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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

Mark Lanier on Justice and Evidence


Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Mark Lanier to the show. Lanier is well-known for his work as an attorney, but it is his love for the Bible that led him to establish the Lanier Theological Library, an exquisite facility with about 17,000 square feet of literary resources, artifacts, and study space in the Houston area.

Lanier originally felt he might serve the Lord as a vocational minister. “I thought I’d love to be a preacher. I love the Lord,” he says. “It occurred to me, I really ought to pursue a legal career but continue to serve the Lord bivocationally. So I became a lawyer really just to pay the bills, but my passion has always been trying to teach people the Word of God and trying to the Kingdom of Christ.”

In his theological study, Lanier has been a student of Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Syriac. “Language is a deep love of mine. It unlocks Scripture,” Lanier explains. Much of Scripture is understood more deeply with an understanding of the original language and civilization. “Today we know the brain cells process thought. In the Old Testament mindset, they thought the seed of thought was the heart. When you read all of these passages in the Psalms that talk about getting your heart right before the Lord, we tend, in 21st-century America, to think that means to get your emotions and feelings right before the Lord. It’s not talking about emotion; it’s talking about thinking and using your thoughts to focus on God and what God wants you to do. It’s not talking about emotional religion first and foremost.”

Rather than simply being a personal choice, Christianity has served to form the basis for the Judeo-Christian legal system. It is a truth that Lanier, as a law professional, greatly values. “If you remove God, at the end of the day, law is what people say instead of what God says. God told Israel, ‘I’ve created male and female in my image. All people have equal dignity and rights and access to justice and all basic core human principles,’” Lanier says. “That’s different than anything else we find culturally then and now.”

To be kept from becoming swept up in the tide of popular beliefs, Christians should renew their minds with the truths of the Bible. “If we remove God from our system, we have removed the bedrock foundation and our system is shifting sand,” Lanier says. “We all need to be before God on a daily basis.”

Mark lanierMark Lanier is an attorney, teacher, and author of books including “Christianity on Trial,” “Psalms for Living: Daily Prayers, Wisdom, and Guidance,” and “Torah for Living: Daily Prayers, Wisdom, and Guidance.”

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Is Christianity Still Good for the World? & Bob Sprotte’s Great Story


Dr. Jeremiah Johnston talks with an everyday follower of the Christian faith who decided he wanted to do more to reach his community. Grand Rapids, Michigan-based businessman, Bob Sprotte, is furthering the Gospel in his area in a creative way through the Great Lakes Symposium on Christian Worldview, to be held on Thursday, August 1, 2019, in Bay Harbor, Michigan.

In our Christian walk, as in business, Sprotte has learned that faithfulness is essential. “All the little things we do matter,” he says.

Johnston shares insights from his speech during Wilberforce Weekend in Washington, DC. “It’s an exciting time to be a Christian,” he says.

While the majority of growth in the faith is not currently coming from the Western world, it means that Christians based in the West have an untapped mission field all around them.

Johnston cites a Pew Research study in which most atheists and agnostics believe the Church contributes little or nothing to the world. Johnston refutes this notion in his book, “Unimaginable: What our World Would be Like Without Christianity.”

“Christianity has been a force for good in our world,” Johnston says. “The evidence is simply overwhelming.”

Paul’s words in Galations 3:28 were revolutionary in the culture in which he lived: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Christianity, wherever it takes root, influences culture. It heals racism, promotes charity and justice, supports gender equality, and embraces the value of life. The opposite is also true. Where Christianity has been unwelcome, people are dehumanized, society becomes nihilistic, and there is no clear purpose for life.

“Every time history repeats itself, we pay a higher ,” Johnston says. “Yet, we are living in the golden age of Christianity. There is more evidence for our faith than at any other time. My challenge and my prayer for all of us is that we will apply John 1:5: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’”

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Jeremiah Johnston: Truth is Under Attack

If truth is a foundation, then the structures of society can only hold together properly if the truth remains stable. Show host, Dr. Jeremiah Johnston says, “You don’t have to go far to see that truth is under attack. People say, ‘That’s your truth, not my truth,’ or ‘I don’t believe in good and evil.’ You need to know as a Christian thinker: ‘Does absolute truth exist?’”

While Christianity is the object of widespread scrutiny, Johnston points out that somewhere around 70,000 people per day come to faith in Jesus Christ. “I’m here to tell you the Christian faith has never been more popular or prominent or influential around the world,” he says.

