Tag Archives: Stand to Reason

The “Titus 1 test”

Greg Koukl made a great point on a Stand to Reason Podcast about how pastors must pass this as one of their tests: Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

All “Christian” Left pastors fail that test, because they don’t hold firm to the word and don’t consider it trustworthy.  So of course they can’t give instruction in sound doctrine or rebuke those who contradict it.  They are the ones who need rebuking for teaching false doctrines!

But many pastors with sound doctrine fail to rebuke false teachers.  They tell themselves they are being nice, but they are just being nice to themselves and the wolves and are being mean to their sheep.

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Witnessing to the Witnesses (and others): Some useful tactics

A couple Jehovah’s Witnesses came by the other day and we visited for a while.  What would you think about my approach if you knew that I made the following points?

  • They are in the wrong religion
  • Their religion has characteristics of a cult
  • They are worshiping the wrong Jesus
  • Their New World Bible has some deliberate mistranslations
  • If you really love Jesus you’ll want to ensure you understand his nature properly
  • Hell is real

They must have thought I was a big meanie, right?  Just another one of those jerky know-it-all judgmental Christians.

Nope.  I made all those points quite clearly, yet the way I navigated the conversation resulted in the lead guy telling me in a sincere way at least three times what a nice guy I was (I give a lot of credit to Stand to Reason and Greg Koukl’s book Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions for this approach).

Now we all know I’m as friendly as a basket full of puppies (We do know that, right?!), but you usually wouldn’t expect that reaction after I just made all those points about their religion.  So what made the difference?  Things like this:

  • I focused on the Bible, because we both claim that is the word of God.
  • I stuck to a few key points: John 1:1* (which I knew they’d have a ready response to, even though I could counter it), John 1:3** (they weren’t ready for that), the JW rule about them not being allowed to take written materials from me, and that their New World Bible translation has easily identifiable errors.  I continually referred to the real Jesus — the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the creator in Genesis 1 and John 1, the one whose descriptions are used synonymously with those of God in the Old Testament, etc.
  • I told them I appreciated how they cared enough to go out and share what they think is true.
  • I used common foes (Mormonism, Islam) as examples before addressing the JW theological errors.
  • I noted that it doesn’t bother me that they think I’m wrong and that I think they are wrong, so we can have a friendly discussion on where we differ.
  • I realized I had said “JWs” instead of their religion’s full name then sincerely apologized if they found that shortcut offensive.  They didn’t, noting that they use it themselves, but my desire to avoid unnecessary offense seemed to resonate with them.
  • I listened carefully when they made their points.
  • We had some friendly chit-chat interspersed with the theological discussions (one guy was from Italy, so we talked a little about that).
  • It was a hot day (August in Texas!) so I gave them each a bottle of cold water as they left.
  • I gave them one of my “business” cards that has my church information, email address and blog site.  I know they are unlikely to visit, but I smiled and encouraged them to come spy on what the Protestants are up to.

Where these guys end up theologically is between them and God, but I was pleased with the interaction.  It always glorifies God when you speak the truth about him, regardless of how people respond.  And it definitely planted some seeds.  The lead guy was going to take the John 1:3 objections back to one of their experts to try and respond to me.  And my comments on the textual criticism issue seemed stick with them (i.e., that with the thousands of manuscripts we’ve found around the world from different centuries we know that the New World translation has errors).

I admit that I find using these tactics much easier in person than on-line.  But they do work.  I encourage you to try them if you haven’t already.  You can’t control their reactions, but you can speak the truth in love.

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*Their Bible ends John 1:1 with “a God” instead of “God.”  (The right version: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.)

**They haven’t mistranslated John 1:3 (All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.), so you can show the logic of how Jesus can’t be a created being.  This can be used with Mormons as well.

Jesus, the only way, in 2 Timothy 2

As I pointed out the other day in A simple way to out theologically Liberal Christians for the tares and wolves that they are, it is a plain and repeated teaching in the Bible that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  The world hates that message, as do theologically Liberal/Progressive people who call themselves Christians.  They rarely have any idea how repeated and clear that teaching is.

Stand to Reason offers a great booklet listing 100 passages teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  Just flip open the New Testament and start reading.  You’ll find that little makes sense outside that truth.  If you claim to be a Christian this a view you must hold.

But when I read the Bible I often come across more and more passages that affirm that truth that aren’t in the list of 100.  I was listening to 2 Timothy 2 the other day and noticed all these truths, none of which make sense if other religions are equally valid paths to God. Here are the verses (in italics) along with my reasoning.

2 Timothy 2 (ESV)

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – it isn’t in someone else.

