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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Andy Bannister: Tools to help you defend your faith

June 15, 2019

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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Andy Bannister: Tools to Help you Defend your Faith

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Dr. Andy Bannister, apologist, popular speaker, and author of books including “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments.” Bannister says his journey into apologetics began with fledgling attempts at proving the Christian faith to a group of Islamic faithful. Realizing his answers and resources were inadequate, Bannister read extensively and practiced interacting with unbelievers in winsome ways.

“The goal is to lead them Jesus,” he says. “We can become obsessed with winning the argument – even with our own denomination or pet theology. Start by listening. Ask questions about what they believe. Ask about their worldview. Repeat back to them what they’ve said and ask them to clarify. Not only will you get more of where they’re coming from, but often, you’ll learn that the question they’re asking is not really what they’re asking.”

Before we think of far-flung places, Christians would do well to start with their own friends, families, and circles of influence, Bannister says. Even a simple invitation to one’s home, for example, can open the door for further conversation and relationships.

Assumptions can be the enemy of meaningful Gospel sharing. For example, an evangelist can assume that his hearers want the answers to the questions the sharer deems important. However, finding out what is important to other parties, and then relating how Christianity answers their needs and questions, is an important first step.

“We leap into arguments,” Bannister says. “When it comes to the Gospel, I think we’ve missed the trick: how do we make people see the difference that Jesus makes? If Christianity is true, all those things you care about depends upon it.”

Johnston paraphrases Blaise Pascal’s idea: “Present the Gospel to your friends and family in a way that they wish it were true, and then show them that it is.”


Andy BannisterDr. Andy Bannister is the director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity and an adjunct speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). He is a professor, speaker, and author of books including “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Philip Nation on Spiritual Disciplines

Dr. Philip Nation, director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches for the Baptist World Alliance, talks with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston about holiness in believers. It’s a topic that is close to Nation’s heart.

“We’re called as Christians to live a countercultural lifestyle,” he says. “Holiness is inclusive of ethical and moral choices, but it has a broader meaning of setting your life aside for God. Jesus is calling us to love Him with the totality of our lives.”

In his book, “Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out,” and a similar Bible study, Nation directs believers in ways in which they may grow in Christlikeness.

Spiritual disciplines are, themselves, emblematic of the balance of trusting God for one’s salvation and righteousness while still working out salvation with great reverence and respect. Nation references 2 Timothy 2:15 in regard to a Christian’s responsibility: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Habits of holiness include studying the Bible, prayer, worship, service to others, quiet contemplation, rest, leadership, and disciple-making. Nation emphasizes the need for Christian vocational and volunteer leaders to attend to their personal relationships with God. He also advises believers to have both a dedicated prayer time and an ongoing conversation with God.

Christians would do well to ask themselves:

Is my love for Christ deepening, and am I experiencing the love of Christ on a personal level?

Does my spiritual life look different now than it did six months ago?

Are there other people involved in my spiritual formation and maturity?

Are there people who can speak realistically, sympathetically, and strongly in my life?

Is my spiritual life mobilizing me on the mission of God?

Since obedience is central to a healthy relationship with Jesus, Johnston urges a show listener, Joel, to confess his sins and to receive Christ’s forgiveness.


Dr. Philip Nation is director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches for the Baptist World Alliance. He is a speaker, blogger, and author of books including “Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

J. Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell: Reaching Generation Z

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston hosts apologists, Dr. Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace, to talk about reaching Generation Z – generally those between the ages of about 3 and 20. The two guests wrote, “So the Next Generation Will Know.”

“Generation Z members are more reluctant to define themselves by faith and religion,” McDowell says. “About 30 percent or more don’t identify with a particular religion. There’s reason to pay attention and to be concerned.”

Yet, reaching young people can come through authentic connections. “The most influential truth claims are the ones you make in the context of relationship,” Wallace says. Youth are more likely to listen, understand, and think through ideas that have been presented within a healthy relationship.

The men point to the Apostle Paul, who often referenced his relationships with the people to whom he was writing. McDowell says students often don’t believe in Christianity’s claims because they are convinced it’s not true or they have broken relationships. “If we really want to influence them, we have to step personally into their lives and build relational capital to speak into their lives,” he says.

Sometimes, showing love and building relationships is less about talking and more about participating in activities that are meaningful to young people, such as sports or watching wholesome entertainment. “What we’re encouraging parents to do in the book is to just open our eyes and see the opportunities that are in front of us and try to leverage them without exasperating our kids,” McDowell says. “Use opportunities to build relationships and to teach truth.”

While many people care deeply about the philosophical implications of Christianity, many are looking primarily at how it affects their daily lives and what it means to their loved ones.

