Churches… It’s Time To Stand Up

The Church is a core foundation to the Christian faith, established through Jesus Christ Himself. As seen in the book of Acts, the Church is constantly growing, or it should be. This growth is in areas of discipleship, evangelism, and community, among others. But so often I see churches that are simply happy about where they are. They don’t feel the need to expand their resources or God’s Kingdom. This is wrong.

Evangelism should be one of the foundations of the church. Without the faithful evangelism of Jesus’ disciples, there would be no Christians today. I have already previously wrote about the importance of knowing your testimony and how to share it (click here), so I won’t go over that today. Instead, we are going to focus on apologetics and why it should be lead by the church.

Does It Really Matter?

Caleb and I have both talked previously about apologetics on a personal scale, but what about in the church? It may be something you’ve never thought of. I’d dare say that this may be the case because churches don’t think about it either. This doesn’t change the fact that every believer should be able to give concrete reasons as to why they believe what they believe.

Why aren’t we empowering the young minds in our churches on how to take a stance for their faith? Yes, we need them to know that evangelism is more than apologetics, but shouldn’t they be taught at least the basics? Are we, the church, deciding to let little Johnny go to school or in the world without a solid evidential knowledge of the Christian faith? The church should empower and equip each other, as each member needs to encourage the other. I am thankful for a man in our church, Bill O’Brien, who lead the way for this cause.

“I was feeling lead by the Lord to teach this class about apologetics and how to defend your faith in a public place. There were too many students I saw who had no idea of the evidence of their faith, or how to defend it. I was amazed that there was nothing the church was doing about it. So I knew the Lord was leading me to start something.”

Bill O’Brien (paraphrased)

Mr. O’Brien taught a class every Wednesday night for middle schoolers. I vividly remember this as the time when I got serious about my faith. The content was by no means easy either. We watched the Lennox & Dawkins debate, then would practice with each other. I learned how to respectfully make a case for my faith, and do it with real, factual evidence. Now I can have respectful, fruitful discussions with classmates and friends about why I believe Christianity is scientifically true.

Listen up Churches

The years that a student is involved in a church’s student ministry is precious. These are times that must be used to their full potential. The cool thing is that there may be teens in the youth group that are struggling in their faith at a public school (which I totally support, I’ve been in a public school my entire life). However, the church has the opportunity to walk through it with them.. together. This is a rare time in life where hardship is directly endured with close Christian brothers and sisters.

It is during this period that teens should be taught how to defend their faith. They should be given the right tools and resources to study themselves, and also give to others. Next, you teach them how to disciple. You teach them how to tell others what you have taught them. Soon, 1 turns into 2, 2 into 4, 4 into 8, and so on. The impact of one young adult who is confident that their faith is 100% true, and can defend it, is an asset to the Kingdom of God.

Do Something…. Now

Mr. O’Brien’s example of taking initiative on a prevalent issue in the church is one we should all follow. In order for your church to address the dire need for apologetics training in your community, the church members must make it a priority. Stop putting students in positions they aren’t trained for, then you’re only asking for trouble.

The US Military trains, prepares, and sends soldiers out every year. It’s like clock-work. But the first step is training. No soldier is sent out to battle without the proper training and equipment. If this is our posture with a wordly army, how much greater should our concern be in preparing God’s eternal army?

Sharing Your Faith in a Public School

My entire life I have been attending a public school, from Kindergarten all they way up to 12th grade. As I am starting my 2nd semester as a Senior in high school, I have begun to recall how I have handled my deep faith publicly. I believe there are some simple truths that may be helpful for others that are starting their first years at high school, hoping to be bold in their faith.

1. You ARE going to mess up.

It is important to realize that no matter the strength of your faith in Christ and your desire to live it out, there will be failures. It is often the aftermath of these failures that will shape and define how you live out your faith, as well as how others perceive your faith. Don’t let the devil use the guilt of your failures to push you away from Christ, let it bring you closer to His love. If you haven’t failed, then you weren’t trying.

