Share the Message

This is the final session in the God’s Not Dead series.

While preparation is vital to becoming an effective witness for Christ, at some point we need to step out and start sharing the gospel. You can connect more often and more deeply with people outside of the church. You can become involved in activities or join organizations with diverse participants. You can cultivate a lifestyle of hospitality. You can get involved with people who don’t know the Lord, then they will inevitably see the centrality of Jesus that marks your life.

At first you can defend the existence of God. Remember that knowing God exists is the beginning of faith. Then you can explain how he created the world as well as mankind. This knowledge should result in a desire of people to begin to seek God. This may lead to the opportunity for you to explain the Christian story that is expressed in the gospel. There is no greater privilege than to communicate this message to unbelievers. Second Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are ambassadors for Christ.

Slide4

Before you can share the gospel, you need to understand it. Here is a good summary, God became man in Jesus Christ. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should’ve died, in our place. Three days later he rose from the dead proving that he is the Son of God and offering the gift of salvation to everyone who will repent and believe in him. Let’s look at the key aspects of the summary.

God became man in Jesus Christ. Creator of the universe came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, which is the greatest mystery of all time. So I’m trying to simply say that Jesus Christ was more than a great teacher or even a prophet, but he claimed to be God himself. Remember the CS Lewis argument of liar, Lord, or lunatic.

He lived the life that we should’ve lived. Jesus perfectly obeyed the moral law of God yet he was without sin. Through disobedience and rebellion we fell into the darkness and grip of sin. Christ’s perfect obedience as a man of God qualified him to represent us before God.

He died the death that we should’ve died, in our place. Because of sin, we deserve punishment. If there is no penalty for breaking God’s laws, then they ceased to be laws and become merely suggestions. Jesus Christ became our substitute by offering his perfect life as a sacrifice for our sins.

Three days later he rose from the dead, proving he is the Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead verified that he was indeed who he said he was. When people ask how you can know that Jesus Christ is truly the son of God, you can confidently stand on his resurrection as the proof of that claim.

He offers salvation to those who repent and believe in him. The gospel calls us to put our faith in Jesus Christ. Having faith means to trust and obey what he says is true. To repent means to turn from trusting in our own efforts, as well as to be sorry for our sinful ways. As you turn to Christ and trust in him, he promises to give you new life.

Slide5

Next we need to believe the gospel deeply. Real faith isn’t blind. We have been given overwhelming evidence that God is real and that Jesus Christ is his son. While we don’t claim to have all the answers, we have enough evidence to commit ourselves to believe what God has promised us. We also know that Jesus’ words are true and our sins are forgiven. Christ has paid the price for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). All of the guilt and shame has been removed from us so that we can stand blameless in God sight, as children of God.

By believing the gospel, we experience a promise Jesus gave us, that of the new birth (John 3:7). This is obviously a spiritual rather than a physical birth. We become new on the inside (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When we believe the message, this promised transformation takes place. It doesn’t mean we don’t have struggles, temptations, or setbacks, but we have a new source of strength inside of us. When these truths penetrate our hearts, they shape our speech, our decisions, our emotions, and our motivations.

Slide6

It is a popular statement, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Make no mistake, it is necessary to use words. It’s like feeding hungry people, and if necessary use food. Is our responsibility and privilege to communicate this message to a lost world around us.

Many times we avoid the responsibility. It all comes down to fear. One of the best ways to overcome the fear of talking about God is to simply start stepping out in faith to initiate conversations. To overcome this obstacle, there is a simple strategy called SALT.

  • Start a conversation
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Tell the story

TheGodTest is another a tool with questions to draw out a person’s foundational beliefs, such as their understanding of God, morality, and the meaning of life. Here is a summary:

(check out the teaching / training online).

Slide7

Mankind has a problem, which is a sin problem that can only be solved with God’s solution. Imagine being sick for more than two years with a mysterious ailment that no doctor could detect. When you finally find out what is wrong, it really is good news. Now they can start treating the real problem. The gospel is like an MRI for the soul that shows the source of people’s individual problems, and the challenges in society that results from their broken relationships with God.

