Apologetics, Faith & Witnessing
Apologetics, Faith & Witnessing
Wed. 2-19-03 PM
Introduction: We have been studying the difficult field of apologetics for some time now and I have called this study Witnessing Better. While I certainly have benefited from the study of this subject in Seminary and from the reading of many books on this subject, most of what I have taught you I have personally used in real conversations with normal lost people or Christians who had some serious questions. Although some of the proofs of God and defenses of the faith we have studied have been difficult, I think that the one we shall study tonight will make the most sense to you and that you have probably already used at some point in your life.
Open your Bible to one of my favorite texts, John 14:6, 7 “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.”
Tonight we will study what is called the Fideist Approach to Apologetics, which means the approach of Faith. The other types of apologetics we have examined were the Classical- emphasizing reason, the Evidentialist- emphasizing evidence, the Reformed- emphasizing the authority of the Bible and now we look at the approach of faith, a personal faith in the person of Jesus Christ.
I. Your Personal Testimony
In John 4 we have the story of the woman at the well. After their lengthy conversation, in v.28f “the woman went back to the town and said to the people, Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” This sinful woman who had experienced so much sin and sorrow, divorce and disappointment, who was scorned and virtually friendless and was living with a man not her husband, had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that changed her completely. Revival broke out in that town. Look at v.39ff “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed with them for two days. And because of his words many more became believers.”
Was this woman a theologian? Was she a gifted speaker? Did she have all the classical arguments for the existence of God down pat? What did she do? She had met Jesus, she had a personal experience with Christ and she told others about Him. God blessed!
The fideist approach emphasizes your personal experience with Jesus over all the other arguments for God and faith and the Bible. If you are saved, if you have been born again you have a testimony that you can share. Your testimony about the grace of God and the person of Jesus cannot be taken from you; it cannot be denied or refuted by anyone. The Holy Spirit cannot be denied by a skeptic and He cannot be beaten out of you by those who would oppress you.
I do need to caution you however that this is a very subjective approach and it can certainly be abused. A person can give a personal testimony of how Mohammed or Buddha or Hare Krishna has changed their life. The great Beatles’ song My Sweet Lord by George Harrison was not written about Jesus, rather it was about Krishna. Anyone can claim anything as personal experience and use it as an authoritative excuse to believe in whatever.
My Sweet Lord
Mm My Lord
Mm My Lord
I really want to see you, really want to be with you,
Really want to see you Lord, but it takes so long, my Lord
I really want to know you, Really want to go with you
Really want to show you Lord, that it won’t take long, my Lord (hallelujah)
(skip a few lines)
Hm, my Lord (hare krishna)
my, my, my lord (hare krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet lord (krishna)
oh uuh uh (hare hare)
II. The Power of God’s Grace
The fideist approach understands the doctrines of total depravity and God’s amazing grace. We realize that we are sinners and that our sin affects our minds so that the rational arguments cannot penetrate our sin hardened souls. Eph 4:17ff. Christianity is the only true religion because it alone stresses our fallenness and inability. Christianity is true because it admits religion itself is not enough, we require a relationship with Jesus.
The only thing that can penetrate our sin is the grace of God as He gives us the faith to believe. Faith is taking a radical leap towards Jesus. When someone asks “Why should I believe in God?” we respond with “Get to know Jesus and you will see.” Faith is living your life in relationship to Jesus; it is not mere head knowledge. We witness with our lives as well as our words, we are to imitate Jesus and to be Jesus to others.
Paul’s encounter with Jesus in Acts 9.
III. Pascal’s Wager
One interesting way of witnessing with this approach is known as Pascal’s wager. A 17th century catholic scholar Blaise Pascal was also a brilliant mathematician. He said, if you cast you faith in God and there is no God you have lost nothing. If you cast your faith in God and there is a God you gain everything.
IV. How to Witness
Write out your personal testimony.
(1) My life before Christ
(2) How I came to know Christ
(3) The gospel
(4) My life after getting to know Christ
You need a short version (2 min. or less) and a longer version of about 5 min.
Urge those to whom you are witnessing to read the gospels and meet Jesus for themselves.
These are my brief notes from the last in a series I taught my little church about 9 years ago. The series on apologetics was not well received there. Today, at our new church, the care group I am assisting with is studying apologetics and responding very positively.