Spiritual discussion

Jesus prophesied that “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the inhabited earth[1] as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Jesus Christ commanded that his followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and look, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20) The resurrected Jesus prophesied, “‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the extremity of the earth.’” (Ac 1:8) Christianity has been involved in the evangelism work for many centuries. However, it has stumbled in its approach. First, some denominations say that evangelism and apologetics is a calling, so a very select few take up the work. However, it is not a calling, as Jesus instructed all his followers to make disciples. Second, missionaries are sent to faraway lands at a great expense. This has been someone effect and can still be a part of the program. However, it is best to train an entire congregation to be apologetic evangelists, to then take the good news and biblical truth into the community, persuading, convincing, as they reason and explain from the Scriptures, to make disciples. When the congregation grows to 500 disciples, it should split, and half open another congregation in the same area. This way we grow disciples out from the community into the rest of the entire inhabited earth, as opposed to going out to the far reaches of the world and growing the disciples back to our community.

APOLOGETICSWhen you have had enough Bible conversations with different types of unbelievers (atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and so on), you will eventually anticipate challenges that will require using the art of persuasion. For example, suppose your next discussion with an atheist, he or she says, ‘I do not believe in the Bible, it is full of errors, mistakes, and contradicts itself.’ How would you reply? You might reply, ‘could you give me an example?’ When you are given the example, if you know the answer, respond briefly, trying to not overwhelm, especially if the circumstance does not allow for a lengthy response. If you do not have a ready answer, ask that they allow you time to research it and get back with them. Today, there are many ways to make contact again, like email, phone, Facebook messenger, and so on. You might find that some rational, logical, reasonable answers might persuade the atheist to be more objective as he or she listens to you in the future.

Listen carefully. When you listen carefully, this will allow you the opportunity to determine what it is the unbeliever accept as true. For example, you might spend ten minutes talking about a certain aspect of the Bible trustworthiness that the unbeliever knows about and accepts as true. Thus, you will have wasted an opportunity to reason and explain the aspect that he or she is struggling to accept as true. Therefore, listen carefully before speaking. Do not make assumptions about what the unbeliever accepts as true. – Proverbs 18:13.

Ask questions. These questions are to lead and guide the person you are witnessing to, so as to discover what they actually believe and what is the reason behind their belief. You might ask, ‘Have you always not believed in the Bible, feeling as though it is full of errors, mistakes, and contradicts itself?’ ‘Have you ever made a thorough study of a book on Bible difficulties from a Christian apologist author?’ You might say show that you are objective in your studies by saying, ‘I do not wish, however, to set aside all concerns as though they have no merit. There are many who raise legitimate questions that seem, on the surface anyway, to be about well-founded contradictions. Sadly, these issues have caused many to lose their faith in God’s Word, the Bible.’ You should always be frank and honest, never overstating your case. If you do not have an answer, you should admit such. If the text in question gives the appearance of difficulty, you should admit this as well. Again, if you are unsure as to how we should answer, you can simply say that you will look into it and get back to them, returning with a reasonable answer.

Use sound reasoning. When we are pursuing the supposed error, mistake, or contradiction in question, be unwavering in purpose, or resolved to find an answer. In some cases, it may take hours of digging to find the solution. Consider this: as we resolve these difficulties, we are also building our faith that God’s Word is inerrant. Moreover, we will want to do preventative maintenance in our personal study. As we are doing our Bible reading, take note of these surface discrepancies and resolve them as we work our way through the Bible. We need to make this part of our prayers as well. I recommend the following program. Below are several books that deal with difficult passages. As we daily read and study our Bible from Genesis to Revelation, do not attempt it in one year; make it a four-year program. Use a good exegetical commentary like The Holman Old/New Testament Commentary (HOTC/HNTC) or The New American Commentary set, and the forthcoming THE OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE DIFFICULTY COMMENTARY: The Trustworthiness of the Hebrew Scriptures by Edward D. Andrews,[2] as well as THE NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE DIFFICULTY COMMENTARY: The Trustworthiness of the Greek Scriptures by Edward D. Andrews.[3]

You should be aware that men under inspiration penned the originally written books. In fact, we do not have those originals, what textual scholars call autographs, but we do have thousands of copies. The copyists, however, were not inspired; therefore, as one might expect, throughout the first 1,400 years of copying, thousands of errors were transmitted into the texts that were being copied by imperfect hands that were not under inspiration when copying. Yet, the next 450 years saw a restoration of the text by textual scholars from around the world. Therefore, while many of our best literal translations today may not be inspired, they are a mirror-like reflection of the autographs by way of textual criticism.[4] Therefore, the fallacy could be with the copyist error that has simply not been weeded out. In addition, you must keep in mind that God’s Word is without error, but our interpretation and understanding of that Word is not.

