John Piper wrote to pastors, “That is the main task of preaching, and the main purpose of small groups and all the ministries of the church: helping people see the greatness of what Christ has purchased for everyone who will value it above the world. Helping people see it and savor it, so that God’s superior worth shines in their satisfaction and in the sacrifices that come from such a heart.”
“The gospel of Christ, what is it? We look at the last two words, ‘of Christ.’ Indeed, if you understand Christ, you understand the gospel. Christ is the Author of it. He, in the council chamber of eternity, proposed to become the Surety for poor fallen man! He, in the fullness of time, worked out eternal redemption for as many as His Father had given Him. He is the Author of it as its Architect and Builder. We see in Christ Jesus the Alpha and the Omega of the gospel. He has provided in the treasury of grace all that is necessary to make the gospel the gospel of our salvation. And as He is the Author of it, so He is the matter of it. It is impossible to preach the gospel without preaching the Person, the work, the office, and the character of Christ. If Christ is preached, the gospel is promulgated, and if Christ is put in the background, then there is no gospel declared.” —Charles Spurgeon
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Marshall Seagal wrote an insightful article about patience. He notes, “Patience exists only in a world of disruption, delays, and disappointment. It grows only on the battlefield. We cannot practice patience unless our circumstances call for it—and the circumstances that call for it are the kinds of circumstances we wouldn’t choose for ourselves.”
The Biblical Archeological Report has a history of Egyptian Pharaoh Hophra that is quite fascinating. It’s always so interesting to me to watch how these archeological finds square with the historical records contained in the Bible.
As I mentioned in my book review of David Limbaugh’s Jesus On Trial, he presents the evidence for the validity of the Bible and the historicity of Jesus Christ as if he were presenting a cae before the jury. As a trial begins, a judge will share with the jurors the rules for considering the evidence that is being presented. Here is a fantastic summary from Mr. Limbaugh—
“Applying the rules of evidence. … These rules are the ancient documents rules, the parole evidence rule, the hearsay rule, and the principle of cross-examination.
“The common law ancient documents rule presumes a document is truthful unless it is self-contradictory, inaccurate, or there is internal evidence of text tampering. The one challenging the document generally shoulders the burden of proof. Unsolved problems or lack of clarity in the document don’t necessarily invalidate it as erroneous or unreliable. …
“The parole evidence rule provides that external, oral testimony or tradition will not be admitted into evidence to add to, subtract from, vary, or contradict an executed written instrument such as a will or a contract. This means the document, absent any applicable exceptions, will stand on its own. …
“The hearsay rule precludes a witness from testifying as to what others may have said and, generally speaking, requires the witness to have firsthand knowledge of the matter to which he is testifying. As applied to the New Testament documents, this rule lends credence to New Testament authors who say they were eyewitnesses to the events they recorded.
“The cross-examination principle holds that the more the testimony holds up once it is subjected to rigorous cross examination, the more credible we deem it to be, which, incidentally, is one reason for the hearsay rule, i.e., it excludes testimony from witnesses that can’t be subjected to cross-examination. … Law professor and historian John Warwick Montgomery, who rigorously applied all these evidentiary rules to an examination of the Bible, finds the witnesses who were challenged to confirm having witnessed Jesus’ resurrected body did so ‘in the very teeth of opposition, among hostile cross-examiners who would certainly have destroyed the case of Christianity’ had such accounts been contradicted by the facts.
“Josh McDowell summarizes Montgomery’s approach to New Testament examination as giving the document the benefit of the doubt, which is another way of saying the burden of proof is on the critic or challenger. So, Montgomery writes, ‘One must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualifies himself by contradiction or known factual inaccuracies.’ Applying this approach and similar ones, McDowell argues that we can’t just assume that what appears to be a difficult passage constitutes a valid argument against it. We must be sure we correctly understand the passage using accepted rules of interpretation.”
There was a story circulating that a physicist once claimed that the bumblebee was defying the laws of physics and aerodynamics in its flight. Apparently, he calculated that the ratio of the bumblebee’s wing size in comparison to his body size just didn’t make the math work.
But entomologists and physicists quickly jumped in to say, “Hey, look, the bumblebee is flying, so clearly it works!” And then they went to work to try to explain it. They figured out that the bumblebee flaps its wings more back-and-forth than up-and-down, creating tiny hurricanes the propel them through the air. But then that created a whole new set of problems, like how does the bumblebee control a hurricane so precisely as it turns, stops, dives, and climbs. So then they had to create a new explanation, which they named dynamic stall.
All the while, the bumblebee is flapping its too-small wings 230 times per second(!), and going about its daily activities without being able to explain tiny hurricanes, the laws of physics or aerodynamics, or even knowing what dynamic stall is. It simply flies!
The ultimate argument for anything is doing something that critics say is impossible.
