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How Can We Persuade Skeptics of the Truth of the Gospel?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
November 16, 2022 4:25 pm

How Can We Persuade Skeptics of the Truth of the Gospel?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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November 16, 2022 4:25 pm

Episode 1099 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

CoreChristianity.com

 

Questions in this Episode

 

1. What should we think about false teachers who still confess Jesus as Lord?

2. Is it idolatrous to spend more time on my hobbies than I do praying?

3. How can we persuade skeptics? Is it even possible?

4. How did unbelievers perform miracles in Jesus’s name in 1 Corinthians 12:3?

5. What does Ecclesiastes 7:15 mean when it talks about people being “overly righteous” and “overly wise”?

6. Why do we close our eyes when we pray?

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Can we persuade skeptics of the truth of the gospel?

That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Our phone lines are open right now. We'll be taking calls for the next 25 minutes or so. So now is the time to call. Here's the number.

It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. You might want to make a note of that. Put it on your refrigerator. Write it in the dust on your dashboard so it's always right there in front of you. 833-843-2673.

You might want to clean your car if you have that much dust on your dashboard. You might want to. There's no doubt about that. Hey, we've also got an email address if you want to email us your question. It's questionsatcorechristianity.com. And Adriel, first up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners.

This is Grant. I've been listening to White Horseman for over 10 years and more recently to CORE Christianity, and yeah, I've been really blessed by both of them. My question is, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes that no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Spirit. How do we make sense of this text when there are false teachers and also just people who have not actually put their faith in Christ who might say that Jesus is Lord or Jesus is King but don't actually believe in him? Is that what Paul is talking about, or is he talking about something else entirely?

Thank you. Obviously, there are many people who make a false profession, and we'll use that phrase, Jesus is Lord, but not truly mean it. So one example is the example that Jesus himself gives in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7 in verse 21, really sobering passage of Scripture where he says, Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. In other words, here you have a group of people who are addressing Jesus as Lord, saying, Lord, Lord, on that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name? And I will declare to them, I never knew you.

Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. In other words, they said, Lord, Lord. They confessed that Jesus was Lord, but it wasn't true.

This was something that wasn't from the heart. Clearly, they talked about Jesus as Lord, but they rejected him, and they rejected his word, and this is what Jesus says very clearly as the text continues there in Matthew 7. Now with regard to 1 Corinthians 12 in verse 3, Paul says, I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says Jesus is accursed. Speaking in the Spirit of God there is a reference to speaking in tongues, and maybe there was a question that the Corinthians had, you know, what are these people saying?

There's no interpreter. Maybe they're saying something bad. Maybe they're saying that Jesus is accursed, and Paul says, no, that's not the case. If an individual has the Holy Spirit, and they're actually operating in this spiritual gift, they're not saying Jesus is accursed, and no one can say Jesus is Lord truly except by the Holy Spirit. So that true profession of faith, the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord, is something that is rotten us by the Holy Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but there are those, and Jesus speaks of them in Matthew 7, 21, and following, who say, Lord, Lord, but don't believe, don't have a personal relationship with Christ, and so an important thing for us to examine our own hearts and say, you know, am I just going through the motions? Is this just something where, you know, I confess that Jesus is Lord, but it's lip service. I don't really believe in him. I'm not really trusting in him for the forgiveness of my sins, and so we can differentiate between those things, the true profession and the lordship of Christ, and then just going through the motions and maybe saying a prayer or something like that. And that really is a huge issue in the church today.

Thank you again for your encouragement, and God bless. You know, that reminds me of those unfortunate sons of Sceva in the Book of Acts and what happened to them. Not so good, huh? Yeah, who were invoking the name of Jesus, and what happens? You know, they're trying to cast out a demon. They're these itinerant exorcists, and they're trying to cast out a demon in the Book of Acts, and they invoke the name of Jesus, you know, Jesus that Paul preaches, and it didn't go well for them. We can't just use the name of Jesus like a sort of magic, you know, incantation or something like that. God isn't going to be used like that by people. So great text to bring up, Bill. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Our phone lines are open right now. We'll be taking calls for the next 20 minutes. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Sarah calling in from Las Vegas. Sarah, what's your question for Adriel?

Hello. Today my question is a little silly. Is it idolatrous to have hobbies? Examples, things like painting and crochet and reading and stuff, neutral things. If we spend more time on our hobbies than praying or reading scripture, spending time with God. For example, reading two hours of scripture in a day, then going and spending three hours reading a fantasy book for three hours.

