especially his arguments in Mere Christianity. The argument resides on the central question found in premise seven and is actually what I asked myself a few years ago when the original concept for the argument began to take shape in my mind. Shout out to my friend, Kevin King, for helping me fine-tune my argument to make it as logically airtight as possible. Here is the argument down below presented in a premise-by-premise structure like almost all other philosophical arguments:

The Lovely Trinity Argument

By Christopher Cribari

  1. Before Creation, there was God (✝).
  2. God was alone and nothing existed, except for God before Creation.
  3. Therefore, God is the objective standard for all things pertaining to morality and the like, including love because He is all that existed.
  4. Thus, God is love (✝), love is God*, and God is all-loving.
  5. Love is an action expressed towards an object.
  6. Love is actively expressed from person to person.
  7. But if God is love, love is God, and God is all-loving, who would God love?
  8. A Unitarian God cannot love Himself because He is one person.
  9. Thus, God would need to be 2 or more than 2 persons to actively express love, in order for God to be love, for love to be God, and for God to be all-loving.
  10. Therefore, God is one being (✝), but multiple persons.
  11. But in order for love to be expressed for others to see, there has to be a third party or person.
  12. Thus, a Binitarian God cannot love another person without a third party or person to validate that love.
  13. Therefore, God is one being, but three persons (✝).
  14. Hence, the doctrine of the Trinity is true because it validates that God is love, love is God, and God is all-loving, while at the same time affirming that God is triune.
  15. For God is a Trinitarian God: one being, but three persons.

Argument Footnotes

* = C.S. Lewis penned “love is God” in his work, Mere Christianity, in chapter 4 of book 4 entitled “Good Infection.”

✝ = Biblical References

  • Premise 1) Genesis 1:1, Hebrews 1:10
  • Premise 4) 1 John 4:8, 16
  • Premise 10) Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Timothy 2:5a
  • Premise 13) 2 Corinthians 13:14

Well, that is my argument for the Christian Trinity and I hope it helps you wherever you are in relation to God. If you would like to hear my newer argument for the Christian Trinity, click here. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels
  2. Disclaimer

An Argument For Apologetics: Part II

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/21/2019

Since this is apart of a blog-post series, let me briefly remind you of what I have already gone over in Part I of my argument for apologetics. In the first post in this series, I defined faith, described apologetics, and went over my first point on why we need apologetics in Christianity. That point being that it is pre-evangelism. The way I argued this was with a knight allegory, but I will instead use an expression used at the film school I attend to make the point clearer.

When it comes to film, it really boils down to 2 things: knowing your audience and knowing your story. Relating this back to the topic at hand, apologetics is about knowing your story, while evangelism is about knowing your audience. Let me quickly explain what I mean by that.

Apologetics is all about understanding on a logical and technical level who you’re, what you believe, and how to appropriately answer any objections to Christianity. Evangelism is all about understanding on a moral and spiritual level who someone is, what is holding them back from the cross, and how to appropriately guide them to the cross. Both are equally relevant and dependent on each other in outreaches to the world. Whether that’s a missions trip, feeding the homeless, street witnessing, etc. As my Dad once said, “Apologetics is pre-evangelism and if it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.”

2) Apologetics Saved the Church From Heresy

In A.D. 325, there was the Council of Nicaea and this meeting brought church leaders from the East and the West together to discuss a series of current Christian topics at hand. These topics included, but were not limited to the calendar date of Easter, defining the Trinity, and the nature of Jesus Christ. The latter being the most prominent topic of the meeting because it was debated by two opposing forces within the church at the time.

One side of this debate was Arius the priest who thought that Jesus was not eternal, but created. He was literally punched in the face for this heretical claim during the proceedings by Bishop Nicholas. The other side of the debate was led by Deacon Athanasius and Bishop Alexander who argued the biblical stance of Jesus being eternal like God the Father. The whole council, which consisted of hundreds of bishops and other prominent Christian leaders, watched as one of the most important debates in Christianity took place over one of the most central truths of Christianity: Jesus is God.

It was a debate that had so much riding on it: the future of Christianity, the foundation of the church, and so much more. The emperor of Rome, Constantine, resided over the proceedings looking to end the division in the church, which he thought would end political division within the Roman Empire, only added to the tension. It was the debate of the century. After much back and forth, a vote was taken and the vast majority agreed with Bishop Alexander and Deacon Athanasius that Jesus is God. Arius was eventually expelled as a heretic from the church, along with Arianism altogether.

Why do I bring this up? Because it is instances like this where large opposition has risen against the church, usually from within the church, and without the use of apologetics, would have destroyed the church. Another time where this has happened was the Protestant Reformation. This was when Martin Luther boldly left the Catholic church, which had seriously deviated from correct biblical truth, to bring them back from their heretical claims. Such as the Pope’s word was equal in measure to God’s Word (the Bible) in authority.

