True for You but Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith

True for You but Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith

Excerpted from Paul Copan’s book

Many Americans today don’t believe in absolute truth.  Instead, they simply accept the relativistic philosophy that’s so popular in our culture.  Christians who reach out to them too often struggle to respond successfully to their objections about the faith.  But some thoughtful comments can help clear up people’s confusion and pique their interest in seeking Christ themselves.

Here are some statements people commonly make when objecting to Christianity, and how you can respond:

“That’s true for you, but not for me.”  It doesn’t make sense to say that no belief is true for everyone, because by making that statement you’re claiming that your own viewpoint (relativism) is universally true – and thereby contradicting yourself.  And simply living life depends on belief in truth of some kind; everyone must implicitly trust that certain things exist in order to survive.

“So many people disagree – relativism must be true.”  Just because it’s sometimes difficult to discern the truth doesn’t mean that truth doesn’t exist or can’t be discerned.  The fact that people disagree doesn’t say anything about an issue’s truth or falsehood.  Often, people don’t have full knowledge about the reality that exists.

“What right do you have to convert others to your views?”  If you’re trying to persuade me not to share my viewpoint, you’re trying to convert me to share your own view that people shouldn’t evangelize.  Faith may be personal, but that doesn’t mean it’s private.  Everyone naturally wants to share what they’re passionate about with others.

“You can choose whichever religion you want.”  If you build your own religion simply by personal preferences rather than according to truth you seek, you’re dangerously out of touch with reality.  It may seem safe to create God in your own image, but it actually will end up destroying your soul.

“Who are you to impose your morality on others?”  When you denounce imposing morality on others, you’re taking a moral position yourself (saying it’s wrong to impose moral values).  You don’t use moral standards only when they suit your agenda.  All people intuitively recognize certain moral basics.

“We can be good without God.”  Goodness must have its source in a good God.  If God doesn’t exist and people are the product of valueless processes, why would valuable people with moral rights exist?  Practical reason alone can’t give people morals, help them act ethically, or give rise to human dignity.

“All religions are basically the same.”  World religions actually differ in major, profound ways.  Some aspects of various religions may help pave the way to the Gospel’s truths, but only Jesus fulfills the ultimate hopes and aspirations in all religions, philosophies, and cultures.

“If you’d grown up in Thailand, you’d be a Buddhist.”  God graciously reveals Himself to people throughout the world.  God knows people’s hearts, wherever they live, and reaches out to those who seek Him.  While people do grow up in diverse cultures – some of which make it easier to hear the Gospel message than others – God does break through and it’s not arrogant for people to reject beliefs that ultimately prove to be unworkable for them in favor of Christianity.

“Mahatma Gandhi was a saint if ever there was one.”  There is more to true religion than moral decency.  Even atheists can be morally good, since everyone has been created in God’s image.  The ultimate problem is people’s alienation from God, and that can only be solved through saving relationships with Jesus.

“You can’t trust the Gospels – they’re unreliable.”  The Gospels – and the entire New Testament – are actually more reliable than other ancient documents, which don’t have as many manuscript copies existing or as much historical evidence supporting their claims.  Furthermore, there’s no good reason to doubt the Gospels, yet they’re criticized much more severely than other ancient documents – probably because they portray an unsafe, untamable God who reaches out from the pages to make personal demands on readers.

“Jesus is just like any other great religious leader.”  Jesus stands out from the pack of other religious leaders because He claimed to be divine.  He can’t simply be a great teacher; His claims about Himself leave only two options: Either He really was who He said He was – God’s Son – or else He was a flagrant idolater.

“People claim JFK and Elvis are alive, too!”  Only the story of Jesus’ resurrection is supported by real historical evidence – an abundance of it.  Consider the context, purpose, and evidence for stories that claim to parallel Jesus’ resurrection and you’ll quickly see that they don’t hold up to scrutiny.

“It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere.”  People can sincerely believe something and yet still be wrong because the object of their sincerity is flawed.  The essential question to ask is, “How reliable is the object of your trust?”.  Also, you can’t rely on sincerity for divine acceptance, because salvation is based on God’s grace rather than on what people do to try to reach Him.

“If Jesus is the only way to God, what about those who have never heard of Him?” God’s good, trustworthy character assures us that He will do what’s right for every person He has created and deeply loves.  Also, God makes Himself known in many ways to people, prompting them to seek Him, and He has promised to reveal Himself to those who seek Him with their whole hearts.  God won’t condemn people simply because they haven’t heard the Gospel.  God will judge people who have not been evangelized based on their responses to natural revelation (such as creation, conscience, reason, and experience), which His Spirit can use to bring them to salvation.  Also, God often uses the world’s natural revelation about Himself to prepare people to respond to the Gospel once they do hear its message.

