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Striking a Balance

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Rom. 10:14-17, NKJV)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matt. 28:18-20, NKJV)

It is interesting to me to see the different ways that I receive inspiration for some of my articles. In this case, I was writing a serious letter and thought, "You know, this could be my rough draft..."

As a bit of review, I want to restate the main points of this Weblog:
  • To encourage Christians to fulfill the Great Commission, sharing their faith with those who are perishing (Jude 1.23)
  • To encourage believers to be grounded in the Word and in love (Eph. 3.17-19)
  • To encourage Christians to be able to defend the faith (ἀπολογία, apologia, a speech in defense, 1 Peter 3.15) and show that we do not have to shut off our brains to become believers
  • To help equip followers of Jesus in both evangelism and apologetics; there are many resources available
  • To ask church people to examine themselves to see if they are, indeed, in the faith and to make certain of their relationships with Christ, and of their eternal destination (2 Cor. 13.5, Matt. 7.21-23), because being a "good (whatever)" is not a guarantee
  • To warn Christians about false teachers who can fool them, causing them to abandon their faith or get drawn into a cult

As Christians, we are sometimes accused of something resembling Fideism. Unfortunately, sometimes it is a valid claim. Children will ask their parents a question, and are told, essentially, "Shut up and have faith. It's a mystery", or a similar brush-off. Although there are some things we may never know or fully understand, true faith is not afraid of questions. Especially in this age, where there is plenty of information available and people to ask.

The Word of God is our sword (Eph. 6.16, Heb. 4.12) and we must preach the gospel message. It will do its job (Isaiah 55.11). I strongly urge people to listen to (or watch) "Hell's Best Kept Secret" and "True and False Conversion", and then watch the video, "What DID Jesus Do?" Those are here. This is urgent, because Hell is real and we do not want people to go there, despite what false teachers like Rob Bell will say.

On the other hand, people have honest questions, and many have fallen away from the faith because they did not get answers. We can spend a great deal of time convincing honest seekers of the truth, dealing with philosophies and giving evidences for the faith. We may end up with people who are intellectually satisfied but are still lost.

This is where I believe that balance applies. Apologetics is very important. The Christian faith is not just "because the Bible said so", and is supported by a great deal of evidence. We can show that our faith is reasonable, but we can lose souls if we spend all our time on giving evidence. So, we need to present the Word of God as well. Let it do its work, resonating with the conscience of the seeker.

Do we present the Bible, or do apologetics? My answer is: Both. Give a good effort to answer questions from honest seekers, but do not let people who are not serious waste your time. Some people take great delight in wasting the time of Christians, bringing up "rabbit trails", "red herrings", constant questions or objections and so forth. You have to prayerfully decide when it is time to move on. But do not forget to present the heart of the gospel message.

On the other hand, do not simply appeal to the Bible all the time. We do have reasons to believe, and our faith is not blind. It is a matter of keeping a proper balance, but it is not tricky or dangerous.

Do you care about the lost?