Faith First, Defence Later

Apologetics need not be a faith-builder
When I was a new believer, I was delighted to know that Christianity is a reason-able religion. Talking about the Bible with non-Christians became important to me. I would read books that defended Christianity and browse websites, thinking alongside agnostics, skeptics or atheists to see what insane things they might say that I already knew were blunders. What a way to gloat, huh!

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I soon ‘needed’ more evidence to win the battle for my faith online. I began to experience my heart hardening to God-given faith and an unhelpful urge to prove Christianity right! It is foolish to engage other worldviews by entering into debates or by reading atheistic books if we either try to build faith with evidence or adopt a neutral approach.
Neutrality undermines Christian defence
But what’s wrong with being neutral when considering skeptical claims?
Our friends might say, “Please leave the Bible aside and reason with us like normal people do”. But 1st Peter 3:15,16 talk about honouring Christ as Lord. But how can we honour Him by leaving out the assertions of the Bible?

Impartiality is not an option when it comes to Jesus. You are either for Him or against Him as the Bible clearly teaches.

Just like the neutral gear lets even small boys roll an SUV over a cliff, the dangerous demands of neutrality, nonsensically accepted by unwise Christians, can cause massive damage, not just to themselves but also to faithful communities – their churches who are to be rooted and established in love and unity.
Why presuppositional apologetics?
Presuppositional apologetics puts faith first. It does not assume any unbiased ground. It lets you have confidence about what the Bible says about other perspectives and exposes fallacies in another’s supposedly unbiased reasoning. As the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen said, “There simply is no presupposition-free and neutral way to approach reasoning”.

Once we see the validity of this statement, we will no longer feel the pressure to suspend our allegiance in the Bible when we put up a defence. First, strengthen your foundations by preaching the beautiful news of Jesus Christ to yourself. Then, learn how to find gaping holes in allegedly learned statements like this one David Hume (1711-1776) made: “Nothing can be more unphilosophical than to be positive or dogmatical on any subject”. Such a powerful declaration, right?

If this assertion is universally true, then it should be subject to its own account. Which means, Mr. Hume has been most unphilosophical since he has put forth the above allegation dogmatically! This shows he was never neutral even in his own call to neutrality. We must, at some point, faithfully point unbelievers to the fact that they are suppressing the truth they know about God in their own hearts (Romans 1:19,20,21) and that it’s only honest to put forth presumptions to test and see which endure authenticity. For a taste of presuppostional apologetics, here is a lecture by the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen on the myth of neutrality.

P.S.:

If you have dabbled in apologetics, you would have heard stories of people walking away from their Christian faith. Such news is anguishing and can tempt us to think this could happen to actual Christians. However, one cannot believe children of God can lose faith and at the same time believe what Jesus said- “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (Jn 10:28-29) .

No atheist can remove the faith the Author of life puts in the weakest, ignorant Christian. Such incidents only expose the unbelief that had always held throne within until the person found enough ‘rationale’ to justify “walking away” from Christ. It’s true that such incidents are not easily ascertained until they happen. But, as John Piper says – “No one will be finally saved who does not continue in the faith.

4 Implications of Not Trusting the People in Your Church

Note: The writer of this blog offers you a humble apology. There have not been any posts in the last few months. I was on a break. While it is not wrong to be on a break, it was not right that readers were kept uninformed of the same.

It’s possible that you are a person who has been hurt by the church in the past. Or, you have never, ever, felt the need to depend on or trust church members with the good and bad in your life. And yet, today you might find yourselves surrounded by sincere, yet imperfect Christians in God’s sovereign plans.

You know in the back of your mind that God’s Word commands the disciples of Jesus to treat one another with deep, fervent love. You’ve heard time and again, the call to live truly as a church family. But you really can’t trust these people.

And why should I, you may ask? “I have no friends in the church. Whenever I’ve tried, they have only given me more problems. So it makes sense to avoid them now”, you say. “Tolerance and silent participation worked in school; it works here too”.

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And yet you claim to have a proper relationship with Jesus and you read your Bible almost every day and you pray.
The Main Point
Here’s the main point of this post – you cannot point fingers at God’s people and keep accusing the church. Read more

When Acceptance Is a Problem

The acceptance of fellow Christians

One monsoon evening, I was sitting with some dear brothers from our church, talking and praying to God. As I sat amidst the group, I felt quite happy that I was part of a people who had the same beliefs as I did; I was glad about the recognition I felt from respected, mature men who followed God. What a good feeling it was to be on good terms with Godly men who lived by faith!

One older brother, in particular, affected me. This man was a faithful teacher of the Bible and was an inspiration to many. He was smiling at me as an elder brother would. How reassuring! Does it not feel great to have good friends sit with you, talk and affirm you? Of course, it does, especially if you just had a bad day at work. These brothers did not yet know about the sinful choices I had made. But this reception was a good change for my emotions – I felt so much better!

No disagreements, no tensions. I would not want to disturb this Christian unity and tranquillity in any way!

