What to do When You’re on the Ropes in a Witnessing Encounter

  • Sometimes in our apologetic conversations, whether with cultists or skeptics, we will be confronted with a question or challenge that we simply don’t have an answer for. What should we do in those situations?
  • Avoid the temptation to make up an answer. Not only is this dishonest, but it’s not really helping the person you’re witnessing to.
  • Know that there’s nothing wrong with not having an answer on the spot. Sometimes your dialogue partner, whether a cultist or skeptic, will perceive your lack of an answer as a victory on their part, but don’t allow that to shake your confidence.
  • Remember, the truth is on our side as Christians. If you don’t have an answer for a particular question on the spot, take that as an opportunity to learn and grow in your apologetic knowledge and abilities.
  • When stumped, it’s ok to simply say, “That’s a great question” or “I’ve never heard that point before.”  Then confidently say, “Please give me some time to look into that issue and I’ll be happy to talk to you more another time.”
  • It can also be helpful to steer the conversation back to territory that you’re more confident discussing. Say something like, “That’s a good point and I need to give that some more thought, but what about this…”
  • You will also never go wrong in sharing the word of God with someone. There’s power in the word. When an immediate answer to a challenge escapes you, politely state, “You’ve given me something to think about there, but I’m confident in what I believe because God’s word tells us…”
  • It is also helpful when faced with a challenging conversation to simply share your testimony and the ways you’ve seen God work in your life. Emphasize God’s grace and His power to redeem any sinner (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

For more information on effectively sharing your faith with non-Christians, please check out the book, Apologetics For A New Generation, available in our online store.

Questions to Ask the Jehovah’s Witness (about Jesus) Using Their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

  • The following questions can be asked to highlight the fact that Jesus is fully God and a member of the Triune Godhead, the Trinity.
  • JW’s claim that Jesus is simply ‘a god’, a created being. Ask them, “How can the Word be ‘a god’ (John 1:1) if there are no gods together with Jehovah, as Deuteronomy 32:39 says?”
  • JW’s claim that Jesus is actually Michael the archangel, the first creation of God. If so, “Why does Michael not dare to bring a judgment against Satan, but instead says, ‘May Jehovah rebuke you’ (Jude 9); yet in Matthew 4:10 Jesus rebukes Satan directly himself?”
  • JW’s claim that Jesus is ‘a god’ and the first creation of Jehovah, who created all other things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). If that is the case, “Why does Jehovah say in Isaiah 44:24 that He created the heavens and the earth by Himself and then questions, ‘Who was with me?’”
  • JW’s claim that Jehovah alone is God. Ask them, “If Jehovah alone is God, why then does Jesus not condemn Thomas for blasphemy when after the resurrection he calls Jesus, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28-29)?”
  • JW’s affirm the numerous statements in Scripture declaring Jehovah God to be the ‘First and the Last’ (ex. Isaiah 44:6). An interesting question to ask them is, “When did the First and the Last, Jehovah God, die (Revelation 1:17-18)?”

For more information on witnessing to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, please check out the documentary DVD titled, Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Non-Prophet Organization, available in our online store.

Whether or Not Heaven Is For Real

  • In recent years stories of near-death experiences and supposed journeys to Heaven have been widely distributed and consumed in popular culture and the Church.
  • While stories such as these are intriguing, they must ultimately be tested and judged by God’s revelation in Scripture, the believer’s final authority.
  • The Bible reveals that Heaven is for real and it’s the destination of all who place their trust in Jesus Christ (Rev. 4; Phil. 3:20-21; 2 Cor. 5:8; Jn. 14:1-3; Jn. 11:25-26).
  • We can trust the Bible’s revelation about Heaven because we have tremendous reasons to believe that the Bible is God’s word (see Past Fast Facts- March 7, 2012).
  • Finally, we trust that Heaven is for real because Jesus Christ revealed the truth of Heaven to us; and Jesus is ultimately trustworthy because he proved his deity in his life, miracles, and resurrection from the dead.

For more information on the reality of Heaven, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

  • The Christian faith rests upon the claim that Jesus Christ physically rose from the grave on that first Easter Sunday morning. What is the evidence that this event really took place?
  • First, the rapid growth of the early Church in the first two centuries A.D., in a hostile Jewish culture, occupied by a hostile Roman empire, only makes sense in light of the early Christians’ commitment to their testimony that Jesus was the risen Messiah.
  • Second, in 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul testifies that there were over 500 eyewitnesses to the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The majority of scholars agree that 1 Corinthians was written about 55 A.D. This was roughly 20 years after the resurrection. In other words, many of the eyewitnesses were still around.
  • Third, many lives were dramatically transformed as a result of witnessing the risen Jesus. For example: Saul became Paul; James, the brother of Jesus, went from skeptic to leader of the Church in Jerusalem; the disciples were transformed from cowards to bold evangelists willing to die for the testimony they proclaimed. What else explains these remarkable transformations?

For more powerful evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, The Resurrection: Fiction or Fact? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

The Biblical Prophecies of the Messiah for Passion Week

  • The Bible is filled with some incredible prophecies about the Messiah. Peter Stoner, former Westmont College science professor, calculated the odds of a single person fulfilling just eight of the Bible’s major prophecies of the Messiah as being one chance in 100,000 trillion!
  • The Bible’s prophecies of the Messiah are both a proof of Jesus’ divinity as well as the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture. Consider the following.
  • Zechariah 11:12-13 revealed the Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Mt. 27:7-10).
  • Isaiah 53:7 said he would remain silent before his accusers (Mt. 27:12-14).
  • Psalm 22:7 reported the Messiah would be mocked and insulted (Mt. 27:31).
  • Isaiah 53:12 foretold that he would be put to death with transgressors (Luke 23:33).
  • Psalm 69:21 reported the Messiah would be given gall and vinegar for his thirst (Mt. 27:34).
  • Psalm 22:18 revealed that his garments would be divided by the casting of lots (Mt. 27:35).
  • Psalm 22:1 declared the Messiah would be forsaken (Mt. 27:46).
  • Zechariah 12:10 foretold that the Messiah would be pierced (Jn. 19:34).
  • Isaiah 53:9 reported his burial in a rich man’s tomb (Mt. 27:57-60).
  • And most amazing of all, Psalm 16:10 and Isaiah 53:10-12 revealed that the Messiah would conquer the grave by rising from the dead (Mk. 16:6; Acts 2:31).

