Always Being Prepared

Acts 18:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.

If someone or a church evangelizes their community, one must be prepared to reason with any culture, and numerous religions, such as the Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism, as well as atheists and agnostics, among others. This can seem overwhelming, but it is not as complicated as it sounds. There are many good Christian books out, which will give you the basics of the major religions in just one book, a chapter on each, and demonstrate how to reason with them.[1]

Reasoning with someone means that we use Scripture, questions and illustrates logically, which causes the listener to think, and get the message in their mind and then in their heart. If someone uses a direct, rigid and unbending approach, one will close off the listener’s mind and heart. Meanwhile, a reasoning manner uses logical thinking to get results or draw conclusions, which inspires discussions. The evangelist’s desire must be for the conversation to weigh on the mind and heart of the listener, moving them to contemplate the discussion, so they are anxious to engage the evangelist in future discussions.

While it is true that the truth will set one free, it must be received in such a way to do just that. Think of a conversation in terms of two people tossing a ball back and forth. If one tosses the ball so that it is catchable, the odds are better that it will be caught and received well. If one throws a ball like you are trying to take the other person’s head off, it will not be received well, and few will catch it. Some people’s beliefs remain dear to them, and to have them bluntly disclosed may not be received well.

James 3:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, without hypocrisy.

James says that “the wisdom from above is … reasonable (open to reason), ESV.” The Greek word here eupeithes “open to reason” means “easily persuaded,” “compliant,” or “congenial.” Some translations render it “obedient,” (LEB) “gentle” (HCSB, NASB). On this verse, the Baker New Testament Commentary says, “Another attribute of wisdom is consideration. The person who is ‘considerate’ is fair, reasonable, and gentle in all his deliberations. He quietly gathers all the facts before he gives his opinion. He refrains from placing himself first and always considers others better than himself (Phil. 2:3; 4:5).”[2]

Acts 17:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them [the Jews] from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST

The Apostle Paul studied under the renowned Pharisee Gamaliel, who was the grandson of Hillel the Elder (110 B.C.E.[3] – 10 C.E.), the founder of one of the two schools within Judaism. Paul describes himself as “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Phil. 3:5-6) He also states, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8) Thus, we note that Paul “reasoned from the Scriptures” when he talked to the Jews in the Jewish Synagogue. His listeners accepted the Hebrew Scriptures as an authority. Therefore, he began his witness with what they knew and accepted.

However, at Acts 17:22-31, we find Paul witnessing to the Greeks at the Areopagus in Athens; he did not turn to the Scriptures as his source of reasoning. “As in Lystra, so in Athens, it would have been futile, to begin with the God of the Old Testament choosing a certain people, sending prophets, and promising a Messiah. That was a message for synagogues or Jews gathering by a river. Paul began with the doctrine of God and launched his message with a local object lesson, the altar to agnosto theo. [unknown god][4] In “Establishing rapport with his Athenian audience, Paul quotes verbatim from two Greek poets. Both writers extol the virtues of the god Zeus … By quoting these poets, Paul is not intimating that he agrees with the pagan setting in which the citations flourished. Rather, he uses the words to fit his Christian teaching. From the Old Testament, he is able to draw the evidence that man derives his life, activity, and being from God (Job 12:10; Dan. 5:23).”[5] Paul used information familiar to his audience. Then, he took that information and made a case for the Creator, the only true God. On this, Bible scholar John B. Polhill writes,

As so often in the speeches of Acts, Paul began his discourse with a point of contact with his audience. In this case it was the altars Paul had already observed in the city (v. 16). One in particular caught his attention. It was dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” This gave him the perfect launching pad for his presentation of monotheism to the polytheistic and pantheistic Athenians. Piety had no doubt led the Athenians to erect such an altar for fear they might offend some deity of whom they were unaware and had failed to give the proper worship. Paul would now proclaim a God who was unknown to them. In fact, this God, totally unknown to them, was the only true divinity that exists.[6]

In the 1950s and 1960s, almost everyone that someone would talk to on the street possessed some knowledge of the Bible. If one said Old or New Testament, they understood. If an evangelist spoke of the apostles, the person knew what that meant. However, today billions have almost no knowledge of the Bible other than the name “Bible,” and it is still regarded as a holy book. People who do not recognize the Bible, nor have any knowledge of the Bible, have some commonalities with Christians: they want to hope for something better. They see violence, pain and suffering, sickness, old age, and death every day, the same as any Christian. They too want a better life for themselves and their children. Thus, the ability to reason requires finding common ground such as this. Then, open the Scriptures by explaining how we got here, and how there is hope for something better in Jesus Christ. This reasoning might offer them hope that they have not had, or hope that is more real and legitimate than any they have now.