So the greatest Christian church split in history happened. It was a time when apologetics was absolutely necessary to defend the Christian faith from those who had twisted it. Other instances when apologetics saved the skin of the church from either destruction from the outside or manipulation from the inside were the following: the rise and fall of Gnosticism, the Enlightenment when the church was under attack from the intellectuals of the time, or even today with the rise of Prosperity Theology, otherwise known as the Faith Movement.

Every generation of the church body has had its heresies, cults, false religions, and worldly belief systems to deal with that help the body of Christ stay alert. This “always be ready” mentality of confronting heresies head-on with apologetics to protect the flock of God from falling away is essential to continual growth in Christ. Some notable apologists who defended the Christian worldview are Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (The Cosmological/Contingency Argument, invented binary language), Rene Descartes (The Origin of the Idea of God Argument, invented the cartesian coordinate system), and Blaise Pascal (Pascal’s Wager, invented the first working mechanical calculator).

These men were also the fathers of modern philosophy and science, who still impact the culture with their use of apologetics centuries later. As was once said in a lecture at Rice University by Professor John Lennox, “Far from being a hindrance to science, belief in God was the motor that drove it.” In short, without apologetics Christianity would not be where it is today because of those bold enough in the faith to protect others from the deceit of the Devil, the world, and even our own corrupt selves.

3) Apologetics Builds Up the Church

If you do not know why you believe what you believe, why believe? This is the motivating question behind my apologetics passion and why I care so much for it. I strongly believe in the fact that every believer needs to not only know what they believe, but to know why they believe it in the first place. Christianity is not led by blind faith, but is led by bold faith. But this faith is not bold because of blind passion like followers of other worldviews.

Rather, it is because we know what we believe to be true, which causes the believer to understand certain things like the fear of God, the compassion of Christ, and that there are billions of people living today who are not ready for the return of Christ. It’s an abundance of emotions to know God, while at the same time know how few know God. It’s sad and joyous all at the same time. It’s the motor that drives the believer to distant lands all across the globe or to local rough parts of town in our cities. We are driven by the burden of the broken to mend them with the good news of the Gospel.

But with this burden for the broken comes questions from the broken that wish to be built back up, yet are afraid of being broken again. How can the broken be reassured that what you have and offer from God is any different from say Islam, Buddhism, or any other belief system with the same exact claims? Claims of fulfilling meaning, purpose, and value? This is when apologetics is to be appropriately used in defending the Christian worldview by differentiating it from other worldviews. This in turn builds up the believer at the same time as reassuring their broken spirit.

Apologetics not only defends against outward opposition and intense inquiry, but also from inward doubts and fears. One fear that used to cloud my mind early in my faith was ‘How do I really know that God exists? Is what I am experiencing really a supernatural experience that I can personally interact with God or just my feelings overcoming my emptiness for relevance in life?’

Eventually, I came to the same conclusions that the late C.S. Lewis came to in his lifetime. That for every desire, there exists a satisfaction for these desires of ultimate meaning, purpose, and value. This is better known as The Desire Argument famously made by Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity.

There was also the fact that the universe screams for a necessary, intelligent, mindful, personal, first-cause that could conceive of the universe itself. This was my starting point as to why I believed in the existence of God and has helped me when going through times of doubt or times of spiritual struggle. Knowing God is always there is something that I always find comfort in and helps me cope with the harder times in life as I bet it does for other believers as well.

You see, apologetics builds up the church by reinforcing the spiritual connection the believer has with Jesus with logical and relevant facts to support such an ambitious relationship. I mean, how many people really understand the uniqueness of interacting with God on a day-to-day basis worldwide? Not many because it sounds too strange at first to accept, but in reality is far from it.

That dynamic with God really starts when we admit we are wrong and He is right. It’s so simple it boggles the minds of the greatest skeptics around the world! Lunacy to some to even consider they could be wrong or better yet, indebted to God.

The more you learn in the realm of apologetics, the more you appreciate and understand your relationship with God. Things like how the persons of the Trinity interact, essential doctrines that define the specifics of certain aspects to Christianity, and the list goes on. It’s encouraging to know that I know what I believe in and then to have even more joy when sharing that faith with others because I fully grasp what I am sharing. It’s logical substance fueled by fiery passion equaling a great servant of God. Apologetics is meant to build the body of Christ up, not tear it down.

Just as a mother tells their child to put on their coat to protect themselves from the weather, so too you ought to put on the shield of apologetic faith to protect yourself from the horrors of spiritual warfare. In so doing, the church in general is built up knowing that whatever comes opposing truth can be deflected with that same truth.