For more incredible evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

Responding to the Charge, “You’re Only a Christian Because You Were Raised in a Christian Home”

  • When a critic or skeptic raises this charge against a Christian’s faith they are committing the Genetic Fallacy. This is an attempt to discredit a person’s beliefs by criticizing their origin.
  • The problem with this charge, however, is that the origin of a person’s beliefs has no bearing on whether or not those beliefs are true.
  • An Atheist may likewise be an Atheist because they were raised in a home of Atheists, but that’s completely irrelevant to whether or not their Atheism is true.
  • When examining belief systems what ultimately matters is whether or not the beliefs that are held correspond with reality.
  • Thus, the most appropriate way to judge any person’s beliefs is by examining the evidence for them.
  • As a Christian, a great response to this charge is to politely state, “I may have been blessed to have been raised in a Christian home, but my faith is founded upon greater reasons to believe than that fact alone. If you’d be interested I’d love to share with you some of the compelling evidence for why I’ve put my trust in Jesus.”

For more answers to common charges against the Christian faith, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

Responding to the Accusation that Christians Embrace the “God of the Gaps” Fallacy

  • Many skeptics accuse Christians of employing the “God of the gaps” fallacy by claiming we fall back on God as the answer for anything we don’t understand.
  • For example, philosophical Naturalists say Christians believe in the God of the gaps when we say God created the universe because we cannot imagine how else it came to be.
  • The truth of the Christian position, however, is not that we are employing the God of the gaps fallacy, but rather, we are making an inference to the most logical explanation.
  • Making an inference is a valid form of reasoning where one examines the evidence and moves in the direction of the best explanation.
  • As Christians, when we see evidence of design throughout the universe we infer the existence of an Intelligent Designer, a Creator. Thus, it is evidence that guides us to our conclusion, not ignorance.

For more information of responding to skeptics’ challenges, please see the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

Responding to the Muslim Claim that the Bible has Been Corrupted

  • It is not uncommon when engaging Muslims in evangelistic conversations to hear the charge that the Bible has been corrupted and therefore is not trustworthy.
  • The Christian’s response to this charge should be to press the question, “When did this supposed corruption of the Bible take place?”
  • Point out to the Muslim that the Koran actually says that the Bible is God’s word, has not been changed, and is under God’s protection (Surah 5:43, 44, 46, 68; Surah 4:136; Surah 10:91; Surah 15:9; Surah 6:34; Surah 10:64).
  • Next ask the question, “If the Bible was corrupted, was this before or after the time of Mohammed?”
  • If the answer is “Before Mohammed”, ask why God would then tell Mohammed to look to the Scriptures for guidance and light?
  • If the answer is “After Mohammed”, ask why they don’t then accept the Bible as authoritative since our current translations are all based on manuscripts that pre-date Mohammed by hundreds of years.
  • Finally, it’s important to explain that the earliest textual evidence we have for the Bible (the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Old Testament and the thousands of partial and complete Greek New Testament manuscripts dating to within the first 3 centuries A.D.) simply does not allow for the claim of its widespread corruption.

For more information on reaching out to Muslims with the Gospel, please check out the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, available in our online store.

The God of Islam vs. the God of Christianity

  • Allah of Islam is an unknowable god. Muslims can only know the laws of Allah given in the Koran. Yahweh of the Bible is a God whom we can know personally as our Heavenly Father.
  • Allah is one. The God of the Bible, Yahweh, is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Allah is changeable and thus cannot be trusted. Yahweh is immutable, his nature does not change, and therefore he is ultimately trustworthy.
  • Allah is transcendent and unapproachable. Yahweh has made himself known by entering human history in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • With Allah salvation is based on works of legalism. With Yahweh salvation is based on grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

For more information on the religion of Islam, please check out Dr. Carlson’s book, Fast Facts on False Teachings, available in our online store.

The Primary Branches of Islam

  • The two main branches of Islam are the Sunnis and Shiites. These groups formed after the death of Mohammed as they differed over the proper succession of leadership in Islam.
  • Sunnis believed that the successor to Mohammed, the Caliph, should be elected. Shiites believed the successor to Mohammed should be a blood relative.
  • Sunnis are the dominant group within Islam today, comprising over 80% of all Muslims in the world. Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia would be examples of influential Sunni-majority nations.
  • Sunnis base their beliefs and practices primarily upon the Koran and the Sunna, the traditions and sayings of Mohammed, such as the Hadith, as interpreted by the consensus of the religious scholars of Islam, called Ulama.
  • Shiite belief and practice is less concerned with consensus and instead is governed by ruling authorities that represent the hidden 12th Imam, or Mahdi. The Shiites believe the Mahdi will one day return to govern the world under Islamic law.
  • Sunnis are generally more open to a separation between civil and religious leadership, whereas Shiite leadership typically dictates both civil and religious law (ex. the Ayatollahs of Iran).
  • A third branch of Islam is known as Sufism. This is a minority sect of Islam where the adherent seeks to renounce attachment to the world and come into a direct, mystical experience of Allah.

For more information on the religion of Islam, check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, World Religions: What Makes Jesus Unique? available in CD or MP3 in our online store.