articles from the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 3: Numbers 1, 2 & 3, 1990.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
From the From The President column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 3: Number 1, 1990.
Let's suppose that Billy Graham -- by most accounts the greatest evangelist of the twentieth century -- preached the Gospel in a stadium filled with 50,000 people every night for 35 years. Let's also suppose that each night during this time, 1,000 people came to faith in Christ. By the end of this 35-year period, we would still be further behind in our task of world evangelism than we are right now because the population of the world is growing faster than that.
There is a way, however, that you and I can truly have a "handle" on the Great Commission. And that handle is through a concept called "spiritual multiplication."
Imagine with me that you are the only Christian alive on planet Earth. Imagine further that you prayed that God would allow you to lead one person to faith in Christ this year. If God answered your prayer (as I believe He would), by the end of 1990 there would be two Christians. If each of you led someone to Christ the following year, there would then be four Christians. If this process continued, there would be eight Christians by the end of the third year; and so on. If you extrapolate this process out over 35 years, roughly 35 billion people would have become Christians, which -- incredibly enough -- is seven times the world population!
This is but a tiny glimpse of the power of spiritual multiplication, because -- obviously -- you are not the only Christian in the world. The most conservative estimate on the number of committed Christians alive today is 174,202,000 (according to the New Unger's Bible Handbook, 1984, page 708). If every one of these led one person to faith in Christ each year, by the year 1996 we would virtually run out of people to evangelize.
The obvious question we must ask ourselves then is: Why don't we do it? Unfortunately, the answer is often that we have our health and our wealth, we have our altars and our churches, and we are at ease while the world perishes. Even more often, however, the answer is simply that most Christians have never been equipped to share their faith with others.
Dr. Walter Martin believed that the equipping of the saints would need to be CRI's focus in the 1990s and beyond. It was his conviction that the 1990s would not be a decade for the glitter and glamour of the ministry superstar, but rather a time for the emergence of dedicated church leaders committed to multiplying their lives through those whom they have equipped to do the work of the ministry.
CRI, through its many outreaches, is making every effort to equip God's people to earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. As we begin a new decade, it is exciting to ponder what lies ahead. During the past year, a strategic plan has been forged which has laid the foundation for the development of Walter Martin's lifelong dream of providing a computer database which will furnish information to CRI's constituency and to the world at large. This database will provide immediate access to information on the Bible, the cults, the occult, and aberrant Christian theology.
In our "Decade of Daring," we will also see our new seminar division impact Christians in every major metropolitan area throughout North America, as well as strategic areas on every major continent. These seminars will provide practical tools to pastors and lay people so they can become equipped to internalize God's Word, to understand where the cults, the occult, and world religions deviate from the truth, and to use those deviations as opportunities to share the Gospel.
And, of course, radio in the decade of the 1990s will continue to be a major tool for CRI's ministry. Our publication department will also play a strategic role, and will no doubt experience explosive growth this decade. As well, CRI will continue to expand in its distribution of audio and video tapes, books, booklets, pamphlets, and fact sheets.
All of this is with a view to equipping believers for the work of ministry, so that they can then duplicate their efforts by putting the principle of spiritual multiplication to work. By applying this simple principle, we can reach the world for Christ in our generation.
As we begin a new decade, will you join me in praying for God's continued guidance and blessing on CRI's ministry? To God be the glory!
The Folly of Denying God
by Hank Hanegraaff
From the From The President column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 3: Number 2, 1990
Beyond a doubt, the most significant question to ever penetrate the human mind is that of the existence of God. More consequences for humanity hinge on the denial or affirmation of God's existence than any other issue.
Countless numbers of Christian families have sent their children off to schools across America only to see them return as strangers robbed of their faith in God and of the basis for morality and ethics.
Many of these children have attempted to fill the vacuum in their lives through aberrant sex, drugs, and alcohol. Others have sought to fill this void with material success, which can never satisfy the spiritual needs of one created in the image of God.