There are countless voices in our culture promising to help us fix our problems. Only within Christianity is security really found, our value and acceptance by God’s rest on Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice. As we are transformed into new people, we can then confront the problems in our society such as racism, injustice, and poverty.

Slide8

On a regular basis, tragedy and crisis strike our world. Whether natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, or personal tragedy and loss. It is the love and mercy shown by the followers of Jesus that have historically made a huge difference in the lives of those who are hurting. The love and sacrifice shown by believers can help take away the pain and bring real peace and comfort.

As a Christian, you invite others into small groups focused on practical issues, such as marriage, finances, or relationships. As they experience biblical truth practically impacting their lives, they will likely desire to understand the full Christian story. You could also invite them to join in mercy ministries, such as helping the homeless. It is important to identify the talents that God has given to you, and to use them for his glory.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are your greatest obstacles toward being a witness for Christ? How can you overcome them?
  2. What do you most need to become an effective witness: courage, knowledge, wisdom, power?
  3. How should you pray for God to assist you to gain what you need?
  4. What opportunities might you be missing where you could be a witness?

Follow Up:

  • Read John 3:16–18. Reflect on your life in light of the power of these verses. What do they mean to you? How have you responded in your beliefs and lifestyle?
  • Read Matthew 7:16 and Galatians 5:22–23. What traits characterize your life? What do other C and receive from you?
  • Make sure to go over the God Test questions in order to better prepare yourself to share the gospel with other people.

God Test

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Understand God’s Purpose

This is lesson five of six in the God’s Not Dead series:

  1. Some people draw nearer to God in times of persecution, crisis, and tragedy, while others blame God for not stopping the hurt, or is not loving enough to intervene. Think about the unreliability of a world where we get a little tickle every time we do something good and a shock every time we do something bad.
  2. I remember Stephen out playing and occasionally he would crash and burn, scraping his knees, and not once did he run to me and say, “It was a bit casual of you to sit back and let me fall, I can tell you are not a father of love by letting me get hurt.” or “What good is a father who can’t or won’t prevent me from getting hurt?” No, he would let me come to him, hold him, remind him that it is going to be OK, and fix his wounds.

Then there is the case of the hot radiator, “Don’t touch it, that is hot and will burn you.” This is what we can call experiential learning.

  1. Do we really have an eternal perspective on life in this fallen world. What would you consider the best of all possible worlds? It comes down to a world that has free will and all people choose not to sin. We might call that heaven, but not all people are this way. THIS world allows free will to self-select those who reject God and his principles that bring life, happiness, and wholeness… so THIS world is the BEST WAY to the best of all possible worlds.

We saw the final classroom scene where Josh and Professor Radisson go head to head about evil and suffering in the world. It’s pretty intense.

Slide4

We cannot deny the existence of pain and suffering. Think about wars, the Holocaust, human trafficking, terrorism, but that is not God’s original intention.

Norman Geisler define evil this way: Some have said that evil is a substance that grabs hold of certain things and makes them bad (like a virus infecting an animal) or that evil is a rival force in the universe (like the dark side of Luke Skywalker’s Force). Think about LOVE (a good thing turned bad becomes lust), SEX (becomes pornography or fornication), ALCOHOL (becomes alcoholism and drunk driving), PLEASURE (becomes hedonism).

Refer to the Geisler information on EVIL. [ Go ]

As mankind grew in number, the evil of mankind has grown. God has given mankind the ability to choose to become evil or not. Many ignore God’s guidelines and act selfishly, unkindly, and unwisely.

Skeptic have claimed that theists have caused as much evil as those without faith, but this fact does not discredit God or Christianity. Jesus himself said that many would call themselves his disciples but will not obey his commends. The crusades and the inquisition were led by lost kings and popes, not the people of faith.