Basically, every Christian should know a little apologetics because God commands us to in 1 Peter 3:13-16, in order to further the Gospel. In that passage, the Apostle Peter writes that we should give a defense for the hope that is in us. So above all else, the believer needs to know apologetics and use apologetics because God commands us too in His Word, in order to further the expansion of the kingdom.

To end, here are some great resources in no particular order that you can use to sharpen your apologetics utility belt in furthering the message of the Gospel, as well as strengthen your own faith:

  1. On Guard by William Lane Craig
  2. Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli
  3. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  4. Know What You Believe by Paul E. Little
  5. Christian Apologetics by Norman L. Geisler
  6. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul
  7. Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias

Of all of these resources, I recommend Paul E. Little’s book, Know What You Believe, the most because it covers everything the Christian absolutely needs to know in detail without the extra baggage. It’s short and covers everything the Christian absolutely needs to know about their faith. Highly recommended resource and it’s one book I turn to often to sharpen my faith. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://wikipedia.com
  2. Disclaimer

An Argument For Apologetics: Part I

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/21/2019

In recent years, there has been a rise in the claim that apologetics is no longer necessary in Christianity. Well, I disagree with that notion and here’s why: apologetics is a quintessential aspect to the life of every Christian. It is the shield, so to speak, that the believer stands behind and gives a defense of the faith from, with, and through. There is a reason that when Paul the Apostle mentions the armor of God (2), he refers to the shield, as a shield of faith. And that is exactly what apologetics is in the tool belt of the believer: a shield. As Professor John Lennox of Oxford University said in a dialogue with Richard Dawkins, “My faith is a faith of evidence.”

In another lecture he quipped that “Faith is a response to evidence, not a rejoicing in the absence of evidence.” Put succinctly, the Christian faith is on the higher ground right from the get go compared to every other belief system in world history. Apologetics is merely quintessential to the Christian faith because it a) reveals this higher ground and b) shows you how to defend this higher ground from all who look to capture the flag of victorious truth that rests on Calvary hill. Like the author of the book of Hebrews put it, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (3).”

The word apologetics is derived from the combination of the word ‘apologetic’ meaning to give “a formal defense” in Middle French and the suffix ‘ics’ for “nouns that denote a body of facts, knowledge, principles, etc.” (4). But to be more specific, apologetics is the “the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith” (5). With all of this in mind, here are 3 reasons why apologetics is necessary for every Christian.

1) Apologetics Is Pre-Evangelism

Have you ever seen a medieval knight charge into battle against an opposing force? Put more bluntly, if an opposing knight is charging towards you with their sword preparing to strike you down, how would you counter their attack? With your sword or with your shield? The obvious answer should be to deflect the sword with the shield and then proceed with your own sword to strike back.

This analogy is the relationship of apologetics and evangelism in a nutshell: apologetics is the shield and evangelism is the sword of Christianity. But the problem with those who misuse apologetics is twofold: they either use the sword (evangelism) first or they just use the shield (apologetics) without using the sword (evangelism). Let me explain the problem with both of these tactics.

Let’s start with the first tactic: using the sword first. Now at first glance, going out to preach the gospel seems simple enough. I mean who really needs apologetics, right? Plenty can get done with just a sword! Well, let’s set the spiritual battleground with a simple story. 

You’re on a train going to the big game tonight. There are hundreds of people on the train wearing their team’s jersey and excitingly talking about the game. Now you being a believer, overhear a heated conversation between a New Atheist and a devout Hindu who just so happen to be in the same section as you on the train. 

The two are discussing the idea of God and whether or not belief in God, or as the Hindu would argue, many gods makes logical sense. In fact, there are about 330 million gods according to the devout Hindu. So you being an active believer, burdened with the work of the ministry, jump politely into the conversation in order to win them to the faith (6).

At first everything seems fine. You’ve prayed beforehand, you’re well versed in the Scriptures, and you’re humbly listening before engaging in the conversation. Hearing what the discussion is about before you present your worldview. Then it happens: your turn to speak. So you being a cheerful giver, give them the gospel, but there’s one problem. Neither see the need for the gospel. Now what do you do? 

Well, you stumble a little over your words and begin to reiterate how much God loves them and has this wonderful plan for their life! How much Jesus loves them! Neither seem the least bit interested, laugh at your little love speech about a Middle Eastern man, and continue with their conversation without you.

Now what? You then in a fury, spew Bible verse after Bible verse of how Jesus is God! Yes, this must work! Nothing. Absolute zero attention is paid to your poetic spewing. So you, in utter defeat, walk away embarrassed and mad. What happened? Let me explain.

You see, using the knight analogy, you kept using your sword when you should have been using your shield. As a matter of fact, you were using your sword as both the shield and the sword, causing you to be spiritually exhausted because you had only offense as an option. No time to counter correctly or to pause on an important point like the existence of God, which was the original conversation the two were having in the first place. Remember, the New Atheist doesn’t believe in God and the devout Hindu believes in many gods, so without addressing that topic you have no firm footing in this fight.

