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Alistair Begg on Sharing Your Faith

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Here at Parkside, we’re studying Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. In chapter 2, he lays out what we are by nature – sinful, alienated from God, and unable to save ourselves. He then contrasts that with what we have become by grace – alive, raised, and seated with Christ. Both Paul’s direct approach and concise message offer a good model to follow when introducing others to Jesus. Let me encourage you to read the passage.

I mention this because this month our series, Crossing the Barriers, is a topical study on evangelism. We’re called by Jesus to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel…” (Mark 16:15) and that endeavor is challenging. Striking up a conversation about Christ with friends, neighbors, and colleagues is an intimidating prospect. The Crossing the Barriers series seeks to provide step-by-step help for approaching these discussions so I hope you’ll have an opportunity to listen.

A good way to talk to others about Jesus is the way a beggar tells another beggar where to find bread. Patience and compassion should mark our presentation of the Gospel. It’s important to keep in mind that we were once dead in our trespasses and sins and have no basis for boasting. It is only because of God’s love and great mercy that we are made alive in Christ – saved by grace. Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your ow

n doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Keeping this forefront in our minds enables us to approach the task of evangelism with the proper sense of humility.

It’s also important to understand that our part is to share the Gospel with clarity and conviction and God’s part is to open blind eyes and soften hard hearts. “Evangelism is man’s work, but the giving of the faith is God’s” (J.I. Packer). A good rule of thumb is to pray, rely on the Holy Spirit to guide the discussion, and then pray more.

This Crossing the Barriers series comes with a comprehensive study guide. It’s very useful in a group setting but can also be completed individually. We’re also making available a resource that will provide further help. My long-time friend Derek Prime wrote a concise (only 60 pages) book (This Way to Life: Discovering Life to the Full) that explains the essential facts of Christianity. It’s a wonderfully compelling overview to share with those questioning these things.

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John MacArthur on Straight Answers About Creation

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johnatdeskI spotted a trend in the earliest days of this campaign season. You may have noticed it, too.

Throughout the debates and interviews, the news media kept raising questions designed to shame and embarrass candidates who self-identify as Christians, often leading to some awkward moments. The “gotcha” questions go something like this:

Do you believe that God created humans and other animals in their present form, or do you believe that humans and other animals evolved biologically over time?

Do you believe the earth is 5,000 years old?

Do you believe the Bible story of Adam and Eve is literally true?

The point of that sort of question is clear. Those asking it want to make public whether the candidate thinks scientifically, or submits his or her reason to theology. That’s precisely how the world distinguishes itself from Christianity: You can either be reasonable and think scientifically, or (if you are woefully behind the times) you can do what biblically minded Christians do and cling to doctrine and theology. The assumption is that Christian belief is unreasonable, irrational, and unscientific—a relic of the Dark Ages.

That is the dominant, dogmatic position held today by a large portion of our population, including those in influential fields such as entertainment, business, the news media, and education. As a result, if it becomes known that you believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, you’re likely to be subjected to some questions. Questions perhaps prompted by genuine curiosity—but perhaps motivated by straight-up hostility. You may encounter coworkers, friends, family members—maybe even members of your congregation—who embrace evolutionary theory and relish challenging your beliefs. Or perhaps you or someone you know has been intimidated into silence, convinced that Scripture doesn’t have adequate answers and can’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Either way, the questions are myriad and not always easy to answer.

Yet what we believe about creation—how we answer those questions—matters a great deal.

If you deny the literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, you’ve undermined every major doctrine of the Bible, including the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of Scripture, the depravity of man, and the gospel itself. If Genesis is not divinely, authoritatively, and inerrantly true and sufficient, all moral obligations to God are null and void. It’s no coincidence that fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are being celebrated today. We live in a Romans 1 world where people have suppressed the evident truth about God’s reign as Creator. The result is that God has given them over to their lusts. The unrestrained, disastrous plunge into sin we’re witnessing is both the cause and result of God’s judgment.

Back in 2014, I was invited to preach on the pivotal issue of origins at a conference hosted by a highly respected, Christian-led creationist organization. Because the issues at stake are so monumental, I want to share with you the message I gave.

“Straight Answers About Creation” is a timely lesson that gets to the theological, doctrinal foundation of the creation-evolution question. It will help firm up your confidence in Scripture and your convictions about its veracity, giving you a bold, clear approach to answering the skeptics. I know you’re going to find it encouraging and helpful.

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Upcoming Highlights for Just Thinking with Ravi Zacharias

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Program Highlights for Just Thinking July 18-22, 2016

Have you ever wondered why Eastern religions became so popular in the United States? Do those beliefs bring any more meaning to your life? This week on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias examines Eastern religions to discover the differences between it and Christianity and shares how you can respond to those differences.