Even those who have a vast knowledge of the Bible, but who are atheists, agnostics or other critics of the Bible, have as their mission in life to evangelizing their message, “God is dead!” In the last 50-60-years, atheists have made many disciples for themselves. There are millions of Christians and those from other religions which have become atheists because they have succumbed to the misleading propaganda of the books, videos, movies, websites, television shows, and other tools of the atheistic machine. We certainly must reason from the Scriptures, but with these enemies of the faith, there must be more.

God is rational, and he has created us as rational beings. The Bible urges us to give the reason for the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15, NIV). Indeed, Jesus declared that the greatest commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all … your mind” (Matt. 22:37). The Apostle Paul added, “whatever is true, … think on …° (Phil. 4:8). Thinking is not an option for a Christian; it is an imperative.[7]

Ephesians 6:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh[8] but powerful to God for destroying strongholds.[9] We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

In Christian spiritual warfare, the mind can help us wield “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” However, a blank mind will do us no good. If we have not taken in the knowledge of God, there is nothing to recall that can be used in the battle for the Bible that lies ahead. Do we want to free those brothers and sisters by the tens of millions, who have been taken captive by the world? One could have the absolute best sword ever made, but if he or she does not have the skills to use it, the sword is worthless to use. My prayer is that all Christians will awaken from their stupor and join the fight that some have taken up these last few decades. May they make use of the mind that God gave them, to use their power of reason, to equip themselves to defend the faith?

Believers live in a time when certain critics of Christianity have abandoned all delicacy and decorum in debate. Rather than sticking to rational, carefully reasoned arguments, they have taken off the gloves to launch angry, sarcastic, and sloppily argued attacks. They lob their rhetorical grenades in hopes of creating the (incorrect) impression that belief in God is for intellectual lightweights who believe ridiculous, incoherent doctrines and who also are opposed to all scientific endeavor and discovery. These objectors are writing books—indeed, best sellers—that tend to be more bluster and emotion than substance. New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens characterize this tone of debate. On another front, textual critic Bart Ehrman misleadingly raises doubts about the New Testament text’s reliability, while novelist Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Jesus Seminar co-founder John Dominic Crossan mislead many into thinking that various Gnostic Gospels give us more reliable information about the historical Jesus than do the canonical Gospels. From various angles the public is being told that we cannot trust what the New Testament, and the Gospels in particular, say about Jesus of Nazareth.[10]

It is no longer a matter of preaching on Sunday and hoping that some new faces show up. It is as though most Christians hide in their fort, the Church, watching as lives are taken one by one, hoping that the enemy will go away or that they can hold out until the return of Christ. The enemy takes one life after the other, and few are lifting themselves to join the fight. There is a need for a knowledge of the deeper things of God’s Word, need to reason with the enemy and his victims, so that they can see that our message is more important, why it involves them as well, and just how they are going to be affected personally. If Christians prove effective in this, we must have the ability to reason with the enemy, defeating him on the battlefield, not hiding in the church waiting for dawn. One of the leading apologists of the 20th and 21st centuries, Dr. William Lane Craig, wrote the following:

This is a war we cannot afford to lose. The great Princeton theologian J. Gresham Machen warned on the eve of the fundamentalist controversy that if the church loses the intellectual battle in one generation, then evangelism would become immeasurably more difficult in the next:

False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.[11]

The root of the obstacle is to be found in the university, and it is there that it must be attacked. Unfortunately, Machen’s warning went unheeded, and biblical Christianity retreated into the intellectual closets of Fundamentalism, from which it has only recently begun to re-emerge. The war is not yet lost, and it is one which we must not lose: souls of men and women hang in the balance. So what are evangelicals doing to win this war? [12]

