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Ed Stetzer – Acts 17 Connection in Brazil: Three Statements that Keep Them Focused on Planting

Ed Stetzer – Acts 17 Connection in Brazil: Three Statements that Keep Them Focused on Planting.

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WHAT IS EVIDENTIAL APOLOGETICS?

Evidential Apologetics, also sometimes referred to as Natural Apologetics, uses empirical arguments “about the life, miracles, death and resurrection of Christ are presented as probabilistic proofs”[1].

Introduction – Apologetics Defined

Apologetics is the art and science of presenting the Gospel in such a way as to overcome the objections of a reluctant person for whom Christ died, or more simply, the reasoned defense of the Christian faith [2]. The Bible gives a clear mandate for believers to defend the Gospel against attacks in 1 Peter 3:15, where it says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” [3].  Christians are to do apologetics for several reasons, which include a commandment from God, demand from reason, a need from the world, and prior positive results [4].

Although the command to do the apologetic task is a universal command, the approach that one may take is far from universal. Three main approaches exist in doing apologetics: Experiential Apologetics, Evidential Apologetics (Natural Apologetics), and Presuppositional Apologetics.

Apologetic Methodologies

Experiential Apologetics seeks to validate the claims of Christianity by one’s experiences. It argues on behalf of the Gospel by using both their experiences and the benefits of the Christian life. Presuppositional Apologetics ‘seeks to validate Christianity by first asking: Does anything except Christianity allow us to make sense of the world?’” One who takes the presuppositional approach believes that one must presuppose that Christianity is true, and then proceed to show that all other religious systems are false” [5].

The evidential apologist uses all available evidence, just as an attorney would in a court of law. They use creation, history, logic, reason, and testimony among other things. They use “simple argumentation and common sense” because they believe that there is “sufficient evidence for God’s existence and that man is capable of considering the logic and reasonableness of Christianity” [6].

To the Evidentialist, the truths of Christianity can be both explained and verified. Such evidences for the Christian faith, although reasonable, explainable, and verifiable, are not salvific. However, they can lead an unbeliever to the point where they may be open to the truths of Christ’s salvific work and nature.

Problems with the Evidential Method

Problems exist, although minor in nature, with Evidential Apologetics. First, it assumes that man, in a fallen state, once presented with the ‘evidence’, can come to the conclusion of Christ as Lord. However, only the drawing of the Holy Spirit, as given by the grace of God, can ultimately lead a fallen man to the conclusion that Christ is Lord. Additionally, Evidential Apologetics can “become dry and academic in presentation, and [thus reduce] God to a propositional statement or an argument” [7].  If one is not careful, they can reduce apologetics, and thus Christianity, to a list of facts and figures that do nothing but ‘educate’ a person. One must remember that any form of Apologetic is only the beginning – Christ completes the work. Finally, in Evidential Apologetics, reason could be given too must importance. Reason and logic, though important, do not save person, regardless of how accurate their reason and logic is. “It still takes a supernatural element to get someone saved”.

Spokesmen for the Evidential Method of Apologetics

Many evangelicals and fundamentalists adopt the Evidential method of Apologetics.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274),  Ravi Zacharias (born 1946), C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), John W. Montgomery (born 1931), Clark Pinnock (born 1937), Norman Geisler (born 1932), Josh McDowell (born 1939), Ravi Zacharias (born 1946), William Lane Craig (born 1949), Gary Habermas (born 1950), and Ergun Caner (birth year unknown).

Conclusion

Evidential Apologetics relies on the evidences for the Christian faith. For one desiring to challenge an unbeliever to “examine the claims [that] Jesus Christ is God’s Son”, that He “lived among real men and women”, and that he “died in the cross for the sin of mankind [and was] buried and He arose three days later”, the Evidential method is the perfect tool [8]. “Many people have been convinced that the Christian faith is true as a result of such apologetic methods”, and thus this method is an effective apologetic method to present and defends the claims of the Christian faith.[9]

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Key search words: Liberty University Intro to Apologetics, APOL 500, Evidential Apologetics, Natural Apologetics

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Endnotes

1          Eric Douma, “Apologetics: The Battle For Truth,” Twin City Fellowship,http://twincityfellowship.com/audio/biblestudy_mp3/apologetics/apologetics05.pdf(accessed November 10, 2009).