Monday, July 18, 2016
“East and West” Episode 1

Have you ever wondered why Eastern religions became so popular in the United States? Is there any common ground between Christianity and Eastern religions? Today on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias takes a deeper look into these Eastern religions and how you can test them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
“East and West” Episode 2

What kind of impact are Eastern religions having in the West? How did that way of thinking get such a foothold in the West? Do those beliefs bring any more meaning to your life? Tune in as Ravi Zacharias answers these questions on today’s Just Thinking.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
“East and West” Episode 3

Do you feel like you’re surrounded by questions or problems? How do the New Age religions answer those questions? And how are those answers different than those of Christianity? Ravi Zacharias tackles these questions on today’s Just Thinking.

Thursday, July 21, 2016
“East and West” Episode 4

How can you share the Gospel with someone who is seeking a spirituality that lacks the one true God? Today on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias looks at the three conclusions about the Gospel and explains how you can use that information to share the Gospel with those in the New Age movement.

Friday, July 22, 2016
“East and West” Episode 5

Is there a way to balance both mind and heart when looking at issues of morality?  What do the naturalists have to say about that issue?  And how do we know that Satan and evil exist? Ravi Zacharias takes a deeper look at these questions on today’s Just Thinking.

Program Highlights for Just Thinking July 25-29, 2016

How do you share the Gospel in a world that is constantly changing? How can you help the younger generations discover the truth of the Gospel? Why is reaching the next generation so crucial? This week on Just Thinking Ravi Zacharias examines the attacks on Christianity the younger generation is experiencing and how you can respond.

Monday, July 25, 2016
“The Withering Western Worldview” Episode 1

Do you feel like things in our world change almost on a daily basis? How do you share the Gospel in that kind of environment? What’s the one thing that does stay the same? Listen as Ravi Zacharias brings the answers to these questions on today’s Just Thinking.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
“The Withering Western Worldview” Episode 2

Do you feel like you’re surrounded by religious options? How can you help the younger generations discover the truth of the Gospel? Today on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias shares looks at the Christian response to the attacks the younger generation is experiencing in Universities.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
“The Withering Western Worldview” Episode 3

Why is reaching the next generation so crucial? How do you reach a generation of people who barely know what the Bible is? What is your job as a Christian? Tune in as Ravi Zacharias explores the need to reach today’s youth. That’s on today’s Just Thinking.

Thursday, July 28, 2016
“The Withering Western Worldview” Episode 4

Has your faith changed who you are in your private life? Are you truly a believer in what you claim to believe or do you just talk about it? Today on Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias takes a deeper look at what that has to do with sharing the Gospel.

Friday, July 29, 2016
Columbia University Q&A” Episode 1

Have you ever wondered if God was really concerned about your happiness? Why are churches in the United States dying while they’re growing in other areas? Hear Ravi Zacharias tackles these questions on today’s Just Thinking.

Program Highlights for Just Thinking August 1-5, 2016

In a world full of skeptics there can be so many barriers people have to belief in God. How do you overcome those barriers? Is the work you’re doing for God actually making a difference? What doors has God opened for you to share the Gospel with others? Be sure to listen as Ravi Zacharias looks at the barriers to belief this week on Just Thinking.

Monday, August 1, 2016
“Barriers to Belief II” Episode 1

What keeps you from having complete faith in God? Do you feel like the Gospel is too good to be true? In a world full of skeptics there can be so many barriers people have to belief in God. How do you overcome those barriers? Ravi Zacharias takes a look at this question on today’s Just Thinking.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
“Barriers to Belief II” Episode 2

Have you ever looked back and realized many of the events in your life were connected? Is it coincidence? Or is that God working in your life? How can the answer to these questions help you break through the barriers you may have to Christian belief? Ravi Zacharias brings the answers on today’s Just Thinking.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
“Barriers to Belief II” Episode 3

What responsibility has God given you? Is the work you’re doing for God actually making a difference? On today’s Just Thinking Ravi Zacharias looks at how God will reaffirm His calling in you if you’re looking and why what you’re doing is important.

Thursday, August 4, 2016
“Barriers to Belief II” Episode 4

What doors has God opened for you to share the Gospel with others? Are you watching for these opportunities to arise or are you too busy? Is love a vital part of how you’re sharing the Gospel? Ravi Zacharias brings the answer to these questions on Just Thinking.

Friday, August 5, 2016
Barriers to Belief II” Episode 5

What armor do you wear to protect yourself against life? Are you being sensitive to where God is calling you and what He might be calling you to do? Ravi Zacharias concludes his message on the barriers to belief as he connects the dots between the head and the heart. That’s on today’s Just Thinking.

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