God has really caused a motivation to start working on a project I’ve been mulling over for about a year…writing a short apologetics ebook.  The idea is to be a crash course for anyone interested in learning some of the basics of apologetics in one easy location.  I’m posting a small section about the different types of apologetics just to get some feedback on the writing style I’m using, and to ask for some prayers in my endeavor.

Types of Apologetics
There are 5 main types of apologetics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. No one method is more correct than another, but most people are drawn to a particular style based on the interests God has given them.

Classical Apologetics

Named because it is the oldest method, classical apologetics is usually the most philosophically weighty form of apologetics. Leaders in the early church, such as St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, developed the system of classical apologetics and it is used today by many apologists (William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, etc.)

  1. Prove the existence of God through rational argumentation (usually one of the big four1)

  2. Establish Christianity specifically by appealing to the nature of Jesus in light of God’s existence.

Historical Apologetics

Sometimes called evidential, historical apologetics seeks out historical evidences, both secular and non-secular, to demonstrate the truth of Christian claims. This method is much more research based than classical apologetics and is the method of choice for Justin Martyr and Dr. Gary Habermas.

Experiential/Existential

The least intensive method, experiential apologetics relies on the power of personal experiences and testimonies. Lives transformed by Christ are the chief tools used by these apologists, as well as accounts of miraculous experiences in people’s lives.

Presuppositional

This view rejects any of the big arguments and instead presupposes the truth of Trinitarian Christianity. The presuppositional apologist then shows Christianity superior to other worldviews. Arguments are frequently made about Christianity presenting the only logically consistent view of reality.

Cumulative Case

A common type, cumulative apologetics seeks to overlap and harmonize all other forms of apologetics. Uses classical starting arguments, seeks historical evidences, and may rely on personal testimonies. A good beginning point, Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell are noted for this form of apologetics.

1The “big four” are the Cosmological argument (specifically the Kalam variant), the Teleological argument, the Moral argument, and the Ontological argument.

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How to Please God

Posted: September 11, 2013 by Dillon in Lifestyle
Tags: , , , , , , ,

 

How often do we waste our time trying to earn God’s favor?  We might understand in our head that God’s love isn’t affected by our actions, but we still try to rationalize our works-based ideas.  Here’s a reality check: God loves us regardless of how much we screw up.  But that doesn’t mean we should go out and continue to make bad decisions. I’m always reminded of what Paul wrote.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we
too might walk in newness of life.”  (Romans 6:1-4)

We are walking in newness of life, having been baptized into Christ.  Maybe that’s never sunken in for you.  Your old self is dead and you may now walk in grace.  This naturally leads us to wanting to please God.  There’s no shortage of answers on how to “please God.”  Some will say God is pleased when you have strict obedience.  Some claim God is only happy when you are expressing your faith.  And some will go so far as to say God is only happy when you are successful (a dangerous claim in its own).

Guess what?  God doesn’t need us to be happy!  God existed in harmonious union, experiencing perfect fellowship, before creation.  While it’s true that we may cause God to grieve (Ephesians 4:30), God’s happiness is not dependent on us.  Instead of asking how you can please God, a more appropriate question would be “How can I glorify God?” All of creation ultimately exists for God’s glory.  And God is most glorified when we are satisfied in Him.  This can definitely be challenging, but remember “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  Ultimately our satisfaction in Him is a testimony to the world.

 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20

In perhaps the most daring act in all of history, 11 men (later joined by Paul) set out on a seemingly impossible task: share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.  As scary as we might view evangelism today, take a second and consider how terrifying of a situation the Apostles found themselves in.  The commissioned men were hunted and killed by Jewish leaders, ostracized from their homes, and living in a world ruled by Pagan Romans.  Yet the book of Acts details the incredible journey these men undertake with the power of the Holy Spirit.  How faithful did these men remain?

History shows us the effects of the Apostles’ faith.  There are 2 billion self-proclaiming Christians in the world–quite an accomplishment from starting with 11.  We can argue about the authenticity of the faith of these 2 billion all you want, but that’s not the point.  The point is that 12 men relied solely on God, and mind blowing things happened.  In one day 3,000 believers were added (Acts 2:41).  Three thousand.  There were no fancy sound systems, no complicated dissertations, and no guitars.  What was there?  Believers who allowed themselves to be used as tools of God, who allowed God to work His miracles through them.

Let’s not forget about the 2nd most important event in history, the conversion of Saul.  In addition to providing 13 books of scripture (an interesting number as the 12 disciples + Paul=13, but I digress), the conversion of Paul saw the most zealous and hate-induced opponent of the Gospel bow to Christ.  Paul’s missionary journeys sent the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire, effectively placing the Gospel in every major city along the Mediterranean.  The relationship between Paul and Timothy likewise set a mentor-student example still followed by Christians today.

Even as the most faithful men, none of the Apostles had a happy ending–at least not happy in a worldly sense.  I seriously doubt that any Apostles were surprised by this, given that Jesus says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first,” (John 15:18).  But that never stopped these believers.  Why should fear stop us?

We have the same power on our side as the Apostles, the power of God Himself.  If you let that power work, then there’s no limit to what God can accomplish through you.