2          Ergun Caner, “Apologetics 500: Lecture One, The Need for Apologetics” [Class lecture notes, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, date unknown].

3          1 Peter 3:15, The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1979.

4          Norman L. Geisler, “An Apologetic for Apologetics,” Dr. Norman Geisler, http://www.normangeisler.net/ apologetic.html (accessed November 11, 2009).

5          Caleb Colley, “Ready Always to Give an Answer,” Apologetics Press: Scripturally Speaking,http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240172 (accessed November 12, 2009), quoting Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999).

6          Ergun Caner, “Apologetics 500: Lecture Four, The Major Methodologies of Apologetics.” [Class lecture notes, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, date unknown].

7          Ibid.

8          Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972), 363-67.

9          Gary F. Zeolla, “Josh McDowell and Apologetic Methods,” Darkness to Light, http://www.dtl.org/ apologetics/ng-post/mcdowell.htm (accessed November 08, 2009).

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Caner, Ergun. “Apologetics 500: Lecture One, The Need for Apologetics.” Class lecture notes, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, date unknown.

________. “Apologetics 500: Lecture Four, The Major Methodologies of Apologetics.” Class lecture notes, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, date unknown.

Colley, Caleb. “Ready Always to Give an Answer.” Apologetics Press: Scripturally Speaking. http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240172 (accessed November 12, 2009).

Douma, Eric. “Apologetics: The Battle For Truth.” Twin City Fellowship.http://twincityfellowship.com/audio/biblestudy_mp3/apologetics/apologetics05.pdf (accessed November 10, 2009).

Geisler, Norman L. “An Apologetic for Apologetics.” Dr. Norman Geisler. http://www.normangeisler.net/apologetic.html (accessed November 11, 2009).

McDowell, Josh. Evidence that Demands a Verdict. San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972.

Zeolla, Gary F. “Josh McDowell and Apologetic Methods.” Darkness to Light.http://www.dtl.org/apologetics/ng-post/mcdowell.htm (accessed November 08, 2009).

Menno Simons, the Faithful Founder of the Mennonites (via The Berean Blog)

Menno Simons is a great man of faith that people can learn much about. My research for this paper took about 2-3 months, but it was well worth it. Take some time and read about this hero of the faith.

Menno Simons, the Faithful Founder of the Mennonites Menno Simons was a man of deep faith, conviction, and love for God's Word, who stood strong in what he thought was right, and affirmed only those things clearly taught and substantiated in the word of God, even though it resulted in persecution for himself and his followers. The Beginnings His Birth and Childhood Less is wri … Read More

via The Berean Blog

God used events from the intertestamental period prepares the way for His Son, the Messiah!

In what providential ways did the intertestamental period prepare for the coming of Christ and the rise of the church?

God used events during the Intertestamental Period to pave the way for the coming of His Son and His Son’s divine purpose.

From the spread of Hellenization, which is the manifestation of Greek culture and socialization, to favorable outcomes of Ptolemaic rule over the Jews, the intertestamental period (a period of about 400+ years between the close of the Old Testament period and the opening of the New Testament period with John the Baptist) prepared for the coming of Christ and the rise of the church in many fortunate, providential, and advantageous ways. Other less significant preparations can additionally be noted during this period, which is also known as “the four hundred silent years” [although this period was anything but “silent”, as anyone who knows about Judas ‘The Hammer’ Macabees will tell you].

First, the victories of Alexander the Great in the Middle-East brought about much more than just the increase of a political empire. Greek culture, or Hellenism, had already penetrated the trade and colonization of the area. The Alexandrian victories boosted the Greek language into the lingua franca, or common trade and diplomatic language throughout Palestine, the Middle East, Macedonia, Greece, and further. Because of this influence, the New Testament, the writings that would forever change the world, would be penned in the Greek language several hundred years later.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty of the intertestamental period showed a positive influence on the rise of the early church by producing translations of the then current day Bible, the Old Testament. Under Ptolemy Philadelphus, seventy-two Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. This translation from Hebrew to Greek is called the Septuagint, in which the books were arranged according to history, poetry, and prophecy. The Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Old Testament, was translated first, followed then by the remainder of the Old Testament. This translation is often called the LXX, after the seventy-two men who translated it (LXX is the Roman numeral for seventy, which is the rounded number of men who performed the translation). The availability of the Greek Old Testament allowed the Gentile world to know and experience Yahweh, the Covenant God.