How to Answer the Skeptics in Your Life

Have you ever found yourself at a loss as to what your reply should be to a “doubter” of your faith?
Here is how to answer most of what you’ll run across.

A List of Self-refuting Statements

• You can’t know anything for sure.
Are you sure of that?

• You can’t know anything.
Do you know that?

• No one can know anything about God.
Do you know that about God? To assert that God is unknowable, is to say a lot about God.

Some will rest their case against God using logic, Mathematics/Science.

• All I believe in are the laws of logic.
Is that statement one of the laws of logic? (NO)

• We can only discover truth by testing and experimentation.
Are you able to test that assertion? (NO)

• Apart from mathematics, we can know nothing for sure.
Is this part of a mathematical equation? No. Then what you’re saying, is the very basis to reject what you say.

• All knowledge comes from observation.
Have you observed ALL knowledge? The assertion does not make possible its own ground of proof.

• All English sentences consist of four words.
This sentence comments on all English sentences, including itself. It fails to meet its own demands, hence it is false.

• The only genuine knowledge is obtained by sciences.
Is that proposition verified by sciences? No. Then it self-destructs. It saws off the limb it rests on.

• We can know nothing about reality.
Do you know that about reality?

• Nothing can be known.
Do you know that? Some skeptics argue that “nothing can be known.” Can that STATEMENT itself be known?
If so it refutes itself, if not, one may not even know that which the statement asserts.
Skillful skeptics often attempt to make an exception for the statement itself revealing the inconsistency of the statement itself.
….

From the book; “Relativism, Subjectivism, and Self-refuting Statements Defeated.”

Attitude Adjustments

With this title you’re probably ready to or not to read or perhaps just gloss over this article. Why, your attitude most likely stinks; or you’re trying to figure out why someone else’s attitude is the way it is.

Many of us are employees or employers and all at one time or the other have possessed bad or poor attitudes, and we’d like to be enabled to change, one way or the other, attitudes.

So…let’s take a deeper look.

2 Corinthians 22:21-27; “I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”

If anyone has a “right” to have negative attitudes the Apostle Paul does!

Now let’s move this conversation to our lives, culture, using Paul’s life to compare our situations to Paul’s situations.

This makes us, if we are one of those who constantly complain about small annoyances look really bad. I know the mirror of God’s Word sometimes is very uncomfortable. That will explain why we are so hesitant many times to engulf ourselves in the Word.

If it’s possible to fix those little inconveniences, then fix them. But if the little things like the temperature of the air can’t be adjusted to your liking or if you can’t have an office with a window, it’s time for you to put a smile on your face and do a good job for your employer with a happy attitude. He didn’t hire you to grumble and complain. He hired you to be a blessing!

The fact is, sometimes we don’t get to have everything just the way we’d like to have it. Yet even in those moments, you and I should serve with all our might. If we are being paid to do a good job and to be cooperative with our employer and fellow employees, then we need to do what we are being paid to do! The day we give up that servant’s attitude to become a source of constant complaining is the day we cease to be a blessing and become instead a hindrance that is no longer needed on the team.

You can do your job with joy, no matter what circumstances surround you! You can be victorious in any environment, even in working conditions that aren’t exactly what you wish they could be. Besides, if you can’t handle tiny inconveniences such as the ones we talked about earlier, how in the world do you ever think you’ll be able to stand against the devil and the strategies he will try to use to assault you when you step out in faith?

As the apostle Paul continues telling us about his experiences in Second Corinthians 11, he lets us know that he has faced all kinds of inconveniences in order to obey the will of God. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy those inconveniences, but he didn’t allow them to affect his attitude or to keep him from fulfilling the task God had given him to do.

Let’s look at a few of the inconveniences Paul endured as he marched forward to obey God.

In Hunger and Thirst

In Second Corinthians 11:27, he tells us that he endured “hunger” and “thirst.” The word “hunger” is the Greek word limos. The word “thirst” is the Greek word dipsos. These words refer to being hungry from a lack of food or thirsty from a lack of drink.

Paul is recalling times of inconvenience when food simply may not have been available to him and his fellow travelers. This lack of food and drink didn’t affect Paul’s desire to go onward to the next town. Hunger and thirst was only an inconvenience – certainly not enough to hinder him from pressing on ahead.