A show listener, Sarah, asks how to reach a non-Christian for Jesus Christ. Johnston tells her to reveal to others why Christianity matters to her. “Sharing your personal transformation with Jesus Christ is the most effective way,” he says. He encourages believers to write out their testimonies and be prepared to share stories of life change because of Jesus Christ.


seanMcDowell_2 (3)Dr. Sean McDowell is an assistant professor in Biola University’s Christian Apologetics program and the resident scholar for Summit California, He is a speaker, storyteller, author, coauthor and editor. J. Warner Wallace is a detective, national speaker and bestselling author. He serves as an adjunct professor of Apologetics at Biola University and as a faculty member for Summit Ministries. Warner is the creator of the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog, and podcast. He is the author of several books.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

David Hardage: Cross Cultural Ministry

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston advises Christians to not ignore the important questions they have. “We don’t allow any question to paralyze us in our faith,” he says. “I’m blessed by all the questions that are coming in on AskJJJ.com. This is the show where we tackle the tough questions and we take seriously the commandment to love God with our heart, soul, and mind, and love others.”

The call to love God is fittingly accompanied by the call to love and reach others. Dr. David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, known as Texas Baptists, oversees the outreach organization. Texas Baptists includes about 5,300 churches statewide.

“It’s very humbling and challenging,” Hardage says of his role. “People are immigrating to Texas from all over the world and migrating from all the other 49 states.”

The organization reaches people in numerous evangelistic capacities, and notably through the Baptist Student Ministry programs on higher education campuses. “I believe, nowadays, the most impressionable people in society are 18, 19 and 20-year-olds,” Hardage says. “We look at the college and university campuses as a mission filed.”

Each person who is a believer, whether filling a ministry or a mainstream vocational role, has a calling and a mission. While demographics and more change, the role of a Christ-follower remains foundational. “It’s just living out Gospel with a sense of disciple-making,” Hardage explains. “The Gospel still speaks to people wherever they are. The Gospel will not return void.”

Hardage underscores the service of people who serve as teachers, coaches, and in positions in which many lives are affected. “Ministry is not just behind the pulpits on Sunday,” he says. “I want to be a man of integrity. I’ve got to be the same on Sunday as Monday.”

Johnston reminds listeners of John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” He says, “When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, it inspires us to welcome the Kingdom of God on Earth and also make the world a better place – to confront evil with good.”


Dr. David Hardage is the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, known as Texas Baptists. He has served as a pastor and interim pastor, and served in leadership roles in faith-based and educational organizations. Texas Baptists encompasses about 5,300 member church congregations in Texas. At colleges and universities, the convention is carrying out the great commission through Baptist Student Ministry programs. The Texas Baptists organization supports evangelism, discipleship, missions, legislative advocacy, and offers counseling resources.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Lee Strobel on Miracles

 

Author of “The Case for Miracles,” Lee Strobel explores stories of the miraculous in his latest book. He joins Dr. Jeremiah Johnston to discuss the book and the necessity of evangelism, as outlined in I Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

“If you have the cure to a fatal illness, you would be immoral if you kept it to yourself,” Strobel says. “The reason for us to give reasons why we believe what we believe is increasingly important. We have a defensible faith and can share that we are following Christ because there is solid, evidentiary reasoning behind our reason to follow Him.”

Evangelism can mean inviting people to church, helping provide for their needs, or simply sharing one’s story of salvation and redemption. Johnston emphasizes the need for believers to write their testimonies and tell them.

“Other people are more interested in spiritual matters than we think they are,” Strobel says. “Relate it to the other person: ‘I used to think like you did.’”

The miracle that Christianity centers around is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “I came to faith through a miracle, which is the resurrection,” Strobel says. In researching “The Case for Miracles,” Strobel further explored elements of the supernatural in the faith. “My sticking point was, ‘Is God still doing miracles today? Do we have credible evidence?’ I researched examples where there are no naturalistic explanations. Even in peer-reviewed, secular journals, there are examples where there is no natural explanation other than God intervening. Some of the stories I encountered absolutely blew my mind.”

Strobel’s takeaway from the book is for Christians to be bold in their prayer lives. “You can ask God for miracles in your life as well,” he says.


Lee StrobelLee Strobel is perhaps best known for his classic book, “The Case for Christ.” A former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, Strobel has authored more than 20 books, and has inspired many who have heard him speak as well. His book, “The Case for Miracles,” explores the miraculous in modern times.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Dr. Jack Graham: Keys to Ministry Faithfulness and Balance

 

Pastor of the Dallas-area church, Prestonwood Baptist Church, for three decades, Dr. Jack Graham is a seasoned pastoral leader. Discussing the basics of ministry and an effective work-life balance with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston, Graham says, “The greatest thing you can do is to tell a person about Jesus and the way of salvation and the way to know Christ and live forever. The ministry of the Church is to find a need and fill it – find a hurt and help it.”

Leading in ministry is a challenge, and believers do well to remain teachable and dependent upon God, Graham says. “The Christian life is not hard. It’s impossible in our own strength. Ministry is the same,” he said. “I made the wonderful discovery of the Spirit-filled life.”

While Christians can mature with time, they are also at risk for becoming cynics with difficult life experiences, Graham notes. “As you get older, you would think it would get easier to believe, but there are things that can happen and challenge people’s faith and make it harder to believe,” he says. “I’ve endeavored to maintain my role as a student. Keep your knees on the floor and your nose in the book.”

The way the Church will continue to survive and thrive is through evangelism and avoiding turning inward too much, Graham says. “Every day is an opportunity to get up and do something that makes an eternal difference in someone’s life,” he says. “When Jesus is at the core of our ministry, His love flows through us.”