Biblical and Christian Apologetics

When “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” caused trouble in the congregation in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote that under such circumstances, we are to tear down their arguments and take every thought captive. (2 Cor. 10:4, 5; 11:13–15) All who present critical arguments against God’s Word, or contrary to it, can have their arguments overturned by the Christian who is able and ready to defend that Word in mildness. (2 Tim. 2:24–26)

1 Peter 3:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being prepared to make a defense[13] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect;

Peter says that we must be prepared to make a defense. The Greek word behind the English “defense” is apologia (apologia), which is actually a legal term that refers to the defense of a defendant in court. Our English apologetics is just what Peter spoke of, having the ability to give a reason to any who may challenge us, or to answer those who are not challenging us but who have honest questions that deserve to be answered.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

24 For a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be kind to all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to accurate knowledge[14] of the truth,

Look at the Greek word (epignosis) behind the English “knowledge” from above. “It is more intensive than gnosis, knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner.”[15] The requirement of all of the Lord’s servants is that they be able to teach, but not in a quarrelsome way, but in a way to correct opponents with mildness. Why? The purpose of it all is that by God, yet through the Christian teacher, one may come to repentance and begin taking in an accurate knowledge of the truth.

Some Christians see apologetics as pre-evangelism; it is not the gospel, but it prepares the soil for the gospel.[16] Others make no such distinction, seeing apologetics, theology, philosophy, and evangelism as deeply entwined facets of the gospel.[17] Whatever its relation to the gospel, apologetics is an extremely important enterprise that can profoundly impact unbelievers and be used as the tool that clears the way to faith in Jesus Christ. (Bold mine.)

Many Christians did not come to believe as a result of investigating the Bible’s authority, the evidence for the resurrection, or as a response to the philosophical arguments for God’s existence. They responded to the proclamation of the gospel. Although these people have reasons for their belief, they are deeply personal reasons that often do not make sense to unbelievers. They know the truth but are not necessarily equipped to share or articulate the truth in a way that is understandable to those who have questions about their faith. It is quite possible to believe something is true without having a proper understanding of it or the ability to articulate it. (Bold mine.)

Christians who believe but do not know why are often insecure and comfortable only around other Christians. Defensiveness can quickly surface when challenges arise on issues of faith, morality, and truth because of a lack of information regarding the rational grounds for Christianity. At its worst, this can lead to either a fortress mentality or a belligerent faith, precisely the opposite of the Great Commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28:19–20. The Christian’s charge is not to withdraw from the world and lead an insular life. Rather, we must be engaged in the culture, to be salt and light.

The solution to this problem requires believers to become informed in doctrine, the history of their faith, philosophy, logic, and other disciplines as they relate to Christianity. Believers must know the facts, arguments and theology and understand how to employ them in a way that will effectively engage the culture. Believers need Christian apologetics. One of the first tasks of Christian apologetics provides information. A number of widely held assumptions about Christianity can be easily challenged with a little information. This is even true for persons who are generally well-educated.[18]

CONVERSATION EVANGELISM

The ability to reason with others will take time, practice and patience. For example, if someone reasons with others successfully, that person must be reasonable. In a discussion about the historicity about Jesus, a believer knows the other person denying the existence of Jesus is wrong. Moreover, believers possess a truckload of evidence to support this position. However, it is best sometimes to not unload the truck by dumping the entire load at a listener’s feet in one conversation, or in one breath. Being reasonable does not mean that a believer compromises the truth because he or she does not unload on the listener.

The other person will likely make many wrong statements in the conversation, and we should let most of them go unchallenged; rather, focus on a handful of the most crucial pieces of evidence and do not get lost by refuting every wrong statement. He may make bold condemnatory statements about many Christian beliefs, but we need to remain calm and not make a big deal of those statements. Listen carefully to the other person, and stay within the boundaries of the evidence in the conversation. For example, in a conversation on the historicity of Jesus when the listener states, “The New Testament manuscripts were completely corrupted in the copying process for a millennium, to the point that we do not even have the supposed Word of God.” The evidence for the historicity of Jesus rests in the first and second century, so it would be a fool’s errand to get into an extensive side subject about the restoration of the New Testament text, which took place over the centuries that followed the first two centuries C.E. There will be another day to talk about the history of the Greek New Testament, but today focus on the historicity of Jesus Christ.

