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Apologetics

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Jesus appears to Thomas
Image source: LumoProject

In today’s Bible reading, the Resurrected Jesus appears to His Disciples. He invites Thomas to put his fingers in His pierced hands and side, knowing that he wasn’t so easily convinced as the others that He had been raised from the dead. Upon recognizing that this was indeed Jesus, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

Thomas’ exclamation is a very clear statement of Jesus’ Divinity. The fact that Jesus praised Thomas for his faith is a very clear statement by Jesus Himself regarding His Divinity. In other words, in not correcting Thomas with, “No, really I’m not your Lord and God”, Jesus affirms Thomas’ statement, thus making the claim for Himself.

Jesus praises Thomas for believing that He had come back from the dead as a result of checking the evidence. And Jesus added a blessing on those who believe without asking for evidence. (John 20:29) Jesus doesn’t condemn Thomas; He praises him for believing. For Thomas, “seeing is believing”. But for the other Disciples, believing is seeing.

Application

Jesus appeared to His Disciples for the next forty days “with many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) Jesus knew some of His Disciples would quickly and easily believe He had come back from the dead. And He knew that others would be like Thomas and need a little more convincing.

There is more than enough evidence to support the fact of Jesus’ Resurrection. But despite the overwhelming evidence, many today don’t believe. For that matter, many didn’t believe during those forty days of Jesus’ walking and talking with His Disciples.

The fact that God gives us evidence is remarkable. It goes to show that the New Testament story of Jesus is real. He was a real man who walked on real streets with other real people. Believing in Jesus’ Resurrection doesn’t require you to take a leap of blind faith. It simply requires you to believe in a historical fact as easily provable as any other historical fact.

And yet, there is more to believing in Jesus than accepting the historicity of His Resurrection. You must have faith. And that faith is required to save your soul. (Romans 10:9-10)

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Diagram of the relationships in the Trinity
Image source: The Gospel Coalition

Never let anyone tell you that the Trinity isn’t biblical. And never be unapologetic in your belief in the Trinity. Granted, the word “Trinity” isn’t used in the Bible, but the doctrine is clearly presented consistently throughout the Bible. In today’s Bible reading, John presents the Trinity in its beauty.

Believers believe in a triune God, that is, One God revealed simultaneously in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Don’t fall for the heresy that says the Father became the Son Who became the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that all three have co-existed simultaneously through eternity past and will continue to co-exist simutaneously through eternity future.

Look at John 16:5 and John 16:7. Look at Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1. Also, look at Jesus’ baptism in all of the Synoptic Gospels. (Matthew 3:16–17; Mark 1:10–11; Luke 3:21–22) All of these passages speak of the ever-present Trinity as separate persons. Neither is another, but all are fully God, as is illustrated in the diagram above. If you’d like to read more about the Trinity, check out this article from the Gospel Coalition.

Application

One of the beauties of the Trinity is that it models perfect submission. And if there is submission in the perfect Godhead, submission is a good thing! John 16:13–15 and John 16:26-28 show that the Spirit submits to and glorifies the Son and the Son submits to and glorifies the Father.

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The fields are ready for harvest

In today’s Bible reading, we read about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. It was an abnormal meeting because Jews never went through Samaria and women generally didn’t draw water from wells in the middle of the day. But here they are: a young rabbi and a woman with a troubled past. And they’re talking about God.

After telling her that He is the source of living water and that some day both the Samaritans and Jews will worship the Father together in Spirit and in Truth, she runs off to tell her friends and family about a man who knew everything about her. (John 4:29)

Next, the Disciples engage Jesus about his lunch plans. He dodges their questions and tells them to look up; the fields are ready for the harvest. John tells us that many Samaritans believed Jesus because of the woman’s testimony about Him. Still others believe, not just because of her testimony, but because they experience Him for themselves.

So what did Jesus mean by “the fields are ready for harvest”?

Jesus had “primed the pump” so to speak with the woman and the Samaritan people came, interested to find out more. Meanwhile, God was priming the pump of the people’s hearts, making them ready to hear what Jesus would say to them.