The acceptance of friends

Today, a colleague walked up to my seat and greeted me. As we had a pleasant talk about what’s happening in our lives, I appreciated the fact that he asked me to join him and other friends for lunch, yet again. I could not go, but I was so happy that they all wanted me there with them. I didn’t realise it then, but I loved it when I could be an important part of a group of friends who will know that I cared for them and life could be so much fun with me around – and they realise it!

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Does it not feel great to have such approval?

The acceptance of relatives

Earlier this month my parents, my wife Sheetal’s parents and her grandparents met with us. It was lovely to have them all together, catch up on life, play with my son Abhay, go out and eat together. This was a time when differences were put aside; there were happiness and peace. I could feel that as I talked with my father, Sheetal’s mother, her grandparents and so on.

How nice it was to have that ambience! I would not have let anything take away that comfortable, peaceful environment.

It’s all dung

Some day soon, each of these and other precious relationships I have will yet again have some sort of disagreement with me. There will be a withdrawal of affirmation; that frown or that angry chat which will dismay me. I will have that sinking feeling in my stomach, yet again.

I might feel disappointed, upset that disagreements were not prevented. I will probably go through days and weeks of thoughts and re-thoughts of what someone said, what I should have said in defence and how that would have been the right answer to shut them up. I would have thought of enough Bible verses to quote in my defence, the next time anyone repeats such a thing.

When it is lost, “acceptance” seems like something you need to live peacefully, joyfully and with great purpose to your full potential. The trouble is, we look for it in all the wrong places. Some even suggest that we live for nobody’s acceptance! Had it been the old Aravind writing this, right here would have been the place to stop writing.

ID Check

But as a Christian, I have been given a new identity.

Colossians 3:12 addresses followers of Jesus, God’s children, this way –
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…”(emphasis mine)

To a church that had divided itself along the Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds, God’s Word said – “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom15:7, emphasis mine).

But how is it that the God of the universe accepts a people highly imperfect and unlike Him? How is it that Christ-followers are holy and beloved to Him and welcomed by God almighty?

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

If it had not been for God’s work of making us trust in Jesus, we would have still been children of wrath like the rest of mankind (Eph 2:3). You see, our position has been changed from those who will face God’s just punishment to those who have been rescued because our elder brother, Jesus, was offered as a sacrifice by God the Father so He could own us. What kind of unbelievable love is that! And now on, because Jesus gave us His record and power of righteousness, our acceptance before God is equal to how God the Father accepted Jesus himself.

Just like Jesus was approved

That’s right. Imagine how Jesus was received after He rose victorious, defeating even death, to heaven. What a grand, loving welcome for the Son of God, as He embraced the unity of the Father and Holy Spirit again.
Same to you, oh lovers and servants of Jesus.

God’s acceptance frees you from the chains of the lesser acceptances, the cheap imitations that we run after each hour and invest in, like crazy. It frees you to obey Jesus.

I try to imagine what it would look like if the good standing I have with my colleagues, spiritual mentors, parents, wife and son were to be lost in 10 minutes from now. I imagine how it would feel like. Now, I try to imagine how it will be if my heavenly Father’s acceptance of me in Christ were to be taken away. Should I not be altogether more horrified, more appalled at the slightest hint of that possibility?

If I am not, I am living for mere earthlings’ praises and approval. I am not Christ’s bondservant (Gal 1:10). What a dreadful, eternally wasted life would that be!

It is natural to seek unity and peace with our cherished relationships. It is idolatry if we maintain peace while compromising on speaking the truth in love and other expectations that Christ places on all who are His disciples.

I feel unloved, unaccepted, I have low self esteem, beloved of God, the christian is accepted by God, the best kind of love there is, the best relationship, people pleaser, people pleasing, pleasing to God, God the Father loves you, lack of self esteem, approval, acceptance, accepted by God

If you start living trusting God the Father’s stunning acceptance of you, you will not die pleasing your loved ones.

All these years, if you have lived to enjoy others’ appreciation, now treat all that as a massive, disastrous loss. Instead, you must ask for faith in the everlasting solid fact that better than the most precious relationship you possess today, is the acceptance God the Father bestowed upon you the day Jesus became everything for you.

Which relationship on earth do you derive acceptance most from?

How do you plan to repent of it?

Beware of Your Public Prayers

Up until a few months after I had become a follower of Jesus, I had very little experience in praying in public. Growing up partly in North India and partly in the South, the average Hindu boy like me had seldom got a chance to witness public prayer as Jesus taught it or as His people faithfully practice it.

However, I had a lot of experience in performing before anyone who was watching me. I almost never missed the chance to show my peers, my sister or my relatives how well I could pray, how tight my eyes were screwed up (an indication of your awesome levels of concentration, bound to bring down answers) and on how long I could stand before finishing the various slokas or mantras.

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All this was set to change the fateful day I stepped into a small hall where some college students had gathered to pray and study the Bible. Read more