This week Pastor Gene brought us through a brief defense of the Gospels and of the life of Jesus Christ that you can use to tell someone why you believe Christianity.
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good morning welcome if you're new here among us my name is gene i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and if you've been in church for a long time you may be thinking that's weird because usually the sunday after christmas you get the youth pastor that's usually that's usually what happens and that joke is lost on you if you haven't been in church for a long time it's because people celebrate christmas and they say we got it in and then they don't come to church on sunday but this is exactly where you should be on sunday especially during the christmas season correct amen so you can just rebuke everybody you didn't see in church next sunday don't please don't do that they are the coffee was great it's still christmas right every day should be christmas shouldn't it so merry christmas yes you have the right attitude you know it seems as if it seems as if there's this battle cry right around christmas time right after thanksgiving christians adopt this battle cry all of a sudden keep christ in christmas that's the battle cry you see it on social media people post it on facebook or the instagram whatever else you post on keep christ in christmas you see it on bumper stickers keep christ in christmas it's almost like christians get angry about it keep crying you stole christmas from me and i get it maybe it feels like that sometimes it's become highly commercialized so i challenged people on christmas eve about that it seems like if we're adopting that attitude and we're seeing christmas through that lens really seeing it that way well it seems like a lot of christians show up to jesus's birthday party with a present for themselves or lots of them if we're thinking about it correctly if that's really our battle cry doesn't that seem that way does it seem a little backwards how do you give jesus a present generosity i told you christmas eve all right what you do to the least of these that you do to me generosity love that's how you give jesus a birthday present so let's play the tape on it i'm going to play this out for you guys it's going to get uncomfortable that's okay some of you might be thinking oh i brought a friend today and pastor gene is going to say crazy things again you should have warned them it's going to happen here so let's play the tape let's say you have the courage of your convictions and you're going to return all your birth or all your birthday your birthday presents your christmas presents you're gonna return them you're gonna take the money after you turn them and you're gonna give it to the poor just like jesus said without telling anyone like jesus said don't tell anybody don't post it on social media nothing just you and the lord so let's see what happens all right so we're getting there we go to the store the mall we park our car get out of the car and you got the bumper sticker keep christ in christmas and somebody walks by you and says why what well because no i asked you why why can you answer that question maybe they take it a step further why do you believe in jesus why do you believe any of this why do you celebrate it what are you gonna say think about it for a second now here's the interesting thing about christians and maybe you've experienced this around the holiday dinner table you had conversations i bet you had conversations about politics or what's going on politically in the world just guessing it's just just a wild guess or maybe sports now in those conversations let's say politics i bet you had a whole lot to say i bet you were able to articulate why it was that you're on one side of the aisle or on the other side of the house so whatever let's say you're a republican and i bet you can articulate to people why it is that you believe that or if you're a democrat you can articulate why it is that you believe that i bet you're pretty good at arguing about it with other people too christians are quite capable of making a defense for what they believe politically i see it a lot what about sports but you have no problem defending your favorite sports team i see fantasy football things i don't even know how it works but you're into it you know the player's stats you have a lot of information a lot you remember a lot of numbers batting averages whatever it is people are really good about this and you have no problem defending your position you're quite capable congratulations christians are good at that we tend to know a whole lot about what is really important to us and we have no problem telling other people christians are called to be able to make a defense for what it is that they believe let me show you first peter the context here is suffering as a christian they're not being told to wear like a mask they're being burned alive that's the context here suffer with joy peter says you're going to heaven but you also represent jesus in this people are gonna see the way you respond to this torture and then it's gonna make them think that's what happened with the martyrs like what this person loved me on my way out even though i was killing them i want to know about this jesus and it worked all these persecutions for years it worked it brought a lot of people to christ so in that context this is what is said first peter 3 13. now who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good but even if you suffer for doing what is right god will reward you so don't worry or be afraid of their threats instead you must worship christ as lord of your life and if someone asks about your hope as a believer always be ready to explain it always be ready to explain it you command it this is a church-wide letter it's to everybody in the church it could be to the church today always be ready in the greek apologia it's to make a defense so really really good translation always be ready to make a defense for what it is that you believe apologetics it's called fancy name but a lot of people don't realize that all christians are called to this we looked at the wisdom of solomon in different wisdom books and if you understand what real baptism into christianity is you know that you're baptized in water and the holy spirit that should cause us all to be wise don't you think if god is in us and we're a temple of god do you suppose that god is stupid no so that's what confuses me when a lot of christians come up to me and they say that was confusing i didn't understand