In addition to the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, which gained control of Palestine near the end of the intertestamental period, helped to facilitate the rise of the early church. Rome prevailing over Palestine created a political unity and sound, uniform structure for the region. This common, prevailing rule of government facilitated a more rapid spread of the Christian faith. This rapid spread of Christianity might not have occurred so rapidly had the region been under multiple reigns of government.

On a less influential yet still providential note, the near end of the intertestamental period saw the unintentional preparation of the temple in which Jesus the Messiah would teach. This was done by Herod the Great, a descendant of Esau, who was ruler over Palestine and the same king who ordered the slaughter of babies in Bethlehem in an attempt to destroy Jesus (Matthew 2:16). Herod had the temple decorated with white marble, gold, and jewels, in an attempt to please the Jews. He beautified the temple because of political motivations, not because he shared in the faith of the Jews. None the less, without knowing, he ordered the beautification of the temple that Jesus would later use to minister in and share the love of His Father.

In conclusion, the spread of Hellenistic culture by Alexander the Great, followed by the establishment of a one-world government by Rome paved the way for the coming of Christ and the rise of the church. A common culture and a common government of the then known world helped prepare for the coming of the uncommon Christ and His church.

Indeed, the providential, sovereign hand of God was a work during these 400 “silent years” called the intertestamental period, paving the way for the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, who would save His people from their sins!! Soli Deo Gloria!

She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” Matthew 1:21-23 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

What can we learn from ol’ Titus?

What can we learn from Titus in the Bible? What can we learn from the Book of Titus? Who was Titus in the Bible?

Although Titus is not often mentioned in the New Testament records, much can still be gleaned about his personality and character from the twelve mentions of his name. Through these few select occurrences of his name in the New Testament one can quickly discover the type of person Titus was. He was a man who was a true son in faith, he was a genuine brother to the Apostle Paul, he was a partner and fellow worker, he walked in the same spirit as other Apostles, he walked in the same steps as other Apostles, and he was an example of how believers even today should pattern their lives.

Titus was a Gentile companion of Paul, according to Galatians Chapter 2, where Paul says, “But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised”. He was also the recipient of the New Testament letter that bears his name. Some have suggested that Titus may have been a convert of Paul, because Paul referred to him as “my true child in our common faith” (Titus 1:4, Holman Christian Standard Bible). Titus was one of Paul’s earliest associates, and would have traveled with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, a fact verified by Paul in Galatians 2:1, where Paul said, “Then after 14 years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.”

Though this article is more concerned with the character and person of Titus, we learn about some of his activities from scriptures, as well. Though the book of Acts does not mention Titus by name, one can deduce from a study of his activities that he was quite involved in Paul’s missionary activities. The letters of Paul confirm this. “He was evidently known to the Galatians (Gal. 2:1, 3), possibly from the first missionary journey to that region”.

It is most probable that Titus was the one who delivered the book of Second Corinthians to the church at Corinth on Paul’s behalf, as can be deduced from 2 Corinthians 8:6 and 8:23. In addition to that assignment from Paul, Titus was also the overseer and administrator of the church in Crete, as seen in Titus 1:5 where Paul says, “The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town” (HCSB). Titus 3:12 indicates that Titus joined Paul in Nicopolis, which is on the west coast of Greece. After Paul was sent to prison for a subsequent time, he sent Titus to Dalmatia to minister in his place.

As was previously mentioned, the activities of Titus are secondary to the character and person of Titus in this paper. Though he is strangely absent from many of the New Testament records, such as the book of Acts, where he is mentioned his character abounds. He can be seen as a man of great common sense, who worked vigorously for the poor, for the members of the early church, and for Paul. Spurgeon commented on Titus in this manner:

Among the friends of Paul, Titus was one of the most useful and one of the best beloved. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and Titus was a Gentile. I should suppose that both his parents were Gentiles, and in this respect he differed from Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess. Timothy would well serve as a preacher to the circumcision, but Titus would be a man after Paul’s heart as a preacher to the Gentiles. He seems to have been a man of great common sense; so that, when Paul had anything difficult to be done, he sent Titus. When the collection was to be made at Corinth on behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem, Paul sent Titus to stir the members up, and with him another brother to take charge of the contributions.

