Know Why You Believe:
My Sunday School class studied the book, Know Why You Believe, a classic book by Paul Little. It’s plain and simple apologetics for the rest of us.
- Is Christianity Rational?
- Is There a God?
- Is Jesus God?
- Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
- Is the Bible God’s Word?
- Are the Bible Documents Reliable?
- Does Archaeology Confirm Scripture?
- Are Miracles Possible?
- Do Science and Scripture Agree?
- Why Does God Allow Suffering and Evil?
What is faith? Does it mean to believe in something you know isn’t true?
Don’t check your brains at the door:
- It is not only essential to know what we believe but to know why we believe it.
- Christianity is true whether we believe it or not.
- Two broad viewpoints these days:
- The anti-intellectual approach: (Colossians 2:8) suggesting that Christianity is non-rational if not irrational. A clear presentation of the gospel is important but it is not a substitute for faith. The Spirit is at work helping people to understand the truth, convicting the world of sin. Read the Invisible Gardener quote and the response (p 15).
- The exclusively rational approach: perhaps everything depends upon the mind. There is an intellectual factor, but there is also a moral factor (1 Corinthians 2:14) that says apart from the Holy Spirit, no one will ever believe.
- How do you feel the world challenges your faith?
Know some answers:
- We are commanded to be knowledgeable (1 Peter 3:15) for sound reasons. Why would the Bible have such a command?
- To strengthen our faith – we should know more than the fact that Jesus lives in our hearts.
- To validate our experience – a non-believer can claim his experience is just as valid and we are stumped. We cannot drive ourselves to believe something of which we are not intellectually convinced.
- To show that we believe something that is objectively true, regardless of who told us (like our parents or SS teacher, first-hand faith).
- How would obeying 1 Peter 3:15 help dispel the faulty concept in non-believers’ minds that faith is believing something you know isn’t true?
A rational body of truth:
- Perhaps no one has ever presented the facts to us logically. Faith is more than superstition based on emotions.
- The Great Commandment to love God will all our heart, soul mind and strength (Matthew 22:37) which involves the whole person.
- Paul defends and confirms the gospel (Philippians 1:7) which tells us that the gospel can be rationally understood and supported.
- The gospel is equated with truth, and opposed to error (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Non-Christians are defined as rejecting the truth (Romans 2:8).
- Paul asserts that it is not because people don not have enough knowledge to know the truth (Romans 1:20) but they have exchanged the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25).
Moral smoke screens:
- The moral issue overshadows the intellectual issue: it is not that people cannot believe, but that they will not believe (John 5:40).
- Moral commitment leads to a solution of the intellectual problem (John 7:17).
- Question: If Christianity is rational and true, why don’t more educated people believe it? It’s simple, because they don’t want to believe it! It’s not a matter of brain power; it is a matter of the will.
- Do you agree of disagree?
- Do other factors (like an abusive earthly father) keep someone from fully trusting God?
Doubt strikes terror:
- Sometimes we question our faith and wonder if it’s true, especially if you were raised in a Christian home. We believe it because we have confidence and trust in the person who told us about it. Re-examination is needed; to become first-hand faith.
- How can we know that we are not taken by church propaganda? Come back to two factors:
- The objective, external, historical facts of the resurrection.
- The subjective, internal, personal experience of Christ.
- Would a good Christian ever doubt? Like your faith is slipping because you began thinking. When challenged by an educated skeptic, they conform under pressure and then shed a faith that they never embraced as their own.
- How are doubting Christians usually handled in this church?
- Is there a group where doubters can discuss their issues in a non-threatening way?
Don’t hit the panic button:
- If you don’t have the answer, just promise to get one; no one has thought up just this week a question that will bring Christianity crashing down.
- Some things are never going to be answered (Deuteronomy 29:29). Christian faith goes beyond reason, not against it.
- Exposure to non-Christians reveals the same questions come repeatedly, and are limited in the range. One can predict the questions that will arise within a half-hour.
A doubter’s response:
- Doubters need to understand that they must come to a decision rather than find an answer.
- To make no decision is to decide against Christian position.
- To continue to doubt in the face of adequate information may indicate an unwillingness to believe and a will set against God.
- For centuries the church did nothing to foster spiritual knowledge and Christian growth. Today we have millions of Bibles, thousands of churches and hundreds of ways to access information. Do you think it is easier or harder to have a genuine and growing relationship with Christ than in earlier centuries?
- What reasons do you see in your friends who refuse to believe? How can you help them through the roadblocks?
- Apart from the Holy Spirit, no one will believe. Pray now for the Spirit’s intervention in the lives of people you know.