Just because we have police and there is a speed limit, does not mean that I guarantee I’ll keep that law, So, evil does not point to the absence of God from the world, but the absence of God from our lives.

Slide5But we must realize that real standards for morality do exist (look at the atrocities down through history). While people may claim that Christianity has caused more pain and suffering through the ages, that is just not true (think about Stalin and Lenin in the Russian revolution, Hitler and Nazi Germany, Pohl Pot and the Khmer Rouge). This is the embodiment of Darwinian evolution that also teaches survival of the fittest, or natural selection.

Skeptics like Richard Dawkins would say that we can rise above our evolutionary instincts but they have no standard to make such a claim. Author C.S. Lewis writes, “How would I know the line is crooked if I didn’t know what a straight line is?”

Imagine finding a rock on the beach. Since it doesn’t come with an instruction manual; without guidelines, you could only guess about its purpose. On the other hand, if you find a car, you know it was designed by an engineer who has a manual on how to operate the car to its greatest capacity. People can follow the manual or create their own guidelines, but violating the designer’s guidelines will lead to a breakdown and it won’t operate effectively.

Imagine an owner of a watch with no guidelines on how to use it. One might use it to stir your coffee of hammer a nail. Obviously the watch would not by used to its full capacity.

If we don’t understand out purpose, we will spend our lives on meaningless distractions, or make idols out of relationships, our career, or some other temporary item.

Slide6So, the evidence points to the reality of a supreme moral law-giver.

Skeptics who argue that that there can not be any objective moral standards expect others to treat them justly and fairly (human rights, equality for women, equal rights for minorities) but from where do these morals come?

Skeptics say they can still act ethically without religion or belief in God, but they ignore the fact that mankind is created in the image of God. We share his common set of moral standards, regardless of culture of context. Professor Radisson stated, “Does a people need God to be good?” Think about it, if we are just animals with no ultimate purpose, then on what basis do we make moral judgments?

Behaviors like kindness, mercy, equality, and forgiveness are true and good because we were brought up in a culture shaped by Christian values. Civilizations that reject a higher power than themselves inevitably degenerate into authoritarian states with little concern for human rights (think Communists and Nazis).

Slide7They want God to stop the evil in the world but don’t stop the evil in me.

There is a way to stop all the evil in the world… God could kill every person on the planet. Then evil would stop.

God has a plan to remove evil by changing the heart of every person, that way God can extract evil without destroying the person. This removes evil one person at a time. Let’s start with each person sitting here today.

When we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit work on reshaping our hearts; driving motivations shift from primarily serving ourselves to serving others. It’s not natural, it is supernatural. Crime could disappear, mercy ministries would flourish, we would treat people with kindness and respect… could this be a revival?

Slide8This should produce a sense of fear of the Lord… People often talk about a good kind of fear, like awe and respect, but Jesus addressed downright FEAR, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5). When it comes to judgment, “by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6).

It is the knowledge that we will give an account of our finances that we file our 1040 form; we will give an account to police for our evil actions. Judgment is not contrary to God’s character of mercy and love and compassion. He would be unjust if he allowed evil to go unpunished. Acts 17:31 says that, “… He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

The good news is that he has provided a way of forgiveness. In God’s patience, he delays judgment to people may turn to him. Understanding the nature of judgment helps us understand the work of Jesus on the cross. Judgment is not something like a scale (one’s good deeds compared to one’s evil deeds). In the new creation, there cannot be ANY evil or the corruption cycle begins all over again. So, Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin and defeat its power in our lives. We submit to him in faith and then God’s power begins a transformational process making us like him, sanctification.

The last question in the video clip, Josh says, “How can you hate someone if they don’t exist?”

Skeptics use the existence of evil and suffering as an attack on Christianity, but denying God does not take away the pain. It just takes away their hope. Only the Christian faith offers a true explanation for the cause of suffering in the world. It provides the resources to defeat it personally and socially. It provides hope that God will ultimately remove it.