that it was complicated yeah but we're called to understand it read hebrews 5 and 6 the author a preacher there gets very frustrated with his audience you should be teachers by now especially if you have the holy spirit in you it should be guiding you into wisdom and we should be able to explain this when we can't and we do i don't know it's not very convincing is it no but you just told me everything like the political history the constitution even though you never read it but you told me all about it you're very enthusiastic about that but this jesus that you say you believe in i don't know now remember david from mission india came really good sermon really good ministry and he told you guys something the correct answer is not go ask pastor gene that would be the equivalent of let's say whatever you are your political affiliation why do you vote i don't know i just go and vote and i like circling little scantron forms randomly ask my congressperson imagine that wow it's kind of like negligence isn't it but here i think the church if we're being very honest suffers from eternal negligence i can't explain it so here's what we're gonna do we're in a season of growth and understanding i am going to equip you today i'm going to give you a little bit of an elevator speech so to speak if you don't know what that is it's the time it takes from an elevator for you to go up in an elevator you explain it but a little longer than that so let's say it's like a 200 story building that's what we're going to do today so let's say someone asks you why let me get you a cup of coffee or lunch come on let me explain it to you let's sit down break bread with that person pay for it show them you love them it's always the best thing to do this information is always better received when you show someone you love them here's the thing the whole jesus loves me this i know because the bible tells me so does not work anymore or not in a judeo-christian country any longer why well my dad believed kids are being indoctrinated at a really early age if you know my wife's story you know she was a school teacher in new york it's hard to be a schoolteacher there you got to get your master's degree in everything secondary education history teacher she quit after about eight years or so why one to parents they expect you to raise their kids for them even though you're just a history teacher not that there's anything wrong with that but then the kid can't do any wrong they can't do anything wrong so you're always wrong it's your fault and i pay your salary then some teachers go okay i'll raise your kids so you have the science teacher teaching them about politics and you have the math teacher teaching them about religion that's what happens at a very early age with sixth grade sixth seventh eighth grade middle school then it doesn't change it goes right through high school indoctrinating them jesus isn't real telling them all kinds of things they get to college it doesn't change the professor's there same thing they don't stay in their lane they go way outside their lane start teaching about things they're really they're not experts in and only at a postgraduate level do you start learning the truth about things she was like hey this was wrong i was lied to this whole time paid a lot of money for it too but that's what's happening so it doesn't work young people think they know everything because my professor told me so so who are you some dumb christian who believes in this fake god that's what they're going to hit you with this is reality so it doesn't work anymore and it's what happened to me i grew up in church it didn't help that my parents didn't reflect jesus in their behavior that didn't work if that's a christian i never want to be one so that's the first mistake we make if we're not acting like jesus forget it we're not good witnesses are we grew up in church did the church thing didn't understand it no one explained it to me no one was able to explain it to me no one read their bibles and so i went to school and my friends said no that's stupid and look at your parents they're mean it doesn't work okay so let me try buddhism let me try taoism let me try witchcraft wiccan stuff did it all i fell away well because i was never there to begin with i didn't understand any of it i wasn't a christian so we have a lot of people calling themselves that like i was but they're not bad for the brand as i said so i fell away and by the grace of god i found the real jesus the biblical jesus not the churchianity jesus real christianity but here's the thing i want to make a side note because this is everybody tells you you're like the apostle paul right but but you know what it was for a season and you grew through it and it was okay or whatever okay oh paul right he was like killing christians and then yeah you know he got saved and then he yeah but you know what he did he wrote 13 books of the bible he brought untold numbers of people into the faith so if you're going to say that was a good thing well you better better bring that many people into the faith too because honestly it was a very bad thing and you know what else i was doing i was telling people that jesus wasn't real that's a very bad thing there's a lot of wreckage in my past that i'm responsible for that's a horrible thing i have a lot of making up to do and that's just me being real with you today so be careful with that oh it grew you through a season yes yes both sides of the coin there yes and no be careful because there's a lot of people in there like kind of putting jesus on hold over here i'll get to him when i'm done having a good time i hope you don't die while you're having a good time because that's it careful careful with that if you read the bible a lot you know it uses the word immediately a lot there's this sense of urgency especially in jesus ministry watch out be alert says it a lot watch yourself be alert immediately now because we don't know i could just die right now that'd be pretty cool dying worshiping jesus talking about jesus but we just don't know so be careful good side note for you so here's the first thing you got to deal with atheists that's the first thing people who say there is no god so here's the stance they're going to take i'm going to teach you something try to make this very simple and if you want you can always go back and watch this online it'll be posted on the website take some notes and things like that so just pay attention in the moment and then go back simple steps atheist the position of the atheist is this that we are arrogant that's