Reaching the Skeptic
Dear Christian friends,
Fifty years ago, most Americans believed that the Bible is God’s Word. When Christians would show unsaved people the plan of salvation out of the Bible, many would respond by receiving Christ as their savior.
Today, things have changed. Often, when we show someone passages from the Bible, he responds “Why should I believe the Bible?” When we share our testimony of what Jesus has done for us, he may respond, “I get inner peace from yoga (or some other religious practice).”
Today, many people are skeptical of the claims of Christianity. We need to answer their objections, and give them solid reasons for believing in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are told, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” The Greek word for answer is “apologia,” from which we get the term “apologetics.” The word “apologetics” does not mean apologizing for our faith, but rather giving an intelligent defense of our faith.
We are to love the Lord with our mind as well as our heart and soul. Here are some scriptures that show the importance of explaining the gospel, and reasoning with and persuading unbelievers: Matthew 13:23: “But he who received the seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit.” Only those on good ground under-
stood the word. Acts 8:30: Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch, `Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, `How can I except some man should guide me?’” Acts 18:4: Paul at Corinth was “reasoning in the synagogue every sabbath and trying to persuade the Jews and Greeks.” Acts 19:8: Paul at Ephesus “entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:11: “We persuade men.”
Christianity is the only religion for which there is convincing evidence of its truthfulness. Mormons point to an inner experience, a “burning in the bosom.” Muslims point to the visions of their founder Mohammed. Hindus and Buddhists have mystical experiences. But none of these religions can offer proof beyond these subjective experiences.
There are a number of arguments we can use. C. S. Lewis said that “a man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic…or else he would be the Devil of Hell….Either this man was and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”
Another argument deals with evidence for the resurrection of Christ. This argument deals with legal evidence–the testimonies and reliability of eyewitnesses. People are sentenced to prison every day based solely on the testimony of one eyewitness. Analyzing various possible explanations of the evidence leads to the most likely conclusion–that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead.
A third argument deals with Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Bible is the only book that predicts the future with perfect accuracy. It was this evidence that confirmed my faith in Jesus Christ as a new believer. Jesus fulfilled about 300 Old Testament prophesies during his lifetime. Many of them are quite specific. Peter Stoner computed the probability of just eight of these prophesies being fulfilled by chance as 1 in 10 with 17 zeros after it! In other words, it is quite impossible that these prophecies were accidentally fulfilled.
I cannot go into these arguments in detail in this newsletter, but I encourage you to do some reading on the subject. Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell or The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel are both good books to start with.
There are also many excellent web sites that have good answers for almost any question a person might have about Christianity as well as information about every cult and religion. Four sites I recommend: www.carm.org; www.tectonics.org,www.apologeticsindex.org, and www.godandscience.org. We also have a page dedicated to non-Christians on our web site: www.sosmin.com/nc.html.
While we should be familiar with the evidence for Christianity, we must remember that people are usually not saved by convincing arguments alone. The passage in 1 Peter 3:15 I quoted earlier continues “but do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.” We must be gentle with those we are witnessing to, show respect for them, and back up our words with godly deeds.
When the wise men visited Herod in Matthew 2, they asked him where the Christ would be born. He asked the Jewish priests and teachers, who told him “Bethlehem,” based upon Micah 5. Herod believed that the Bible’s prophecy in Micah 5 was true, but his response was to kill every male child in Bethlehem. Many people, even after they know that Christianity is true, choose to reject Jesus. Still, we should let them know that there is solid and convincing evidence for the truth of Christianity.
On the Streets
On Friday night September 10, we witnessed at the Sony Metreon, an entertainment complex in downtown San Francisco. That night we had a lot of good conversations. Kylan witnessed to two Japanese tourists – in Japanese! That was certainly a first for our ministry. One of the two young men seemed to be receptive to the gospel. He had heard about Jesus, but had never read the Bible. Dave witnessed to two men who were bicycling from Alaska to Argentina! Dave, Gary, and I witnessed to a security guard named Kevin, who had a lot of questions. I also witnessed to several San Francisco teenagers. One of them, David, was particularly interested and asked me to help him find a good church. I emailed him with information about Sunset Church, which is located near him and has a good youth group. I also emailed the youth leader of that church, and asked him to contact David.
On Saturday September 11, we witnessed in Berkeley. The city has a new noise ordinance and permit form, so I was concerned that they might start denying us permits. Fortunately, this didn’t happen. A lot of extra people were here for the football game against Colorado. Toward the end of the afternoon, we met Matthew, a young man from a Christian home who had been living on the streets for about a week. Like the prodigal son, Matthew seemed to be ready to be reconciled with God and his family. We drove him to the San Francisco Rescue Mission in Richmond, but in the van, he spoke with several people in his family. They were all really excited to hear from him, and very loving towards him. His brother said he would meet him at the Mission and bring him back home.
On Saturday September 18, we held outreaches at Washington Square and Union Square. Shelter Cove Church in Modesto brought about 60 youth to minister with us at both outreaches. They had a youth worship band and three rappers. I witnessed to three students from UC Berkeley at Washington Square. They were quite intellectual, and I showed them Old Testament prophesies that were fulfilled by Jesus. We had a larger crowd listening to the music at Union Square. Kylan again was able to witness in Japanese to some Japanese tourists. He spoke for quite a while to Takeshi, who was receptive to the gospel. I passed out tracts to people from many nations, including some Muslims from Kurdistan.
On Friday night, September 24, we witnessed at Powell and Market. We had many good conversations that night. Gary witnessed to Mauricio and prayed with him. He seemed to be sincere in his desire to get right with God. On Saturday September 25, we held our last park outreach of the year at Dolores Park. Richard Griffin sang and Steve Carothers, Kylan and I preached. A young man named Jimmy heckled us. He was a homosexual from a Pentecostal background, and was quite angry and drunk. After we preached, Kylan tried to minister to him. It was a warm day, and hundreds of people heard the gospel that afternoon.
Note: Outreaches are subject to change. Call (510) 761-6120 to confirm outreaches or for more information.
Friday November 5, 12, 19 Witnessing in San Francisco neighborhoods. 7:30-10 PM (Call for location).
Sat. November 6, 13, 20 San Francisco or Berkeley Outreach. Location depends on weather. (Call for location).
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support for this ministry. Thank you also for mailing in your prayer requests each month. We pray for these needs at our Tuesday night house meeting. Please pray for Dan and Dave as they both need to find employment. The job situation is quite bad in this area. If you know of any jobs in the SF area, please let me know.
I hope some of you will join one of our outreaches this next month. As we move into the rainy season, our outreach location depends on the weather. The weather is often uncertain, so it is best to call us a few hours before the outreach – 4 PM for Friday night outreaches and 9 AM for Saturday afternoon outreaches.
Yours in His love,
1. Shelter Cove youth band from Modesto plays at Washington Square on September 18.
2. Oscar and Dave minister to Matthew. We helped him get right with God and his family.
3. Gary and Kylan minister to Mauricio after he prayed to receive Christ.
4. Kylan witnesses to Takeshi in Japanese at Union Square.
5. Tim Moon sings in Berkeley.