The existence of evil does not demonstrate God’s absence from the world, but God’s absence from our hearts. God is the one who defines evil and he tells it like it is.

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Marvel at the Design

This is the fourth of six lessons in the God’s Not Dead series:

Evidence from physics and astronomy point to a creator, but biology is a bit more challenging to reconcile with Christianity. Why?

The triumph of the theory of evolution is usually the knockout blow to anyone attempting to maintain an intellectually credible belief in God. But evidence over the past few decades has also seen the fingerprints of God.

Anthony Flew’s There is a God: how the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind. He was an atheistic philosopher who came to doubt atheism as a result of advances in molecular biology, particularly DNA. Dr. Flew was impacted by the amount of complexity in DNA that could only point to an intelligent designer.

Slide4

Spontaneous formation of a living cell, the odds are 1 in 1o to the 40,000 power. Those zeros could fill a book. Similar chances could be compared to a tornado moving through a junkyard and assembling a fully operational 747.

Not surprising, scientists would never say a cell could have originated by chance, instead they say that somehow the laws of nature could have spontaneously brought together the different building blocks to form the first cell. But we all can observe that nature does the exact opposite: 1) Nature moves from order to disorder: try keeping your house clean, it naturally becomes messy. 2) Nature moves from high energy to low energy: water always runs downhill, never uphill.

A cell is both highly ordered and contains very high energy compared to its separate building blocks. For a cell to come together, it must behave in the opposite direction of its normal course.

Last ditch effort: the sun could have supplied the energy in order to create that first cell, but that is like setting off a stick of dynamite and expecting the energy to create a house. A final ditch effort: life on Earth was seeded by aliens. (ancient astronaut theory).

Take a look at Mike Riddle talking about life and chance / probability…

Slide6

It has been concluded that the more biologists decipher the DNA code, the more they are recognizing its complexity and ingenuity, which is vastly more sophisticated than computer software. Letters in DNA are arranged in very specific sequences to provide the needed information to construct and operate a living organism. So, for nature to blindly produce enough information for even a single gene would be much like a student sitting on their cell phone and accidentally pocket texting the message, “Don’t tell anyone, but I cheated on the test.” Like the letters from a pocket text, it can only come from an intelligent agent.

Imagine a pot of boiling alphabet soup and noticing the sequence of letters to form the sentence, “I hope you feel better soon, and have a nice day.” You CANNOT assume that this happened due to a chemical reaction or the physics of the water and pasta. It can only be explained by intelligence.

This video addresses genetic code and mutations over time…

Slide8

Some Christians, like Dr. Francis Collins, who mapped the human genome, actually argue that Christianity and evolution are compatible. Evolution being the tool that God used to create humanity in his image, but unguided evolutionary process cannot explain the sudden appearance of the fossil record of complex life.

Collins actually addresses ID in his book, the Language of God.

  1. Proposition 1: Evolution promotes and atheistic worldview and therefore must be rejected by believers in God.
  2. Proposition 2: Evolution is fundamentally flawed and cannot account for the intricate complexity of nature (p.184). Bacterial Flagellum (pp.185-186).
  3. Proposition 3: If evolution cannot explain irreducible complexity, then there must have been an intelligent designer involved somehow.

Scientific Objection to ID: is it because scientists bow down at the altar of Darwin? But scientists are attracted to overturning accepted theories.

  • ID fails as a scientific theory (experimental observation).
  • Many examples of irreducible complexity are not irreducible after all – human blood clotting (p.190), the eye (p.191), bacterial flagellum (p.192).

The fossil record does not show life gradually changing over time. It seems that major groups like vertebrates appear suddenly in what is called the Cambrian explosion, which is the most dramatic of a general pattern in the fossil record. The first new types like fish or reptiles typically appear suddenly without a series of identifiable ancestors. THEN, after they appear, they never change significantly.

