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The Apologist's First Question
Oct 11, 2019 14:09:09   #
Rose42
 
by Ravi Zacharias

I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.

But then he said something I have never forgotten: "If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?" His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible.

After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, "My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all." He paused and then continued, "Do you know what she said?" Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. "She said, 'That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'"

Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor's case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them? The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, "There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four." In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.

1 Peter 3:15 offers the defining statement: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the gospel—as he did at Pentecost. Peter's strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.

With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian's life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a "new birth" in Christ. After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character? In apologetics the question is often asked, "If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?" That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, "Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?"

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Jesus was clear: The value of the person is an essential part of the message.

This means the apologist's task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist's first question.

https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/a-living-faith

| Reply
Oct 11, 2019 16:09:42   #
bahmer
 
Rose42 wrote:
by Ravi Zacharias

I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.

But then he said something I have never forgotten: "If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?" His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible.

After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, "My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all." He paused and then continued, "Do you know what she said?" Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. "She said, 'That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'"

Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor's case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them? The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, "There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four." In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.

1 Peter 3:15 offers the defining statement: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the gospel—as he did at Pentecost. Peter's strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.

With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian's life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a "new birth" in Christ. After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character? In apologetics the question is often asked, "If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?" That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, "Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?"

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Jesus was clear: The value of the person is an essential part of the message.

This means the apologist's task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist's first question.

https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/a-living-faith
by Ravi Zacharias br br I have little doubt that ... (show quote)


Amen and Amen very good Rose42 thanks for posting this.

| Reply
Oct 11, 2019 21:46:35   #
Canuckus Deploracus Loc: North of the wall
 
Rose42 wrote:
by Ravi Zacharias

I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.

But then he said something I have never forgotten: "If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?" His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible.

After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, "My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all." He paused and then continued, "Do you know what she said?" Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. "She said, 'That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'"

Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor's case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them? The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, "There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four." In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.

1 Peter 3:15 offers the defining statement: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the gospel—as he did at Pentecost. Peter's strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.

With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian's life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a "new birth" in Christ. After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character? In apologetics the question is often asked, "If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?" That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, "Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?"

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Jesus was clear: The value of the person is an essential part of the message.

This means the apologist's task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist's first question.

https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/a-living-faith
by Ravi Zacharias br br I have little doubt that ... (show quote)


Great article

Lots to ponder..

| Reply
Oct 12, 2019 12:02:46   #
Armageddun Loc: The show me state
 
Rose42 wrote:
by Ravi Zacharias

I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.

But then he said something I have never forgotten: "If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?" His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible.

After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, "My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all." He paused and then continued, "Do you know what she said?" Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. "She said, 'That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.'"

Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor's case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them? The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, "There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four." In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.

1 Peter 3:15 offers the defining statement: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the gospel—as he did at Pentecost. Peter's strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.

With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian's life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a "new birth" in Christ. After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character? In apologetics the question is often asked, "If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?" That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, "Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?"

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Jesus was clear: The value of the person is an essential part of the message.

This means the apologist's task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist's first question.

https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/a-living-faith
by Ravi Zacharias br br I have little doubt that ... (show quote)




Ravi has the God-given gift of reaching into my soul and reminding me of the sinfulness within myself. IMHO he is truly God's messenger if nothing else to me not to be true to myself but true to the God of this universe. As the days fly by I must repent daily of my failure to be a proper and effective 5th gospel.

| Reply
Oct 12, 2019 16:58:21   #
Rose42
 
Armageddun wrote:
Ravi has the God-given gift of reaching into my soul and reminding me of the sinfulness within myself. IMHO he is truly God's messenger if nothing else to me not to be true to myself but true to the God of this universe. As the days fly by I must repent daily of my failure to be a proper and effective 5th gospel.


He is very gifted and is amazingly skilled at fielding questions from non believers and is adept at fielding the tough questions.

Praise God there are men like him to help us.

| Reply
Oct 12, 2019 22:08:31   #
Armageddun Loc: The show me state
 
Rose42 wrote:
He is very gifted and is amazingly skilled at fielding questions from non believers and is adept at fielding the tough questions.

Praise God there are men like him to help us.


Amen

| Reply
Oct 13, 2019 15:08:37   #
Zemirah Loc: Sojourner En Route...
 
Your true-to-Scripture expository writing is inspirational.

Other than that, the possibility of that 5th gospel, though a noble aspiration, ended ca. 96 A.D., when the Biblical Canon was forever closed.



Armageddun wrote:
Ravi has the God-given gift of reaching into my soul and reminding me of the sinfulness within myself. IMHO he is truly God's messenger if nothing else to me not to be true to myself but true to the God of this universe. As the days fly by I must repent daily of my failure to be a proper and effective 5th gospel.

| Reply
Oct 13, 2019 16:58:10   #
Armageddun Loc: The show me state
 
Zemirah wrote:
Your true-to-Scripture expository writing is inspirational.