You might ask, ‘would you agree that, at times, you may have two different writers who are writing from two different points of view?’ Also, you might point out that, at times, it may simply be a case of needing to slow down and carefully read the account, considering exactly what is being said. The unbeliever needs to understand the level that the Bible intends to be exact in what is written. If Jim told a friend that 650 graduated with him from high school in 1984, it is not challenged, because it is all too clear that he is using rounded numbers and is not meaning to be exactly precise. This is how God’s Word operates as well. Sometimes it means to be exact, at other times, it is simply rounding numbers, in other cases, the intention of the writer is a general reference, to give readers of that time and succeeding generations some perspective. Did Samuel, the author of judges, intend to pen a book on the chronology of Judges, or was his focus on the falling away, oppression, and the rescue by a judge, repeatedly. Now, it would seem that Jeremiah, the author of 1 Kings was more interested in giving his readers an exact number of years.

Considering that there are 31,173 verses in the Bible, encompassing 66 books written by about 40 writers, ranging from shepherds to kings, an army general, fishermen, tax collector, a physician and on and on, and being penned over a 1,600-year period, one does find a few hundred Bible difficulties (about one percent). However, 99 percent of those are explainable. Yet no one wants to be so arrogant to say that he can explain them all. It has nothing to do with the inadequacy of God’s Word but is based on human understanding. In many cases, science or archaeology and the field of custom and culture of ancient peoples has helped explain difficulties in hundreds of passages. Therefore, there may be less than one percent left to be answered, yet our knowledge of God’s Word continues to grow.

Guilty until proven innocent: This is exactly the perception that the critic has of God’s Word. The legal principle of being “innocent until proven guilty” afforded mankind in courts of justice is withheld from the very Word of God. What is ironic here is that this policy has contributed to these Bible critics looking foolish over and over again when something comes to light that vindicates the portion of Scripture they are challenging. In addition, the Bible is a diverse book when it comes to literary styles: narrative, poetic, prophetic, and apocalyptic; also containing parables, metaphors, similes, hyperbole, and other figures of speech. Too often, these alleged errors are the result of a reader taking a figure of speech as literal, or reading a parable as though it is a narrative.

When there are two accounts of the same incident, you need to reflect on the police officers who take accident reports for their police department, as you would find that there is cohesion in the accounts, but each person has merely witnessed aspects that have stood out to them. You will see that this is the case as well with the gospels. Inspiration by God is infallible, without error. Imperfect man and his interpretations over the centuries, as bad as many of them have been, should not cast a shadow over God’s inspired Word. The entire Word of God has one meaning and one meaning only for every penned word, which is what God willed to be conveyed by the human writer he chose to use.

Many alleged inconsistencies disappear by simply looking at the context. Taking words out of context can distort their meaning. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines context as “the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning.”[5] Context can also be “the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place.” If we were to look in a thesaurus for a synonym, we would find “background” for this second meaning. At 2 Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul brings home the point of why context is so important: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Dealing with emotions. Strongly entrenched beliefs often involve an emotional component.  Consider the case of Jennifer, a fervent atheist. A Christian apologist presented her with clear that the Bible is the inspired, fully inerrant, authoritative Word of God. Jennifer understood what she heard. Nevertheless, she kindly but firmly stated: ‘I don’t believe in the Bible, it is full of errors, mistakes, and contradictions.’ She went on to say, ‘Men wrote the Bible, and they were not under inspiration.’ She added, ‘Everyone has his own interpretation of the Bible, which just adds to its ineffectiveness.’

You will have similar experiences. Many people view their beliefs as part of their identity, it is who they are. If you are going to persuade these ones, you will need more than logic or reason, attempting to undermine their beliefs, showing that they are erroneous. In this case, you will need to focus more on the heart as well as the mind. You will need to balance the art of persuasion with compassion. (Rom. 12:15; Col. 3:12) You as a Christian apologist should also have strong convictions about what you know to be true. For example, the apostle Paul used such phrases as “I am convinced” and “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” (Rom. 8:38; 14:14) Nevertheless, in communicating your convictions, you should never take on a dogmatic, self-righteous tone, nor should you ever be sarcastic, belittling, or demeaning in sharing Bible truths. You definitely do not want to offend or even insult the unbeliever that may very well have a change of heart in the future. (Prov. 12:18) Sometimes, life experiences cause some to rethink their belief system.

