What is our Message?
by Thomas Earl Davis
As an apologist I spend a lot of time evaluating arguments for the existence of God, critiques of these arguments from skeptics. It is easy to lose sight of the goal of apologetics when used as a tool for evangelism. I read and write about topics like the beginning of the universe demonstrating the existence of God, morality, historical evidence of the Resurrection. With all the different topics of study it is easy to lose sight of the central message of Christianity, the Gospel. What is the Gospel?
The fist part of the Gospel is that God exists. The Bible testifies to this, but provides no arguments for the existence of God. The Bible is a witness to what God has done in the past. This is not meant to take away form the classical arguments of apologetics. They are valid and useful for demonstrating the existence of God. However, we should not become so distracted by the arguments that we forget to move to the next step in presenting the Gospel.
Second, each person has sinned against God. Paul emphasizes this point early in his letter to the Romans, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21). Paul then lists some of the sins that people are guilty of:
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Rom. 1:29-31).
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According to Paul, people have sinned by hating God and breaking his laws. Human depravity is verifiable. All you have to do verify this is to watch the nightly news or pick up a newspaper. There are countless reports of theft, murder, police corruption, political scandals, wars, sports scandals, and special shows and tabloids so that you can keep up with the legal troubles of the rich and famous.
So far we have discussed the evil in the world, but what of the evil within? How do we stand up when we face the laws of God? When the rich ruler asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life Jesus answered, “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother” (Luke 18:20). Jesus references five of the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:1-17). When we reflect on Jesus’ answer how do we stand up? Most people have stolen something at some point in our lives. Most of us have told a lie. Even when we exclude stealing food to survive and lies told to protect someone most are still guilty of violating these two laws. Most of us have been disrespectful to our parents at some time. If we think we are not guilty of murder or adultery we should pay attention to the teachings of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount…