What does the Bible say about using evidence when witnessing?

Clay Jones of Biola University makes the case that the use of evidence when preaching the gospel was standard operating procedure in the early church. It’s only the modern church that is kind of lazy about the way they talk about Christianity as personal preferences and feelings. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Intro:

In 1993 I started working for Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law School) which offered an M.A. in Christian apologetics (Craig Hazen was the director). Much of my job was to promote the school and although I had studied Christian apologetics since my sophomore year in high school, I decided I needed to see whether an apologetic witness had strong Biblical precedence.

It does.

As I poured through the Scripture I found that Jesus and the apostles preached the resurrection of Christ as the sign of the truth of Christianity.

What follows are some of the passages which support the resurrection witness.

Here is my favorite verse from his massive list:

Mat. 12:39-40: A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus is saying that the resurrection was deliberately given as a sign to unbelievers to convince them. (The Sign of Jonah)

Apologetics advocacy

7 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about using evidence when witnessing?”

  1. The early-early church spent little time arguing to convince people that the resurrection took place — it was assumed because of the OVERWHELMING contemporaneous eye-witness testimony. The focus of argument was more on, “what does this mean, what does this imply?”

    I came to faith not by historical resurrection apologetics but by working from the implications of the words of Jesus onwards. I reasoned that his words a) were not the words of an ordinary man, b) were not the words of a mere man, c) only made sense if the man who said them was still living and not dead. From this I reasoned that, if alive, he must be Lord. So, reason guided by the Spirit and faith inspired by the Spirit conspired to bring about my conversion.

    Point is, I needed no evidences for the historicity of the resurrection — the words of Jesus themselves made the resurrection of Jesus a logical necessity.

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    1. I’m actually a little frightened by this. How do you know he really said those things without undertaking a study of the time spans and reliability of the historical narratives? Why should you privilege your own position of fideism over any other fideist in another religion? I’m sure there must be more to it than “I read it so I believe it”. Any Muslim could say that.

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      1. What about the Muslims coming to Christ because of dreams and visions? Other people can have dreams and visions — atheists dream of flying spaghetti monsters on a nightly basis — but this doesn’t mean that the Muslim’s experience wasn’t real, true, and saving through the Holy Spirit. We wouldn’t tell them this is an insufficient basis or reason for believing, would we?

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  2. Well, the backstory is I studied all major world religions, found the Old Testament coherent and the NT compelling. Plus, there’s the self-authenticating witness and work of the Holy Spirit in convicting of sin and righteousness and that Jesus is Lord — no one can say this apart from the Holy Spirit.

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  3. Many people do come to faith without having had all the evidence laid out. This can be great encouragement for new Christians who want to tell their non-christian friends about their newfound faith. Also, those who are brought up in the faith believe primarily because they trust their parents rather than because of hearing an argument. This is how it was for me.

    However, Christians should not remain ignorant of apologetics and it’s usefulness. For one thing, it provides a valuable tool for evangelism for those who require rational argument before they are willing to believe. Moreover, apologetics is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to keeping strong in the face in a pluralistic or skeptical society. Eventually, Christians will all have to face skeptics who challenge their beliefs. They need to be able to defend what they believe, not only to instruct the non-christian, but also for their own assurance. For those who enjoy study, this should include apologetics and this is part of our worship. God has made us logical creatures and He wants us to love Him with heart, soul, MIND, and strength. We also do ourselves a disservice if we ponder the evidence for all sorts of other things but not for the truth of the Gospel. Also, Christian parents need to equip themselves to answer the challenging questions their kids will ask when they are instructed in the faith. A child who is lovingly given good reasons for the faith they are taught will more likely retain that faith as they get older and are themselves challenged.

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