You will reach far more hearts if you respect the unbelievers right to their beliefs. Humility is the key to winning hearts and minds to Christ. As a Christian Apologetic evangelist, your lowliness of mind does not feel that you are superior to the unbeliever. (Lu 18:9-14; Phil. 2:3-4) Our wisdom from God and the persuasive mind that he has given as a ministry tool includes humility. You, in effect, say to yourself, ‘God has lovingly and mercifully helped me to see the truth of his Word. Now, let me buy out the time and patiently share it with others.’ Maybe you grew up a Christian; therefore, it is difficult for you to appreciate a time when you did not believe. In this case, you must reach within yourself and find empathy for the unbeliever. Consider things from his or her perspective. Considered the state of affairs of Christianity. There are 41,000 different denominations that are at odds with each other biblically and socially. In addition, consider the history of Christianity and how many millions of people have been tortured or slaughtered in the name of the Lord. Consider these things and others, so as to walk in the unbeliever’s shoes so to speak.

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

for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh[6] but powerful to God for destroying strongholds.[7] 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,

Today, a small segment of Christianity, true conservative Christianity is using the Word of God to overturn strongly entrenched false doctrines of liberal and moderate Christianity as well as the worldviews of the unbelievers, as well as deeply embedded social practices and traits that displease him. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) In doing this, these true Christians have lovingly been patient with false Christianity, the unbeliever and other false religions, like Islam. The Christian apologist are very blessed to have his Word, the Bible, and to use this powerful tool to uproot false teachings, mistaken worldviews, and reach hearts of millions with the art of persuasion!

[1] Or in the whole world

[2] http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/7455404

[3] http://www.christianpublishers.org/apps/webstore/products/show/7455406

[4] Textual criticism is the study of copies of any written work of which the autograph (original) is unknown, with the purpose of ascertaining the original text. THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: The Science and Art of Textual Criticism by Don Wilkins and Edward D. Andrews

[5] Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2003).

[6] That is merely human

[7] That is tearing down false arguments

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Stalker’s Life of St. Paul became one of the most widely read and respected biographies of the Apostle to the Gentiles. As an insightful compendium on the life of Paul, this work is of particular interest to pastors and teachers who desire to add realism and vividness to their account of …

INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical HermeneuticsINTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics

Delving into the basics of biblical interpretation, Edward D. Andrews has provided a complete hands-on guide to understanding what the author meant by the words that he used from the conservative grammatical-historical perspective. He teaches how to study the Bible on a deep, scholarly …

HOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE: An Introduction to HermeneuticsHOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE: An Introduction to Hermeneutics

…Linguistic and literary factors are analyzed so that the various genres of Scripture are examined for their true meaning. The importance of having sound principles of interpretation cannot be overstated as to ignore them will result in all manner of erroneous assumptions. Beville presents …

THE CHURCH COMMUNITY IN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE: Evangelism and Engagement with Postmodern PeopleTHE CHURCH COMMUNITY IN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE: Evangelism and Engagement with Postmodern People

Once upon a time, Postmodernism was a buzz word. It pronounced Modernism dead or at least in the throes of death. It was a wave that swept over Christendom, promising to wash away sterile, dogmatic and outmoded forms of church. But whatever happened to postmodernism? It was regarded …

DEVELOPING HEALTHY CHURCHES: A Case-Study in RevelationDEVELOPING HEALTHY CHURCHES: A Case-Study in Revelation

church. It offers an appointment with the Great Physician that no Christian can afford to ignore. Developing Healthy ChurchesA Case-Study in Revelationbegins with a well-researched outline of the origins and development of the church health movement. With that background in mind the …

DYING TO KILL: A Christian Perspective on Euthanasia and Assisted SuicideDYING TO KILL: A Christian Perspective on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

…liberties in a multi-cultural society that is becoming increasingly secular. This work provides an ethical framework in which euthanasia and assisted suicide can be evaluated. These issues are on the radar indicating a collision course with Christian values. It is time for Christians to be …

JOURNEY WITH JESUS THROUGH THE MESSAGE OF MARK: Experience the Ministry of Jesus in a Spiritually Captivating WayJOURNEY WITH JESUS THROUGH THE MESSAGE OF MARK