2. Everyone IS going to see you mess up.

While this may be a hard pill to swallow, it is so true. People will see you, and they may think you are a fool. Who cares, you are obeying God’s will to share the Gospel. However, they will also see how you handle your lack of perfection. Will you give it to God or fix it with continuous human error? This will be a testimony to your faith.

3. They are just as scared as you are.

Often times when you think about sharing your faith or defending it, you may get a little nervous or even feel your hands shaking. That’s okay. The person you are discussing hard questions with is just as nervous as you are. Remember you are both humans, you both get anxious about things. But, never forget that your anxiety or nervousness should not hinder you from sharing. A strong testimony to your faith is how you handle your fear.

4. They don’t know everything either.

When I am making a case for Christ with some of my classmates, sometimes I feel like I don’t know enough. I have come to realize that the person I am talking to feels the same way. It’s impossible to know everything, you can educate yourself on as much information as you want, but there still may be a hard question to answer. That is okay, you don’t need to know all the answers, but don’t be arrogant and pompous, blocking the love of Christ from being shown.

5. Prayer is an essential.

As I have learned through experience effective ways to share the Gospel and defend my faith, I have seen that in America especially, we don’t use prayer to its full potential. This is even more true with teenagers in general: we don’t pray. Part of this is because we weren’t taught much about it, but that is no excuse. When sharing God’s love continuously with a friend, like in a school setting, it MUST be accompanied by prayer. Ask that God would move His Spirit through that person and give you the right words to say. God hears our prayers.

How Do I Overcome My Initial Fear?

Well, there are several approaches to this question. The truth is that sharing your faith will not always be easy, it has to be worked towards. I want to show an approach that I believe is most effective. You have to be comfortable sharing the Gospel with yourself before you can share it with others.

I enjoy playing basketball, but I don’t ever get better at it unless I practice. Often times, this means giving up time I would put elsewhere. The same is with sharing your faith: if you don’t practice it, you won’t be good at it. The very thing that makes the Gospel so encouraging is because it is personal. Your first interaction with the Gospel was within yourself. When you were freed from your sins and imperfections, that’s when you knew you had to share it!

Apply It, Share Your Faith!

I encourage you to write out your testimony on some paper. If you are trying to figure out what your story is, try to think about when you first heard of the gospel and how it changed your life. Practice sharing your testimony with your family first. Ask them how you can improve it or if you are missing something. Continue practicing so that you know your testimony without having to think about it.

After you’ve become comfortable sharing with yourself and at home, you can begin doing it in public. Ask a friend if you can share your story with them. They will almost always say yes. Then, the stage is all yours to present the Gospel, showing how YOUR life has been changed by Christ.

Why the Gospel is Offensive

The message of the Gospel is often seen as very hopeful and exhilarating, in a good way. But, what many may not realize is that several non-Christians find it VERY offensive. Here’s why.

The idea that we are all sinful. The Bible clearly states that all humans are sinners, and fall much short of the glory of the Most High God. So if some random person told you that you were a sinner, wouldn’t you be offended?

Sin leads to death. After being told that everyone is a sinner under God’s eyes, you most likely will be told that this sin you can’t control causes death. Wow, well that sounds hopeful right? The sin that I can’t control leads to death I must endure.

Not only is there physical death, but sin leads us to hell. This sin that is in every man causes physical death, but to make matters worse, there is also a spiritual death. In this spiritual death that sin causes, your soul goes to hell for eternity because God cannot be in the presence of your sin.

Read more

How Does Someone Get Saved?

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”

James 2:19

From Alex,

How does someone get to heaven? What is the requirement for admission into the Streets of Gold? What has to happen in order to bridge the gap between a human and God? Many religions claim to know. Many religions (particularly Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) claim that the relationship between humanity and God has been severed and needs to be reset, but what do they say must take place in order for that to be completed?