At a conference at the University of Washington, Dr. J. Y. Chen writes about Chinese scientists who differ from Darwin and question Darwinian evolution. When asked to clarify, he said, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”

I showed a clip of Ken Ham addressing the design of creation. [ Go ] Also he addresses the question, Is there really a God?

Ken Ham mentioned about atheists spending so much time and effort declaring there is no God, why do they even care? If we cease to exist, no purpose, no meaning, dead and decaying, and no one remembers or cares after we are gone, WHO CARES?

Slide10As an example, the eye demonstrates incredible levels of sophistication for the single purpose of vision. To see properly, countess individual pieces have to be properly arranged and come together perfectly… lens, cornea, iris, retina, nerve cord connecting to the proper part of the brain. The whole system would fall apart and not work if all this is not wired up correctly.

This is the illustration for irreducible complexity; biological structures that are composed of many parts. Such structures cannot come together part by part because if all the parts are not present, nothing works. Which part of a mouse trap can you remove and the trap still work?

This is another evidence of a predetermined design of an intelligent designer.

Slide11

Some of these features are: advanced communication skills (depends upon advanced brain power, vocal cord ability to make various sounds, regions of the brain designed for sound and language). Our hands are capable of making tools and handling tools with great precision. Our upright posture enable us to use highly advanced tools like scuba gear and space suits, driving, flying, and sky diving.

Science would say that all the human advantages come from our advanced brain capacity, but why would the brain of other organisms not develop just as much over the same span of chance and time?

Science has a philosophical attachment to Darwinian Theory, so Christians need to have wisdom on when and how to challenge the topic. Maybe you need to learn some challenges to the theory to help people break free from the false view they have accepted. Many will respond in anger and refuse to listen to anything. Perhaps start with other topics, like last week’s lesson before addressing this bombshell, which confronts their entire philosophical framework.

Teenagers: how can we expect better behavior (sex, drugs, violence) if they are no better than an ape that made it? When one is a special creation in the image of God, we have a higher calling.

The evidence of design in physics points to an all-powerful creator who exists outside of time and space.

The evidence of design from biology reveals that God has been intimately involved throughout the history of the world; each cell demonstrates that God was involved in our creation at the level of properly arranging the atoms in our DNA.

This demonstrates that the God revealed through science matches the God of the Bible.

Another video I showed that evening was Dr. Georgia Purdom on, Is Intelligent Design Christian? [ Go ]

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Embrace the Evidence

This is the third of six lessons in the God’s Not Dead series.

Josh begins by putting God on trial, CS Lewis used the phrase, “God in the dock” which was the British way to say, “God in the witness stand.”

Josh begins by showing that the creation itself points to the reality of a Creator. Science is a natural place to start by observing the tremendous order in the universe is without a doubt. Skeptics are not impressed with this since they demand to see direct physical evidence over a clearly designed logical argument. But we would not find physical evidence for God by observing the universe, just as we find no physical evidence for Steve Jobs by looking into an iPhone.

Let’s take a look at some evidence, beginning in Romans 1:20…

Slide4

Josh begins his presentation with the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God (argument from creation). The basic idea of this argument is that, since there is a universe, it must have been caused by something beyond itself. It is based on the law of causality, which says that every limited thing is caused by something other than itself. Plato is the first thinker known to have developed an argument based on causation. Aristotle followed.

  • Norman Geisler Information: (Download the PDF)
  • Stephen Hawking Information: (See the Geisler download) Hawking wrote, that the laws of physics breaks down before the Big Bang, and I know why. Creation is where time and space all began!

The laws of nature seem to be carefully designed with human life in mind. Our universe is fine-tuned for life. Gravity slightly stronger or lesser, what would happen?

Let’s talk about details that cannot be accidental…

Slide5

  • The distance from the earth to the sun.
  • The earth’s rotation rate and length of year.
  • The amount of water on the earth’s surface.
  • The types and amounts of gasses on the earth.
  • The size of our moon and its distance from the earth.
  • The location of the earth in this galaxy.
  • Properties of light that allow photosynthesis. The properties of the lenses in our eyes that allow focused and detail images.