Now let’s try a different option, using only the shield. So the same scenario, but you are an apologetics nut. You know every argument, every counter-argument, and every rebuttal. So you boldly go into the discussion without any fear because you know how to defend the faith. And after a little back and forth you finally convince both the New Atheist and the devout Hindu that there is only one God. But now you come across your first hurdle. Why does that matter? 

Sure, they now believe in a single God, but where do you go from here? What was the point of proving that there was a God in the first place? So then the conversation quickly dies off and goes back to simple things like the big game tonight. What did you do? How did this happen? You knew everything! Or so you thought. Let’s go back to the knight analogy.

You’re going to war, but you decide to only take your shield and leave your sword behind. Do you see the problem? By only taking the shield, you can only survive the war intact, instead of ending the war intact. You can only deflect opposition without ending opposition. Eventually you’ll be too tired from blocking the opposing knight’s attacks that they will kill you by simply fighting until you are exhausted. Or in the case of the train story, you’ll eventually just go back to simpler things because you knew no way out. 

How sad is this? That you can disarm your opponent, but cannot finish them? Yet that is the reality of those who only use apologetics in outreaches or ministry. They deflect the accusations of the mind, without getting to the heart of the issue. And the other tactic of just using the sword to cut to the heart of the issue without addressing the logical issues of the mind is also unuseful. Both are foolish ways to enter the spiritual battleground because a true knight of God is well equipped with a shield and a sword.

Now let’s see what happens when you bring both your shield and sword to the battle. Again, same scenario, but this time you’re prepared in all aspects that matter: spiritually, mentally, etc. First you use the shield, deflecting every fiery arrow with logical and truthful answers. It works and neither the New Atheist nor the devout Hindu has a shield anymore.

Now is the time to strike with the double edged sword. Their mind is ready, but the heart is not. This is the time to finish their seeds of doubt by driving the sword of spiritual truth through them. So you being a faithful steward, drive the point home with the sword of evangelism. The end result? Two new believers in Christ. Well, in this train story at least.

There will be times when people do not come to faith in Jesus. Not because you didn’t do your part in sharing the truth, but they didn’t do their part in accepting the truth. Your job as a believer is to share the truth with others, but how they react to the message is not up to you. That’s up to them and God from that point on. How exactly did this work? Because the tools at your disposal were used properly for what they were designed to do: reach the lost by sharing what has been found in Christ.

Although I use very blunt analogies with knights to describe the relationship between apologetics and evangelism, that does not mean that you should be mean or rude towards whoever you’re reaching out too. Far from it! I am speaking in spiritual terms when I speak of the war terminology and this shouldn’t actually spill over into actual witnessing. Just something to keep in mind to help with witnessing. Understanding that you’re in a spiritual war, not a physical or verbal war with the lost that you’re reaching.

Remember, these are tools that the believer should use together when at an outreach, but they do not always have to use them together. There will be times where simple evangelism will bring someone to the cross or vice versa with apologetics. The reason I argue that they should be used together is because most of the time people have a spiritual wall that is blocking them from a relationship with Jesus. So the walls need to come down before the real evangelism can work. 

But the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, so don’t take this as factual, but more as suggested when outreaching to the world. Then again this approach can be seen used by Jesus (7), Paul the Apostle (8), Stephen (9), Peter (10), and so on. Usually this is a combination of apologetics and evangelism, not a simple one-two punch when outreaching. More of a back and forth dynamic when talking to others with civility and respect.

But without love, none of this information matters. You’ll be nothing but sounding brass speaking to the lost, yet not reaching the lost (11). As Ravi Zacharias once said, “Love is the greatest apologetic. It is the essential component in reaching the whole person in a fragmented world.” In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is quoted saying “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (12). “

You have to have a loving heart for the lost in order to be effective for the work of the ministry. It is the single greatest aspect in the life of the Christian. Just as Jesus did, you too have to have a heart for the harvest (13). So to put it sufficiently, apologetics is pre-evangelism and only works when done in love. Come back next time for Part 2 of this series, which delves into my second point: how apologetics saved the church from heresy. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://www.deviantart.com/pandarice/art/knights-mounted-fight-32834504
  2. Ephesians 6:16
  3. Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
  4. https://dictionary.reference.com
  5. https://carm.org/apologetics
  6. 1 Corinthians 9:19-27
  7. Luke 24:13-35
  8. Acts 17:1-15
  9. Acts 7:1-53
  10. Acts 2:14-42
  11. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
  12. Matthew 22:35-40 (NASB)
  13. Matthew 9:35-38
  14. Disclaimer