their position we're the arrogant ones because we've decisively said that jesus is it and that there is a god and that's it we're the only way so we're so arrogant we think we know everything but it's actually the other way around and i'll show you how to demonstrate that so you can just get them to imagine a pie chart it's just a circle but no pies cut out yet and this circle represents everything that can be known on the planet earth everything any kind of bug animal all the species and trees everything on earth including underneath the seas that we haven't explored yet then you just ask them if you had to carve out your piece of pie that is what you know of everything on the earth how big do you think that slice would be and you'll get like kind of a varying degree some people carve out that or that or that me i'm going to get like the tiniest fine point pen and go like nothing ah interesting okay what about the universe remind them every one of those stars is a sun that's what that is it's a sun like bigger than ours in a lot of cases and there's planets flying around them and all this crazy stuff that we really can't explain if we think about it billions upon billions upon billions now let's go back to the pie chart we got a big one now represents everything that you could ever know about the entire universe what do you think you know of it i'm throwing the pen away but let them carve out a piece of pie and you say you see all that white space there in that white space is the possibility that there's a god because you don't know everything and i'm the humble one because i'm saying i don't know everything it's the humble position that's step one then you've got to get to this okay maybe there's a god but why christianity why jesus so you ask a simple question we've done this before but it's worth doing a couple times a year i'd like it for you guys to know this and be able to share it with people you ask them a simple thing do you believe that alexander the great existed everybody's going to say yes if they say no end the conversation forget it you're not going to convince that person of anything yes okay why do you believe in alexander the great or that he existed it's going to boil down to history it's a historical fact well how do you know that well because of what's written about him in history oh interesting i know a little about that so let me help you do you know when he died no the answer will be no so just remember three two three 323 bc that's when he died june or july okay well when do you suppose they started writing things about him because here's the thing you're going to trap them what have you heard about the bible it's like a big game of telephone right and it's written thousands of years later and there's way outside the facts they don't know what they're talking about so you can't believe the bible it's not a historical document wrong i'll get to that in a minute so you're trapping them they don't know they won't know about life of alexander by plutarch it's written about 400 years after his death the only thing earlier we have that we can read today 300 years later in a library or book of history but the best attested historical work that we have for alexander the great wrap your minds around this is 400 years after he's dead and you're going to implicitly believe that amazing really what do we really know we still can't find his tomb that's interesting okay so you go ahead and believe that maybe you're crazy but i'll tell you why i believe the new testament at least the bible because here we get witnesses i want to help you understand what the new testament is 27 witnesses think about it life of alexander by plutarch not a witness not a witness it's closest thing they have to what the gospels are to jesus a biography about alexander not a witness but the new testament 27 witnesses 27 different books matthew new jesus witness mark probably a young boy a witness peter stays at his mom's house for a little while after getting broke out of jail by an angel read acts luke the physician traveling companion with the apostle paul interviewed lots of witnesses john definitely a witness an apostle acts the history of the early church paul's letters witness witness witness 13 times james witness peter witnessed clearly john witness witnesses that's what they are they're primary documents they're written within a witness period not 400 years later they're written they're in the witness period very close they are historical gold they're what's called a primary document historians love these historians love paul even the ones that don't believe in jesus they will tell you paul was a very real person paul the apostle he is a historical person and they'll say the new testament is history they don't like all of his letters because they feel that maybe they're not written by him so don't argue about that i'll give you one we're going to boil this all down to one book of the new testament first corinthians they love first corinthians and they love paul wrote it and they will tell you even secular scholars who don't believe in jesus will accept that as a historical document they'll tell you paul's a real guy and paul believes what he's saying and so do the people reading his letter they all believe it and now we'll boil it down to one chapter probably one of the most important chapters on this subject in your entire bible if you want to watch a good movie i don't like a lot of christian movies because to be honest some of them are pretty cheesy but low budget but this one is pretty good case for christ really good i think it's on netflix now case for christ i think it's on netflix based on a book by lee strobel lee strobel's a guy who sets out a lawyer i believe to disprove christianity he goes and asks around how do i do this well disprove the resurrection they're done because if jesus didn't rise from the dead their faith is worthless you take that away you're done lee strobel went to a bunch of experts by the time he's done he's a christian because based on the historical facts it's bulletproof it's unbelievable first corinthians 15 paul defends the resurrection and says if jesus didn't rise from the dead our faith is meaningless jesus rose from the dead and here's the thing though remember primary document by a witness and here's what happens he goes through the basic facts of the gospel said you don't believe me jesus appeared in a resurrected form to 500 people some of them are still alive today basically go ask them to peter and the other apostles go ask them he's challenging them tons of people