Is that considered idolatry? Because we're giving it more time than God. And for us who are new in Christ and still growing in the love of Christ, what do we do on days when we don't feel like reading the Word or praying, but feel like doing our hobbies? Thank you.

Hey, Sarah. That is not a silly question at all. That is an excellent question. I think for many of us, that can be a struggle. We can begin to feel guilty because, man, I read my Bible for 10 minutes today, but then I spent all this time on social media or watching TV or going out for a walk and doing some birdwatch, whatever your hobby is. And we can feel guilt about that and feel like, man, if I'm not reading my Bible 24-7, then maybe there's something wrong.

I don't think you need to feel that guilt at all. There are days, I think, where we are really excited about getting into the Word of God. Maybe we do have an extended period of time where we're just sitting at the feet of Jesus in His Word, and that's a wonderful thing, a beautiful thing. And then there are mornings where you wake up. There are mornings where I wake up, and I don't feel like reading the Bible or praying. Now, I think it is important for us as Christians to create healthy disciplines, spiritual disciplines in our lives. And just like with any discipline, that isn't always going to be something we feel like doing, and it may feel like we're not getting a lot out of it in the moment, just like the discipline of physical exercise.

You can go to the gym once or twice here and there and feel like, oh, nothing is really happening. But as we do those things consistently, we begin to see a change. And I think that's the same with prayer and cultivating a life of studying scripture. But in the other things that you do, I would just give you the encouragement of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, 31. Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. And so you can enjoy painting or going for a walk or doing any number of these things that you mentioned to the glory of the Lord and giving thanks to God for these great gifts that He gives to us that He has given to you if you like to paint or create music or sing. Yeah, I mean, I would say that can be a part of how you give thanks to the Lord in your life. And so you don't need to feel like, man, unless I move to a monastery and I'm just reading the Bible all day long, I'm not really giving my all to God. No, in all that you do, in the work that you do, in the leisure time that you have, glorify the Lord with that and cultivate a heart of prayer through those things, giving thanks to the Lord.

So, Sarah, again, wonderful question, not a silly question at all, and I think something many of us have indeed struggled with, and so I would just encourage you in everything you do to glorify the Lord. Good counsel. I tried that monastery thing, Adriel, but they wouldn't take me. They kicked you out, didn't they? Yeah, not too much.

That's right. You just didn't have the discipline down, Bill. I think that was the issue. No, couldn't take the vow of silence.

Sorry, didn't happen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Hey, if you have some questions about a particular Bible passage that really stumps you, we would love to hear from you.

Or maybe you consider yourself an agnostic or an atheist and you have some questions about this whole Christianity thing, some doubts about it. We'd be more than happy to take your call as well. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. We've been celebrating our veterans and active service members for the past week or so because last week, of course, was Veterans Day. We talked about the fact that Adriel has several active service members in his congregation, and we have a wonderful resource that is specifically for people in the military we'd like to offer you today. It's a short booklet called, Called to War, the Christian and the Military, written by Chaplain Steven Roberts, and it's a wonderful resource for those of you who are serving or if you have a friend who's serving in the armed forces.

Let me give you some of the chapter titles. Chapter one is the military calling. Chapter two, the church and the military. Chapter three, undeployment.

Chapter four, coming home and conclusion you belong to Christ. Just really wanting to minister to our brothers and sisters who are serving in the military. If you know someone who would benefit from this resource, go over to corechristianity.com and we'll put this in your hands for a donation of any amount. We should mention we love our military members here at CORE Christianity. We're always open to your questions, calls, emails. Feel free to get in touch with us. Speaking of leaving a voicemail, you can do that 24 hours a day at this number, 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Randy. My question is, how do you affirm the truth of Jesus Christ to people that think you're a freak and do not believe in Christianity because there are, what, 2,700 different religions? Thank you.

Yeah. Thinking about just wanting to share our faith and evangelism, that's one of the objections that often comes up. How do you know that what you believe is true, that your religion, believing in Jesus Christ, is the way, is the only way? Of course, that's what we say because that's what Jesus said. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.

There are a couple of different approaches here. There is also just the reality that Jesus made it very clear that if we follow him and are faithful to his word, we are going to experience persecution. There aren't going to be people who just think, you're crazy.

That's crazy. You think about Paul's preaching in the book of Acts. As he's preaching the resurrection at the Areopagus, we read in Acts 17, verse 32, when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, but others said, we will hear you out again about this. So Paul went out from their midst, but some men joined him and believed, among whom were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. So we need to realize that the preaching of the gospel is the aroma of life for some and the aroma of death to others.

