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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Alister McGrath: Mere Discipleship (Encore Presentation)

January 11, 2020

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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

The Ultimate Impact of Christianity

 

Many have heard of the term “Defender of the Faith,” but what does this truly mean? We may each have a different answer for this but many of us would not know how to live this out in our lives. John Dickerson, a prize-winning journalist and author of Jesus Skeptic, equips Christians to go into conversations surrounding their faith with confidence.

Have you ever experienced doubt about Christianity, or regarding the divine nature of Jesus Christ? If so, there are many resources available for you.

Christianity is a faith that needn’t be accepted without question. In fact, it is exploring the questions and their answers that can guide skeptics into a revelation of the Gospel. In his recent book, “Jesus Skeptic: A Journalist Explores the Credibility and Impact of Christianity,” John S. Dickerson uses the tools of his trade to investigate the person of Jesus Christ and the claims of the Gospel. It was apologetics works that ultimately guided John through his own crisis of faith.

“I was raised in a good, Christian home, and for a while, was one of those who turned away. It was good, well-written books that ed me see that Jesus did live and that led me to consider what He said. And as I considered that, it changed me and opened my heart. I started to look at the movement. It led me to the conclusion that Jesus launched the movement for the greatest good in human history.”

As the author of “Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity,” Jeremiah illustrates the role of Christianity in shaping civilization in areas ranging from women’s rights to healthcare. John agrees that many people are unaware of the influence of Christianity in forming our modern world.

“Christianity was such a given in Western culture, and now a new generation comes in and doesn’t know. I remember, at one point, looking at the mountain of evidence that universities, hospitals, etc. – if you removed Christians, we’d lose all this, including the scientific revolution – and thinking, ‘This is the biggest story of my journalism career by far.’”

While cultural attitudes about Christianity have changed, the facts corroborating its virtue remain, John says.

“Here’s my message to any believer: we will be misunderstood, but you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the brightest minds of all time and of our time.”

People of all ages benefit from learning archeology, history, and evidence for the faith.

An award-winning journalist and author, John S. Dickerson serves as the lead pastor of Connection Pointe Christian Church in the Indianapolis area. His recent book is “Jesus Skeptic: a Journalist Explores the Credibility and Impact of Christianity.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Being a Man of God in the Modern World

 

The definition of what it means to be a man has changed immensely in our society over the years, especially as of late. Depending on who you ask, this answer can include a lot of different expectations and opinions. Dave Willis, relationship coach, author of Raising Boys Who Respect Girls and television host for MarriageToday, dives deep into the struggles men are encountering today and how to combat the tendency of our society to minimize the importance of this conversation.

What do you connote with masculinity and manhood? Dave Willis discusses what it means to follow God with one’s heart and mind in what can be a confusing culture for males.

He describes how boys are very often exposed to explicit images and messages early. Parents, and particularly, fathers, must be prepared to have “the talk” in an ongoing fashion as children are faced with situations and questions to work through.

“When those moments come, we have to be ready to walk through it and do it in a way that shows grace. If we’ll stay close and stay engaged with what they’re going through and carve out time each day with each of them, over time, the cumulative effect of those conversations makes you a safe place for them to share. Don’t let your first response be shock or horror – listen in a grace-filled way.”

Jeremiah emphasizes the importance of parents living out what children should emulate. The training for godliness is found in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Boys need to understand that innate masculinity is valuable and needed, Dave says.

“I think our boys are growing up without a clear vision of what it means to be a man. Their God-given masculinity is a gift to them and to the world. If we will let God’s Word be the lens by which we look at ourselves and by which we judge right and wrong, then we have the answers already.”

God created mankind in His image, and He has equipped men with specific strengths to be used for His glory.

Dave Willis is a pastor and author, known for his expertise in issues related to marriage and family. His latest book is “Raising Boys Who Respect Girls: Upending Locker Room Mentality, Blind Spots, and Unintended Sexism.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Discovering Saint Nick

 

During this Christmas season, some may ponder the thought “Where did the term Santa Claus come from?” Then some may even try to draw a correlation from the process of giving gifts, to Christianity. Dr. Adam English, Professor of Christian Theology and Philosophy at Campbell University, shares how his research has revealed to many who the real Saint Nicholas was.

What comes to mind when you think of Saint Nick? Do you picture a jolly Santa Claus or a faithful man of antiquity? Dr. Adam English shares how his research has revealed to many who the real Saint Nicholas was.

The Santa Claus we know today is a modern take on the man who was known for his generosity. In the fourth century, Nicholas was said to have given anonymously to others in dire situations. He was even recorded as intervening in a wrongful execution.