God has given humanity free will, meaning each human has the right to choose, even if that choice is unwise. Believers have the assignment of proclaiming “the good news of the kingdom,” as well as “making disciples” of redeemable humankind. Therefore, we must not pressure, coerce, or force people to accept the truth of that “Good News.” However, all Christians have an obligation to reason with anyone by respectfully, gently, and mildly overturning their false reasoning, in the attempt that being used by God we may save some.

Joshua 24:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.”

Effective Questions

   Luke 10:25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

25 And behold, a lawyer[19] stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

A historical note here, “an expert in the law,” or “lawyer” as some translations have it, is not a lawyer as we would think of one today. A lawyer was someone that was an expert in the Mosaic Law. However, this person would have the same level of education on the law as a lawyer would today, many years of study and memorization. Thus, this man would certainly know the answer to such an easy question as the one he asked. Now, if a believer is asked an easy Bible question, we might be tempted to just offer an answer. Certainly, as the wisest man ever to live, Jesus could have easily answered the question. Instead, Jesus wanted the man to offer his own thoughts, insights or understanding. However, Jesus knew this man was “an expert in the law,” and he recognized the man would have had a certain perspective on his question. In other words, the man was not asked because he did not know. Thus, Jesus asked:

Luke 10:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 And he said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

The man answered correctly,

Luke 10:27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The conversation could have ended there. Again, the man knew the Mosaic Law but seemingly wanted to see if Jesus would agree with what he knew. Jesus gratified him, letting him feel good, by giving the correct answer. Jesus responded:

Luke 10:28-29 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Here again, the man looks to prove himself righteous, and Jesus could have simply stated the truth, even the Samaritan. However, Jesus having insight into the setting, the Jews detested the Samaritans; so, while he would give the correct answer it would be disputed in a long, back-and-forth conversation, and the Jews who listened would have sided with the man. Thus Jesus boxed the man into giving an answer by having him reason on an illustration.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:30-37 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and laid blows upon and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by coincidence a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And on the next day, he took out two denarii[20] and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

This man had to admit the elite in the Jewish religion, the priest, and the Levite, had not been neighborly, but the Samaritan proved to be a good neighbor. Jesus moved him to reason out a new way of viewing exactly what “neighbor” meant. Instead of letting the man walk him into a long debate, Jesus made the man do all of the reasoning in the conversation and moved him to admit something no Jew would ever utter,[21] as well as grasp a whole new understanding of what it meant to be a neighbor. Jesus took this approach because the circumstances called for it. However, on another occasion, a scribe, another expert in the law, asked him the same question and on that occasion, he chose to give the direct answer. (Mark 12:28-31) Circumstances vary.

What lessons can we take in from the example that Luke provided us? (1) Jesus used Scriptures initially to answer the man’s question. (2) Jesus proved perceptive enough to take notice of the man’s agenda. (3) Jesus did not simply answer the easy Bible question, but shifted the responsibility to a question of his own, by asking the man how he understood the law, giving him a chance to express himself. (4) Jesus complimented the man for a discerning with the correct answer. (5) Jesus made sure the man, and the listeners made the connection between the initial question and the Scriptures. (6) Jesus used an illustration that was able to reach the heart and mind, where the answer was kept to the forefront. (7) Jesus moved the man to reason beyond his basic understanding of a neighbor.  We need to revisit our theme text Acts 17:2-3.

Explaining and Proving

Acts 17:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them [the Jews] from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

We have already spoken about the fact that Paul reasoned from the Scriptures. However, he did more, as one can see from the above, that he explained, proved, and made an application. Many times you may read a Scripture to someone, and while it seems straightforward enough to you, but the listener fails to see the point. You may do as we mentioned previously, highlighting a word or phrase or a part of the text, and then explaining the verse. We are doing that with Acts 17:2-3, as we highlight explaining and proving. You could also offer to walk them through the context like we also did previously with Acts 17:2-3, when we backed up to verse 1, to show that Paul reasoned from the Scriptures because he talked with Jews in the Synagogue, people, who would be familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. Another option is offering them additional texts that support the one the evangelist used. If the listener does not grasp the text and the explanation, add an illustration like Jesus did over forty times. Then again, asking the right questions might get the listener to reason on things further.