The change of all these details being so perfectly set by chance is unimaginably small, given the number of planets in our universe.

Other factors that allow us to live on the earth: to advance culturally and scientifically. The atmosphere has the right gasses for us to breathe, yet transparent so we can study the stars. The amount of O2 allows us to produce fire and all its uses, but not combust uncontrollably and destroy most of the forests.

Slide6

Skeptics suppress the truth by appealing to several excuses:

  • The universe could have created itself.
  • There are plenty of other larger universes.
  • Ignore evidence and simply science and faith are inherently in conflict.
  • But these proposals are not based on evidence, but blind faith…
  • Many would accept ANY explanation no matter how unlikely, in order to avoid God.

Richard Dawkins brings up the question of “who created God?” which leads to absurd thinking. He is saying we must have an explanation for our explanation to offer it plausible. Think about the turtle on the fencepost, you don’t have to know how it got there, you simply know that it did not get there by itself.

Slide7

  • Since he created time and space, he must be beyond time and space.
  • Since every detail was designed for his purposes, he must be very intelligent.
  • Since creation came into existence out of nothing, he must be very powerful.
  • Since he has created a place to benefit people, he is personal, involved, and caring.
  • Since he is able to do miracles, act in ways that are atypical and special, atheists deny the possibility of miracles. But they require their own miracles to explain the universe coming to existence out of absolutely nothing.

Only an intelligent being can create Mt. Rushmore, so a geologist would not have to abandon his science to recognize that fact.

Slide8

Some people encounter all this evidence, it undermines the foundation of their belief that the universe is all that exists.

When they recognize that they were created, they can somehow have a relationship with this Creator God.

People act like animals because of evolution. If we came from apes, we should have no problem denying moral accountability, so sex at all cost is OK, theft and murder are right because it is the survival of the fittest.

We must help people to sense the Holy Spirit and allow him to convict them of the truth, that they have violated the law in their hearts.

People will either respond in anger, change the topic, or they will come to terms with their denial of God’s existence.

The evidence from science is one of the best ways to begin speaking about Christianity with agnostics and atheists. It dispels the myth that science and faith are in conflict, and supports many truths we find in the Bible.

The Bible is not a book of nature but is not in conflict with nature. Evidence can challenge the very foundation of an atheist’s worldview and can grant them space to consider the reality of God.

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Having No Fear

This is the second of six in the God’s Not dead series, these are my teaching notes and slides:

Slide2One of the major themes in the movie was that of persecution; all around the world people suffer for simply having faith in Jesus. Some would argue that the world is much more tolerant today than it was centuries ago, but the facts say otherwise. In many parts of the world, people lose freedoms; and thousands of people are killed because of their faith in Christ.

While in America, tolerance is demanded for most any lifestyle or belief, yet for those who believe in Christ, they are met with systematic intolerance, which is grossly unfair and often absurd. Believers are often intimidated.

There is a challenge called moral relativism: the philosophy that teaches all beliefs are equally right and true. While people have the right to believe whatever they want about God, that doesn’t mean that all beliefs are true. Jesus warned about persecution (Mark 4:17) But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Let’s look at a three clips from the movie, about people who experienced persecution for simply having faith in Jesus, or even discussing the existence of God…

Slide4

It was all through the movie: Josh and his long time girlfriend, Martin (the Chinese student) had a very negative father and he wanted him to focus on studies and grades, not God, and Ayisha, the girl in the Muslim family, whose father wanted her to recant, that “there is one God and he is not begotten.” (John 3:16)

95% of Americans say they believe in God, but many are moral relativists who don’t try to live according to God’s Word (Josh’s girlfriend is a great example, she did not want faith to get in the way of career plans or opportunities). She scoffed at the notion that Josh would put God’s desire over her wishes.

Slide5

If we are to make a difference in the world around us, we MUST get rid of this type of paralyzing fear.