While some Christians can view the modern conception of Saint Nick as someone who competes with the story of Jesus’ birth, that doesn’t have to be the case, Adam says.

“I was always conflicted by Christmas in some ways, and how, on the one hand, it’s this high and holy and solemn day, and then on the other hand, it’s a day of family celebrations and gift giving and carol singing – and even this commercial event of movies and yard ornaments and shopping. I think a lot of Christians feel conflicted. We’ve had these cultural wars – is it ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas’?”

Yet, the idea of joyfully giving gifts is central to Christianity and the Gospel itself, since Christ was God’s gift to mankind. And Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). With that example, believers can look to Saint Nicholas as an standard of the lives we should live, Adam says.

“I encourage Christians to think of saints as family members who’ve done incredible things – wouldn’t we want to know about that? We’re not alone. We’re surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. It’s been a huge blessing in my own life to learn about saints of old. Saint Nicholas is an inspiration – we don’t have to close the door on this person. In fact, we need to recover the original Saint Nick.”

How will you bless others’ lives through a generous heart this season?

Dr. Adam English is chair of the Department of Christian Studies and professor of Christian Theology and Philosophy at Campbell University. His books include, “The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas and Myra,” and “Christmas: Theological Anticipations.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Trusting God’s Promises in All Circumstances

 

There are times when we find ourselves questioning God’s plan for our lives when we can’t seem to make sense of what is happening to us. His plan for our lives will often not unfold how we originally imagined or wished for it to, so we must trust in His divine providence even when the road becomes difficult. Dr. Michael Youseff (author of Counting Stars in an Empty Sky, the senior pastor of the Church of the Apostles, and the executive president of Leading the Way) unpacks these truths and shares from his own experiences of trusting God in a place outside of his comfort zone.

Biblical fathers and mothers of the faith present us with examples to follow, but can modern Christians really be the kind of believers they were? Dr. Michael Youssef, known for his worldwide ministry, “Leading The Way,” puts wisdom from his life and study in his latest book, “Counting Stars in an Empty Sky: Trusting God’s Promises for Your Impossibilities.” He says the Bible gives us stories of people who sometimes have less than model behavior.

“The reason I do this is I want to show believers in the 21st century that these heroes of the faith have not been washed and cleansed and sent to the laundromat and ironed and straightened and wrapped in cellophane and put on a pedestal. But we see their warts and all, and that s me to rely on the grace of Jesus.”

As a native of Egypt, Youssef has unique insight into the region of the world in which the Bible is set. He combines scholarship, cultural knowledge, personal experience, and a desire to others.

“I wanted to make a contribution and show if you fail, it’s not the end of the way. Abraham failed; you can turn just like he did.”

The main key for Abraham, as for modern believers, is trusting and obeying. In response to God’s promises, Abraham put feet to his faith, and ultimately, his descendants became more numerous than the stars as God had foretold.

Just as God revealed Himself in a personal way to Abraham, He is doing so with countless Muslims, using dreams and visions to reveal Jesus Christ. Anywhere the Gospel goes, God uses it to unlock hearts and open minds to the truth of the Messiah.

As Abraham chose to follow God, we, too, can choose to follow Him. When your obedience meets God’s promises, there’s not limit to what God can do.

Dr. Michael Youssef is the founder and president of “Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef,” a worldwide ministry that leads the way for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ through the creative use of media and on-the-ground ministry teams. He is also the founding pastor of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

The Importance of the Pro-Life Movement

 

The discussion surrounding abortion is as alive as it’s ever been. The time is now for Christians to step up and unapologetically stand behind the pro-life movement. Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, address the importance of getting into the thick of this conversation and together with Jeremiah looks at what the Bible says when it comes to the sanctity of life.

While it can be easy to shy away from debates that are politically charged, Christians should take a stand for cultural issues that matter, including the issue of abortion, says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

It was the work of the Holy Spirit and the influence of Christians around her that changed Marjorie’s views from pro-choice to pro-life, she says.

“I got to the point that I thought maybe there’s another human being with equal moral standing to women who is involved in this conversation, and if that’s true, then this is a completely different story. If I was right, this was the greatest human rights cause of our time.”

Marjorie took the view that unborn life is sacred, and has furthered the cause through her work. She believes the pro-life movement is in its most hopeful moment since the landmark abortion case, Roe vs. Wade. In the event of Roe vs. Wade overturning, voters will likely decide the matter at the state level, Marjorie says.

“In our country and others, when there were great human rights violations, it was Christian people who stood in the breach even when it was wildly unpopular and not politically and economically beneficial to them. The pro-life movement is on the ascendancy; God is allowing this to happen. It could be the opening of the door where light can come in and conversions can occur.”

