It is a matter of some concern to me that many Christians, including pastors, seem unable (or unwilling) to assert themselves when it comes to the authenticity of their salvation and faith. When asked a direct question or when faced with doubters or scoffers, they appear to back-down and waffle, or worse, joke about it!
Someone comes to you and throws out a challenge. They demand “How do you know that your religion is right and all the others are wrong?” The questioner dares you to respond because, to him, any kind of definite, firm answer will prove you are arrogant and a bigot! The answer must be vague and ecumenical to be satisfactory. How many times have YOU backed down in the face of such opposition? Did you feel terrible afterward because it was somehow cowardly? Were you angry because you did not have an answer? It used to happen to me, so I know what you feel like.
Is there an answer that will satisfy doubters and scoffers? The simple reply is – NO. (Remember – scoffers didn’t listen to Jesus, either, though His answers were brilliant). Indeed, we should not be worried about answering the endless queries and derisive comments of these folk. If they do not like our biblical answer then… tough!
By all means give them answers that can be supported by scripture, but don’t feel bad if you cannot satisfy all the opposing queries and comments. You will never, in your lifetime, ever answer these kinds of unbelief to the satisfaction of scoffers. This is because they do not really want answers, they merely wish to see you uncomfortable! So, what can you do about it? You must answer them in a Biblical way.
The first thing to realize is that you are not a slave to any man, because God is not a debtor. You are a son or daughter of Almighty God! That gives you a status your opposer has not got and never will have unless God saves him. This places you in a position of supreme authority. Thus, if you witness according to scripture, you have nothing to worry about. That your answers will not satisfy your hearer (who is probably not listening anyway), is beside the point.
The second thing to remember is that all people, saved or unsaved, are commanded to obey God. Obviously, most people in this world are unsaved and cannot respond spiritually, but they can at least follow the general laws set by God. If they do not, that is their problem, not yours. Salvation is a spiritual act. God is Spirit. His word is founded on His spiritual Will and commands. Therefore, no matter what you say to an unsaved person, he will be totally unable to comprehend what you say (unless the Lord wills it). Yes, the words themselves have a human meaning, but because the person is spiritually dead, he will not be able to understand what those words really mean. A dead man cannot possibly understand, or respond to, life!
In my own early days as a Christian, I thought I had to have all the answers ready, for unbelievers who taunted or queried me about my faith. This led me to develop all kinds of clever answers and arguments. But, it slowly dawned on me (it took about eight years!) that I was being foolish. I did not need to learn clever arguments and have all the answers, nor did I need to be humanly ‘logical’. All I needed to do was to be faithful to my Lord and to repeat what He said. Simple, but so hard to put into operation by stiff-necked people like us!
God says those who are dead in their sins are unable to comprehend spiritual things. So, do not expect even the most intellectual of unbelievers to understand what you say to them. They cannot understand because they are blinded to the truth and cannot see it. Be frank about it: what is humanly logical about salvation? About God becoming human and sacrificing Himself for the sins of His creatures? About the spiritual world itself?
The real crux of the matter is found in texts such as Romans 1: 18-20…
“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…”
Bluntly, those who say there is no God are fools (God says so in the Old Testament) and they have no excuse whatever. They know, inwardly, that God exists and they are subject to Him. The things of Creation clearly prove the existence of God and Who He really is. Thus, when men and women challenge you to ‘prove’ God, point them to this text! It tells them that they know fully Who God is.
What about those who retort “Okay – how do you know what you say is actually true? Prove what you say is correct and your religion is the only one!” Once again, the Book of Romans supplies the unique and Godly answer, one that your inquisitors will not like or accept. It is very simple and it is this:
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16)
This remarkable text tells us a great truth. It says that every Christian KNOWS within his spirit he is saved and that his ‘religion’ is true and unique! This is because the Holy Spirit Himself gives us that assurance. Do not pass it off as being just imagination! And don’t let sneering unbelievers make you think what you say is nonsense… their prattling is just a death-rattle.
You see, a Christian has nothing at all to prove to unbelievers. The Believer is 100% saved and knows God. He has the Holy Spirit in him. It is he who is destined for heaven, not the scoffer! When I stumbled on this magnificent truth, many years ago, my personal faith leapt forward and my preaching became real. I was no longer dancing to the world’s (or the organised churches’) tune, but was speaking with the authority of God – but it took me over eight years to discover the fact!
Just tell those who sneer they are going to hell unless they repent and are saved, even though you don’t really wish to say it. Leave the rest to the Holy Spirit; regenerating men is His job, not yours. You have a faith that is real, no matter how faltering or small it might be. Even the most timid expression of faith is of God and is enough to show you that you are on the Lord’s side! The people who need to worry are those with no faith at all, for they are going to hell. Their blustering and sneering will do them no good, in this world or the next, if they have no peace with God.
Next time they try to make you look stupid, just quote the texts above, do not flinch, and NEVER sound apologetic. Then, walk away; do not feel compelled to give more answers. Some will be infuriated by your ‘arrogance’ and your refusal to be drawn along their well-worn worldly path of argument and counter-argument. But, that is up to them. Just tell them what God says – you can do no more. And, if you find yourself in one of those ridiculous situations, don’t allow the scoffer to dictate the path of reasoning; ignore their path… take THEM along YOUR path of godly discourse – it will throw them a real discomforter! (There is no need to constantly reply to their inane questions or comments, because God isn’t interested in them either!).