Jack GrahamDr. Jack Graham is pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, and is known for his role as a faithful teacher through PowerPoint Ministries. The mission of the ministries is “to glorify God by introducing Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible, and to develop them in Christian living using the most effective means to impact the world, making an eternal difference in this generation.”

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Drew Dyck: Your Future Self Will Thank You!

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston and Drew Dyck, author and editor, discuss the importance of developing winning habits. Even the Apostle Paul admitted to struggling with his behavior: “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).

Christians today face the need to be balanced, self-controlled and consistent as well. In his book, “Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science,” Dyck gives practical strategies for growing in self-discipline. The book’s focus is something that everyone can relate to, he says.

“I was hoping it would resonate with others. There is a gap between what you do and what you seem to be able to do,” Dyck says. “Self-control is foundational.”

While limiting oneself might seem negative, it is truly freeing, Dyck says, enabling people to withstand temptations and to do things they should even when they least feel like it. “As you choose to do the right thing – as you say ‘no’ to temptations – your willpower can actually increase,” he says. “Just like a muscle, if you give it resistance, if you use it more, it grows stronger with use.”

Habits, whether they are good or bad, are default actions that people take in various situations. They are unconscious routines that are a result of familiar cues and perceived rewards. If the habits are not in line with a person’s values or goals, he or she may initiate new practices. Initially, fresh habits require extra effort, but eventually, they become easier, Dyck says. Striving can be viewed in a negative way, but it is biblical. “I think the key is, instead of striving against God, strive with the Spirit,” he says.

Johnston encourages listeners to prioritize prayer in all they seek to do. Sometimes, goal-setters want to call it quits when they make a mistake, but perseverance is key, Dyck asserts. “As a Christian, we have the ultimate fresh start,” he says.


Drew Dyck (1)Drew Dyck is an acquisitions editor for Moody Publishers and a contributing editor at CTPastors.com. He released his book, “Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science,” in 2019.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Dwight Baker: Baker Publishing Group

 

From Christianity’s earliest days, the written word was valued. The first believers transmitted and preserved the writings of the early church fathers carefully. Two millennia later, the Bible, and biblical resources, remain precious to believers.

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Dwight Baker, a third-generation Christian publishing leader. The mission of his company, Baker Publishing Group, is to publish “high-quality writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers.”

When secular publishing was in decline, Christian publishing was on the rise. Showing the relevance and diversity of faith-based views, the Baker Publishing Group includes several branches which tell the stories of Christian faith today, including Baker Academic.

While some believers don’t read as regularly as others, they can ultimately be served through the knowledge of their spiritual leaders, Baker says. “Our company serves nonreaders and does so eagerly through their pastors,” he says. “Church leaders have profound responsibility to direct their congregations to valuable literature and to engage nonreaders who speak spiritual guidance on a broad level. It’s hard to convert nonreaders into readers, but those who do read are serial readers.”

Yet, it is ideal when believers do choose to read, Johnston says, in order to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Johnston advises listeners to utilize resources to help them study the Bible including a Bible app, dictionary and commentaries.


Dwight Baker (1)Dwight Baker is president of Baker Publishing Group, following his father, Richard Baker, and grandfather, Herman Baker, who founded the company in 1939.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Jeremiah Johnston: Body of Proof Evidence for the Resurrection

 

When speaking of the resurrection, the Apostle Paul described Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection as of “first importance” (I Corinthians 15:3). Dr. Jeremiah Johnston says, “There is nothing more important in the Christian life than celebrating the bodily resurrection of Jesus.”

In fact, there are 300 biblical passages that reference the physical resurrection of Jesus, he says. “Christianity is based on history – not myth, legend, fairy tales or fables,” he says. However, some 25 percent of self-identifying Christians say they don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, Johnston notes.

Yet, Jesus’ triumph on the cross is central to Christianity. Johnston gives these seven evidence points for the truth of Christ’s victory in his message, “Body of Proof: Evidence for the Resurrection.”

 

  1. It is the only way we make sense of the suffering in our lives.
  2. Jesus foretold His death and resurrection.
  3. Jesus demonstrated resurrection power by miraculously bringing several people back to life in the Gospels.
  4. Jesus’ bodily resurrection was not what His disciples or the Jewish people anticipated.
  5. The written resources and archeology overwhelmingly support the resurrection narrative.
  6. It is the only convincing explanation for the conversion of those who didn’t follow Jesus during His earthly ministry.
  7. Everywhere the Christian faith goes, society is dramatically changed for the better.

 

As believers seek to renew their minds with truth, they would do well to memorize Scripture in order to meditate on the truth of Jesus’ finished work. In John 14:19 for example, Jesus promises, “Because I live, you also will live.” Johnston says, “You have nothing to fear; there is no reason to be hopeless.”

 

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Is Christianity good? Q&A with John Stonestreet

John Stonestret serves as the president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and host of BreakPoint. John and Jeremiah discuss cultural questions, persecution of Christians globally, and some of the most encouraging and concerning things happening in Christianity today.