Tag Archives: Resurrection of Jesus

Your job description as a Christian

Well, at least part of your job description.  As I like to remind Christians, some, but not all, are called to be evangelists.

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers . . .

So you may or may not be an evangelist.  But all are called to be ambassadors . . .

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

. . . and all are called to be defenders of the faith (“apologists”).

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

So if you claim the name of Christ you may or may not be an evangelist, but you are definitely an apologist and an ambassador.  The only question is whether you are doing a good job.  You will be very glad when God uses your efforts to be able to share his truths with someone who is seeking them.

As the Wintery Knight asks, Can you dispense with apologetics and just preach the gospel when evangelizing?  I think they are intertwined, especially in our culture.  If you don’t subscribe to his blog you should start.

See the Apologetics links to the right for some great resources.  If I could only recommend one site it would be Stand to Reason.  Scour the site, listen to the Podcast and read Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions and you’ll be in great shape.  CARM.org is, great, too.

Also see these PowerPoint slides that I have used for a class at church called Defending Your Faith.  You are welcome to use or adapt them.  Now get to work!

Roundup

As if there weren’t enough reasons to dislike Michigan: University of Michigan Kicks Christian Club off Campus. So . . . I’m sure the Muslim groups will let a bunch of Jewish people join, elect themselves to leadership and then adopt all sorts of pro-Israel messaging. And the gay groups will let Christians come in, take over and issue proclamations noting their opposition to “same-sex marriage” and their support for God’s view of sexuality.

One of the nice things about the near-exclusive targeting of Christians by the PC-police and others is their tacit admission that we have the one true faith. They don’t get offended by false religions, because deep down they know they aren’t the enemy. But they oppose Jesus all day, every day.

Some good news: Planned Parenthood Closes Tulsa, Oklahoma Clinic After De-Funding

ABC Ignores Tim Scott’s [Republican] Senate Appointment in Dec., By Jan. Hails Mo Cowan’s [Democrat] as ‘History’ — a reminder that media bias and the racism industry work in many ways.

To recap, the first African American wasn’t news worthy enough to mention, but the second African American is history making.

Feminist politicians and media go nuts over Sen. Bob Menendez’ use of underage prostitutes. Oh, wait, they are doing nothing. He’s a Democrat.

Mother’s world falls apart after Planned Parenthood hides humanity of her child – These cases are so sad, and they happen constantly at the nation’s largest abortion provider – and with your tax dollars! Oddly, it turns out that people who kill babies for a living aren’t bothered by telling lies.

“I never saw my ultrasound,” she says. “I was told nothing was visible, and I was told that it wouldn’t matter—you couldn’t see a heartbeat, you couldn’t see anything. . . . I wouldn’t know what I was looking at.”

Armed guard stops school shooting in Atlanta – This was posted on February 1. Did the MSM ever cover it in depth? Did they talk about it for weeks and rejoice over the many saved lives? Of course not, because it doesn’t fit in with their gun-grabbing agenda. The pro-abortion Left does not care about kids.

Why GOP Doesn’t Contest Massive Democrat Voter Fraud – this is sad. Some poor-thinking Republicans set us up for this 30 years ago. This needs to change, because the Democrats are getting more and more bold with their voter fraud.

Sandy Hook Not The Worst School Massacre – and there is no reason to think the killer wouldn’t have murdered people even if he couldn’t access guns.

William Lane Craig debates James Crossley on the resurrection of JesusThe resurrection is central to the Christian faith. Without it, we admit we’re wrong (1 Cor. 15). With it, Jesus is the only way to salvation and forgiveness of your countless sins against God. Everyone should be familiar with the arguments for the resurrection.

Baker Investigated For Refusing To Make Cake For Same Sex Couple – There have been many cases like this. They don’t happen accidentally. The baker wasn’t refusing to service lesbians, he was refused to make a cake celebrating a lesbian “wedding.” Why are we letting 2% of the people run our country?

A great Christmas gift idea!

Resurrection iWitnessNot for me (but thanks anyway!).  As the French Knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would say, I’ve already got one.

What is it, you ask?  A copy of Resurrection iWitness by Doug Powell.  As noted on Amazon:

This book gives evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ by using the easy-to-understand Minimal Facts argument. That means it relies only on the historical facts that almost all biblical scholars (including atheistic, Jewish, and liberal) accept and shows how only the biblical story of the resurrection can account for all these agreed-upon facts.