10 Ways in Which You Can Waste Your Time Being a Christian

1. Allow yourself to be bitter against someone who has hurt you. Bitterness will destroy your spiritual life and take others down with you (Hebrews 12:15).

2. Use your time, your money, and your resources only for yourself and your needs. In other words, live life for yourself (and your immediate family) rather than for others.

3. Spend little to no time with the Lord in solitude – just you and Him alone. Fill your life with all sorts of other activities. Stay busy.

4. Neglect reading the Scriptures. They reveal Christ and contain God’s life (John 5:39; 6:63; 2 Timothy 3:16). They are food for your spirit. To neglect them is to starve your spirit.

5. Defame others or misrepresent them or their work (especially fellow believers). Don’t go to them directly if you have a concern or problem and ask them for clarity. (And if you do go to them, don’t listen to what they have to say.) Be not deceived: To speak ill about or misrepresent another follower of Jesus is to speak ill about or misrepresent Jesus Himself. And He doesn’t take it kindly (Matthew 25:40; Acts 9:1-4; Titus 3:2). Slander is a serious sin and it’s a transgression of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:12.

6. Rarely (or never) read books with spiritual depth or listen to Christ-centered messages by other servants of God. Forget the contribution of the body of Christ, past and present. Throw out spiritual education. Live under the delusion that all you need is the Holy Spirit and your Bible. (If you want to tune-up in this area, I recommend all the books in the “Spiritual Growth” shelf on this list.)

7. Have no fellowship or relationship with other believers. Live as a solo Christian. Use the excuse that you can’t find any other Christians who love Jesus like you do.

8. Let envy and jealousy take hold of your heart and drive your actions. (Envy and jealousy is often the root behind slander. Incidentally, countless Christians don’t know what slander looks like and fail to recognize it when it’s right in front of them. So be sure to read this article so you know how to recognize it. Engaging in or listening to slander proves toxic to your spiritual life.)

9. Never learn from your mistakes nor take responsibility for them. Blame others instead. And never apologize to the people you’ve wronged.

10. Waste every crisis that comes into your life. (A crisis is a difficult and unwelcomed opportunity to discover Jesus Christ in a new way.) Don’t look for the hand of God behind the crisis and submit to it. Forget James and Peter who both said, “Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, and He will exalt up” (1 Peter 5:7; James 4:10). Blame God instead.

via Don’t Waste Your Time Being a Christian | Beyond Evangelical | The Blog of Frank Viola.

How often are we afraid to go against the norm?  It’s almost always easier to go along following the crowd than to be the odd man out.  But is that the type of person you want to be?  Is that the type of person you want to be remembered as?

When we are confronted with a challenge, an opportunity to make a choice, we automatically choose the path of the least resistance.  You can call it laziness if you’d like.  Part of it definitely comes from us being social creatures; we don’t like to do things that disturb the way things are set up.  As we stumble on taking the path of least resistance, we also take for granted that those around us generally do what’s right.  If something is wrong, then obviously all these other people wouldn’t be doing it…right?

I truly believe that deep down everyone knows right from wrong.  Paul says that we have the Law written on our hearts (Romans 2:15). Whether you call it the Law or your conscience, it boils down to the same idea: deep down we know what is right and what is wrong.  This brings us to two major questions.  How do we respond when faced with a choice, and what do we do to those who go against the group?

There is one glaring example in history of what is right being different than what is popular.  Matthew 21-23 really lay this out for us.  In what is known as the “Triumphal Entry,” Jesus is praised by Jerusalem for being the long awaited Messiah.

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)

All of the Jews (minus the Pharisees) are part of the crowd shouting praises at the true King.  We know that there were many who genuinely loved and followed Jesus.  But I can also say that some of the crowd was shouting because it was the popular thing to do.  If I was a Jew and I thought Jesus would drive out the Romans, of course I’d cheer!  As we go on we see a distinct change in attitude.

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. (Matthew 27:20)

Wow.  No matter what translation you look at, it says the priests and elders persuaded the crowd.  Think about it.  The Pharisees were able to persuade the crowd to kill the man that only days before they hailed as King.  Why?  Because they were going with what was popular, not what was right.

Before Pilate 05

Before Pilate (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

But the crowd didn’t stop there.  They began to shout, “Crucify! Crucify!”  How quickly our fickle minds can change.  But in this situation, did right and wrong change?  No.  The only thing that changed was the popular opinion.  Each and every citizen could know what they were doing was wrong, but they were swept up in mob mentality.

The thing about Jesus is that He liked to shake up the status quo.  The rest of us don’t like that so much.  Being humans, we prefer things to stay the way that they are.  The crowds loved Jesus when He said to love your neighbor, but when His truth started to disagree with what they were used to, divisions were made.

Jesus, the Word made flesh, was walking Truth.  When push came to shove, He didn’t abandon anything, because He was right.  What about you?  Are you following Jesus, the Truth, or following the crowd?  It can be easy to jump up and shout, “of course I’m following Jesus!”  Take a hard look at yourself.  On the day calling yourself a Christian is illegal, will you still be ready to take the name?  On the day when proclaiming the name of Jesus is punishable by death, will you stop?

Jesus was hung on a cross for committing no crime.  All He did was proclaim what was right.  When things started to turn ugly, would you have been in the crowd shouting crucify?

The most important decision you can make is whether you will follow what is popular…or what is right.