witnessed jesus risen from the dead go ask them so it's a primary document witnesses calling out other witnesses we have nothing nothing like this nothing for that portion of history for that time in history and in volume in the greek alone we have 5 000 over 5 800 copies of the new testament some fragmentary i know but still other works at that time the most homer's iliad 643 i think copies not even close and then it drops right down aristotle 47 plato seven and very low volume and the earliest copies we have they're written about 1200 years later it's amazing it is an amazing historical document that's what you tell them so if you believe in all this stuff your teachers are telling you you have 5 800 more reasons to believe in jesus it has a much greater historical value here's the other thing other world views they're all based on someone else's claim i just take islam for a second muhammad goes off somewhere says he has a revelation and just goes and tells everybody kills lots of people too jesus didn't do that christianity is the opposite all other worldviews are like that you have to trust someone's just opinion or truth a truth claim they call it christianity totally different jesus just goes around doing stuff healing people raising them from the dead crazy stuff and all these people are witnessing it and writing about it 27 witnesses and that doesn't include other historians outside of the bible historians are writing about it saying whoa this is crazy guy rose from the dead okay it's the only world view that does that doesn't rely on just believing someone implicitly so now you see where this really smart kid is getting you have a lot of faith a lot more than me if you believe that stuff because you've got some pretty bad historical writings not a lot of evidence okay so i'm the crazy one now because i got a lot of evidence not to mention the relationship i have with him and you can get there later this is the basic stuff here's the other thing it's worth believing it's worth believing i'm going to say something crass but someone said this to me very early on in my walk questioning okay atheist or whatever if you're right i just died and i was just trying to be a really good person my whole life maybe i'll be well remembered but if i'm right you're screwed think about it it's worth believing but here's the other thing it really did happen paul writes this in first corinthians 2 because he knows there's unbelievers and they're saying it's foolish this idea of a god remember it's a roman greco world their gods are different a god dying for us the earliest graffiti that we have it's like alex's it's the the name is very complicated so it'd be alexander's god it says on a wall he found it on a wall and it's a man's body being crucified with the head of a donkey they thought it was stupid what why would god come down here and die what is the point of that well it's a very good point our god wouldn't ask us to do anything he wouldn't do himself that's the point it's also the greatest act of love ever sacrificing himself for us no other god did that because there is no other god that's it it's crazy love it's a crazy story we serve a god who died for us then rose from the dead so that we can rise from the dead to and be with him in eternal glory sounds wonderful find me another world view where you can do that or you're god's willing to wash feet jesus did that that's crazy love crazy crazy love and here's the thing as we close we are to reflect it we are to reflect it at all times let's read the rest of those verses first peter 3 15 instead you must worship christ as lord of your life and if someone asks about your hope as a believer always be ready to explain it here's the verse people don't get to but do this in a gentle and respectful way maybe you've got to hang on that but do this by posting a bunch of expletives on facebook or being rude or passive aggressive do this explain why you believe in jesus but make sure you do it passive aggressively do it passive aggressively no but do this in a gentle and respectful way keep your conscience clear the post should bother you then if people speak against you they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to christ example kindness and example because god knows that you never ever win people to the faith with hate it's not going to work so if you really care you're going to do it with kindness attraction not promotion not division not anger not hate there's another quick one i'll give you another quick one people will say oh but jesus he cleansed the temple he chased people out of the whip okay thing one you're not jesus second of all he's always mean to the religious hypocrites it's the equivalent of me getting up here and calling out false teachers my job though that's my job and i'm not god also you have to look at the old testament and the gospels through the lens of how paul explains it and paul says that hate and anger is no good don't let the sun go down on that that's a warning don't let the sun go down on your anger because it's going to cause you to sin that's what it says so watch that anger let jesus clear the temple not your job so careful with that one this is what it really says and you can check it galatians don't believe me galatians 5 paul talks about being ruled by the flesh no good never good that's anger all bad stuff anger division hate all that stuff that's flesh so you can tell when someone's working for god or working for the enemy by their delivery system when it's knowingly causing division it's from the enemy and that person's working for the enemy not god but he says the fruit of the holy spirit is love joy peace patience kindness gentleness self-control there's no law against these things that is how you know the person's working for god and not the devil even the church has too many wolves and sheep's clothing in it anyone causing division spreading fear anger get out it's no good for the brand we have to do this with love you can have all the head knowledge you want but if you don't have love you have nothing so as we turn the corner on a new year let's make our battle cry for christ with love amen amen let me pray for you lord i thank you for everyone who came out today as we continue to celebrate christ in our lives it doesn't end on a holiday that somebody else tells us to celebrate it begins every morning when you give us breath in our lungs we thank you for it we appreciate you lord we glorify you lord and we're going to use that breath to proclaim your glory your gospel message with your love in jesus name amen you