When we fear criticism: we learn that our identity and value is based on what others think instead of God’s acceptance of us.

When we fear consequences: we learn to trust in circumstances and decisions of others more than Jesus’ care for us (Matthew 6:25-34).

When we fear not attaining our goals: we learn that we have placed our hope for meaning and fulfillment in some worldly achievement over being a valuable part of God’s kingdom.

Let’s pray for a break in these strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

How to overcome fears: meditate on God’s promises (2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13).

Remember that there are 365 references to “Fear Not” or “Don’t be Afraid.”  Don’t let fear stop you from doing the right thing.

Slide6

There may be other reason why someone might be adversarial to you and your faith. Don’t respond in anger, and remember that Satan, the adversary has blinded the people of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Their hostility might be the result of painful experiences in their past, in the professor’s case, losing his mother to cancer after asking God to heal her. In session 5, we will see that suffering is a huge stumbling block for many people. Try to find out the source of their pain, Josh asked, “What happened to you?”

Others may respond negatively because they feel Christians are bigoted and narrow minded, so, in essence, they are prejudging you. (MY college story of introducing myself as a follower of Jesus, a Christian = biased).

In philosophy, there is a straw-man argument: people build a false picture of something or someone, and then they attack it. How many times do we have to dismantle the negative press and false notions about Christianity? Maybe all Christians are hypocrites. Help them realize that out of 2 billion Christians, there are likely only a few who have hurt or disappointed them.

Remember that insults are not arguments: don’t focus on the insult but on the truth and reasonableness of your beliefs. While there may be many bad things that professing Christians have done, God still exists and has an ideal.

Slide7

There is an enemy of God and mankind, Satan. He is not the red suited figure with horns and a pitchfork, but an entity of evil that exists. We are wrestling with powers and principalities and spirits that affect hearts and minds (Ephesians 6:10). The goal of our enemy is to shut down the preaching of the gospel and the truth that God exists. It is vital that you not let persecution shut you down.

The apostles were told to stop speaking of the resurrection (Acts 4:20) but they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard and did so with BOLDNESS (Acts 4:29). The Romans did not like the fact that Christians claimed loyalty to another king, in fact, every knee would bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

When you are told to stop, find creative ways to put in a good word for Jesus, his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

Slide8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Cares and worries of the world can distract us from God’s purposes in our lives; we can lose focus on our mission to share the gospel. Don’t give up; negative reactions can take a toll on our self-image and sense of worth (Allan’s story in Curacao, no fruit yet remaining faithful).

Stay strong, one day people might recognize your genuine integrity and come to you during times of struggle for counsel and guidance.

Some people will see your life and they refuse to repent, just seeing you brings out their rebellion. Rather than be convicted by the truth, they will suppress the truth and in anger lash out at you.

Today there is more persecution toward Christians than in any other time in history. More believers were martyred for their faith in the 20th century than in 1900 years prior combined.

You would think that technology and globalization would allow greater tolerance and understanding to everyone, but the opposite has occurred. The claims of Christ have set him apart from all other faiths and that is the offense that caused mankind to stumble.

Keep this in mind… Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12).

 

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Always Be Prepared

Today is the start of the God’s Not Dead series at King’s Grant. There are six lesson in this series; here are my teaching notes and PowerPoint slides.

Introductory Questions:
Do you every feel intimidated when talking to someone who does not believe as you do about the existence of God or the reality of salvation through Jesus Christ? Why is that?

Let me introduce you to Josh Wheaton, a freshman college student who signed up for a philosophy class and discovers that the professor is a strong and opinionated atheist who sets some ground rules for the class. He asks everyone in the class to write out on a piece of paper the words: GOD IS DEAD. Josh is a believers and you can see the conflict as he refuses to sign the paper. He needs this class, he wants to be faithful to God… (Video Clip)

Slide4

This is the most important part of your witness, your own commitment to Christ. We must be completely submitted to him.
Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

When your heart is fully devoted to Jesus, it is a matter of discerning his will for your life, not just following our own feelings and opinions.