Peter tells Christians to be prepared to answer anyone for the reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15-16). The Greek word for “give an answer” is apologia, from which we get our word apologetic. Here are three apologetics for Christians to use for the hope that they have.
It really comes down to this: My hope is based on the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, which I believe because of the Bible AND because of the change in my life.
The Bible’s authenticity
“No other work in all literature has been so carefully and accurately copied as the Old Testament. The particular discipline and art of the Jewish scribes came out of a class of Jewish scholars between the fifth and third centuries BC. They were called the Sopherim, from a Hebrew word meaning ‘scribes.’ The sopherim, who initiated a stringent standard of meticulous discipline, were subsequently eclipsed by the Talmudic scribes, who guarded, interpreted, and commented on the sacred texts from AD 100 to AD 500. In turn, the Talmudic scribes were followed by the better-known and even more meticulous Masoretic scribes (AD 500-900).” —Josh McDowell, God-Breathed
“No other ancient text is substantiated by such a wealth of ancient textual witnesses as is the New Testament. Roughly 5,500 separate manuscripts are available, variously containing anything from the entire New Testament corpus to a slight fragment of a single verse. … This textual support is far superior to that available for any other ancient documents, such as the classical texts from Greek and Roman writers (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero). Only partial manuscripts have survived for many works of antiquity, and it is not unusual to find that the only complete manuscript for some ancient writing is a copy dating from 1,000 years after its composition.” —Archaeological Study Bible, “The New Testaments Texts” (page 1859)
“The biblical Dead Sea Scrolls are up to 1,250 years older than the traditional Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic text. We have been using a one-thousand-year-old manuscript to make our Bibles. We’ve now got scrolls going back to 250 BC. … Our conclusion is simply this—the scrolls confirm the accuracy of the biblical text by 99 percent.” —Dr. Peter Flint
I have shared other apologetic evidence for the authenticity of Scripture here and here.
In1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul lists all of the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection, giving critics ample opportunity to challenge these witnesses in person. If these witnesses would have been perpetrating a hoax, skeptics of their day would have been able to uncover the inconsistencies in their story. If the account of Christ’s resurrection was made-up, it’s doubtful the early Christian martyrs would have “stuck to their story” as they were being tortured, but none recanted.
Josh McDowell notes, “By AD 100, the apostles had died, but the Christian Church was still in its infancy, with fewer than twenty-five thousand proclaimed followers of Christ. But within the next two hundred years, the fledgling church experienced explosive multiplication of growth, to include as many as twenty million people. This means the church of Jesus Christ quadrupled every generation for five consecutive generations!”
My personal experience
“I am a changed person. I am not who I was before I met Jesus” and “My life tends to go better when I live by biblical principles” are both excellent apologetics!
Let others argue that God doesn’t exist, or that you shouldn’t have hope, and then you—like the bumblebee—just keep flying with Jesus! (see 2 Timothy 3:14)
The Apostle Peter wrote a letter to Christians in which he called them “aliens and strangers” because of their belief in a personal Creator and Lord. In this letter, he tells Christians to “always be prepared to give an answer” to those skeptics who want to know about their faith in God. In Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh and Sean McDowell have given Christians a key component to help them be prepared to give sound answers.
This book is massive (at just under 900 pages)! But it is an encyclopedia of evidence that will prepare Christians to respond to any argument that an atheist or skeptic may bring up. To be honest with you, the Table of Contents is usually one of the first places I study in books I’m reading, but I usually end up skimming through it pretty quickly. But in Evidence, I was pleasantly surprised at the layout. Not only will you find a listing of the chapters, but a brief description of the contents. At the opposite end of the book, the Subject Index is also quite extensive. I know these are not things usually bragged on in a book review, but for a book this size—and for the numerous times you undoubtedly will be returning to prepare to answer a skeptic—these two reference points are extremely handy!
The first edition of Evidence (written by just Josh) came out nearly 20 years ago. If anything, the evidence for the beliefs that Christians hold has been further validated through research, archeological discoveries, and the like. So it was time for this classic book to be updated. The additional apologetic insights from Sean in this edition is a very nice addition.
Whether you read Evidence when it was first released or not, every Christian that wants to answer Peter’s directive for preparedness needs to get this new edition.
All of these quotes are taken from Josh McDowell’s book 10 Commitments For Dads…
“Our desire and need for intimacy and relationship is rooted in the image of God as One (see Deuteronomy 6:4). Marriage and marital sex between a man and woman reflects His nature of oneness and unity.”
“Human sexuality involves every aspect of a person’s being—and sex is meant to connect us on every level.”
“Respecting the boundaries of sexual morality and the ‘stop’ signs for extramarital and premarital sex does bring protection and provision. Protection from: guilt, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual insecurity, emotional distress. Provision for: spiritual rewards, optimum atmosphere for child-raising, peace of mind, trust, true intimacy.”