We think the people came, seeking Jesus, when in reality, God was already seeking them! (John 4:23) Now, after heartily endorsing the Christian Standard Bible’s treatment of John 3:16 in yesterday’s devotional, I need to point out that the CSB’s weakness on John 4:23 (CSB). It isn’t that the Father wants (CSB) people to worship Him. It’s that the Father seeks (ESV) people to worship Him. We’ll read in 6:44 that unless the Father draws someone, they won’t seek on their own. Paul confirms this in Romans 3:11 as he quotes Psalm 14:1-3.

Our efforts to tell people about Jesus will be completely ineffective if we haven’t bathed those efforts in prayer. If God hasn’t prepared their hearts, they simply won’t hear the Gospel message. And I think that partially explains why there are so many false conversions: people are pressed to make a decision for Jesus when their hearts aren’t in it. They politely pray a prayer and are told that they are forever saved and eternally secure. In many cases, nothing could be further from the truth.

Application

The best witnesses are those who simply tell their experience with Jesus and invite others to know Him, too.

That was true two thousand years ago. And it’s true now. You don’t have to burden yourself learning lots of apologetics arguments. They may help, but unless God has prepared their hearts, no argument under heaven will save them.

Talking about God with people must be preceded by prayer, bathed in prayer, and supported by prayer. There simply is no substitute for prayer in evangelism. And that’s something that any Believer can do!

Pray that God would give you boldness. Pray that God would give you the right words to say. Pray that God would prepare their hearts to receive the Gospel message. And pray that the Gospel message lands on “good soil” (Matthew 13:23)

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The Gospel Comes with a House Key - Rosaria Butterfield

In today’s Bible reading, continues to talk about the importance of walking in both Truth and Love.

Next, John talks about the importance of hospitality toward other Believers. (3 John 1:5-8) People don’t talk much about hospitality these days. But it’s a very important character trait. Back in the First Century, especially as Roman religious persecution grew, it was crucial that Believers support each other as John says above. He concludes his thoughts, urging that Believers should financially support itenerant missionaries. By supporting these people, they actually become a coworker with them in God’s work.

I haven’t read it yet, but Rosaria Butterfield wrote an award-winning book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. In it, she talks about how she became a Christian in a large part because some Christian neighbors extended “radically ordinary” hospitality to her.

Application

Think about that. By simply being hospitable, you can have an eternal impact on the lives of lost people. Maybe it’s gladly giving a neighbor a cup of sugar. Maybe it’s loaning a fan to a new neighbor who’s painting some rooms before they move. Definitely, it’s praying for your neighbors. Definitely, it’s being ready to share a “fresh word” of encouragement with them. Definitely, it’s giving a Bible to the coworker who doesn’t have one and is beginning their spiritual walk.

The saying, “Always share your faith and use words when necessary” forgets the fact that unless you use words, people will not know the Gospel. Sure, they may think, “Wow, what a nice gesture.” but they won’t know why you did what you did when you were hospitable. Peter urged his readers to always be ready to gently and respectfully explain your hope. (1 Peter 3:15)

And that requires that we use words.

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Eyewitnesses

With today’s Bible reading, we begin reading 1 John. One thing that strikes me from the very beginning of the letter is that John says that he and the other Apostles aren’t just passing along folk tales. They aren’t just passing along what other people told them.

John says, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us—what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1–3 CSB)

John and the other Apostles are eyewitnesses of everything that’s been reported about Jesus. He says, it happened right in front of us! We heard it! We saw it! We touched it! This really happened!

He continues by saying that the reason the Apostles are telling what they experienced is so that people who hear their experiences can have a relationship with God just as they have relationships with the Apostles.

What a mind blowing thought: Mankind can have a relationship with the Creator of the universe! If it were possible to have a relationship with the Creator of the universe, what kind of hate would you have to have to not wtell other people?!

Application

That’s the kind of motivation we should have when we think of telling people about the greatest news ever announced! You just tell people Who you know and what you’ve experienced because you think it’s worth sharing.

Unless you don’t.

And maybe that’s why more Christians don’t tell their family, friends, and coworkers. They don’t think it’s worth it.

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1 2 3 6

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