"Is there really a God?" Though there are a variety of possible responses to this question, there are three traditional responses that prediminate in Western society: (1) God does not exist -- atheism; (2) we cannot know whether God exists -- agnosticism; and (3) a personal God does exist -- theism. This article will demonstrate how, in witnessing to an atheist, one can move from atheism to agnosticism, from agnosticism to theism, and from the concept of an impersonal God to the personal God of Scripture.
To begin, atheism involves a logical fallacy known as a universal negative. Simply stated, a person would have to be omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say "there is no God" from his own pool of knowledge. Only someone capable of being in all places at the same time -- with a perfect knowledge of all that is in the universe -- can make such a statement based on the facts. In other words, a person would have to be God to say there is no God. Hence, the assertion is logically indefensible.
By using arguments like this, you will often find that an atheist quickly converts to agnosticism and is thus making progress rapidly in the right direction.
This leads us to the second possible response: agnosticism. In dealing with an open-minded agnostic, an approach I have found effective is to point out that the universe is an effect which requires a sufficient cause, and the only sufficient cause is God. As Scripture says, "the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Ps. 19:1).
It is helpful to clarify that there are only four possible explanations for how the universe came to be. The first is that the universe is an illusion. This ultimately reduces to solipsism -- the theory that "self" is the only reality, that "I alone exist." This view is unacceptable in an age of scientific enlightenment. (Even a full-blown solipsist looks both ways before crossing the street.)
The second possibility is that the universe is eternal. This possibility flies in the face of the second law of thermodynamics, which says that everything in the universe is running inexorably downhill from order to disorder, from complexity to chaos. If the universe was eternally old, it would have died a heat-loss death an eternity ago.
The third "possibility" is that the universe emerged from nothing. Little needs to be said about the absurdity of this option. Reason tells us that out of nothing comes nothing. This position militates against the first law of thermodynamics, which says that energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it can only change forms. To say an effect can exist without a cause, one must deny the basis for all scientific investigation and rational thought.
The fourth (and only tenable) possibility is that the universe was created by God. Clearly, theism -- the belief in a personal God who is the Creator and Ruler of the universe -- is the only viable option on the question of God's existence. Once this is established, it can be pointed out that only a personal God can account for human personality, thought, and morality. Furthermore, this personal God has manifested Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, who demonstrated His deity through the undeniable fact of the Resurrection. Additionally, God has provided His written Word which can be shown to be divine rather than human in origin.
Although we cannot talk atheists and agnostics into the Kingdom of God, God can use our answers to open their hearts to receive the gospel. Scripture therefore exhorts us to "always be prepared to give to every man an answer" (1 Pet. 3:15).
(For further insight, my tape "Objections Overruled" and Personal Witness Training: Your Handle on the Great Commission are available from CRI.)
Mormons -- A Mission Field On Your Doorstep
by Hank Hanegraaff
From the From The Founder column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 3: Number 3, 1990
While conducting Personal Witness Training workshops in the United States and around the world, I have often stated that one need not cross an ocean to be a missionary. God has given each of us a mission field right where He has planted us -- with family members, neighbors, and friends. In the case of Mormons, that mission field is even closer -- so close that you don't even have to leave home, for it is indeed a mission field on your doorstep.
To be effective in this mission field, however, requires preparation. One must study to show oneself approved, a workman that need not blush with embarrassment, rightly dividing the Word of truth. You see, as Dr. Walter Martin used to say, the average Mormon can take the average Christian and turn him or her into a doctrinal pretzel in about 90 seconds.
I am presently developing a "Mormon" version of Personal Witness Training to equip Christians to effectively reach out to Mormons. In the meantime, however, the following three insights may prove helpful to you as a missionary to Mormons.
