ANSWERING TOUGH QUESTIONS
I. The need to answer questions and objections
There is no doubt that Scripture makes it clear that you must prepare yourself to effectively answer the questions and objections of unbelievers. Solomon exhorted, "The heart of the righteous studies how to answer" (Proverbs 15:28). Peter declared that believers should "always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear"
(1 Peter 3:15). Paul also encouraged all Christians to be very careful concerning their speech. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Col. 4:6). In each of these passages you are exhorted to learn how to answer the hard questions that will come your way.
Why is this so important? The more understanding you possess concerning hard questions, the more confident you will become in your witnessing. In other words, you will not be afraid to engage anyone in a conversation because you have done your homework in regard to the possible questions that may come up, and you are ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you. Therefore, study these objections well because the same questions will come up over and over again as you share with the lost. Be ready!
II. How can you be sure that God exists?
The question of the existence of God usually comes up at many different times and many different ways within a conversation. Sometimes a person will directly say, "I don’t believe in God" as you begin to share the Gospel. Other times you will find that it only surfaces when you explain what God requires of man. You must answer this question directly from the fact of evidence, not your opinion.
What is the Evidence?
A. The physical creation
David explained why he believed in God when he said, "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalms 19:1-4). The heavens utter this message every day and every night to every creature around the world. In Romans 1:18-22, Paul also teaches us that the creation clearly reveals the existence of God and the greatness of His wisdom and power. The creation is such an obvious and powerful proof, Paul declares that in light of this evidence, all men are "without excuse" (v 20). Therefore, ask people how do they account for the incredible testimony of the creation. Who made all that we see?
B. Our physical body
David also realized that his physical body was a masterpiece of creative ability far beyond man’s ability. He explained in Psalms 139:14, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knows very well." Therefore, explain to the one you are witnessing to that man cannot successfully duplicate even one major organ within the human body and have it work as efficiently as God originally made it. To believe that the human body came into existence through time and chance is to defy logic, and require more faith than it does to believe that God created us.
Cause and effect
Logic demands that when you see the heavens and the biological wonder of the human body, you naturally ask the question, "who has created this?" When you look at a work of art, don’t you naturally realize that there must be an artist? When you see a great building, you know there must be a wise master-builder. When you observe great craftsmanship, you are absolutely sure there is a craftsman. Likewise, our incredible creation logically demands a creator!
Order and design
In addition, the observable design of all that we see around us in our creation speaks of an intelligent designer. The only alternative we have to account for this design is that all things have come about by chance originating from disorder and chaos. However, again, simple logic requires us to believe that order and design must come from intelligence. Order cannot come from disorder. Ask the question, "What happens when you put a stick of dynamite in a lumberyard?" Then respond with, "You have a big bang, but that doesn't build a home. You logically need a skilled and intelligent master-builder to create the beauty and design of a home.
D. Prophetic proof
Another excellent proof of the existence of God is Bible prophecy. The ability of God to speak of the future reveals the fact that there is someone outside of our time domain. Only God knows the future, because He is God
(Isaiah 46:9-10) (James 4:14). God challenged the idols of the nation Israel to a test. He asked the false prophets and the idols to reveal the things to come that all may see exactly who the true God was (Isaiah 41:21-23). If God used prophecy to prove His existence then we should too. One of the best prophecies to use as proof of God’s ability is the reestablishment of the nation of Israel (Joel 3:1-2). A person must only compare these predictions with history to see the proof that God has spoken.
E. Visible proof
The greatest proof that God exists was given to man by Jesus Christ coming to live in our midst. God came in human flesh to give a clear picture of who God is and what He is like (John 1:1,14). Jesus was an historic person spoken about by Jewish historian Josephus (A.D. 37), and Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 52). Jesus revealed His deity by the claims that He made, the miracles that He did, and ultimately by His resurrection.
F. Personal proof
You can have the personal proof that God exists by simply obeying His Word. If you believe and obey Him, He will change your life. Jesus said in effect, if you will do My will, you will know if I speak of myself, or if My words are, in fact, the Word of God (John 7:17). As you obey God’s Word He promises that He will give you the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). The Holy Spirit is proof that you abide in God, and that He abides in you (1 John 3:24).
III. How can you be sure that the Bible is the Word of God?
As you begin to share your faith with people and what Scripture declares, many will say, "I don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God." They declare that they have no confidence in the Bible because fallible men wrote it and that others have translated it incorrectly. Your response should be to take them to the evidence.
What is the evidence?
Internal evidence - What does the Bible reveal about itself?
The unity of teaching
The Bible has 66 different books written by more than 40 different authors over a 1600 years. These men were farmers and fishermen, a doctor, a Prime Minister and others from many different professions. Each of these books were written in different geographical locations, in several cultural settings, and in three different languages. The Bible speaks on hundreds of controversial subjects, however, each of its authors speaks with amazing unity and harmony in their teaching. They never contradict each other. This unity in their instruction is a powerful proof that they were divinely inspired. Ask the person you are witnessing to if they believe that even five men today, from different cultures and religious backgrounds, could all have the same opinion on just 10 controversial subjects?