Jeremiah encourages listeners to be conversant in their faith, knowing that God has given each person value inherent in their personhood. The Bible affirms the worth of life even from its formation in a mother’s womb, Jeremiah says.

“The Bible is so clear that we are to value the sanctity of life. It all comes back to valuing the dignity of every single person.”

God has a unique design and intention for your life.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B. Anthony List. The organization’s mission is to end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Discussing Depression for a Ray of Hope

 

You know someone who is struggling with depression and anxiety. It’s not a sin nor something we need to be ashamed of. We can only address the problem though open discussion and to us we are joined by Dr. Gregory Jantz, here to bring hope and immediate steps.

If you’re not personally struggling with negative emotions, you probably know someone who is. It is the nature of our fallen world that mental suffering is a reality for many. The Bible details the stories of faithful saints who experienced times of darkness and despair. And as evident in the Bible, humans are complex creatures, with a body, mind, spirit and eternal soul.

The approaches to healing for individuals are those that are multifaceted, says, Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of “The Center: A Place of HOPE,” in the state of Washington. For about 36 years, the Center has treated those who seek to overcome depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and the similar issues. A pioneer in mental health care, Gregory talks with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston about what is a common need.

“The World Health Organization says depression is the number one disability in the world. It can be hard to admit you’re struggling. If you’re suffering from depression, we have more resources and more ways of treatment than ever before.”

Clients seeking benefit from care that centers around their medical, spiritual, nutritional, and social needs. Counseling about past issues that are manifesting as things like bitterness and hypersensitivity is ful as well. Gregory encourages sufferers and caregivers to seek . Long-term, successful treatment most often involves personal faith, he says.

In a similar vein, Jeremiah advises listening, or what he calls an engagement principle.

“Ask questions and allow the other person to be the expert. The technique to use with anyone who you feel is struggling is to ask questions. People respond so much better to questions than assertions.”

Anyone will also benefit from listening to God’s words to them, found in the precious promises of the Bible.

Dr. Gregory Jantz is founder of The Center: A Place of HOPE, a speaker, and author of more three dozen books, including “Healing Depression for Life.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Your Unanswered Questions: Part 2

 

Professor Craig Evans joins us in answering your collection of sent in questions and ones we have gathered at Christian Thinkers Society events. We continue to discuss Biblical archeology, the historicity of Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection, and more.

How often do you give thanks, and in what situations? Dr. Jeremiah Johnston says being thankful should be habitual for Christians. He refers to the Roman philosopher, Cicero, who expressed that gratitude is the parent of all virtues. Jeremiah says Christians should remain in wonder of their salvation through Jesus Christ.

“Let us never stop being thankful people. A great barometer of your mental health is your ability to personally experience gratitude. Did you know gratitude will strengthen your immune system, it will lower your blood pressure, it will make you stronger and healthier?”

Thankfulness is also a mark of wisdom because it confirms that we did not accomplish anything on our own. Ingratitude, on the other hand, is the first step toward apostasy, according to the Apostle Paul, who warned in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Grateful attitudes are exhibited by many exemplars in the Bible, from King David in the Old Testament to James in the New Testament. One of the greatest things Christians have to rejoice over is access to the Word of God.

Scholar and author, Dr. Craig Evans, describes the value of biblical prophecies foretelling the Messiah. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that prophecy, giving us a right relationships with God, for which we can be forever thankful. Jeremiah reminds listeners of the story in Luke 17:11-17, in which only one of 10 healed lepers came back to thank Jesus.

“I pray that you and I are thankful people. When I think about the fact that Jesus has forgiven us of our sins, wow, that makes me full of gratitude. I never want to lose my awe of my salvation in Christ.”

Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University. He is a sought-after biblical scholar and New Testament expert. His books and teaching have encouraged many.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Your Unanswered Questions: Part 1

 

Answering your questions on Biblical archaeology, the historicity of Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection, and more with Professor Craig Evans. In this collection of questions you have sent in to the show and gathered at Christian Thinkers Society events.

No matter how much you know about Christianity or how long you’ve adhered to the faith, you should remain inquisitive and be open to growth, says New Testament scholar, professor, and author, Dr. Craig Evans.

“Questions are important. They are wonderful because, when you ask an honest question, you’re open to new information and the truth.”

Whether one is a skeptic or devout, understanding the need for Jesus’ crucifixion can be bewildering. Addressing the argument that Jesus’ violent death was gratuitous, Craig sets the scene of the crucifixion within its historical context. And he explains that the message of the cross begins at the dawn of humanity.