The first mention of Titus by name is found in 2 Corinthians 2:13. There Paul lays the foundation for subsequent discussion of Titus by confirming his status to all who would read the book of 2 Corinthians. He confirmed that Titus was a genuine brother to him by saying, “I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.” Paul indicates here that Titus is such a close brother, companion, and confidant that he was uneasy in his spirit when he arrived at Troas to preach the gospel, an opportunity that the Lord had given him. Titus had been in Corinth, and was on his way back. Without Paul’s confirmation of Paul as a genuine brother in the faith, the rest of the discussion on the character and person of Titus might be considered irrelevant.

The next time Titus is mentioned by name in the New Testament is in the seventh chapter of 2 Corinthians. Here Titus is referred to as one who brings comfort to people. Paul was asking the people to open their hearts to God and to be receptive to the message of correction he was giving to them. Paul was reminding the people that, as Christians, they were not to have anything to do with wickedness or vile things of this world. He goes on to offer encouragement to them, starting in chapter seven. Paul then goes on to say that he was comforted by the coming of Titus. “Though Paul still had many problems to face in Macedonia, God had encouraged him at the right time with the arrival of Titus.”

Titus, then, was a person that brought people great comfort not only with the message he brought, but with his presence. Titus had been sent on a difficult mission. “He had to deliver a stern letter from Paul that exhorted the Corinthians to right some wrongs.” He was entrusted with the delicate task of delivering Paul’s severe letter found in 2 Corinthians 2, yet he comes back to Paul so full with joy that it brings encouragement to Paul. Paul was encouraged by the presence of Titus, and by the positive reaction to his stern disciplinary letter. The Corinthians, Paul had learned, had encouraged Titus, even though he brought a letter of rebuke for their wicked and vile conduct. 2 Corinthians 7:13 says that Titus’ “spirit was refreshed by all of you” (NKJV).

One chapter later, in chapter eight, we learn that Titus was both a partner and fellow worker with Paul. In 2 Corinthians 8:23 Paul refers to Titus as “my partner and co-worker serving you; as for our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ” (HCSB). This indicates that Titus was a very capable person in whom Paul placed much trust and responsibility. “He became one of Paul’s most trusted associates. The apostle refers to him as….his partner and helper and a positive role model”. Titus was a helper to Paul in several ways, one of which was to be in charge of collecting an offering that the Corinthian church was to give Paul. This is what Paul was referring to in 2 Corinthians 8:6, where Paul says that “so we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well” (NKJV).

The Corinthian Christians may have intended to give [an offering]. They may have thought about giving. They may have been favorable to the idea of giving. Yet all of this was useless unless they did in fact complete this grace. Often, intentions, vows, and resolutions are useless without action. It was time for the Corinthian Christians to act, and Titus would help them do this.

2 Corinthians 8:16 tells us that it was “Paul’s intention to recommend Titus to them as a trustworthy bearer of their money”.

We find in 2 Corinthians 12: 18 that Paul reminds the Corinthians that Titus was of the same spirit as he was, a spirit that takes advantage of no one. It was obvious to the Corinthians that Paul had not personally taken advantage of them, nor had any of his associates, including Titus. However, his opponents, false apostles, “circulated an even more vicious rumor—that he was using craftiness and cunning to deceive the Corinthians”, as evidenced in 2 Corinthians 4:2.

Specifically, the false apostles accused Paul of sending his assistants to collect the Jerusalem offering from the Corinthians while intending to keep some of it for himself. Thus, according to his opponents, Paul was both a deceitful hypocrite and a thief. This charge was all the more painful to Paul because it impugned the character of his friends. Outraged that the Corinthians could believe such ridiculous lies, Paul pointed out that his associates did not take advantage of the Corinthians during their earlier visits regarding the collection (8:6, 16–22). The simple truth was that neither Paul nor his representatives [including Titus] had in any way defrauded the Corinthians.

Titus was of the same spirit as Paul, a spirit that sought to love and encourage the church at Corinth, not rob them and drag them down. “[Titus’] impeccable behavior among them would be a continual rebuttal to the gossip of those who were discrediting Paul”. This is because Titus was not only of the same spirit as Paul, he lived out his life with works that were in the same steps as Paul. Not only did his heart resemble Paul’s, his actions did as well. The same proof of honesty, sincerity, and love were manifested in Titus’ life that was found in Paul’s life. In other words, as was Paul, Titus was above reproach as he exemplified the same sprit as Paul and walked in the same steps, or manner, as Paul.