Across 32 intensively designed pages (16 spreads acting as individual chapters) — each containing information that is physically nested and must be actively opened to discover — the reader investigates the story of Christ and weighs the evidence to determine its historical accuracy.

While a 700+ page book by N.T. Wright will obviously go into more depth, the odds of getting someone to actually read about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus go up dramatically with this book.  At only 32 pages it is an easy read, and the artwork and interactive nature will be compelling for people.

The “minimal facts” argument is probably my favorite to use with believers and non-believers alike.  It is very compelling and easy to explain, and it quickly explodes all sorts of myths, such as how Christians are to have a “blind faith” without evidence.

It starts by quoting 1 Corinthians 15 and notes that if an enemy wants to find the weak point of Christianity we hand it to him.  Paul couldn’t be more clear: If the physical resurrection of Jesus didn’t happen, then Christianity is false, we are making the real God mad and we are to be pitied above all men.

It goes on to note key facts that even those hostile to the faith willingly concede, and then explains how alternate theories all fail in light of those facts.  Our faith is grounded in reason and evidence and we can be confident that the resurrection really happened.

Remember, Christmas is the time of year where people expect us to talk about Jesus.  Even the non-believers will listen to and hear songs about him.  Wouldn’t a book that elegantly and accurately explains why we should believe that He really lived, died and rose again make a great gift?

So buy one or a bunch (only $12.46 for a coffee table quality book) and give them away.  It will be your easiest evangelism of the year.  Be sure to have it lying around your house as a conversation starter.  Give one to your kids. This is the kind of message that our youth desperately need when they go off to college.  It really disarms critics when we politely point out why we have solid reasons for trusting in Jesus as our Savior.

P.S. Now that’s weird — the link this page didn’t show up on Facebook on my computer and on my iPhone it gave a message saying that the link was “reported as abusive by Facebook users.” Huh??!!  The worst part is that they never contacted me or explained why, and I have no idea how to figure it out. It will be interesting to see if that happens again.  This is a recommendation for a book about Jesus — as a Christmas gift! It’s one of the least offensive things I’ve published all year!

A pleasant dialogue with an atheist

A recent visitor asked some common questions. I appreciated his tone and his willingness to concede one of my points from the The “Bronze Age Mythology” fallacy post. Here are his comments and my responses.

LoneWolfArcher, your belief that there is an all-powerful creator who cares about the little details of our lives and your disbelief that we might actually just be here, without being created or having a bigger purpose — THAT is egoism at its finest.

Isn’t the real question whether or not it is true? If my kids felt that my wife and I created them, cared deeply about the details of their lives, sacrificed for them, had their long-term best interests at heart, etc., would they be unjustified in claiming it?

And under atheism, where would be the rationale that egoism is wrong? Wouldn’t that be expected? And where would be the grounding to criticize any behavior as universally wrong?

The core of my atheistic beliefs, and the core of many others, is the lack of any evidence of a creator or god.

Have you studied the cosmological, teleological, moral, etc. arguments for his existence? If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog — http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/ or especially Stand to Reason at http://www.str.org or http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com

Atheists who act well are actually more moral than the religious, since the religious are acting out of doctrine or fear of hell.

I concede that many atheists behave relatively well on human terms. But they have no philosophical grounding for universal morality.

In their nothingness to molecules to life to man view, my conversion from atheism to trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is solely due to Darwinian evolution (or some such thing), so why would they criticize what their worldview created?

Also, in Christianity, we are not acting properly because we think it will gain us entrance into Heaven. No amount of good deeds can undo my countless sins against God. We act differently because God has changed us and out of gratitude for what Jesus did for us. We believe He is God in flesh and that we should see the world as He does and act accordingly.

Atheists acting well are doing it for exactly the right reasons — compassion, empathy, and knowing what is right with having it threatened into us with a big stick (hell etc.).

But on atheism you have no reason to say those are the “right” things.

Speaking of not having to answer for your actions: if you believe in a biblical god, you can be a ten time murderer and as long as you accept Jesus etc. you go to heaven. An atheist who murders no-one and acts charitably all their lives, but doesn’t accept Jesus or whatever nonsense it is, goes to hell. THAT is not having to account for your actions, or in fact, the very opposite. Your god is a sick joke and to dress it as morality is wrong wrong wrong.

Technically, you are right. Grace, by definition, isn’t fair. If you want fairness, you’ll get it. You will be punished in Hell for your sins. That is fair. If you want unfairness, then trust in Jesus and how He paid for your sins on the cross. Was that fair for him to pay the penalty I deserved? Not at all. But I’m eternally grateful for it.