Some people hear the message of the cross and they just think, you guys are crazy. Other people, they realize this is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. So I would say just continue to be faithful as a Christian, following the Lord, making sure that you're living a life that is in line with the implications of the gospel as you seek to love and serve your neighbors. And at the same time, being faithful to speak the truth of the gospel and realizing that not everybody is going to accept that, and Jesus said as much. So that doesn't mean that we give up.

That doesn't mean that we stop trying. We continue to be faithful and to seek to persuade people. And that's precisely what the apostle Paul himself did.

We read in the very next chapter of Acts, in Acts chapter 18, verse 4, Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. And so we point people, I would say, to that reality of the resurrection of Christ. This is what distinguishes Christianity, one of the things that distinguishes Christianity from all the other religions that are out there.

Muhammad is dead and in the tomb. Buddha, same thing, right? Jesus came to earth, this historical person, the second person of the Holy Trinity, came to earth, lived the perfect life, was crucified. And this is something that's corroborated by not just Christian sources, but secular sources as well, non-Christian historians, and then rose again from the dead and transformed the world through the message of the gospel. And that's what the early apostles taught and went to their own graves for, for that message. And so you don't have this in other religions. It's not just some spiritual teaching. We're talking about something that happened in history, that Christ really did rise again from the dead for our justification. So that's the message that we preach. Some people are going to mock.

Others are going to receive the gospel and the forgiveness of sins. And so that's why we don't quit. Good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Debbie, who's on the line in Martin, Illinois. Debbie, what's your question for Adriel?

Yeah. Hi, this is a reference to an earlier call. I think it was 1 Corinthians 12, 3, where they said, Lord, Lord, you know, we did, you know, we drove out spirits and all that stuff. You know, so why, you know, is God condemning them? Get away from me.

I never knew you. So if that's, if they didn't believe, how could they do all those miracles and drive out demons and that sort of thing? Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. We were looking at two passages earlier, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 3, where Paul said, no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. And then also in Matthew 7, 21 and following, where, you know, it's clear that you have these false teachers who are doing or claiming to do at least all of these miraculous things. And yet Christ says, I never knew you.

It's interesting. They're, they're pointing to their works in order to justify them in one sense before God. And so, and so the question is, well, how did they do this? There are some people who say, well, it was just a deception. They weren't really performing miraculous things. And certainly in the Bible, you do have instances where there are miraculous things that are done at the hands of the wicked.

You think in, you know, during the Exodus, you have the priests of Pharaoh who are performing miracles, at least it seems like they are. And even in the book of Acts, you have the servant girl who brought her master's much fortune by divination. There is a spiritual world out there of good and evil. Now, of course, we know that God is sovereign over everything.

He's the uncreated one, the creator of all things, that the evil one can't do anything apart from, you know, the permission that God gives. But there is, I think, some, some, something sinister, evil behind a lot of these spiritual false miracles, we might say, that take place. You see this also in the book of Revelation. There's also the reality, Debbie, that sometimes God uses even the wicked to accomplish his purposes.

You can have, you can have a pastor who walks away from the faith, who still preached some good sermons that God used to transform the hearts of people. We say, well, how could that be? Well, it's because God can use anything and anyone. And so it could be that maybe you had these individuals who weren't true believers, but that God was still using them to perform these miraculous things. So there's a couple of different ways of looking at it. At the end of the day, though, the reality is it's not by our miraculous, you know, acts that we know that we know God. It's not by those kinds of experiences primarily. It's that personal relationship and trust in Jesus Christ receiving the gospel.

That's the main thing. The wilderness generation in the Old Testament, they, I mean, they saw all sorts of miracles. They experienced the presence of God in powerful ways, and yet many of them died in the wilderness.

Why? Because they didn't lay hold of the promises of the gospel in faith. They disobeyed. They turned away. They had unbelieving hearts.

And so that's, that's, I think, the way we, the way we understand some of those texts and scripture like Matthew chapter seven, where you have people who are saying, Lord, Lord, and, you know, claiming that they're doing all these miracles. But Jesus says, I never knew you. You never trusted in me.

We never had a relationship. Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. Strong words from our savior. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

By the way, we are going to record a second episode of Core Christianity today after our live program ends here in just a few minutes. So if you weren't able to get through with your question, feel free to call us for the next 35 minutes or so. Here's the number. It's 833-843-2673.