Finally, we see in the book that bears his name that Titus was a “true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4, NKJV). This meant that even though Titus was a Greek convert, and not a Jew, he was none-the-less an authentic convert of Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that Paul refers to him as a “true” son seems to indicate that he was much more that just the leader of the church at Crete – he was “converted to the Christian faith by [Paul’s] instrumentality, and regarded by [Paul] with the affection of a father”. Although Paul had no children, he adopted [Titus] as a son, and uniformly regarded and treated him as such.”

Whenever the apostle Paul had a vexing situation that demanded a firm but diplomatic touch, he sent Titus (such as the delivery of the letter of rebuke to the Corinthian church). Titus, then, was his troubleshooter. Paul had assigned Titus to deliver a letter to the Cretans (the letter that bears his name), and Titus accomplished this mission, just as a true son in the common faith would. The Cretans were undisciplined and immature, and they needed a firm hand. Titus went to set things in order. He was the “point man, pinch hitter, clutch player, and go-getter” for Paul and the ministry.

“A true son in our common faith” refers to a person who can be counted on, and someone who knew “what to do and how to do it and one who works tirelessly to get it done. Titus was that kind of person”. Paul, giving him this title of a true son, indicates that Titus and he had a relationship of trust and acceptance, and indicated also that Paul was confident that Titus could get the job done. Much of Titus’ work, like the apostle Paul’s, was dangerous, unpopular, difficult, and tiring. It involved traveling, introducing strangers to new ideas, constantly making new friends, consistently battling new enemies, and even deflecting threats on one’s life. The number of people who could share such a load was small, but the early church desperately needed them. Not just anyone could start and maintain a new church in a hostile world. Yet Titus rose to the challenge.

After Paul speaks of Titus as his “true son in our common faith” he then offers him the blessing of “grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” (Titus 1:4). “Paul looks past the ancient antipathies between Jews (of which he is one) and Gentiles (of which Titus is one) and says that they are of the same faith and family”. They were united, as seen in verse 4, by “grace and peace” that came from their common Savior. Yes, Titus was a son to Paul, yet they were both brothers in Christ, as well.
Though we can get a glimpse of Titus from Scriptures, there is not a great deal about Titus that is known. From a few of the scattered references to him, there emerges a picture of a man who was one of Paul’s most trusted companions and most valuable helpers. Paul referred to him as “my true son,” indicating that he was a convert of Paul’s own ministry, making their relationship all the more close.

Though Titus was the companion of Paul during awkward and a difficult times, his character remained faithful and impeccable. Paul referred to him as a genuine brother, a partner and fellow worker, a person who was of the same spirit as he, a person who walked in the same steps as him, and a person people could pattern their lives after. Although his name does not appear in the records of the Acts of the early church, it is quite clear that Titus was there, ministering and laboring for the gospel, as a faithful partner in ministry to Paul and other apostles.

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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament: Introduction to Titus. Quickverse, Second ed., Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Parson’s Technology, 1999.

Barton, Bruce B. Life Application Bible Commentary: 1 and 2 Corinthians. Quickverse, Electronic Edition STEP Files. Edited by Grant Osborne and Philip W. Comfort. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 2001.

Browning, Jr, Daniel C. Holman Bible Dictionary Edition: Titus. 3rd ed. Edited by Trent C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1998.

Guzik, David. “2 Corinthians 8: Encouragement and Examples in Giving.” Enduring Word Media. http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/4709.htm (accessed March 13, 2009).

________. “Titus 1: A Mission for Titus.” Enduring Word Media. http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/5601.htm (accessed March 03, 2009).

Hughes, R. Kent, and Bryan Chapell. Preaching the Word Commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus – To Guard the Deposit. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000.

MacArthur, Jr., John. The MacArthur Study Bible: New King James Edition. Logos Research Systems, Electronic ed. Nashville, TN: Word Publishers, Inc, 1997.

Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House. The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Nelson Publishers, 1997.

Spurgeon, Charles H. Spurgeon’s Sermons:: Volume 41. electronic ed., Logos Library System. Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998.

The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 1975. Reprint. Edited by William Barclay. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 2000.

Willmington, Harold L. Willmington’s Complete Guide to Bible Knowledge: New Testament People. Quickverse Electronic Edition STEP Files. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1996.