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. – He is the leader.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel – Paul’s Gospel is all Jesus, all the time.

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. – Salvation is in Jesus.

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. – Multiple notations there – by implication, if we die without him we will live without him. You deny him, He denies you.

15 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. – This doesn’t apply to the theme of this, but I love that verse! It should be one of the first verses people learn.  We won’t be perfect, but we should do our best to read the Bible properly.  There are right and wrong ways to do it, and it is shameful to do it improperly.

19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” – Some are his, and some are not. Believers name the name of the Lord.

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. – You are his servant or you are not his servant. Those who don’t follow him are opponents.

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. – They are with him or they are in the snare of the devil, captured by him to do his will.

Keep in mind that none of that chapter was in the Stand to Reason booklet.  There are well over 100 passages teaching this vital truth.  Christians should never deny it.  The early Christians called themselves the Way for a reason.  It isn’t bad news that there is “only” one way, it is Good News that there is a way at all!  Do not sit in judgment of God and demand an additional way out of your problem of sin.  Just fall on your knees and accept his grace.

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!

Accurate answers to any “Why did God __________?” questions

I’m paraphrasing here, but Greg Koukl made some good points on an old Podcast of Stand To Reason that I thought were useful in answering common questions from both Christians and non-Christians.  The question from the show was, “Why didn’t God just kill Adam and Eve after they disobeyed God?”  When we get questions like that the following answers are usually accurate, even if they aren’t completely satisfying to the questioner.

  1. I don’t know.
  2. Because He wanted to.
  3. For his glory.

Sometimes the answers are in the Bible, but not always.  But that shouldn’t rock your world.  It can be interesting to speculate on the answers based on what we do know about God. In this case, Koukl noted that by letting humans live and ultimately coming to earth as a substitutionary atonement for our sins that God was able to demonstrate more of his attributes.  It would have been completely legitimate for him to kill Adam and Eve for their rebellion, but He chose not to.

It is often more productive to focus on what we do know than on what we don’t know.  The end of Job is in the Bible for a reason.  Ask all the questions you like, but don’t pretend that God didn’t reveal everything to us that we need to know.

And don’t get spooked if there are tough questions you can’t answer, whether the questions are your own, from other believers or from skeptics.  In an even greater sense than how a toddler can’t understand why his parent does something, we don’t know near enough to explain why God is or isn’t doing something in every situation.

About that guy on the island . . .

Or in the jungle. Or in the Muslim country. Or wherever. You know, the hypothetical guy that people worry about when wondering whether God is fair if everyone doesn’t get an adequate revelation about Jesus.

For many it is an honest desire that the Gospel go to all people. For others it is a rationalization for the false teaching of universalism, where everyone goes to Heaven regardless of whether they know of or trust in Jesus. For others it is an excuse to rebel against Christianity.

I have good news: The real God is sovereign. No one seeks him on his own, but if God makes him spiritually alive then he will not only seek God but he will find him. As Acts 17 notes, God knows exactly where everyone is. No one will face God and be able to offer excuses.

Acts 17:26-27 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

So if you are concerned with the hypothetical character noted above, you have a lot of options in which to channel your energy:

1. Pray for them  (Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”)

2. Go see them yourself and share the Good News.

3. Donate to organizations like International Cooperating Ministries that build churches around the world.  $10,000 will build a church for a congregation of ~100 people that has committed to start 5 more neighboring churches.

4. Donate to organizations like Faith Comes By Hearing that get the word of God out to people in over 600 languages via audio Bibles (Praise report: A mission team just took the first batch of Kimeru language Proclaimer audio Bibles to Kenya.  Many people will be hearing the word of God for the first time!)

5. Support Stand To Reason or other excellent Christian apologetic organizations that help equip people to defend the Christian faith in a winsome and effective way.

6. Trust in God’s sovereignty.

But whatever you do, if you claim the name of Christ then don’t act as if He isn’t perfectly just.

Life still begins at fertilization

This is a great example of “sibling rivalry”* in action.  Just because some people question whether the unborn are living human beings doesn’t mean they have any facts on their side.  Pro-lifers have all the embryology textbooks to support their view, not to mention concessions from leading pro-abortion people (see this link for a lot of examples of both).

Dream all you like about finding life elsewhere in the universe, but don’t be anti-science and ignore the logical and scientific fact of human life in the womb.

“Sibling rivalry” is a phrase used by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason to describe the situation where people hold opposing ideas at the same time.

Sometimes objections come in pairs that are logically inconsistent and therefore oppose each other. I call this “sibling rivalry” because they are like children fighting.