Thankfully, Jesus made the truth of His nature and of God’s character very clear in Scripture. In the book of John, the Son of God’s appearance in the world is described as “full of grace and truth.” In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

As followers of Christ, we are to worship God “in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). At the conclusion of his earthly ministry, Jesus tells Pilate, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

In pointing out these passages, Johnston says, “One of the most dangerous places to be is when we don’t seek truth. The easiest way to eliminate confusion is to know the truth.”

Even if people do not acknowledge certain truths, they continue to exist. Christians should not be afraid of challenges to their faith by skeptics. A winsome approach can make people wish Christianity were true, and then realize it is, as Blaise Pascal wrote.

Without truth as an underpinning, and when Christianity is diminished in society, there is room for inequality, slavery, eugenics, dehumanization, and moral relativism, Johnston says. “These are very real concepts that impact our daily lives. Please be a person who lives by absolute truth in your morals, ethical decision-making, and your Christian living,” he says.

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Craig Evans Busts Biblical and Archaeological Myths

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston talks with New Testament expert, teacher, and author, Dr. Craig Evans, about the tangible proofs of the Bible’s accuracy. Some of the evidences of biblical accounts have been found in recent years, including a house of David inscription and seal of Pontius Pilate.

“There’s something called ‘minimalism,’” Evans explains. “They were arguing 30 years ago there was no King David, Saul, and Solomon. We have found a huge government complex. Archeology just keeps coming to light that embarrasses and contradicts these lousy interpretations.”

As the author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence,” Evans feels strongly about the importance of understanding Jesus Christ from a historical and cultural perspective. The Holy Land today still offers a look into the world of antiquity.

“I’ve heard it said that there are really five gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Israel,” Evans says. “You go to the land and see the archeology; you view the dig sites and see what’s been found. I think it’s great because it builds faith. You realize ‘this is where it happened.’ The story of Jesus or the Old Testament prophets or King David or whatever we’re talking about – it isn’t just air and just theory. It isn’t just words on a printed page. It suddenly becomes real. You’re walking on the same ground, you’re walking on the top of the same mountain, looking at the same valley, and crossing the same body of water. When you see the land of Israel, you then understand the biblical text better. And in understanding that better, you understand your faith and yourself better.”

Evans is a leader of a Living Passages trip covering significant biblical and early church sites. He recommends Bible study resources such as his book, “God Speaks: What He Says; What He Means.”

Johnston concludes, “All religions don’t have the same aims and claims, and they certainly don’t have the same archeology. I want you to know the great evidence for your faith. Finally, spend time in the Word of God. We don’t want to have just a bunch of information, we want to have wisdom.”

Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins for Houston Baptist University. He is an expert on the historical grounds of New Testament writings. Dr. Evans has published more than 600 scholarly studies, including more than 80 books. His book, “Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels,” is a -seller.

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Craig Evans: The Archaeology behind the Bible

Sought-after New Testament expert, teacher, and author, Dr. Craig Evans, talks with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston about the important evidences of the Bible and Christian faith found in archeological discoveries.

Johnston emphasizes the importance of not neglecting the past as a whole. “I fear we are becoming an ahistorical culture. History adds value, meaning, beauty, and justice to our lives. We have so much information and yet so little wisdom” without the lessons of history, he says.

In not-so-distant history, a person in the West was considered uneducated without some knowledge of the Bible. That notion has changed, but knowledge of Scripture remains the beginning of wisdom.

Evans iterates the value of the Bible for today. “There’s this notion out there that the Bible is an outdated book. The Bible ties into and contributes to history and is informed by history,” he says. “It comes as a surprise to many that archeologists use the Bible as a very important source. In fact, it’s the number one source. The Bible s archeologists know where to dig and how to interpret where they dig.”

Evans sheds light on biblical passages such as the resurrection of Lazarus that become more rich and easier to understand when a person knows the historical and cultural framework behind them. Likewise, artifacts uncovered are affirming the people and accounts found in the Old Testament and New Testament.

“Archeology can prove that the historical narratives in the Bible are talking about real people, places, and events,” Evans explains. “Archeology provides us with vital background information so that we can understand the Bible.”

While archeology cannot prove there is a God or exhibit the resurrection of Jesus, it can support the claims of Scripture and bring clarity to biblical texts. For Evans and Johnston, the importance lies in the truths to which the evidence points. Belief in the Jesus of the Bible is supported by numerous archeological finds. More historical treasures are being discovered as skeptics and faithful alike acknowledge their significance.

Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins for Houston Baptist University. He is an expert on the historical grounds of New Testament writings. Dr. Evans has published more than 600 scholarly studies, including more than 80 books. His book, “Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels,” is a -seller.

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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.”

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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 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 selling 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 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.

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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, ing 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 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.