Summary: This sermon outlines five ways in which Christians can present the Gospel message to unbelievers in a God-fearing manner.
ANSWERING THE SKEPTICS
So far we have answered some really difficult questions that are often posed by non-believers. First, how can God be just when he allows the innocent to suffer and second, is our faith blind. Today we are going to look at the third difficult question:
Question #3: How does a Christian respond to the skeptic who does not believe in God and wants to challenge our faith?
We have answered two questions that seemed almost insurmountable. Now that we are armed with the truth on our side the question is how are we to present that truth. I had a person post comments the last two sermons. I posted it on YouTube and by the very next day he had replied with a scathing review. He said the following: “The answer is yes, faith (gullibility) is blind, definitionally. This is not evidence for a deity; it is evidence that you lack some fundamentals in basic process. You also attach yourself to a conclusion and try to cram whatever you can into it, disregarding anything that fails to support, which is called selection bias and dishonest modality.” Basically he is stating that I gave a biased argument in favor of God but did not present contrary evidence. When I saw the comment my heart leapt for joy because an unbeliever had listened to my video! “God is good all the time, all the time God is good!”
Then I started to think about how I was to respond to his statement. I could have easily reminded him that I scrutinized the Bible with modern, historical critical analyses or that scientists often start with a hypothesis – what they believe to be true – then rigorously test its veracity or that the main four questions I started with were from an atheist’s point of view. I could have even reminded him that all arguments have presuppositions underlying them. I thought and prayed and waited. Since our modern day society believes so strongly in truth being relational to the person, they have objected all forms of absolute truth. To argue with such individuals must be done with great care. If one comes across as being dogmatic or argumentative then the objective search for the truth becomes a quick impossibility. It will become all about winning the argument! I wanted to respond to him but in a manner that might lead to planting a seed rather than engaging a vain argument in which he merely digs his feet into his position even further! How does one defend the Gospel in a manner that gives one’s words the best possibility of being considered truth?
In this sermon I am going to present five goals of presenting the truth of the Gospel to a skeptic
1) Have an attitude of love
2) Share the truth, not clever arguments
3) Be humble
4) Be enthusiastic
5) Intercede for them
Goal 1: Present the Gospel message with an Attitude of Love
1 Peter 3:15 states we are to give the reasons for the hope that is in us but do so with an attitude of meekness and fear. Hope is one of the distinguishing marks of being a Christian. Faced with persecution, suffering and pain of living in a fallen world, Christians have been enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit to be content (Philippians 4:12) and feel inexpressible joy in all situations (1 Peter 1:8). Christians can feel this was because no matter how bad life gets their seal by the Spirit ensures they will spend an eternity with God (2 Corinthians 1:22). Meekness and fear in this verse reminds the reader that God will judge each person’s walk impartially (1 Peter 1:27) so guard your words and thoughts carefully. Let’s look at the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 to see how we are to treat others when presenting them with the truth.
I believe we all know this story very well but do we understand its meaning? The younger son was saying two main things when he asked for his inheritance. First, he no longer wanted to be under his father’s rule as the head of the clan. His rules and regulations were not acceptable to the younger son so he sought freedom rather than staying inside as a family member. Second, it was Jewish custom that the inheritance of the father was only to be passed down upon his death, not before. In other words, the son was in essence saying that he could not wait until his father’s death – all he wanted was his belongings now but not his presence. Ouch, that is harsh!
The younger son then goes out and squandered all he had in wild living and when a severe famine hits the land he finds himself in great need. Those who called the prodigal son a friend was not to be found when his money ran out. This drips with irony for like the prodigal son all they sought was wealth in life with little regard for the friendship of others. They treated the prodigal son just like he treated his father. Having run out of money the prodigal son was forced eat pigs feed to survive and as a result soon came to realize his sin was great and his father’s rules were indeed wise.