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Objections to the Gospel, Lesson 02

Answering Objections To The Gospel Free Course, Lesson 02
Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Free Course

The Two Types of Objections

  • “I just don’t believe that the Bible is inspired.”
  • “I could never believe that the Bible is inspired.”

Are these two statements the same? On the surface they may seem to communicate the same message, but do they? Can you spot a subtle difference, other than the different word choices?

A Christian who has a lot of experience talking about the Gospel may have learned to discern the difference between the two. The first statement expresses a certain belief, or lack thereof. The second statement expresses the inability or unwillingness to believe. You should see by now that the two statements do not in fact say the same thing, but rather they are saying very different things.

When speaking with non-believers, it is important to discern for yourself whether their objections are intellectual objections, or objections of belief or knowledge, or if they are personal objections, or objections due to a deeply held emotion or prejudice. While there is much crossover between the two, it is useful to take a look at each type and see how best to discern and deal with them. We will first broadly deal with the two types by looking at some examples from Scripture. Later we will examine how to handle them.

In John 20:24-29, we see the story of Thomas. Jesus has died and resurrected, but Thomas is a little behind in his knowledge. The disciples, others of whom were also skeptical like Thomas, have encountered just encountered the risen Christ, and are trying to tell Thomas about it. Thomas, for whatever reason, is unwilling to believe them. He says in verse 25, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” Thomas has an intellectual objection!

It is worth our time to pause a moment and see the world from Thomas’s perspective. He has spent many months on the road with Jesus. He has lived with Jesus closely, and has seen many wonders. He has seen people healed, the dead raised, and sinners forgiven. He has seen Jesus outsmart the Jewish authorities time and again. He has come to love Jesus dearly, and even see Jesus as an invincible ruler. Now, a few days earlier, the very people Jesus has outsmarted for so long have killed Jesus. Thomas’s good friend is gone, and he is hurting.

So what does Thomas do? He creates a defense in his mind that he will no longer get his hopes up unless he has some hard evidence. It is a totally natural response, one for which Thomas should not be faulted by us. Several days later Jesus appears to the disciples, and first addresses Thomas with the proof Thomas had required. Jesus even calls Thomas ‘blessed’ for seeing and then believing.

This interaction between Jesus and Thomas shows us that an intellectual objection to the Gospel is something to be understood and addressed. As long as a person wants to believe, and is responsive in the face of contrary evidence, we should gently and purposefully expose them to facts and arguments tailored to address their concerns. We will deal more with a specific strategy in a later section.

Contrast Jesus’ response to Thomas, which while firm, was also loving and meaningful to Thomas, with Jesus’ response to the Pharisees. In Matthew 23, Jesus has nothing but woe and warning for the Pharisees. In fact, from earlier interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees, one might notice that Jesus rarely answers the questions of the Pharisees directly. Rather, Jesus answers with other questions, or with parables, or with words of woe! Why is there a difference between Jesus’ answer to Thomas and Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees?

The difference may be found in the nature of the Pharisee’s objections, versus the nature of Thomas’s objections. Both Thomas and the Pharisees saw Jesus at his most powerful and most inspiring, but they came to very different conclusions about who Jesus was. In the end, Thomas doubted because he lacked knowledge. The Pharisees doubted because they refused to believe.

Why did the Pharisees refuse to believe? What was their objection? They were in positions of power and influence and were used to the perks and admiration that comes with such power. This blinded them to who Jesus was. In short, their objections were not intellectual, although some Pharisees masked it as such. They knew the Scriptures and its prophecies well; they witnessed Jesus’ wisdom and power; they saw people healed. And yet, in the end, their personal reasons for doubting Jesus won the day.

That is the nature of personal objections. Put simply, they are objections that arise from some experience, belief, or opinion that are not subject to rational scrutiny. They are probably emotional in nature, making them very difficult to counter with reason. They may be the result of a deeply help bias or prejudice. The Pharisees objected based on fear of losing their power, and a contempt of those not educated in their tradition, demonstrating both emotion and prejudice.

Questions to Consider

Think of one example of an intellectual objection and one example of a personal objection that you have faced. What things were useful in countering each one?

Read John 4 and the story of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well. Write two pages on her objections to Jesus, both intellectual and personal, and how Jesus countered those objections.


