In my last post I pointed out that the Bible mandates Christians to practice apologetics. Every believer ought to be ready and able to defend in a hostile society what they believe and how they live. The Bible practices what it preaches using apologetic techniques itself to present the truth. In this post I want to present some of the many examples of the Bible’s practice of apologetics. The Bible invites all its readers to “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18) and even challenges those who do not worship the LORD to “Produce your cause… Bring forth your strong arguments” (Isaiah 41:21). Clearly, God not only does not want us to discard reasoning, but invites us to use our God-given ability to reason to investigate the claims of God and examine His revelation. I want to present four areas in which the Bible appeals to our reason to display the existence of God.
The first of these areas is God’s self-revelation in creation. There are many passages which direct our reasoning to consider creation as a revelation of God’s existence. The first two chapters of Genesis describe God’s activity of creation showing that the material universe is a display of God’s creative power. God Himself appeals to Job in Job chapters thirty-eight to forty-one to consider His self-revelation as seen in creation. There are a number of Psalms that refer to God’s control of nature as a display of His reality. Psalm 19:1 clearly tells us that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” Paul argued from creation to the existence and nature of the true God in Acts 14:14-17 and 17:23-29, then writes in Romans that God has revealed Himself to all men stating, “For the invisible things of him from creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” This revelation of God through creation is so clear that Paul goes on to say that it renders all mankind “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
The Bible also appeals to the revelation of God in fulfilled prophecy. Now, there are many claims to fulfilled prophecy by false religions, but God sets the bar high in Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 stating that for prophecy to be considered a real revelation of God it had to be accurately fulfilled 100% of the time. If any one who claimed to be used by God to reveal Himself failed one time, they would be liable to death by stoning. Later, God spoke through Isaiah challenging false religions to produce such prophetic ability (Isaiah 41:23) while Himself giving detailed prophecies concerning the rise of Cyrus, the future of Israel and the coming of Messiah, all of which have been fulfilled (Isaiah 41:1-53:12). It is no wonder that Peter, after giving his own eye-witness testimony said that “we have the more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well to take heed…” (II Peter 1:19).
Furthermore, The Bible appeals directly to empirical evidence. The Gospel accounts describe the miracles of Jesus and the details of His Resurrection giving evidences such as the empty tomb, the eye-witnesses, and the effects of the resurrection in the lives of those eye-witnesses. John said that these evidences were expressly recorded “That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31). Luke tells Theophilus that his account was based on the testimony of carefully-researched eye-witnesses (Luke 1:1-4) including eye-witnesses of the display of Christ’s resurrected body producing “many infallible proofs” during a forty day period after the Resurrection (Acts 1:1-3). Indeed, Peter and the other apostles while pleading with their audience to place their faith in Jesus claimed to be eye-witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection appearances (Acts 2:32). Peter describes his witness of the glorified Jesus and the voice of the Father during the Transfiguration (II Peter 1:16-18) and John writes of having actually handled the Lord (I John 1:1-3) Paul lists eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus including himself (I Corinthians 15:1-9). Certainly, God is not demanding the kind of blind, irrational faith that we are accused of having.
Finally (for the purposes of this blog post), The Bible appeals to our sense of meaning. There are various Psalms that touch this subject and certainly the book of Job, but the greatest example is the book of Ecclesiastes. In this book, Solomon deals with various attempts used by men to find meaning in life pointing out that Solomon, in his wisdom and unsurpassed wealth, was able to not only intellectually, but experientially test these various attempts. He then points to the injustice and difficulties of life and draws the clear conclusion that if all there was to existence is the material universe, then there is no meaning or purpose in life. Indeed, there is no reason to even think, less demand, that there be any meaning or purpose in life; yet we do. Solomon’s great conclusion is that there is a God who will “bring every work into judgment” (Since he had previously shown that this is not always accomplished in this life, there must be another in which it is accomplished) and so “The whole purpose of man” is to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).
These are only a few examples demonstrating that the Bible itself practices apologetics. It does not ask for us to exercise a blind faith. Indeed, part of the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God “with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Instead, it gives various lines of reasoning pointing to God’s self-revelation and inviting us to use our minds to consider the conclusion which should be drawn by these lines of reasoning. Of course, this does not take the place of faith for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), but shows us that faith in the God Who reveals Himself is rational and well-founded. Lord willing, I will in my next blog post seek to show that our great example, Jesus Christ, Himself practiced apologetics.