Complaining won’t change the situation, Paul and his people had to learn to work and function in times of hunger. How different it is today. If you don’t have a lunch provided for workers you will only get a few to participate. There is a saying among leaders in the church and that is; “You can always get volunteers if you feed them.” “Feed them and they will come.”

OK, enough of the soap box.

Sometimes that is the way it is with life. We don’t always get what we want or live in the style we prefer. But if we’re not getting exactly what we want and we can’t do anything to change the situation, we have a choice: 1) We can constantly complain and make it worse on ourselves and everyone else; or 2) we can make a mental adjustment and decide that we’re tough enough to handle the situation until things change. The second choice is the one God wants us to make, for this is the one that demonstrates the attitude of Jesus Christ in our lives!

So if you’ve been grumbling or complaining about a situation that just can’t be fixed to your liking, it’s time for you to quit grumbling and to start rejoicing. Put praise in your mouth, and choose to be positive. As you do, you will find the strength to endure any hardship you are facing with joy!

 

Ordinariness and God’s faithfulness

Ordinary church life, prayer, Bible reading, preaching, teaching, singing, the Lord’s table, baptism and fellowship;  activities that don’t normally lend themselves to off-the-chart experiences. But theses are the necessary ingredients that when are consistent exercised they compound and shape your life as a believer. Over time, one can look back with some surprise and say, “God has been so gracious, he has changed my life” as a result of both the ordinariness and of God’s faithfulness.

The Red Sea Redemption The Exodus, God’s Model of Redemption. Part 2

It’s all about an inner change, a character change that only comes about by a transformation of our minds, hearts which first takes place by…and here it is…the center post of all change…the conversion of your soul.

No longer given to the things of the flesh but of the Spirit. You can modify our fleshly behavior all you want, but you’ll not change the core of who and what you are until God converts the soul.

Dress it up like you want…change locations…find new friends…go to rehab…try all of man’s solutions and you’ll find yourself in perhaps with a new set of objectives, a new set of behaviors…but no power to find the kind of change that’s eternal…one that changes the soul…that only comes through Christ.

That is a description of the sanctification process, where throughout the rest of our lives, we who have been made holy by the sacrifice of Christ, progress in the outworking of that holiness as we grow and mature (1 Corinthians 6:11). As we fall more deeply in love with our Savior in the course of an ongoing pursuit of Him (Philippians 3:8-16), we are transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18) and we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).

Biblically, change is no less an expectation for the homosexual than it is for the porn addict, the liar, the murderer, jealously, (Galatians 5: 19-21) or anyone else who has been under the power of sin.

Galatians 5:1; “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

The core of the Gospel message is this: you are God’s image bearer. Sin has shattered that image and no amount of effort without the aid and empowerment for the Holy Spirit will change you. When you utter these words; “I’ll and change” you have just re-shackled yourself into another cycle of defeat and disappointment.

God’s redemption is to restore this image…and this is only possible through what Jesus has done for us.

We are not talking about rehabilitation…we are talking conversion of the soul…a new creation spoken of in 1 Corinthians 5:17. The old passes away—all things have become new!

Without this new birth we don’t recover from our sins…or sinful nature. Why, because it doesn’t change from the outside. It takes a miracle from God to change our hearts, our character, and our motives that which drives us to do what we do.

We need a new nature and that what Jesus brings us. This image which was lost and shattered in the Garden of Eden.

The Red Sea Redemption The Exodus, God’s Model of Redemption.

Galatians 5:1; “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”   NKJV

The following is a reflection of all the sermons we have preached over the last year.

If we question whether change was possible for everyone whom has given his or her life to Jesus Christ; the Father’s reply would be: “I have only one plan, that my children are conform to the image of my Son Jesus.

And so the question is asked; is change possible? Folks…that’s what it’s all about! That’s what Christianity is – it’s the process of becoming somebody God has made us to be…in His image. We’re children of God, now we are becoming like Christ.

You see it’s not just about getting “reformed,” going through “recovery,” 12 steps…etc. which I personally have seen in the lives of the people I serve as pastor, a reality of a difference in their lives. No we don’t deny the good these types of therapy’s can do.

I personally have seen those who try to change the inward man from the outside fail time and time again because the actuality they are trying to achieve can never be found outside of the One who designed them.

It’s all about an inner change, a character change that only comes about by a transformation of our minds, hearts which first takes place by…and here it is…the center post of all change…the conversion of your soul.