That's 833 the Core. We'd love to hear from you again. We'll be taking calls for the next 35 minutes or so on that number. So give us a buzz. Let's go to Edgar from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Edgar, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, sir.

Hi. Well, I'm listening and I'm grateful for your ministry and I'm on the highway actually right now. My question comes from Ecclesiastes chapter seven, I believe verses 15 or 16 where it says do not be overly righteous, do not be overly wise. And it's kind of a hard verse for me to understand, but I kind of want to refer back to the Pharisees and the way that they thought that they were righteous, but they really aren't. But, you know, it's trying to make sense of it. So anything else would be great. Thank you.

Yeah, great. Well, Ecclesiastes is a part of the wisdom literature in the Bible and oftentimes in the wisdom literature, you know, you have these themes of right and wrong retributive justice here. What's so interesting about the book of Ecclesiastes is it almost seems like the author is saying something that we just think, well, what are you talking about? I'll start in verse 15, Ecclesiastes 7, 15.

In my vain life, I have seen everything. There's a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil doing. So be not overly righteous and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool.

Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them. So, okay, is the author here saying, look, because here's what it sounds like he's saying. It sounds like he's saying it doesn't really matter what you do. And of course, this is very counter to what you see in a lot of the other wisdom literature in the Proverbs, for example, which is if you do this, there's going to be a good outcome. And here, the author of Ecclesiastes says, look, I've seen righteous people die in their righteousness, and I've seen evil people prolong their lives in their wickedness.

Therefore, don't beat yourself up, it seems like is what he's saying. So we have to understand, and one of the ways of reading the book of Ecclesiastes, this is life under the sun in one sense, right? Like apart from, and this is how some people have interpreted the book of Ecclesiastes, we're thinking of Ecclesiastes apart from the grace and goodness of God who is over all things under the sun, just living and seeking to live a virtuous life. Well, then in one sense, right, it's very clear that there are good things that come to the wicked. I mean, this is something that the psalmist himself lamented in Psalm 73, Asaph, for example. And there are people who seem quote unquote righteous, who follow the Lord, who perish, who get cancer, who get sick.

And the author here is really wrestling with that. And that's what the wisdom literature helps us to do, is to wrestle with that reality that yes, we know following God is good, and being righteous is good, and it brings blessing. But we also know, and each one of us could probably say, Edgar, that we have friends and loved ones who, boy, it seems like they love the Lord, they seek to be faithful to Jesus, and yet they've just had one tragedy after another in their lives.

And we think, boy, God, what gives? And it's that tension that the author is wrestling with. It's that tension that the wisdom literature confronts us with, oftentimes both here, in other places like the book of Job as well.

And the answer isn't always directly given to us, except for, I mean, you think of a book like the book of Job, God being able to say, I'm sovereign, and I'm good, and I'm calling you to follow me, and I'm calling you to trust in me. This is not an excuse for ungodly living. This is not an excuse for not pursuing holiness. We need to read this again in the context of the wisdom literature, and certainly in the context of the whole Bible, which makes it very clear that we're called to pursue those things and to cultivate those things in our lives. But what we're seeing here is that tension front and center, that tension that the wisdom literature gives us of how often in life it seems like the wicked prosper and the righteous don't. And so we go to the Lord in lamentation saying, God, help me, help me to understand this, and help me to be faithful to you in the midst of these great difficulties. Edgar, God bless, and thank you for getting us into the wisdom literature there. Hey, thanks, Edgar. I appreciate your call and for being a listener to Core Christianity.

We do receive emails here, and here's one from one of our listeners named Julie. She says, I don't find in the Bible that we are to close our eyes and pray. So why do we close our eyes? Where does that posture of prayer originate from?

Oh, that's a great question. I like that you've brought up even this idea of posture in prayer. In the New Testament, so often prayer is something that's done, and in all the Bible, actually standing or raising hands. We've really lost sight of this idea of posture in prayer and how it can actually be helpful, I think. To us, it communicates something, but what about closing our eyes? Certainly, I think in Scripture, you have an example of people praying with their eyes open and praying with their eyes closed. I would say, just now speaking personally, one of the reasons I like to close my eyes is to help me concentrate. How many of us know that part of the challenge with prayer is it's just so easy for our minds to wander, for us to focus on other things. So stopping and being still and closing our eyes and trying to direct our focus upon the Lord is, I think, one of the reasons why it can be good and helpful to close your eyes when you pray. God bless. You're welcome.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 18:58:31 / 2022-11-16 19:08:50 / 10

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