When Josh was told to sign that paper, his commitment to Christ meant the decision was already made. His girlfriend even tried to convince him to “sign the stupid paper.” He was tested to follow Christ or compromise on his beliefs.

Lord means, boss, the one in charge. When we don’t obey God’s Word, we are in danger of living hypocritical lives and becoming a stumbling block to others.

Slide5

This verse came up a few times in the film. It means that we must stand up and be identified as a believer, regardless of the consequences.

Josh’s decision to publically defend his faith was motived by this verse, Willie and Korie Robertson also brought up this verse when talking to a skeptical reporter.

Mina, (Professor Radisson’s girlfriend) was challenged by 2 Corinthians 6:14, to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That Scripture is also clear on how to live our lives… we are called to obey God’s Word, not our feelings.

Imagine God’s church living out the truth and not just giving him lip service just on Sunday!

Slide6

We should always be ready to give reason for our hope. Of course, our testimony is always helpful; can we get it down to a quick two-minute testimony?

We may not be theologians but with a little effort to study and prepare See the diagrams below), we can help others find a true and fulfilling faith.

Josh didn’t start preparing with the challenge to teach the class, he was reading and studying since he was in junior high school (remember he met his girlfriend at a Christian concert six years before).

In his high school yearbook, he also referenced a quote from CS Lewis, “Only a real risk can test the quality of a belief.”

We get ready by learning the reasons to believe (the world God made, the complexity of living organisms, the sense of morality).

Atheists want to make us choose between faith and reason, yet the Christian faith is a rational belief system. Everyone’s faith is based on things that must be assumed. This is the essence of our worldview. When you believe there is nothing beyond nature, your worldview is called naturalism. If nature can’t explain it all, you view the world in a way that makes room for the supernatural.

Being ready forces us to have a basic understanding of the Bible and the Christian faith as a whole. The better you understand this truths, the easier you can explain them to someone else.

Slide7

Josh was challenged to defend his faith, but he did not act arrogantly or recklessly. He respectfully negotiated with the professor to have the class decide whether his defense of his faith was credible.

Wisdom is described as being more valuable than silver and gold.

As Josh was deciding on what to do, he went to the church to pray and seek guidance. He displayed wisdom by seeking counsel from his campus pastor, Dave, who reminded Josh about the importance of his witness to the class who might never go to church. Josh allowed the Bible to guide his feelings instead of his fears.

Slide8

In Josh’s first presentation, Professor Radisson asked him a question he could not answer. He was not defensive about his ignorance but simply said, “I don’t know.” We must not pretend to have all the answers to everyone’s questions.

You may not have a classroom situation to defend your faith, but you will enter into spiritual conversations with friends or random people you meet. Learning to ask good questions is more important than having the right answers. Some will be more open to the gospel when you show respect and value what they have to say.

Opposition: don’t take it personally. Who are they really opposing? Perhaps it is out of past bad experiences or misunderstandings. Kindness will diffuse someone in opposition more than emotional or intellectual arguments. A great question is, “How did you arrive at your beliefs?”

1 Peter 3:15 reminds us about gentleness and respect.

God honors our efforts as much as our successes. Don’t worry about falling short. Allow the Spirit to use us, depend on him to empower you to impact those around you.

Slide9

We CAN be both humble and confident at the same time. There is powerful evidence from science, history, and philosophy. Skeptics argue they can see no evidence for God in spite of what seems to be obvious and plain to those who believe (Romans 1:20).

People don’t doubt Christianity because the evidence points them away from reality, but they have chosen from the start to reject it. They filter everything they experience through the lens that God does not exist.

The Spirit gives us power and confidence (Acts 1:8).

Be confident in the change that God has done in your life. In the end, your personal testimony of God’s grace and mercy is more effective than all the theological debate in which you can engage.

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