YOUR GUIDE FOR DEFENDING THE BIBLE_Third Edition

The person who makes a claim has the burden of proving it by offering sound arguments. As stated previously, one must give evidence that reasonably satisfies any statements that made. Never be troubled over a listener asking for proof, as they have every right to do so. By thorough arguments, rational reasoning, and serious appeal, you can overturn any faulty reasoning of the one who is listening.

When the person an evangelist talks to makes a claim, he is then responsible for proving it. He may begin with a wrong proposition that forms the basis of his argument or from which a conclusion is drawn. Maybe, the sources he is using are biased, which can be pointed out to him. Additionally, you might point out that part of his argument is superficial. Moreover, many times, if you know the issue well enough, one may notice the listener offering evidence, yet failing to mention any facts that support his argument. Then again, one might point out that his evidence is not really evidence at all, but simply appeals to emotion, as opposed to reasons.

For Christians, the Bible is primary evidence, while other sources are secondary. However, as already stated, the majority of people no longer hold the Bible as an authority. Therefore, the evangelist must be versatile by being able to use both in conjunction with each other, or depend on the secondary evidence, until the listener begins to see the value and reasonableness of Scripture. For example, one may use the universe as evidence of a Creator.

The universe reveals God’s existence. It is evident that the things which constituted the universe could not have made themselves (see Cosmological Argument). There must be “a first cause eternally existing, of a nature totally different to any material existence we know of, and by the power of which all things exist; and this first cause, man calls God” (ibid. 26; cf. 28). Paine also argued from motion. Since the universe consists of matter that cannot move itself, the origin of the rotation of the planets is impossible unless there exists an external first cause which set them in motion. This First Cause must be God (Aldridge, 6:17). He also argued from design (see Teleological Argument). Since the “work of man’s hands is a proof of the existence of man,” and since a watch is “positive evidence of the existence of a watch-maker,” then “in like manner the creation is evidence to our reason and our senses of the existence of a Creator” (Complete Works, 310).[22]

If an evangelist witnesses to someone who sees the Bible as the word of man, not the word of God, how should one respond? Seeing what Bible scholars such as Dr. Norman L. Geisler or Dr. Gleason L. Archer have to say may be helpful. However, the evidence is not the fact that they are saying it is the Word of God, but rather what they provide as evidence. Support from someone that agrees with you, especially the like of the above scholars is evidence, but it is low-level evidence. One could use science by starting with what Scripture says first, and then use science to confirm or give support.

Regardless of whatever one attempts to prove, the level of evidence required will be dependent on the person to whom you are talking. The average person may not need more than Scriptural proof, with some outside sources. Some may require a tremendous amount of evidence. A few people will not be convinced as no amount of evidence is going to persuade them to change their mind. Their heart and mind are closed to the light of truth. They are mentally blind. The evidence that will satisfy this person may not be enough to satisfy another. Therefore, one must pay attention to the listener to meet their needs sufficiently.

One must appreciate that the evangelist seeks redeemable ones, one’s who hearts and minds are open to truth or can be opened to the truth. Believers do not seek people with closed minds and hearts. Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matt 7:6) One will recognize these after some experience in witnessing. One sign is they present a claim that that the Bible is the word of man, not God, and is full of errors and contradictions. Ask for one, and they provide one that they feel is the nail in the coffin of the Bible. The evangelist offers them a reasonable answer, which they cannot dispute, so they act as though they never raised that issue and go on to another. The evangelist then gives them a reasonable answer to that one, which they cannot dispute. Instead of showing appreciation that they have received answers to these supposed issues, they act as though they never asked and move on to the next. Therefore, the pattern will continue, as they do not seek answers, as they have a closed mind and heart.