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Answering Objections To The Gospel Free Course, Lesson 02
Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Free Course

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2 Comments on "Objections to the Gospel, Lesson 02"

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  1. John 4 (New International Version)
    John 4
    To shad bit more light on first Missionary and one who has seen the Samaritans as first opportunity to cross the barriers. Where the Pharisees happy with Christ approach in Samaritan land and undoing the barrier that have existed for years among this two nations? The culture from two nations has clashed indeed. It is even recorded in John 8:48=”You are a Samaritan and have a Devil!” Now let us look who were Samaritans?.
    Samaritans were a mixed pot of nationalities blended in one, it has been presumed that thy have been the descendants of Jews and local Gentiles, and other nations neighbouring cultures background .If we look at the Faith of Samaritans than we can understand better this people. Their faith was alike of the Jews, yet uncompleted, so the Jews have considered them as if you like a second class citizens. .
    Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
    John chapter 4 gives us an window in to dialog between Samaritan woman and Christ our Lord. From this dialog which will take place we will learn of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well.
    Here we have geographically identified place where this occurred. So we know that Christ was in Samaria in town called Sychar .We know that Jesus was on his way to Galilee ,and that He was tired. Even the place where this occurred is recorded, and which is near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there. The time was given as well which was the 6-th hour .We even know where the other disciples of Christ where .Yes indeed thy have gone to town to purchase food that thy will share with Christ.So let us see why this Samaritan woman has decided to have such negativity toward Christ.
    To understand better Christ and woman in question in opposition, we need to if you like to pick up that magnifying glass and zoom in in to customs ,culture ,believes of religion of Samaritans .By highlighting the background and then transfer our minds in the time of occurrence we will see this words with much more meaning. Let us remember first that Christ was led by Holy Spirit. Each think He the Christ has done, was for porpoise to crack that shall of divided culture, and allow the name of God Yahweh to shine. Here we indeed learn from Master Himself.
    This dialog can fit in any time across our divided world. Racialism today is alive indeed mostly due to this culture which is and has been a stumbling block for many in past and present.. Yes have heard from countries worldwide and I presume that many of you has heard the same.,. .Yet if we look at Judea in the days of Christ .The Law which was given to them (to Israel) one need to understand the Kosher food ,dishes ,meat ,wine and so on had to be kosher .Christ here enlighten us Yet if we observe Christ here not only making the woman understand that He the Lord and Saviour is prepared to be first as an example to cross over in to other culture which has been “Isolated “by Judea from reasons of worship as an missionary to Gods will .Yet one need to understand that the need for us to reach out first as Christ has reach out to people across cultural lines. There are no lines today greater than the lines Jesus crossed when he sat by a well and led a Samaritan woman to a saving faith (John 4).
    Now please observe.

    “Will you give me a drink?” Jesus asked not only because he was thirsty, but to breach a barrier and open conversation which could lead to teaching her about God.
    “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus’ request really got her attention because it was not considered proper for a Jew to ask anything from a Samaritan, nor for a man to speak to a strange woman (see 4:27).
    She went on, “Jews do not associate with Samaritans.” This can also be translated, “Jews do not use dishes Samaritans have used.” The woman could instantly see that here was a man who was different, who was not controlled by the worldly prejudices that perpetuate so much hatred and division in the world.
    The fallen, fleshly nature divides people. The Spirit unites. Jesus was led by the Spirit. The more we are led by the Spirit, the more we will yearn for saving fellowship across worldly lines.
    There are Christians and congregations today whose racial and cultural attitudes show that they are not controlled by the love of God that is in Christ. God will judge us for these things, and the more so when they hinder the gospel and ministry to people’s lives. It is not wrong to have cultural preferences, but it is wrong to mistreat or devalue anyone because of a racial, cultural or social difference. We need to repent.
    One of the greatest secrets of Jesus’ power to reach and change people was the way he valued each person. People immediately knew they were important to him. He communicated the love of God in everything he did and said. God loves the unworthy (that’s all of us) and values each one.
    Do people get that message from us when they drop into our services? God keeps testing us when he sends us someone who is racially different, wears an earring or tatoo, smells of poverty, is socially, mentally or physically handicapped, has the wrong religion, or whose life is in a mess (read James 2:1-13).
    This Samaritan woman had been rejected by five husbands and was now living immorally with a man. She could not have had any self-esteem left. She, like many women, may never have been acquainted with a man who treated her with love and respect. When Jesus talked with her, a woman, as a person, and when he requested water from her just as he would from a Jew, this woman knew that Jesus was a person apart.
    When you react to people, does God’s love make you also a person apart? Can you look past externals to the things that matter? Most of us in today’s church will be polite to problem people who visit, but politeness won’t do it. People who need Christ must sense that we value them as Christ does. Real godly love melts barriers and opens the way for spiritual change.
    We learn six important things from Jesus’ John 4 example of personal evangelism:
    • He was sensitive to the needs of others.
    • He was always ready (1 Peter 2:15).
    • He was bold to speak of spiritual things.
    • He started talking where people’s concerns were, and led them from there to talk about greater needs.
    • He saw redemptive potential in every contact with people.
    • He was willing to cross cultural lines.
    After Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman, a wonderful thing happened which shows the power of the gospel. She went back to her village and called people to come see Jesus. They came and were as impressed as she had been. They asked Jesus to stay a while with them. They had forgotten that he was a Jew! Today in world we recall the Good Samaritan as positive think. Nation has changed due to Faith that thy have accepted from first Missionary. Christ Jesus.

  2. live2believe says:

    I very much appreciate this website and I’m excited to read all I can. But the editor in me must point this out (last paragraph):

    “They may be the result of a deeply help bias or prejudice.”

    It should read “deeply held.”

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