14th September 2019

Defending the Gospel

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you…defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.”
Philippians 1:7 (NIV)

There we were, a small gathering of family sharing a meal and an afternoon together. Then the conversation turned to God and the inevitable question arose: “Why does God allow so much pain and suffering?”

There may be reasonable explanations if you are a Christian believer, but they seldom convince those who raise such a question. As the old adage says: ‘Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.’ People we meet or know and who ask such questions may have very little Bible knowledge or understanding of God and Christianity. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of seeming to defend God against such legitimate but potentially toxic questions. This may be an understandable reaction from a believer, but perhaps not the best way to respond.

Trying to explain tragedies or terrible events in the context of such questions can be tricky. There are some well-known scriptural references to loss, suffering and death which to the modern ear can sound harsh especially if taken out of context. For example, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15), and “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

As Christians we find comfort in our belief of the resurrection of Christ—our conviction and belief that, whatever has or will happen, there is a Redeemer and Saviour! 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 says “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…”

It is interesting that the apostle Paul writes “I am put here for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:16). Now every conversation with doubters or unbelievers will inevitably be different. However we can state what we believe, i.e.: that Christ died for our sins, was buried, raised to life and is still alive today (this gospel). Maybe it’s along these lines that our response to the above question should be, like Paul, defending the gospel. Jesus’ death on the cross covers our sins and reconciles us to God. We can defend the gospel and take and offer comfort that Christ died for all, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 15:22-26: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive…the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Yes! The good news is there is hope and we can defend the gospel.

Prayer
Lord God, please guide us in our responses to doubters and non-believers, to be discerning, wise and ready to defend what we are convicted of.
Amen

Study by Kevin Harris
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About the Author:
Kevin Harris attends the Watford Congregation of Grace Communion International in the UK.

Local Congregation:
Gracecom Watford
St. Peter’s Church
61 Westfield Avenue
Watford, Herts.
WD24 7HF

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11AM

Local Congregational Contact:
George Henderson
Phone: 01923-855570
Email: george.sueann.henderson49@gmail.com

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