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Why Do Honest Questions Require Thoughtful Answers from Christians?

We pray that we will all respond to the call of Christ to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us — an answer that will bring people to the reality of Christ.

Published Oct 23, 2023
Why Do Honest Questions Require Thoughtful Answers from Christians?

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An Introduction to Think on These Things with Dr. Ken Boa

Have you ever been overwhelmed by an onslaught of tough objections as you attempted to share the gospel with a friend? Or have you ever chosen not to talk about God out of fear that you won’t be able to handle their objections?

Honest questions require thoughtful answers, but few Christians can successfully field all of them. These articles are designed to help you think through the issues so that you can become more effective in your defense of the faith.

Christian apologetics — the rational defense of the Christian faith — really has a twofold purpose. Outwardly, it answers critics’ and seekers’ intellectual barriers to Christianity.

Inwardly, it strengthens the faith of believers by showing that their faith rests upon a firm foundation.

We wrote these articles with both purposes in mind. The objections we deal with come from hundreds of hours of conversation with non-Christian friends. In these discussions, the same basic objections kept surfacing.

Some people ask about the theological quandaries of Christianity — the mysteries surrounding the nature and actions of God. These questions concern some aspects of God’s infinite nature that appear to be paradoxes from our finite point of view.

Proper illustrations and analogies can make it easier to fall asleep at night, but we cannot resolve the tension or fully comprehend these doctrines on this side of eternity.

Some questions are intended to confirm stereotypes or to destroy our credibility. These questions may include things like our attitude toward science and evolution, or social and political issues like sexuality, gender, abortion, healthcare, and immigration policy.

Those raising these questions are rarely looking to engage in a thoughtful, reasoned debate. Rather, they are expecting to hear us confirm that we belong in the box where they have mentally placed us — ignorant, uneducated, bigoted, and narrow-minded.

All of these issues are impacted by the gospel but are not central to it. We need to formulate a thoughtful, comfortable response that doesn’t burn bridges or impact our integrity but lets us move past the issue toward the heart of the Christian message.

But we shouldn’t let ourselves get bogged down in these questions. Not every battle ought to be fought, winnable or not.

Some questions deal with things that are the legitimate barriers to faith. If not resolved, these make the message of the gospel incomprehensible. These are the ones we need to be ready to address.

Be Ready

Many Christians shy away from defending their beliefs. They think that apologetics is too complicated for laymen. But Peter exhorts us to be ready to make a defense when we are asked to do so (1 Peter 3:15).

Practically the entire range of intellectual objections to the Christian gospel can be reduced to one dozen basic questions, every one of which is actually a golden opportunity for a presentation of the gospel.

The first three questions are general: Does God exist? Why believe in miracles? Isn’t Christianity (or religion) just a psychological crutch?

The next five focus on Christianity: Is the Bible Reliable? Does God make sense in a world full of suffering? Is Christ the only way to God? Will God judge those who never heard about Christ? If Christianity is true, why are there so many hypocrites?

The last four focus on questions related to salvation: What about good works? Isn’t salvation by faith too easy? What does the Bible mean by belief? Can a person be sure of their salvation?

Each question can stand on its own, but they are really interdependent, relying on one another for support. The two pillars upon which most answers rest are the authority of the Bible and the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ (included in the second question).

The material in these articles is limited to very brief treatments of these questions. Of course, entire books and, sometimes, libraries of content have been published on each one of these questions.

Even so, the articles contain more detail than you will need on most occasions. Use only what is necessary, and don’t try to prove too much. It would be unwise, for example, to plunge into the problem of evil if a person is ready to personally consider the claims of Christ.

Your object is to remove barriers to the gospel as quickly and effectively as possible, not to exhaustively explore them. 

We hope these articles will strengthen your confidence in the trustworthiness of God and His Word and further equip you to give an account for the hope that is in you.

How to Use the Information in These Articles

Just knowing the answers to questions that people ask and objections they raise about faith does not guarantee results. Many Christians make the mistake of dropping answers on people who question Christianity, expecting them to immediately see the light.

However, the Bible uses agriculture to illustrate how people are brought into God’s family. Producing a harvest takes time: the land must be prepared, the seed sown, the growing plants cultivated, and only then does the harvest come.

Most discussions of evangelism emphasize sowing and reaping. Here, we will focus on preparation and cultivation.

Prayer is crucial to “preparing the soil.” In Colossians 4:2-6, Paul explains how Christians should relate to non-Christians. He tells us to do three things.

First, we should devote ourselves to prayer, making it a priority, because this is where the battle is won or lost.