If your god actually exists, then they’re welcome to actually show up and communicate with us. But if they exist and are doing an extremely good impression of not existing by hiding, then they might as well not exist at all at this point.

He did show up. We killed him.

He also reveals himself through the Bible. I highly encourage you to read it carefully, even if it is just so you can be more effective at criticizing us.

Something being right, or not wrong, in a book doesn’t make everything the book claims correct. Lots of stars, yes. Doesn’t prove that the bits about a god are true.

I agree. My claim wasn’t that one true statement makes everything in the book true. It was merely that this was a rather significant claim and one that, in my experience, is completely (and conveniently?) ignored by skeptics. Seems like in fairness they’d want to give some credit for it.

On the flip side, I assume you’d agree that even if a book contained errors that other parts could be true and would have to be evaluated as such. I believe in the inerrancy of the original writings of the Bible, but I don’t need to prove that to share the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection with people. We have plenty of evidence to point to.

The point of this post is spot-on — it’s a good point which I hadn’t paid much attention to in the past. “Bronze-age” does seem like a lazy slur. The fact that it is used doesn’t mean the people who are using it are wrong, either, but yes, it’s lazy.

Thanks, I appreciate that. I don’t like when either side uses cheap sound bites to dismiss the others.

If there was a god defining good and evil, it’s just as arbitrary as man defining it. If there is some notion of good that is higher than a god, then god isn’t defining it. So which is it?

I think you may be referring to something known as the Euthryphro Dilemma (I’m sure I misspelled that!). The answer is that God doesn’t “make” good and He also doesn’t sit under “good” in the sense that He is under authority to some standard. Good is simply part of his essence.

Plus, christians regularly “redefine what is good” themselves, in theory, by overriding god/Jesus in the bible, by (rightly!) ignoring the morally repugnant parts of the bible. So is god actually god or not?

I look at it differently. God is good, all the time. It is part of his essence. In our fallen nature we may misunderstand him, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t good.

There are plenty of morally repugnant things in the Bible, as an overarching theme is that we are fallen sinners in desperate need of a Savior. The Bible records many such acts. But God is perfectly holy and sovereign and just, so He can punish as He sees fit.

Defending Your Faith

I’m excited about a six-week class on Defending Your Faith that I’ll be teaching at church starting April 15.  The class will equip people with knowledge and tactics to strengthen their faith, disciple fellow Christians and reach non-Christians.

What if someone asked you, “Why do you believe in Jesus and how can I?”  Or if people said that the Bible was written by men so it must have mistakes?  Or that Christianity just borrowed its ideas from other religions?  Or that we don’t know what the original writings of the Bible really said?  Or one of the many other common objections to Christianity?  Do you have accurate and winsome responses for them?  This class will equip you with solid and easily understandable answers to common questions and objections about Christianity and the Bible.

As I like to remind Christians, some, but not all, are called to be evangelists . . .

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers . . .

. . . but all are called to be ambassadors . . .

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

. . . and all are called to be defenders of the faith (“apologists”).

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

So if you claim the name of Christ you may or may not be an evangelist, but you are definitely an apologist and an ambassador.  The only question is whether you are doing a good job.

With work and practice you will get better at it.  You don’t have to be a Wintery Knight, but you will be very glad when God uses your efforts to be able to share his truths with someone who is seeking them.

See the Apologetics links to the right for some great resources.  If I could only recommend one site it would be Stand to Reason.  Scour the site, listen to the Podcast and read Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions and you’ll be in great shape.

There is a list of some good books to get started at An apologetics Reading Plan for Beginners.  Here are some I’ve read or plan to read:

The ten books on the reading plan below are selected specifically for the beginner in apologetics. They are on the list because of their accessibility and their quality of content. The order is provided as a progressive reading plan for those just getting started. Working through this list should give the novice a good foundation before moving on to more advanced titles.

1. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

All of Lee Strobel’s books are required reading for two reasons. First, they are good introductions to the subject and provide a good overview of the material from some of the best scholars in their fields. Second, the writing style is very accessible, taking you alongside a journalist in his investigation of the evidence for Christianity. In this particular title, Strobel focuses on the life and identity of Jesus.

2. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

This book is just as readable as The Case for Christ, but this one delves into the evidence for the Creator. Another thing that makes this good reading for the beginner is this: whatever areas you find particularly interesting can be pursued further by reading the sources interviewed in the book.

3. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

In The Case for Faith, Strobel moves from making a positive case for Christ and a Creator to defending Christianity from some common criticisms and objections. This one deals with the hard faith questions such as the problem of pain and suffering and issues of doubt. Again, all three of the Lee Strobel books are a great starting point for the beginner.

**Interlude: Watch the The Lee Strobel Film Collection

At this point, now you can take a break from your reading and actually watch a series of three DVDs that are about an hour each. These excellent documentaries follow the same content as the books, along with interviews with experts and specialists. This is a great refresher for what you have read and also makes for a great small group resource and a DVD to lend to a friend.

6. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl

Information without application results in stagnation when it comes to apologetics. That’s why it’s time for a good dose of Tactics, which will train you not only to use apologetic content in everyday life, but it will also train you to be a better, more critical thinker. This is another “must read” book, and mastering its contents early in your apologetic studies will put feet to your faith.

7. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Mike Licona & Gary Habermas

The resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity. This book equips you to understand and defend the resurrection from an historical perspective. Not only does the book have useful diagrams, summaries, and an accessible style, but it also comes with a CD-ROM with interactive software for teaching you the material. This is an essential book for the apologist.

9. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Geisler & Turek

Geisler and Turek have authored a great apologetics book that also takes a step-by-step approach to showing that Christianity is true—and it’s filled with lots of information. This gives the growing beginner a ton of good content, while strengthening the framework of a cumulative case for Christianity. This book will help to grow your overall general apologetic knowledge as well.

Integrated apologetics

I’m a big fan of apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith), but I don’t think we should always treat it as a separate enterprise.  It is good to have whole sessions on apologetics, especially because it is so often ignored in churches, and I’m a huge fan of sites like Apologetics315 and people like the Wintery Knight.  But I prefer to integrate it into most of my lessons so people can grasp the basics and see that it is part of the fabric of our message.

We may not all have the job of evangelist, but as 1 Peter 3:15-16 notes, all Christians are to be apologists.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

But that doesn’t mean apologetics can’t be a regular part of our lessons and sermons.  For example, when teaching anything in church, or even in general conversations as appropriate, I aim to reflexively weave in basic apologetic themes.

  • The minimal facts: “Virtually all historians agree on key facts about Jesus and his followers, such as Jesus death on a Roman cross, his followers’ belief that He rose from the dead, and Paul’s conversion and his authorship of key books attributed to him such as Romans.  We have good reasons to infer that Jesus rising from the dead is the best explanation for these facts.”
  • Distinctions about biblical faith: We don’t have blind faith; we have a faith grounded in evidence.  See how the Gospel was shared in the book of Acts.  Over and over it was based on references to Jesus’ resurrection, not appeals to believe without evidence or reason.”
  • The robust transmission process of the texts: “Even atheist textual critics will concede that we know what the original writings of the Bible said to 99%+ accuracy, and 100% on major doctrines.”
  • Our simple claim: “The original writings of the Bible turned out exactly the way God and the writers wanted them to.  Yes, men can make mistakes, but they don’t always make mistakes.  Our biblical claim is that God directed the process.”  You can go on at length about the Bible being inerrant, infallible and inspired — and I agree with all of those — but I’ve found that the simple summation gets people to realize that if God can do anything He can surely communicate his original texts to us the way He wanted to.

Note how simple and brief those are.  They can lead to deeper conversations, but those alone can help change people from the errant “blind faith” mindset and get them to think more carefully about apologetics.

I do the same thing with the basic Gospel message.  No matter what I’m teaching, I try to note how we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works.  This needs to be a constant reminder.

I urge you to weave these simple apologetic and Gospel concepts into your lessons and conversations.  Even if it doesn’t lead the hearers to deeper apologetics studies, at least they will have clear reminders of the basics and will hopefully keep them from saying incorrect things.

What simple themes do you seek to work into lessons and conversations?

Evidence for the Resurrection PowerPoint slides

The physical resurrection of Jesus is foundational to Christianity:

1 Corinthians 15 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

All Christians should know this basic truth and strive to be able to defend it when asked.

1 Peter 3 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Mary Jo Sharp is a Christian apologist who created a good overview of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus that you can share with Sunday School classes and others.  See MJ’s Evidence for the Resurrection.  Go read them now.  I’ll wait here.  (Click the “Actions” menu at the bottom to download them.)

Bonus: Here’s an interview with an atheist who converted to Christianity based on the evidence for the resurrection.