Christian apologetics: What good is it?

Apologetics simply is a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The word is derived from the Greek noun apologia and means “a defense.” Apologia and its verb form apologeomai are used nearly 20 times in the New Testament, often in the classic legal sense, but more importantly to describe the call of God to all believers to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

But how is sound doctrine applied practically? Put another way, what good is Christian apologetics?

Apologetics has at least four practical applications.
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Who are you to judge?

In the epistle of Jude, the author  describes certain false teachers as “merely natural, not having the Spirit” (v. 19). He seems to be stating plainly that these professing Christians are unbelievers. How can he make such a judgment?

Doesn’t Jesus say, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matt. 7:1)? Isn’t God the only one who may rightly search the hearts of people (Jer. 17:10)?

How can Jude possibly know that these interlopers are lost? Isn’t it possible they are merely deceived, or backslidden?

First, we should note that Jude describes these particular false teachers as “natural.” Literally, this means “animal-souled” and stands in contrast with “spiritual,” or “having the Spirit.” The apostle Paul describes the unbeliever as a “natural man” who “does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Clearly, Jude and Paul are depicting people outside the kingdom of God. Jude’s use of the term psuchikos – soulish, sensual, animal-souled – describes them in sensual rather than spiritual terms.

As John MacArthur puts it, “His [Jude’s] materialistic description exposed them for who they really were – religious terrorists who lacked such internal qualities as a proper self-perception, the ability to reason, and a true knowledge of God. Even though the false teachers claimed a transcendental understanding of God, they did not know Him at all.”
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Was Jesus more than just a prophet?

Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet. In fact, they teach Jesus was one of the greatest of the 124,000 prophets Allah sent to mankind – second only to Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam.

The Qur’an mentions Jesus in more than 25 places, always with honor. Jesus is called the son of Mary, the Messiah, a servant of God, a messenger of God, a word from God, and a sign from God.

At the same time, the Qur’an denies the deity of Christ, as well as the elements of His saving work on the cross, including his death, burial, and resurrection.

But if Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet, we may rightly ask if Jesus ever prophesied about Himself. If so, did His prophecies come true? We have to go to the Bible for answers, for the Qur’an offers little in response.
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Should we pursue ghost adventures?

With Halloween fast approaching, it’s easy to see that ghosts are everywhere. They star in major motion pictures from The Shining to Scary Movie 2. Some ghosts are friendly (Casper) and some are frightening (Bloody Mary).

Popular television shows like Ghost Adventures use the latest technologies to “prove” that spirits of the dead are all around us – and want to make their presence known.

But is this true? The short answer is no. As Christians, we must gauge all truth claims by the Bible, the ultimate and unchanging measure of reality.
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You are glorified – part 2

This is the last in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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As we learned in the last column, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.

The glory we experience now as Christ lives in us, and the glory we experience in death as our souls / spirits ascend into heaven, are partial works of glorification. But full glorification for followers of Jesus takes place when He calls our bodies from the grave and gives us incorruptible bodies similar to the body He bore when He rose from the dead.

Physical resurrection is the apogee of personal glorification, for in it we shrug off the last vestiges of sin that have clung to our mortal bodies. In glorification, the effects of the Fall are fully and finally reversed.

At the return of Christ, all who have died in the Lord are resurrected. Their souls / spirits, which are in heaven with Jesus, are reunited with their bodies, resulting in complete personal glorification; the body, soul, and spirit are fully conformed to the image of Christ and thus free of any effects of the Fall. Christians alive on the earth at the return of Christ are instantly transformed as they are given glorified bodies; at the same time, their souls / spirits are perfected as well.
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