Other than that, the possibility of that 5th gospel, though a noble aspiration, ended ca. 96 A.D., when the Biblical Canon was forever closed.



The reference to the 5th gospel was not concerning an actual biblical 5th gospel. It was a reference to the fact that people should be able to SEE and Experience a type of fifth gospel in the lives of Christians. This is concerning the question from unbelievers questioning the value of being a Christian as they often see so-called Christians not acting any different than non-believers. I am well aware of the danger of adding to or taking away from the word of God. Thanks for forcing a clarification. As you know I have problems with proper grammar.

| Reply
Oct 13, 2019 23:56:50   #
Zemirah Loc: Sojourner En Route...
 
I'm sure your grammar is perfect, not my focus.

The only 5th Gospel I have actually seen in print is the Coptic Gnostic writing, "The Gospel of Thomas," which was not actually written by the Apostle, Thomas.

Even so, please let me explain my objection to the theory that people will be drawn to God by witnessing the actions of any human being, minus the supernatural power of the Gospel of Jesus.

We are told to "preach the gospel of Jesus Christ," not to walk through the neighborhood to be seen performing exemplary deeds of kindness, for that is seen in Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist communities, but salvation is not a byproduct.

I am not a 5th gospel, nor will I ever be, nor have I ever met anyone who was...

Without knowledge of the gospel, we and they would all be dead in our sins.

Seeing Christians who are kind people, performing good deeds is pleasant enough, but it does not tell me that 2,000 years ago, God became man, incarnate, and died in our place, paying in full our death sentence for our sins committed, and that he rose from the grave on the 3rd day, and in so doing, made possible our eternal reconciliation and relationship with God, if we repent and have faith in Christ's completed work on our behave.

If you are saying the non-saved should be able to see a peace of mind, a "peace that passeth all understanding," and a lack of anxiety about their future in a Christian's life, I agree, but again, without the gospel, they've seen an unexplained difference.

"Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel."

If you believe that is understood, and unnecessary, your neighborhood is superior to mine.

On the other hand, forget what I have written above.

Armageddun: "It was a reference to the fact that people should be able to SEE and Experience a type of fifth gospel in the lives of Christians."

O.K. Good luck with that.


Armageddun wrote:
The reference to the 5th gospel was not concerning an actual biblical 5th gospel. It was a reference to the fact that people should be able to SEE and Experience a type of fifth gospel in the lives of Christians. This is concerning the question from unbelievers questioning the value of being a Christian as they often see so-called Christians not acting any different than non-believers. I am well aware of the danger of adding to or taking away from the word of God. Thanks for forcing a clarification. As you know I have problems with proper grammar.
The reference to the 5th gospel was not concerning... (show quote)

| Reply
Oct 15, 2019 09:27:11   #
Armageddun Loc: The show me state
 
Zemirah wrote:
I'm sure your grammar is perfect, not my focus.

The only 5th Gospel I have actually seen in print is the Coptic Gnostic writing, "The Gospel of Thomas," which was not actually written by the Apostle, Thomas.

Even so, please let me explain my objection to the theory that people will be drawn to God by witnessing the actions of any human being, minus the supernatural power of the Gospel of Jesus.

We are told to "preach the gospel of Jesus Christ," not to walk through the neighborhood to be seen performing exemplary deeds of kindness, for that is seen in Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist communities, but salvation is not a byproduct.

I am not a 5th gospel, nor will I ever be, nor have I ever met anyone who was...

Without knowledge of the gospel, we and they would all be dead in our sins.

Seeing Christians who are kind people, performing good deeds is pleasant enough, but it does not tell me that 2,000 years ago, God became man, incarnate, and died in our place, paying in full our death sentence for our sins committed, and that he rose from the grave on the 3rd day, and in so doing, made possible our eternal reconciliation and relationship with God, if we repent and have faith in Christ's completed work on our behave.

If you are saying the non-saved should be able to see a peace of mind, a "peace that passeth all understanding," and a lack of anxiety about their future in a Christian's life, I agree, but again, without the gospel, they've seen an unexplained difference.

"Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel."

If you believe that is understood, and unnecessary, your neighborhood is superior to mine.

On the other hand, forget what I have written above.

Armageddun: "It was a reference to the fact that people should be able to SEE and Experience a type of fifth gospel in the lives of Christians."

O.K. Good luck with that.
I'm sure your grammar is perfect, not my focus. br... (show quote)




Thank you so much for you input. As always well researched and well explained.

| Reply
Oct 15, 2019 17:17:49   #
Zemirah Loc: Sojourner En Route...
 
I did not in any way mean to besmirch your piety, my friend.

Few are your equal.


Armageddun wrote:
Thank you so much for you input. As always well researched and well explained.

| Reply
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