See, almost all religion can be summed up in one sentence: humans, through grit, inner-strength, and self-righteousness attempt to earn their way or prove themselves to god (or to gods). This statement, however, stands in shady contrast to the method of salvation found within the Christian Scriptures. Shown numerous times throughout both the Old and New Testament, the way someone goes about mending their relationship with God isn’t by stirring their inner-good-person to follow the rules. The situation described by the Bible is one where all people, everywhere, are absolutely incapable of “earning” anything in the sight of God. Hence, “When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). There are many calls to obey and submit, yes, but is submission and obedience the same as “following the rules” and “sticking to the books”? Not according to the text. The Word describes all people as in a helpless position, in the sense that, no matter how hard someone tries, they cannot do anything to make God love them more or do anything that makes God indebted to them.

Read more

How Can I Share My Testimony?

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2 corinthians 5:20

This past summer I had an amazing opportunity to travel across the world and share my faith with those who have never heard the name of Jesus. I gradually learned how to effectively share my testimony so that others would see the forgiveness of sins that is in Jesus Christ. I learned a method that I shared with many believers in remote areas who needed to be discipled.

This method is simply called the 2, 3, 4 method. There are 2 parts to the Gospel: Your story and the story of Jesus. Remember that your story is only a part to the whole, much like a slice out of an apple. While your story is important, keep it in the context of Christ. Your story includes 3 parts.

Telling Your Story

  1. Your life before you met/accepted Jesus into your life. Tell the people you are talking to about who you were and how you acted before you accepted Jesus into your heart. In Acts 26:4-11 you can see Paul’s life before Christ.
  2. Next you share about how you met Christ and your transformation. Paul talks about his encounter with God on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:12-18. Many of us probably don’t have a story like Paul’s where God appeared to us on a road and blinded us, but some of us do. The way you met Jesus is just as important for Paul as it is you and I.
  3. Finally, the life you live after you accepted Jesus in your heart is what you share. Compare it to your previous life before Christ. Tell how you were once dead in sin, but now have assurance of eternal life. This part of Paul’s testimony is in Acts 26:19-23.

Sharing your testimony is crucial when you are trying to share the gospel with a neighbor or friend. Your story may be similar to theirs. They may be able to relate to your life before Christ, which may spur them on to learn more about this Jesus you are telling them about. Constantly practice sharing your story with friends and family so that you will be ready when God presents you with an opportunity to share your testimony.

Now, the second part to the Gospel is Jesus’ story. There are 4 parts to the story of Jesus.

Four Parts about Jesus

  1. Judgement- We all face judgement for the sins in our lives. Romans 3:23 states that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all born with a sin nature and can do nothing on our own to fix this issue. Hebrews 9:27 says that “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” We will all be judged.
  2. Repent– Jesus taught us that we must repent- turn away from the sin in our lives. We must realize that we are all sinners and chose to run from that sin. In Matthew 4:17 Jesus said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Without repentance, their cannot be turning away from sins, and therefore no forgiveness.
  3. Death– Through judgement and the knowledge that we have all sinned, it is then evident that this will lead to death. We all deserve death, both spiritual and physical. Romans 6:23 says that “The wages of sin is death.” The Bible tells us that Christ died for all; in Romans 5:8 it says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ took death so that we don’t have to, he brings us hope!
  4. Resurrection/ New Life- Christ did not stay dead. He rose from the grave, conquering death and sin, enduring the sin so that we don’t have to. If we chose him, he will stand for us on judgement day, taking our sin and shame so that we can spend eternity in heaven with him. John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. We have an inheritance in heaven with Jesus.

It is always important to talk about the story of Jesus when sharing the Gospel and your testimony. Make sure who you are talking knows that your new life is only possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, taking our sin and our shame.

Apply It!

Pray that God would give you 3 people this week that you could share your testimony and the Gospel with. Practice sharing your testimony with your family to figure out what you will say. Take courage and remember that God’s word will never return void! Follow his voice and share your story with those around you. If you don’t tell them, who will?!