How can any Christian obtain or develop more fully the skill to reason from the Scriptures? Several things are important: (1) One must have an accurate understanding of what the Scriptures say and mean. One must prepare for Christian meetings that one regularly attends. Regular personal Bible study, every day is necessary. (2) One must have a complete picture of the history of the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. This can be accomplished by studying through a book like the Holman Bible Handbook by David S. Dockery (Nov 2, 1992). (3) One must have an understanding of Bible difficulties, which run from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. This can be accomplished by studying through The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe (Jun 1, 2008). (4) One must have an accurate understanding of Bible backgrounds of Bible times. One can accomplish this by studying through Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners And Customs How The People Of The Bible Really Lived by Vos, Howard (May 15, 1999). (5) One definitely must understand how to interpret the Bible correctly. This can be accomplished by studying through Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy B. Zuck (Jan 1991). (6) One must meditate and ponder the things he or she learns, mentally exploring the information from various perspectives, and appreciate the significance of them. (7) While one studies the Bible, look for not only clarifications of Scriptures but also Scriptural whys and wherefores for those clarifications. (8) As one studies, consider how to use the verses, to explain biblical truths to different groups of people. (9) Contemplate and ponder what kind of illustrations might be used to make biblical points.

Review Questions

  • Who must we be prepared to reason with? What does reasoning mean? How is a conversation like tossing a ball? What did James mean by “open to reason?” Explain how Paul reasoned differently, depending on his audience. How did Paul use information differently, depending on his audience? How do we find commonalities with people who have no knowledge of the Bible or those who do not recognize its authority?
  • Why is the Christian mind so important in spiritual warfare? Why are Bible critics getting away with offering misleading and false information? If Christians are to be effective in evangelism work, what ability do they need? Where are most Christians hiding today? What ideas are the greatest obstacle to one receiving the gospel?
  • What is biblical and Christian apologetics? What does the Greek word (epignosis) mean? Christians who come into the faith outside of apologetics usually are unable to do what? Christians who believe but do not know why are often what? The solution to this problem is for believers to do what? When reasoning with others, why should we not unload all of the evidence?
  • How did Jesus use questions effectively? What lessons can one take in from the example that Luke provides in 28:25-37? Based on Paul in Acts 17, what more is needed than reasoning from the Scriptures? Who is responsible for providing the evidence? If the Bible critic makes a claim, what weaknesses may the evangelist look for being used? If one witnesses to someone who sees the Bible as the word of man, not the word of God, how should one respond? Why will someone have to provide different levels of evidence? How can any Christian obtain or fully develop the skill to reason from the Scriptures?

[1] http://astore.amazon.com/bibletranslat-20/detail/0736920846

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Exposition of James and the Epistles of John, vol. 14, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 122.

[3] B.C.E. years ran down toward zero, although the Romans had no zero, and C.E. years ran up from zero. (100, 10, 3, 2, 1 ◄B.C.E. |  C.E.►  1, 2, 3, 10, and 100)

[4] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 289.

[5] Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles, vol. 17, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 636-7.

[6] John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 371.

[7] Ronald M. Brooks; Norman L. Geisler. Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Kindle Locations 12-14). Kindle Edition.

[8] That is merely human

[9] That is tearing down false arguments

[10] Craig, William Lane; Copan, Paul (2009-08-01). Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors (Kindle Locations 47-56). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[11] J. Gresham Machen, “Christianity and Culture,” Princeton Theological Review 11 (1913): 7.

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[12] Craig, William Lane; Copan, Paul (2007-10-01). Passionate Conviction: Modern Discourses on Christian Apologetics (pp. 8-9). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[13] Or argument; or explanation

[14] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[15]. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, Electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993), S. G1922.

[16] Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 11.

[17] Greg Bahnsen, Van Til Apologetic (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1998), 43.

[18] Powell, Doug (2006-07-01). Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics (Holman Quicksource Guides) (p. 6-7). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[19] That is an expert in the Mosaic Law

[20] The denarius was equivalent to a day’s wages for a laborer

[21] Notice the hatred ran so deep between Jews and Samaritans that when asked by Jesus, who was the neighbor I the illustration, he did not say, the Samaritan, but rather, “the one who …”

[22] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 573.