Present Your Case
Text: I Thessalonians 5:21-22
I. The Apostle Paul challenges Christians everywhere to prove all things - I Thessalonians 5:21-22
A. Jude 3 tells us to contend earnestly for the faith
B. I Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to give an answer to every question
1. The Greek word is the one we get apologetics from
2. It is the idea of being able to lay out the evidence so others might understand.
C. How do we do this? What constitutes proof?
D. Christianity is not a blind faith that accepts without asking questions
1. Only the naive believe everything they are told - Proverbs 14:15
2. The noble Bereans searched the Scriptures to see if Paul taught the truth - Acts 17:11. They did not take Paul’s word on the matter.
E. Throughout the Scriptures, God never asks for blind obedience, but proves Himself worthy of our worship.
II. How God gives proof
A. The case against idol worship - Isaiah 44:9-20
1. Idols are man-made, so how can they be greater than man?
2. Idols are made in the image of man, yet man is limited.
3. Idols are made from natural materials, such as wood.
a. Wood which is used for common everyday purposes.
b. The same wood that forms an idol is used for heating and cooking
c. So how can it be a thing to worship?
4. What evidence did God offer?
a. The test of reasonableness.
b. All that God does is reasonable. We may not always understand His motives, but nothing He asks of us is unreasonable.
B. The case of God versus idols - Isaiah 46:5-11
1. Idols have no form other than that which man gives it.
2. Idols cannot move, except men move it.
3. Idols cannot speak, but can only be spoken to.
4. Idols cannot help a person in distress.
5. God can and has foretold future events
6. God has purpose, which He alone accomplishes
7. God can punish and rescue His people
8. What evidence did God offer?
a. Again there was a test of reasonableness
b. But also the evidence of history
c. He states what will be and then causes it come about.
d. Hebrews 6:13-20 - God proved Himself by two unchangeable things: His purpose and His promise.
C. The fulfillment of prophecy is strong evidence of God knowledge and power
1. Isaiah 41:21-24 - The challenge to do what God has done over and over.
2. Deuteronomy 18:19-22 - Used as proof that one is teaching God’s word.
D. Jesus offered many proofs of His deity
1. John 5:1-16
a. Jesus healed a paralyzed man on the Sabbath day.
b. Rather than marvel at this miracle, the Jews were upset because Jesus told a man to work on the Sabbath (carrying his pallet) and Jesus, himself, worked by healing on the Sabbath.
2. John 5:17-18
a. Jesus points out the evidence that God supported what Jesus asked of the man because the man was healed.
b. But Jesus also said that the man was healed by his own work, claiming to be divine.
3. Jesus then offers proof of His deity.
a. John 5:19 - The miracles that Jesus has done are by God’s power and support. (Proof by history)
b. John 5:20-21, 28-29 - Greater miracles will be accomplished in the future, including the raising of the dead. (Proof by prophecy)
c. John 5:32-33 - The witness of John, an accepted prophet of God.
d. John 5:36 - The witness of God through the miracles that Jesus did.
e. John 5:39, 46 - The witness of the Scriptures which prophesied of Jesus.
f. Notice that Jesus did not ask the people to just accept him, but he offers two proofs and three witnesses to his claims - John 5:31
III. Brethren, if God finds it important to prove Himself, we can do no less.
A. I talk to people who shy away from evidence.
1. “I feel it in my heart, so I know it is true. The Spirit dwells in my heart and He will not lead me astray.”
2. As if, some how, knowledge and evidence is the opposite of faith.
3. Yet, the Scriptures say to trust in your heart is to be a fool - Proverbs 28:26
4. Your feelings are not proof.
B. Some will say, “I think we should do such-and-such,.” but they offer nothing more than their own opinion.
1. Much as I may admire you, why do you insist that I accept the opinions of a mere man?
2. Proverbs 18:2 - A fool delights in the worth of his own opinions.
3. We have weapons, so use them - II Corinthians 10:3-5
C. Some prove their points by offering illustrations
1. A minister from the Christian Church contended that all denominations were going to heaven by saying Jesus was the pilot of a ship with many rooms. The Baptists were in one room, doing Baptist things. The Catholics were in another room doing Catholic things. The Methodists were in another room. But since they all accept Jesus as their pilot, they were going the same way.
2. The problem is this not a proof. It is merely an illustration. It does not come from any authority. It is not basis on any reasoning from the Scriptures. It simply illustrates a belief. It is their own opinion.
3. This is not what the apostles offered - I John 1:1-4
4. Illustrations make ideas clearer, but they are not evidence.
D. Some offer personal experience as proof
1. “He put his hand on me, and a jolt ran through me, just like lightening. The next thing I know was rolling on the floor speaking in the tongues of angels. I know miracles happen today. It happened to me.”
2. I have had people claim that the Holy Spirit is guiding their every action.
3. Personal experience is not proof.
a. It may counter a statement.
(1) “All red-heads are hot tempered.”
(2) I know one who is not, so the statement cannot be true.
b. It may suggest a possibility.
(1) This is what I saw. This is what I believed happened.
(2) Basically, it is the evidence of one witness. By itself, it is insufficient.
c. Even a series of anecdotal evidence is not enough.
(1) Jesus did not offer: “John believes me, and Peter believes me, and Thomas believes me.” as his only witness.
(2) The evidence was of varied types
4. What often happens is that people witness an event, draw a conclusion and then offer the combined event and conclusion as proof.
a. But the conclusion is their own opinion and the opinions of men are worthless.
b. We can be deceived, even by our own selves - II Corinthians 11:3; I Corinthians 3:18
E. A claim without a means of validating is worthless
1. Suppose I told you, “There is a little green man who lives just two miles past the point where our best telescopes can reach. He loves to eat toasted cheese sandwiches and he loves everyone who eats toasted cheese sandwiches. However, he has this habit of always moving farther away each time we get a more powerful telescope, so we never see him.”
2. This a claim that cannot be validated.
3. God doesn’t ask that of us.
a. Gideon was a man of faith - Hebrews 11:32
b. Yet he asked for objective proof – three times! – so that he could believe God - Judges 6
IV. When we teach others, we must be ready to defend the gospel with hard evidence.
A. Do not offer a poor substitute for the glories that have already been revealed.
1. God gave us proof, give that same proof to others - I Timothy 3:16
2. When I teach, I try to my best ability to offer nothing else than the Word of God.
a. “What do you think about ...”
b. The answer is, “Let’s turn over to . . . and read what God said.”
c. What I think is worthless.
3. The Word of God has been validated. It has been proven. My word has not. Your word has not been proven. Don’t offer a cheap substitute.
B. Don’t be afraid to reason about the Scriptures, but make sure your reasoning is sound and not a disguised form of your own opinions.