Second, we must keep alert as we pray. When we ask God to open doors for the gospel, we must pay attention to see where He is answering us.

Third, we are to have a thankful attitude. This implies expectancy. We can be thankful because we expect God to respond to our prayers.

After giving us three characteristics of prayer, Paul tells us to pray for three things. First, we are to pray for each other. We often forget that we are in a war and that we need to uplift one another in prayer. Even the Apostle Paul recognized his own need for prayer.

Second, we are to pray for is that the Holy Spirit would go before us and open the door so that the non-Christians will be receptive to what we have to offer. This takes all the pressure off us and puts it on God.

It also prevents us from forcing a conversation and turning someone off. We can pray diligently that God will give us an open door or natural opportunity to talk with someone and then simply wait on God’s timing.

The third thing we are to pray for is the grace to present the message clearly when the opportunity presents itself.

After we have bathed our actions and attitudes in prayer, how else can we cultivate the soil? Aristotle told his pupils that to convince others, they would first have to win their trust.

Next, they were to consider the problems facing the people. Only then could they show how their philosophy fulfilled the practical needs of their friends. This principle is also valid in transmitting the message of Christ.

Sometimes Christians Share Christ for the Wrong Reasons

As we share Christ with others, it is important to demonstrate a genuine love for them. J. I. Packer stressed this in his book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (InterVarsity):

“… [E]vangelism is the enterprise of love: an enterprise that springs from a genuine interest in those whom we seek to win, and a genuine care for their well-being, and expresses itself in a genuine respect for them and a genuine friendliness towards them” (pp. 79-80).

Christ called us to have unconditional love for our non-Christian friends. Friendships are fragile and require as much care in handling as any other fragile and precious thing. A person must trust you before he will be willing to hear you out about the gospel.

Once a person recognizes your sincere concern for them and realizes that what you offer stems from a heart of love, they will respond far more readily. But not only must we love people, but we must also listen to them. Listening to their objections gives you an opportunity to move toward the gospel.

The Good News should be expressed clearly, so listeners will appreciate it; picturesquely, so they will remember it; and above all, accurately, so they will be guided by its light.

God has called us to sow, cultivate, and reap. This takes time, and many of us will never perform all these roles with any one person, but we must be faithful to the task no matter what stage of the cycle we are in.

Finally, our confidence must never be in the answers we offer, but in the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). We must walk in conscious dependence on his power working through us, or our efforts will be worthless.

People often raise these objections as excuses to avoid a confrontation with Christ. Even if we successfully overcome their objections, they will not come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Spirit.

Putting it into Practice

These articles are intended to help you have conversations rather than arguments. We have all seen a Christian aggressively bombard a non-Christian with information.

We should never be rude to people. We do not have to be defensive or hostile with the message of Christ; the claims of Christ can withstand the toughest skeptical onslaught.

Love and listen. Be a friend to those you seek to reach. It may take minutes, days, months, or years before some people are ready to accept Christ. We must continue to love them however long it takes, and this will demonstrate that we are genuine friends.

Not only is our approach and attitude important, but so is our ability to answer objections. It is curious how often people think we are geniuses just because we are the first ones able to help them in their struggle. Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“Men give me some credit for genius. All the genius I have lies in this: when I have a subject at hand, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. I explore it in all its bearings. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the efforts that I make are what people are pleased to call the fruits of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought!”

We pray that we will all respond to the call of Christ to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us — an answer that will bring people to the reality of Christ. But never place your confidence in your answers.

Throughout the entire process, you must walk in dependence on the power and convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. He, not you, must convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). Apart from his work, your words will be void and fruitless.

Finally, be persistent in the cultivation process and be glad someone asked you to answer their questions. Every objection is really an opportunity to see people come to Christ.

Join Dr. Boa on Monday Nights for a live interactive webinar. Register here, Think on These Things 

For further reading:

3 Reasons Christians Can Trust the Reliability of the Bible

Is Salvation Through Faith Too Easy?

Is Christianity a Psychological Crutch?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Andrzej Rostek

Kenneth Boa

Kenneth Boa equips people to love well (being), learn well (knowing), and live well (doing). He is a writer, teacher, speaker, and mentor and is the President of Reflections Ministries, The Museum of Created Beauty, and Trinity House Publishers.

Publications by Dr. Boa include Conformed to His Image; Handbook to Prayer; Handbook to Leadership; Faith Has its Reasons; Rewriting Your Broken Story; Life in the Presence of God; Leverage; and Recalibrate Your Life.

Dr. Boa holds a B.S. from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. 


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