Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ambassadors For Christ

On 4 October, I had the pleasure to address a group of vibrant, multiracial, multicultural group of students at PERKEB, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Bangi on the topic of "Christian Apologetics".

It's first time I see a student fellowship that speaks Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium, and with a large group of students from East Malaysia. It was last day of school for the semester, everyone was gearing to 'balik kampung' and in celebrative mood. Graciously Sylvana and Simon gave me a PERKEB T-shirt, it was very nice and fits like a glove (luv it!)

Wish I could share in Bahasa the next time I'm there, but here is the basic outline of sharing in English: Apologetics is not only useful in giving answers to those who ask and remove obstacles to faith. (1 Peter 3:16) It is also helpful to build a more confident, complete faith for believers.

Some may ask, “If there are reasons or proofs, where is the room for faith? If got faith, why need reasons?”

Biblical faith is not wishful thinking, but based on facts. It is beyond reason, but not against reason. It is not blind faith or intellectual suicide. Faith involves knowledge (objective), agreement and personal trust or choice/commitment (subjective).

Is the gospel only interested in what happens after death? Or is the gospel relevant to all of life, here and now also? Does it speak to every dimension of human existence – spirit, mind, body, business, music, arts, sciences, politics etc?

When was the last time you were encouraged to think Christianly as a student of law, business, information technology or education? Demonstrate the Lordship of Christ in all things.

How To Do It?

1) Doing it in conversations. Rethinking evangelism as offering propositional facts only. Don’t be an answering machine. Ask good questions like Jesus. Be a good listener. Use the power of stories.

2) Doing it in the context of trust, relationships and demonstration of the gospel.
The ultimate apologetics is love. Be sensitive to the real concern behind the question.

3) Three characteristics of a great ambassador for Christ universities and churches in Malaysia today – Knowledge (informed mind), Wisdom (artful method) and Character (attractive, winsome manner).

How do bank workers recognize counterfeit money? Not by studying the fakes, but knowing by heart how to handle the genuine article.

Only the Holy Spirit could touch a person’s heart to believe, not arguments.

But apologetics is not a competitor of God’s work of illumination, but a way in which the Holy Spirit could use in opening peoples’ eyes. It’s like the ministry of transportation, bringing someone to a ‘place’ where they can hear the gospel.

Some Possible Objections

1) We hear some people claim that “There is no absolute truth” or “You can’t never sure about spiritual stuffs”.

Perhaps, we could ask them "Is that true? Absolutely true? Are you sure about that?"

2) All religions lead to God. The trouble with the “Blind men and the Elephant

I shared with them resources from Probe, STR, AGora and Greg Koukl's Ambassador Creed:

An ambassador of Christ is…
§ Ready. An Ambassador is alert for chances to represent Christ and will not back away from a challenge or an opportunity.

§ Patient. An Ambassador won’t quarrel, but will listen in order to understand, then with gentleness seek to respectfully engage those who disagree.

§ Reasonable. An Ambassador has informed convictions (not just feelings), gives reasons, asks questions, aggressively seeks answers, and will not be stumped by the same challenge twice.

§ Tactical. An Ambassador adapts to each unique person and situation, maneuvering with wisdom to challenge bad thinking, presenting the truth in an understandable and compelling way.

§ Clear. An Ambassador is careful with language, and will not rely on Christian lingo nor gain unfair advantage by resorting to empty rhetoric.

§ Fair. An Ambassador is sympathetic and understanding towards others, and will acknowledge the merits of contrary views.

§ Honest. An Ambassador is careful with the facts and will not misrepresent another’s view, overstate his own case, or understate the demands of the Gospel.

§ Humble. An Ambassador is provisional in his claims, knowing that his understanding of truth is fallible, and will not press a point beyond what his evidence allows.

§ Attractive. An Ambassador will act with grace, kindness, and good manners and will not dishonor Christ in his conduct.

§ Dependent. An Ambassador knows that effectiveness requires joining his best efforts with God’s power.

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