Evangelism & Apologetics
The first command recorded in Scripture is found in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” God wanted man to expand the boundaries of the Garden spreading his dominion throughout the whole earth.
Jesus reaffirmed this command in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Can you see the same idea of bringing all nations (the whole earth) under the rule and dominion of God by making disciples of all nations and teaching them to observe all that he has commanded? The Great Commission was given at the beginning and again by Jesus to his disciples and is given to each of us who follows Christ today.
The gospel message can be broken down into four main points: Creation, Fall, Redemption, & Restoration.
Creation - God created the world and everything within it. Scripture tells us, “All things were made through him [Jesus], and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Paul also tells us, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16).
In Genesis 1, we learn that God created all things, but only man was created in God’s image. This verse also tells us that God gave man responsibility, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen. 1:26). Man was created to be a ruler, but as we have also learned, man was to be a priest - to proclaim God’s rule and to bring the whole earth under that rule as God’s Vice-regent. When God’s creation was complete, he declared it “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
If God created the earth and all that is within it, he must have had a purpose for doing so. We see from David’s song of thanks when placing the Ark of the Covenant in the Tent of Meeting an indication of what that purpose is:
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth;
yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever! (1 Chron. 16:28-34).
We were created to worship our Creator and to proclaim his goodness throughout the earth. So, what happened? Why do we not see that universal proclamation of the Lord’s goodness?
Fall - The Fall is explained beginning with the second chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 2 tells us that while still in the Garden of Eden where God had provided everything to Adam and Eve except one tree - “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
Then in chapter 3 the serpent challenges God’s word by asking Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” He awakens pride in Adam and Eve by claiming, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:1,5). We all know how the story continues as Eve ate, then gave to Adam to eat, and we’ve all suffered under the curse of the Fall ever since.
We see the effects of the Fall every time we turn on the news and hear of wars, murders, robberies, and other crimes. Or, we can see it when we look at the statistics for divorce, homelessness, poverty, abortion, and more. We learn of events like Nazi concentration camps and the holocaust, terrorists bombing innocents and flying passenger jets into high-rise office buildings, or the beheading of journalists in the Middle East. The problem of evil and the effects of the Fall are all around us.
We even see the effects when we look at our own lives. No one has lived a sinless life. We lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, covet, and murder. Jesus said, if you look on another with lust, you’ve committed adultery in your heart and if you look with anger, you’ve murdered in your heart. None of us has escaped the effects of the Fall. We are all rebellious sinners against God.
God’s standard is clear in his Word. Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). James adds, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10). In other words, if you’ve violated one point of the law, it’s as if you’ve violated the whole of it. The author of Hebrews writes, “just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). We are all guilty and will stand in judgment for our rebellion.
Redemption - If that is where the story ended, we would be without hope, yet, that is not the end of the story. God sent his Son to earth to live the life that we were meant to live and die the death that we deserved to die. Jesus took the punishment that we deserved and, being God, paid the penalty meant for us.
The Gospel of John begins with these encouraging words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5). Jesus, being God, brought life and light to our world.
Jesus also lived the sinless life that we were intended to live and died to take our sin upon him and to give us his righteousness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). This is what redemption means, to exchange one thing for another. Jesus made this great exchange, taking our sin upon him on the cross and giving us his righteousness so we could spend eternity with him.
Restoration - One day Jesus will return to set right all that man has corrupted through the Fall. This begins by restoring man’s relationship to God. Paul writes, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).
Jesus will also restore creation to right order. Paul goes on to write, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20-21). One day, God will restore the whole earth,
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” (Rev. 22:1-4)
Our call as followers of Jesus is to proclaim this message of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration to those who are still lost in their rebellion. This calling is not given to a select few, but to all who follow Jesus. We are all called to make disciples. In the pages within this section, you will find helpful resources to equip you to proclaim the gospel message to your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and total strangers.
When you engage in those gospel conversations, it is inevitable that you will be asked questions and even challenged in what you believe and proclaim. This is where apologetics enters in. The term apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning literally, “to give an answer back.” Peter writes, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-16).
The words, “make a defense” come from the Greek word, apologia. We see the apostle Paul engaging in reasoning with the Jews and making a defense to Festus, Felix, Agrippa, and others. We too are called to be ready to make a defense for the hope that is in us. Within the resources of the website of Grace Church of DuPage you will find resources to present the answers to those questions and responses to those challenges and we trust that you will give them with gentleness and respect for the hearer.