“Sex as God designed it was meant to be lived within the context of healthy boundaries…. Following God’s design then allows a couple to experience the beauty of sex as it was meant to be experienced.”
“Purity is God’s boundary that provides for a maximum sex life and protects us from the negative consequences of sexual immorality [1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 7].”
“Where did sexual purity come from? From the very character of God Himself. God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). ‘All who have this I hope [of being like Christ when He returns] in Him purify themselves, just as [God] is pure’ (1 John 3:3).”
“We were created by God with the desire and longing to be that ‘one and only’ to someone else. That desire came directly from the very nature of God Himself … ‘He is the faithful God…’ (Deuteronomy 7:9).”
“Because true love’s priority is to protect and provide for the one being loved, God’s kind of love will not do things that are harmful to the security, happiness, and welfare of another person.”
You can check out my review of 10 Commitments For Dadshere. I also shared some other quotes from this helpful book here.
Josh McDowell has a book that is perfect for this generation of youth. #Truth is a 365-day devotional that brings biblical truth to bear on the issues today’s students face every day. You can check out my full book review of #Truth by clicking here. Below are a handful of quotes that caught my attention.
“All healthy relationships require a willingness to be known and have things pointed out so that all offenses can be addressed.”
“If a person is unwilling to forgive others, it’s a clear sign he or she hasn’t really experienced God’s mercy and grace. When people refuse to forgive those who wronged them, God knows that any confession of their own sins is less than genuine and sincere. How could anyone who truly experiences God’s amazing grace of forgiveness not also give mercy and grace to others?”
“Jesus died and rose again so that you could be set free from sin and death and enjoy the benefits of spiritual freedom. That freedom is not a license to live however you want to live, but to live as God meant you to live.”
“Don’t believe the lie that you are alone and no one cares. Since Christ sees you as a member of His body, accept this as your new reality and realize that you are always wanted and very much needed.”
“Jesus too had a totally different view of this world than those around Him. … Because you have accepted Jesus as the Truth and follow Him, you too see the world differently. You see the world through a spiritual lens that makes you sort of like an alien.”
“Jesus’ Kingdom message is a whole new way to see God, yourself, life, and relationships. It is a view of the world defined by Jesus and His Word. … Loving God and making Him the first priority in your life develops a Kingdom mindset that brings everything into perspective—love God and those around you as you love yourself [Matthew 22:37-39].”
“This life is short in comparison to eternity, and God wants your thoughts to include Him and make His Kingdom a priority in your life. … Letting heaven fill your thoughts is about keeping Jesus first in your life.”
“Only those who have been made alive to God and have His Spirit can listen and understand the spiritual insights of Scripture.”
“When you read from the Bible you are reading God’s words as if He were writing them for you. … Scripture is a supernatural book that has come from God Himself.”
“Jesus felt misunderstood. He spent years telling His followers who He was and why He came to earth. ‘But they didn’t understand any of this…and they failed to grasp what He was talking about’ (Luke 18:34). Because Jesus faced misunderstanding He is able to identify with your hurt and give you the help you need when you need it.”
Josh McDowell has consistently pursued two things: (1) Teaching people how to find and defend truth, and (2) Equipping students to overcome the challenges they will face. His book #Truth is the perfect convergence of these two pursuits.
#Truth is a 365-day devotional specifically written for teens. Each day’s reading starts off with a statement of truth from the Bible. Then Josh gives insight from his years of study and experience which shines a light on that biblical passage. Each devotional then concludes with a prayer that is designed to help the student settle the illuminated thought in his or her heart.
But for me the real payoff in each day’s devotional is the paragraph that starts off “Truth is….” This is not a man’s opinion. It’s not some touchy-feely sentiment. It’s not even some hard-to-grasp philosophy. It is a real-life, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road application. Each and every day Josh is pouring into students’ lives words of truth tohelp them see how biblical truth and real life intersect.
Although this book is written to teenagers, I would encourage adults who love teenagers to read it with them. Parents, youth pastors, grandparents, and mentors will all find great material each day to have a meaningful conversation with their teen.
I would highly recommend #Truth as a study guide to stimulate life-impacting conversations.
“Unconditionally accepting your kids tells them that being matters. Expressing your appreciation to them says that their doing matters too. …
“Unless your kids are absolutely convinced that you accept them for who they are, your praise and appreciation can become manipulative. Appreciation without acceptance may prompt your child to relate to you on a performance basis, thinking, ‘If I do a good job … if I get A’s … if I score a goal … then my dad will love me.’ Living on a performance basis will tend to produce feelings of false guilt in your kids. That’s why you need to be sure your kids first feel accepted then appreciated. …
“Appreciate your child’s efforts more than your child’s accomplishments, and appreciate your kid’s worth as God’s creation even more than your kid’s efforts.” —Josh McDowell, in 10 Commitments For Dads
If you are interested in more quotes from 10 Commitments For Dads, you can click here.