Journey with Jesus through the Message of Mark is an insightful and engaging survey of Mark‘s Gospel, exploring each major section of the text along with key themes. It is a work that can be enjoyed by laypersons as well as pastors and teachers. Pastors will find the abundant use …

ANGELS & DEMONS: The Bible AnswersANGELS & DEMONS The Bible Answers

What are angels & demons? Can angels help us? What does the Bible say about angels? What is the truth about angels? Can Angels affect your life? Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2? Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:2? Who is Michael the archangel? Can Satan the Devil control …

Bible Doctrines

WHERE ARE THE DEAD? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithWHERE ARE THE DEAD? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

What is the Bible’s viewpoint? Without delving into an endless stream of what man has said, Andrews looks at what the Bible says about death and the like. Why do we grow old and die? What happens at death? Is there life after death, or is this all there is? Do we have an immortal soul? …

IDENTIFYING THE ANTICHRIST: The Man of Lawlessness and the Mark of the Beast RevealedIDENTIFYING THE ANTICHRIST: The Man of Lawlessness and the Mark of the Beast Revealed

Herein Andrews will give the reader exactly what the Bible offers on exposing who the Antichrist and the Man of Lawlessness are. If we look at the texts that refer to the antichrist and the man of lawlessness, we will have lines of evidence that will enable us to identify them. Why is it …

UNDERSTANDING THE CREATION ACCOUNT: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithUNDERSTANDING THE CREATION ACCOUNT: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Throughout the Scriptures, God is identified as the Creator. He is the One “who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it.” [Isa 45:18] He is the One “who forms mountains and creates the wind” (Am 4:13) and is the One “who made the heaven and …

The SECOND COMING of CHRIST: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithThe SECOND COMING of CHRIST: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who …

WHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithWHAT IS HELL? Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in …

Miracles? - Do They Still Happen Today?: God Miraculously Saving People’s Lives, Apparitions, Speaking In Tongues, Faith HealingMIRACLES – DO THEY STILL HAPPEN TODAY? God Miraculously Saving People’s Lives, Apparitions, Speaking In Tongues, Faith Healing 

Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place. There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that are often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve …

HOMOSEXUALITY - The BIBLE and the CHRISTIAN: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian FaithHOMOSEXUALITY – The BIBLE and the CHRISTIAN: Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the …

Christian Fiction

THE DIARY OF JUDAS ISCARIOT: How to Keep Jesus at Arm's LengthTHE DIARY OF JUDAS ISCARIOT: How to Keep Jesus at Arm’s Length

…desert but none of such significance as a handful of scrolls retrieved from a buried Roman satchel (presumed stolen) at this site. The discovery has since come to be known as ‘The Diary of Judas Iscariot.’ In The Diary of JudasIscariot Owen Batstone relates the observations and feelings …

THE RAPTURE: God’s Unwelcomed WrathTHE RAPTURE: God’s Unwelcomed Wrath

Kevin Trill struggles with the notion that he may have missed the Rapture. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a solid gold pocket watch, he sets off towards Garbor, a safe haven for those who haven’t yet taken the mark of thebeast. While on his way to Garbor, he meets up …

SEEKERS AND DECEIVERS: Which One are You? It Is Time to Join the Fight!

There grew an element in the valley that did not want to be ruled by the Light of the Word. Over time, they convinced the people to reject it. As they started to reject this Light, the valley grew dim and the fog rolled in. The people craved the darkness rather than the Light because they were evil. They did not want to  …

The Shadow Flames of Uluru: Book ONE in the CHAOS DOWN UNDER 

When an ancestor saddles them with the responsibility to purge Australia of a demon threatening to wipe our humanity with black flames, fraternal siblings Amber and Michael Hauksby lay their lives on the line. As the world crumbles around them into chaos, and ancient marsupials wreak havoc in their hometown, they must journey into …

WRITE PLACE, RIGHT TIME: The Pre-Apocalyptic Misadventure of a Freelance Journalist 

“Write Place, Right Time” follows the pre-apocalyptic misadventures of freelance journalist Don Lamplighter. While on what he expects to be a routine Monday night trip to a village board meeting, Lamplighter’s good nature compels him to help a stranded vehicle. Little does he know that by saving one of the car’s occupants, he sets forth a chain of what to him seem to be unrelated events where he must use his physical and social skills to save himself and others from precarious situations.