“From the very beginning, there are some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts.’ The law is for our own good. God doesn’t just revel in rules, but things are there for our benefit. Humanity has turned its back on God. There are consequences; the beauty is, God said, ‘I will share the consequences.’”

Rather than show cruelty, the violent death and ensuing resurrection of Jesus demonstrate God’s love in a dramatic way in allowing His Son to suffer for us. Craig describes the love of God as a radical concept in the ancient world.

“What God was saying is, ‘I love humanity, and I want to redeem humanity, and I will take risks. If it means Jesus dying on the cross, I will go that far.’ No god outside of the God of Scripture believed that people were made in God’s image – gods in antiquity would not go that far. It’s only in the Judeo-Christian tradition that God speaks of humans with love and speaks for their benefit.”

While God set laws in place, He still came down to struggling humanity, and to restore us to Himself. That is the message the world needs to hear.

Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University. He is a sought-after biblical scholar and New Testament expert. His books and teaching have encouraged many.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

The Infancy Narrative and Unlikely Characters

 

Danial Darling discusses the group of misfits, societal outcasts, and overlooked characters in the Nativity story. God used each one of them for his divine plan and why is worth thinking about more than once a year. A look at Daniel’s new book “The Characters of Christmas.”

Daniel Darling has authored books on practical faith and relatable theological issues. His latest book, “The Characters of Christmas,” focuses upon the everyday people of the Nativity story. He talks with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston about the work.

“I loved working on all my books,” he says. “This last one was really fun and I enjoyed being able to dig into the Gospels and the story of the incarnation of Christ, and the ordinariness of the characters and how they were part of God’s sovereign plan for history.”

Like many people, Darling enjoys the Christmas season. “We have a whole month to soak in the beauty and the wonder of the coming of the Son of God,” he says. “If you think about it, it’s what separates Christianity from other religions. He is not a distant, angry deity. He visits humanity in Jesus. He loves His image-bearers.”

In “The Characters of Christmas,” Darling takes a closer look at teenage Mary, her betrothed, Joseph, her cousin, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, and more. “Each character points us to Jesus and tells us something about who God is, and the Kingdom of God,” Darling says.

While Christians rightly focus upon the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the story of the manger has its own rich, theological implications, Darling says. The announcement of the long-awaited Messiah came in a shepherd’s field among some of the simplest people in the culture, demonstrating God’s humble heart. The wise men represent generosity and going anywhere to follow Jesus. The genealogy of Jesus demonstrates that God values and uses women for His purposes, and He redeems stories. The coming of Jesus into Mary and Joseph’s lives shows that Jesus sometimes interrupts our plans.

“One of the things Christians need to do is meditate deeply on the story of Christmas and who Jesus is,” Darling advises. “Let’s be so overcome with the joy of Christ, people will ask, ‘Why is it you love Christmas and why should I care about it?’”

Daniel Darling is the vice president for Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a pastor, author, speaker, and columnist. His latest book, “The Characters of Christmas,” was released in 2019.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

The Power of the Gospel

 

With a vision for 1000 church plants, we talk to JD Greear about the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of The Summit Church, and suggests the key to our christian lives is a 24/7 lifestyle we need to embody.

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston introduces pastor, author, and Christian leader, Dr. J.D. Greear. “The Gospel invigorates us,” Johnston says. “It’s not just the diving board, it’s the swimming pool. The Gospel is the key to our Christian life and the constant presence in our lives.”

Greear remembers a time when he went through tremendous doubt about his salvation. The period of doubt ultimately paved the way to a greater understanding of the saving work of Jesus Christ. Greear has spent his life spreading the message of salvation. Through his mission work and studies, he has gained valuable insight into methods of sharing the Gospel and answering the questions people groups have. He notes that his book, “Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim,” offers insights.

“No matter what I’m talking about, nothing takes the centrality away from the first place of the Gospel,” Greear says. “Christianity is not good advice; it is good news. It’s not just the way you get saved; it’s the power to live it out.”

In responding to questions from believers who waver in their trust for God’s saving work in their lives, Greear encourages them to put their faith in God’s promises rather than in their own feelings. “Our Heavenly Father wants us to know the certain promises of the Gospel. God’s Word is stronger and His promises are stronger,” he says. “Salvation has everything to do with the One that faith is in. Faith is not a savior; Jesus is the Savior. What we find in Scripture is that Christian growth is really growth deeper into the Gospel. The New Testament speaks about the blood of Jesus – not just paying the sin debt but washing away the sin of our heart that keeps us separated from God. What matters is: are you leaving your hope for salvation on the finished work of Christ? Go and embrace what He’s done for you.”

Dr. J.D. Greear is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of The Summit Church. His book, “Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church’s Renewal,” was released in 2019.