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Archive for the ‘Tactics’ Category

Law-Gospel2

If you don’t understand how sinful you are, you’ll never understand how gracious and merciful God is.

Greg Koukl, founder of Stand To Reason, asks us to participate in a thought-experiment to prove the point.

Have you read the Ten Commandments recently? Take a quick personal moral inventory by asking yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever given allegiance to anything else over God in your life?
  • Have you ever used anything as an object of worship or veneration?
  • Have you ever used God’s name in a vain or vulgar fashion?
  • Have you worshipped God on a consistent basis?
  • Have you disobeyed or dishonored your parents even once?
  • Have you murdered anyone, or even had harsh thoughts about someone (see Matt. 5:22)?
  • Have you had sex with someone other than your spouse, or even thought about it (see Matt. 5:28)?
  • Have you taken something that wasn’t yours?
  • Have you lied?
  • Have you hungered after something that didn’t belong to you?

Sound tough? It is. This is God’s Law. These are God’s requirements. Even in grammar school, 60% is a flunking grade, yet who among us has not violated each of these commandments many times, at least in spirit?

Reducing the Ten Commandments to only two doesn’t help, by the way. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). Yet even the best of us violate these “minimal” requirements daily.

In your conversations, use both the Law and the Gospel. God’s Law is the mirror that shows us our need for the Savior. In Paul’s words, each of us is “shut up under sin” (Gal. 3:22). Our mouths have been closed, and we all have become accountable to God (Rom. 3:19). Saved by our own goodness? The Law gives us no hope other than Jesus’ righteousness.

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Here is the inimitable Greg Koukl providing a strategy of dealing with people who say things like “Christians are stupid,” or “Christians are hypocrites.” He gives a two letter response. You can read it here.

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We’re called to make a defense for the faith as disciples of Jesus Christ. “Always be ready to give an answer” (1 Pet.3:15) is still our call and charge.

Being equipped and ready to explain what we believe and why (broadly called apologetics) is important, but the way we do it shouldn’t remain static. In other words, it doesn’t do us any good if we answer questions people aren’t asking (or the people with whom we’re talking). In generations past, the question of biblical authority was crucial. More recently, the issue of truth (and whether or not it even existed) was on the front-burner. Now, not so much.

What seems to be important today id freedom. Marvin Olasky, in the March 23rd issue of WORLD, wrote:

When many young Americans are primarily yearning for freedom, talk about objective truth may swim right by them. That’s why some of the most successful pastors with young people start out not by talking about truth but about freedom. Tim Keller in Manhattan, for example, tells his youthful audience: You may think you’re free, but you’re not. In shunning Christ you have made yourself a slave to money, or sex, or to a particular body image, or success, or…something.

Those who shun Christ embrace slavery of some kind. Those who embrace Christ gain freedom: As Jesus said to the Jews who believed Him, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The University of Texas at Austin and many other institutions have carved onto administration buildings those words from John 8:32, but I have yet to see on the walls Christ’s follow-ups: “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin,” and “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36).

We all need all those verses and we need to get the order right, because truth leads to freedom yet freedom does not necessarily lead to truth. Sadly, college professors these days typically advocate freedom and skip over the means by which we will gain it – so students often do the same. That leads to my apologetic question: Is it unproductive to talk about eternal life with young people who don’t yet care about it? Or to talk about Truth with those who don’t think it exists? Why not talk about our shackles and how Christ breaks them?

Very good questions and worth discussion.

 

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Dennis Prager began a recent column by writing:

I offer the single most politically incorrect statement in modern America – indeed a modern Westerner, period – can make: I first look to the Bible for moral guidance and wisdom.

I say this even though I am not a Christian (I am a Jew, and a non-Orthodox one at that). And I say this even though I attended an Ivy League graduate school (Columbia), where I learned nothing about the Bible there except that it was irrelevant, outdated, and frequently immoral.

I say this because there is nothing – not any religious or secular body of work – that comes close to the Bible in forming the moral bases of Western civilization and therefore of nearly all moral progress in the world.

He later asks this important question: “If not from the Bible, from where should people get their values?” The answer most often heard is, “From my heart.” Prager then explains why this is so dangerous. It’s a good read, a good conversation-starter, and something worth thinking about. You can read it here.

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Some people are gifted in their ability to “think on their feet,” while others aren’t. The gifted seem to have an innate capacity to answer questions, make points, and recall almost anything in an informative and clear way, while those not so gifted struggle in all of those areas. I don’t think, however, that this is an unbridgeable gap. We can learn to think on our feet and get better at it.

I listened to a podcast a few days ago that made that very point. Lisa B. Marshall, in her The Public Speaker: Quick and Dirty Tips, gave some excellent advice. She was responding to a question from a listener who said she could make a good presentation or give a good talk because of her preparation, knowing what she wants to say, and due to the fact that it’s a monologue and not a dialogue. The listener, however, dreaded being asked questions because she doesn’t thin well on her feet. Marshall gave 3 points to remember and put into practice when you’re asked a question.

  1. Restate — When you’re asked a question, ask the questioner to repeat it. Quite often, the question will be stated more concisely or clearly than before. You can also repeat the question in your own words, and then ask the questioner if you have it right. This tactic gives you time to think about your response.
  2. Pause — Always take a moment (but not too long) to think about how you’re going to answer the question and how you want to frame it. Pausing gives you time to reflect and think and keeps you from a hasty or “snippy” answer, especially if the question is emotional or has some criticism in it.
  3. Structure your response — Your answer should have some form of organization to make sure your answer is not too brief or rambling. There are 3 basic structures involved in responding to a question – they all involve dividing or breaking down the answer into smaller parts.
    1. PREP — State your position. Give at least one reason. Provide an example or story that supports your position.
    2. PEP — State your position. Provide an example or story that supports your position. State your position.
    3. Divide and Conquer — Use divisions such as “past – present – future,” “problem – solution,” “cost – benefit,” “ideal  -reality,” or “low – medium – high” to form a simple structure for your answer.

The best way to think better on your feet is to practice answering  easy questions, which will build your confidence.


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When it comes to homosexuality, we don’t always make a good case for biblical orthodoxy. Trevin Wax offers some excellent suggestions here. His basic point is

The debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral tot he Christian faith.

Trevin’s ideas are a good balance of mind and heart. It’s worth a read and some thought.

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If you’ve discussed your commitment to Jesus Christ or the gospel with people, you’ve undoubtedly heard this one: Christianity is just a crutch.

How do we respond to it?

Christianity is far more than a crutch, it’s a resurrection. Man doesn’t need a crutch, a cane, a walker, a wheelchair, a shot, or a pill – he needs to be risen from the dead and given new life. We’re dead, not simply sick, as a result of our transgressions and sin.

A crutch doesn’t help a dead man very much.  A resurrection to new and everlasting life through faith in Jesus Christ does help, though – more than we can ever know.

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