Countering Challenges and Overcoming Objections (1Pet 3.15-16)
Evangelism Sermon 5 – Countering Challenges and Overcoming Objections (1Pet 3.15-16)
“Why is there evil in the world?” “Why are Christians so intolerant?” If you have tried to talk to unbelievers about the Christian faith, you have probably encountered questions like these. And the effect is always the same – it puts you on the spot and on the defensive. In short, it makes it very difficult to witness. Through 2000 years of Church history, it has always been the same. And that is why Peter told the first century Christians to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you”. (1Pet 3.15-16.) The all time master at giving a defense was the Master, Jesus himself. And one of the things that stands out about how Jesus gave a defense is that he always got off the defensive. Jesus showed us for all time that when it comes to defending the faith, the best defense is a good offense. But that gives rise to another challenge. Peter says we must respond to objecting unbelievers with “meekness and fear.” (1Pet 3.15.) How does one turn the tables, get off defense and go on offense meekly? Stated differently, how do you go on the offensive without being offensive? Once again, Jesus shows us the way. If you want to learn more, inquire within. I hope you enjoy the sermon. Thanks for listening. –Alan Burrow
1. What are some of the questions or challenges or objections you have encountered while trying to talk with unbelievers about the faith? How did you respond? Which questions, challenges, or objections have you heard most?
2. Here is the scenario Pastor Burrow used in the sermon:
“If your God is true, why is there so much evil in the world?”
“Well, why do you think there is so much evil in the world?”
“I don’t know. Stuff happens, man.”
“’Stuff happens’? So there’s no reason, there’s no point?”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
“Are you satisfied with that?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean ‘stuff happens’ – does that help you when bad things happen?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, does it give you peace, does it give you assurance, does it give you comfort?“
“No, not really.”
“Well, does it bother you when bad things happen?”
I don’t like it, if that’s what you mean.”
“Do you feel like there ought to be more than just ‘stuff happens’ – that there ought to be a reason, that there ought to be a purpose?
“I’d like there to be.”
“Well, what if there was a God – do you feel like he ought to do something about evil?”
“What if there was a God who gave us proof that he is doing something about evil – that he’s destroying it?”
“I don’t know what to say to that.”
“Well, would you be open to learning how this God has given us proof he is destroying evil, and also proof that those who belong to him, even the bad things that happen, he uses for their good?
“I guess so.”
Talk about this scenario. How might you tweak it or add to it to make it most useful in the situations you have encountered when the problem of evil has come up? Let’s say you have had this exact conversation, and you have another hour to spend with the unbeliever you are talking to. Where do you go from here? What do you say next? What truths do you seek to introduce, in what order, and how do you express them?
3. As a final thought on the problem of evil, read Paul’s prayer for the Church in Eph 3.14-19. Looking at the second phrase of verse 17 down through the first phrase of verse 19, what does Paul pray for us in terms of God’s love? God never gives us an explanation for why He allowed evil in the first place. Having said that, apart from Christ’s incarnation, death for sin, and resurrection, would we be able to “comprehend . . . the width and length and depth and height” of the love of God? Is this something you think you can use when witnessing to an unbeliever who raises the problem of evil? How and when would you bring this up?