First, it is important to recognize that Mormons appeal to subjective rather than objective arguments to support their views. To see just a glimpse of the truth in this statement, consider for a moment a typical Mormon testimony that includes the assertion that the Book of Mormon is true. Mormons say they know it is true because they have experienced a "burning in the bosom." Conversely, the Christian faith is historic and evidential. As Christians, we know the Bible is divine and not human in origin -- not because of a subjective experience, but through demonstrable fact.
For example, the Scriptures are replete with predictive prophecy. Not only are its pages filled with great clusters of Messianic prophecy, they also contain nearly 2,000 detailed prophecies concerning almost every nation within a thousand miles of Jerusalem. History bears eloquent testimony to the fact toat these prophecies were literally fulfilled, thereby demonstrating that the Bible -- unlike the Book of Mormon -- is truly the Word of God and not the word of man. (For more information on this, my tape "Objections Overruled" is available through CRI. Also see my article in the Fall 1989 CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL entitled "Fulfilled Prophecy as an Apologetic.")
Second, it is critical to point out to Mormons the transcendent difference between the religion of Joseph Smith and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Mormonism, like other cults and world religions, is simply man's attempt to reach up and become acceptable to God through his own works. Christianity, by contrast, is God reaching down to fallen humanity and making a way for us to have a relationship with Him through the Person and work of Jesus Christ (see John 3:16-17; 10:10; Rev. 3:20).
This cannot be discovered through human reason, but only through divine revelation -- revelation that finds its fullest expression in the Person of Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2). The Jesus Christ who has revealed Himself in time and space is not the Jesus of Mormonism -- that is, He is not our "elder brother" or the "spirit brother of Lucifer." He is, in fact, the One Who spoke and the universe -- with all of its infinite complexities -- leapt into existence (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). He is the One before Whom, one day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11).
Third, it is crucial to recognize that Mormonism is polytheistic rather than monotheistic. While Mormons believe in a plurality of gods, Christians believe in one God who has revealed Himself in three Persons (see Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). And while the truth of the Trinity is beyond full comprehension for finite minds, we as Christians must nevertheless arm ourselves with solid biblical support for this essential, foundational doctrine. (Write CRI for "The Biblical Basis for the Doctrine of the Trinity," a fact sheet that lists over 300 Bible verses.) It is also helpful to be prepared with illustrations which -- although they will not facilitate full comprehension of this doctrine -- will indeed help us to better communicate this marvelous mystery to others.
An illustration I have used effectively over the years is the faint reflection of God's triune nature found in the universe. The universe, while singular, is revealed to us in a "trinity" of space, time, and matter -- each distinct, and yet inseparably interrelated with the other two. Space is the omnipresent, invisible background of all things which displays matter and is experienced in time. This, by analogy, is a pale reflection of God the Father, Who is the invisible, omnipresent Source of all things, manifested and declared by the eternal Logos -- Jesus Christ -- who is, in turn, experienced through the Holy Spirit.
Truly, the universe is a reflection of the God who made it, as Paul in the Book of Romans so eloquently enunciated: "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that [man] is without excuse" (Rom. 1:20; see also Ps. 19: 1-4.)
While much more could be said (space does not permit), I will conclude by saying that the most significant preparation for effectively witnessing to Mormons is for you as a Christian to understand what you believe and why you believe it.
That is precisely why I developed Personal Witness Training: Your Handle on the Great Commission, an inherently memorable program designed to equip committed Christians to sensitively and effectively communicate the gospel and answer typical objections to the Christian faith. And that is why I am so deeply committed to the principles engendered in CRI's ministry. CRI's distinctive mission in the world is to equip Christians to "make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:15). In the ultimate sense, CRI is not merely a ministry against error but rather a ministry for teaching Christians the essential doctrines of the Christian faith -- thus preparing them to give an answer to everyone, including Mormons on the doorstep.
End of document, CRN0028A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Spiritual Multiplication," "The Folly of Denying God," and "Mormons -- A Mission Field On Your Doorstep" release A, June 30, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
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