The testimony of Jesus
Jesus called the Scriptures of the Old Testament the Word of God (Mark 7:13). He emphasized the importance that each word would be fulfilled to the letter (Luke 18:31) (Luke 24:44). Jesus declared that His words would surely come to pass (Matt. 24:35). In addition, He quoted Old Testament Scripture (Matt. 4:4) (Matt. 21:42). Jesus believed the historical accounts of creation, Adam and Eve, and the destruction of Sodom (Matt. 19:4-3) (Matt. 11: 23-24) (Matt. 22:29). Jesus made it clear that He believed that the source of all error came from not knowing the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29).
The Testimony of Peter and Paul
Peter equated his writings with the prophets of the Old Testament (2 Peter 3:2). In addition, Peter equated Paul’s epistles with the "other Scriptures"
(2 Peter 3:16). Paul also believed that his teachings were the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
External evidence - How do we know the words in the Bible we read today haven't been changed over the centuries by translators?
Today we have over 1400 Greek manuscripts or parts thereof, dating from
52 A.D.. We also have over 18,000 versions of the Scriptures, (a version of the Bible is a translation into another language). These versions include: Syriac, Latin, Egyptian, Armenian and Georgian versions dating as early as 150 A.D..
In addition we have the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls were found in 1947 by a shepherd boy in the Qumran Caves west of the Dead Sea. These scrolls have been dated from 150 B.C. to 70 A.D.. Within the scrolls they found the entire book of Isaiah, the books of Samuel, and fragments of almost every other book in the Old Testament. Before these scrolls were found, the earliest Old Testament manuscripts were dated from 900 A.D.. The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal the accuracy of the copyist in preserving the Word of God. Over a 1000 year period of time had passed with only minor spelling and grammatical differences in the text. You can be assured that the Bible you read is the accurate and authoritative Word of God.
Early church lectionaries
These lectionaries were the reading lessons used in the public worship services of the early church. These reading lessons contained the majority of the New Testament because the authors quoted lengthy portions of the Scripture. These lessons show the harmony between what they quoted and our Bible today.
The writings of the early church fathers
These men were appointed by apostles or followed soon after their death. Men such as: Ignatius (70-110 A.D.), Polycarp (70-156 A.D.), Clement of Rome
(90 A.D,) and many others. John Burgon has cataloged over 86,000 quotations from the New Testament within their writings. Again, their quotations from the scrolls of their day are identical to what we read in our Bible, proving that the Scriptures have not been changed.
Prophecy is another powerful proof that God has authored the words found in Scripture. Only God knows the future (Isaiah 41:21-23). See these prophecies.
1. Prophecies relating to the total destruction of cities
a. God predicted that the city of Babylon would be destroyed and not rise again (Isaiah 13:19-22) (Jer. 51:26). Babylon is still in ruins today.
b. God predicted that Edom and its capital Petra, thought to be an impregnable city, would be destroyed (Isaiah 34: 6-18) (Ezek. 35:5-7). Today Petra stands in ruins.
2. Prophecies relating to the permanent decline of a nation
a. God declared that Egypt would be diminished and become a lowly nation, never rising again to world domination (Ezek. 29:15). Today Egypt is a third world country.
3. Prophecies concerning Israel's future
God predicted that the Jews would enter the Promised Land, they would become disobedient and rebel against God, they would decline, then go into captivity, and then be brought back to their land in the last days (Deut. 28-30) (Ezek. 37) (Hosea 3:4-5) (Joel 3:1-2). Jesus also predicted that the Jews would return to captivity after His death until the times of the Gentiles was fulfilled (Luke 21:24).
4. Prophecies concerning the entire history of the world
a. In Daniel chapter 2 and chapter 7, God described the world governing empires of the Babylonians, the Medo-Persian empire, and the Grecian and Roman empires. Scripture ends the history of man with 10 nations that will rule the world from the European continent during the tribulation period (Rev. 13 and 17).
Archaeology proves the Bible isn't full of myths and stories that never happened. Archaeology gives the hard proof that the Bible is a reliable and historical document. The best example is the evidence of the flood. In 1929, Dr. C. L. Wooley found major flood deposits at the ancient city of Ur that proved conclusively that there had been a worldwide flood. He found several strata of human occupation, then a solid 8' water-laid clay layer without human relics; then another diverse culture and city beneath it. Similar finds were made at the cities of Kish in 1929 and Fara in 1920.
IV. If God loves people why does He send them to hell?
This question is a veiled charge against the fairness of God. You can answer this question by looking at three simple truths.
God’s will is to send no one to hell!
Peter taught, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God’s love is what caused Him to send Jesus to die for all mankind in order that no one would have to perish (John 3:16). Therefore, it is man’s decision to reject the salvation of God that determines his eternal destiny.
Who was hell prepared for?
Jesus made it very clear that hell wasn't even created for man. It was created for the Devil and his angels. One day Jesus will clearly state this truth again to those who will perish. He will say, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
What is love?
Understanding and being able to explain what love is and what love does is essential to this question of punishment. Love is a perfect balance of mercy and justice. God loves both mercy and justice. "Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). "For the LORD loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off" (Ps. 37:28). "He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He" (Deut. 32:4).
God dispenses whatever is needed as He sees the heart of man in repentance or rebellion. If a judge did not dispense a just sentence of punishment against someone who was purposely and continually harming you, you would immediately consider this lack of justice as unloving and unfair to you. However, love also knows when to forgive and show mercy. Be assured that God knows what is just and fair. This is why He provided for our salvation and why there is a just punishment for man’s continual rebellion.