Debates

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I am set for the Defense of the Gospel

“I am set for the defense of the gospel,” Paul said, (Philippians 1:17.)

How many Christians today are prepared to give a defense of their faith? Giving a defense is critical if we are to evangelize the lost. One of the purposes of the church is to equip the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4). This is military lingo that Paul is using to analogize the Christian faith to military warfare. We need to “get set” so that we can be defenders for Jesus Christ.


The Churches of Christ were founded in debate. The great debater of the faith was the apostle Paul, God’s chosen vessel in declaring His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Paul “disputed” in the Lord’s name with the Grecians in Jerusalem, and with the Jews in the synagogue of Athens, as well as daily in the marketplace there, (Acts 9:29, 17:17.) In Ephesus, Paul’s mission was clear; “[he] spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God,” (Acts 19:8,9.)


The word “dispute,” DIALEGOMAI in the Greek, means “to discuss, argue, exhort, dispute, or reason,” and is the source for our word “dialectic.” This was the evangelistic approach employed by Paul. The idea of debate, based upon the Biblical “dispute” is not to be confused (as the archaic KJV appears to do in Romans 1:29 and 2 Corinthians 12:20) with the Greek word ERIS, which should be translated “strife.” While strife is condemned, the New Testament evangelist is admonished to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” (2 Timothy 4:2.) Certainly, both Peter and Paul advocated dialectic battle, called APOLOGIA, in 1 Peter 3:15, where Peter admonished to “be ready always to give an answer….” and in Philippians 1:17, where Paul declared, “I am set for the defence of the gospel.”


That the word “dispute” should be used in Acts 19:8 with “persuade” is very significant, because the word “persuade” PEITHO in Greek, means “to convince by argument.” The word PERSUADE is the same Biblical word that is also translated as FAITH, BELIEVE, and OBEY!! Vines Expository defines PEITHO as “bringing a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations.” It is used of salvation, (Acts 17:4) as well as steadfastness (2 Timothy 1:12.) This is the language of God, according to the prophet Isaiah (1:18) who declared, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord…”


The New Testament days were days of persuasion, when the Word of God was central to all teaching and preaching, and was the criteria of spiritual discrimination. There is also a cost to being a Christian disciple. Discipleship involves teaching, learning, living, and being prepared. “The things you have learned, commit to faithful men, who in turn can teach others,” Paul told Timothy (2 Tim. 2:2). Christian discipleship is a school of life-long learning; we never graduate until we hear those words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter in...”


I love teaching creation and apologetics at Christian Kingdom College. Even if I am not teaching, I always take the classes myself,  for the sheer pleasure of learning the Word. I also love fellowshipping with other Christians during our break time, and sharing in discussion on the questions that have been raised during our study. I also thrive on seeing brand new Christians getting excited about the Word of God and building a depth of knowledge of the scripture. It is important for me to be a Godly example to them.

The antithesis (opposite) of having an attitude of preparedness for Christian ministry can be found in a recent email I received from a retired theology professor at local Seminary:


“It was good to hear from you. Thanks, too, for the invitation to the seminar on Biblical Authority. I considered attending at least one session but failed to do so, but for what reason I now forget. Thankfully, I am convinced about the matters to which Dr. Crane addressed himself. His lecturing to me would have been much like preaching to the choir. Moreover, since I no longer teach I am not obliged to hone my skills and add to my knowledge on matters of apologetics and biblical authority. God’s blessing to you and yours.” H.


Apparently, this man is of no real service to the Lord anymore. He seems to have retired on God and has no desire to even “give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15), let alone to prepare himself for such an opportunity. The hypocrisy is that this man who has taught “theology” for many years has forgotten the instructions of the very God in whose name he has claimed to teach. How foreign an example to that shown by the apostle Paul, who wrote, “I do not consider myself as having arrived. But this I do, forgetting the past, I press on toward the mark of the high calling…” We are thankful for Godly preachers who have proven to be finishers in their lives and ministry. Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course.”


It is in this spirit of zeal and Kingdom fervor, that we present to you a report on our latest evangelistic endeavors.

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Creation Evolution is one of the most important subjects. If we cannot trust the biblical account of origins, how can we trust the Bible at all? But God did not leave Himself without witness, Acts 14:17.  God has revealed Himself and is understood by the things He has made, even though some people are willfully ignorant, Romans 1:19-21, 1 Peter 3:5.  

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