No longer given to the things of the flesh but of the Spirit. You can modify our fleshly behavior all you want, but you’ll not change the core of who and what you are until God converts the soul.

Dress it up like you want…change locations…find new friends…go to rehab…try all of man’s solutions and you’ll find yourself in perhaps with a new set of objectives, a new set of behaviors…but no power to find the kind of change that’s eternal…one that changes the soul…that only comes through Christ.

That is a description of the sanctification process, where throughout the rest of our lives, we who have been made holy by the sacrifice of Christ, progress in the outworking of that holiness as we grow and mature (1 Corinthians 6:11). As we fall more deeply in love with our Savior in the course of an ongoing pursuit of Him (Philippians 3:8-16), we are transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18) and we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29).

Biblically, change is no less an expectation for the homosexual than it is for the porn addict, the liar, the murderer, jealously, (Galatians 5: 19-21) or anyone else who has been under the power of sin.

Galatians 5:1; “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”

25 Ways to Teach Your Child to Have an Attitude of Entitlement.

This is how a sense of entitlement which is the answer to why we have such narcissistic behavior, idol worship–worship of self in our culture. We see this in the church…and it’s probably one of the biggest obstacles to spiritual growth.

1. Give him his own present whenever anyone else gets one.
Brother’s birthday? He gets a present too. Best friend’s baby shower? He gets a present too. No one is ever more special than Li’l Junior!

2. Fix him a special meal when he doesn’t like what you prepared for the family.
You prepared spaghetti for dinner, but it makes him whine? Make him his own plate of food. Be sure to ask what he would like instead.

3. Encourage false talent.
Your kid can’t carry a tune (see American Idol tryouts)in a bucket? Disregard that and demand that he is the lead in the Christmas musical.

4. Buy him a small gift or token whenever you go to the store.
He must feel that he is always deserving of gifts.

5. Allow him to attend the birthday party that the older sibling was invited to.
Be sure to ask for a party favor for him too.

6. When throwing a tantrum, the best way to stop it is giving him the candy he wanted but you originally denied.
Curtail this behavior by not denying his requests. Ever.

7. Blame everyone and everything else for a fault or failure.
Didn’t finish homework? The teacher gave too much and brother was too loud so she couldn’t focus. Lost a friend? Wasn’t worth having if they couldn’t see past the rude/arrogant/unfair behavior to the wonderful person she REALLY is.

8. Always do for him what he can do for himself.
If he asks for a drink while you are cooking dinner, stop what you are doing to get it for him, even though he is perfectly capable of getting it himself.

9. Never make her clean up her own messes.
She tires easily, you know.

10. Don’t follow through on consequences, and often make idle threats.

11. Force other children to give over their toys to him.
Whether they were playing with it at the time is irrelevant.

12. Acknowledge him when he interrupts a conversation to show him that what he says is more important than what you were listening to.

13. Always take his side when any other adult calls him out for a disciplinary issue.
Alternately, hand him excuse after excuse as to why he “can’t help” his behavior.

14. Don’t allow him to face disappointment.
He missed the deadline for turning in the extra credit that qualifies him for a special prize? Put the finishing touches on it, and drive it up to the school yourself.

15. Make sure everyone on his team gets a trophy the same size as the team who won first place.

16. Don’t ever make him wait to be served.
You don’t want him to become hungry. That makes him cranky.

17. Don’t make him serve others.
This will only make him feel that others could possibly be more deserving than he is.

18. Always say “please” in a begging tone when requesting anything of him.
If he refuses, let it go immediately.

19. Whenever a classmate or friend gets a new toy, run right out and get your child one too.
Make sure it is the newest model.

20. Never, ever criticize his efforts or let him know you expect him to try harder at something.
Pretending not to notice half-hearted attempts is best.

21. Overpraise everything she does, whether it is excellent or not.
You can barely read the essay she wrote for English class? Tell her how creative she is at spelling!

22. Always stop what you are doing whenever she addresses you.
Never make her wait until you are through with a task.

23. Always excuse bad behavior.
“He was probably hungry. The low blood sugar makes him cranky,” is a good standby.

24. Never make him answer for his own poor choices.
Step in to explain for him.

25. Go into debt buying a new car when he turns 16.
Make sure it is the model with the usb port for charging his iPhone.

By following these simple steps consistently you will soon have a child who believes his needs and wishes are superior to the needs and wishes of those around him!
Now, go give your little narcissist a hug. And a prize. Preferably a toy.