All good apologetics should point back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to best-selling author Mark Mittelberg, speaker at the [un]Apologetic Conference in El Paso on April 7 and 8.
During the conference’s opening session, Mittelberg gave a detailed description of the secular landscape Christians find themselves in today.
“We are talking about not just giving answers, but reaching people,” Mittelberg said. “This is not just apologetics, but evangelism. We are called, all of us as the body of Christ, to go into our world and make disciples.”
Mittelberg was joined by Mike Licona, author and associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University; and Scott Willingham, apologetics specialists for Texas Baptists, for the two-day event with more than 500 in attendance, which was hosted by First Baptist Church of El Paso.
“We are learning that effective evangelism means giving answers to questions people have,” said Willingham. “It means ‘removing obstacles to evangelism,’ the conference’s theme. The good news is that we don’t have to do everything all at once. You can be a link in the chain that can lead someone to faith in Christ. [un]Apologetics Conferences prepare us to be a link in the chain between a lost friend and our loving God.”
“People matter to God, therefore they matter to us,” Mittelberg continued as he shared seven beliefs and values for reaching people in present-day culture. “Knowledge is important, but it has to be driven by love for people who matter to God, who He came to die for.”
Additional values included people who are spiritually lost, the need for Jesus Christ, providing answers to questions and objections, an inherent desire for community, speaking a message that is relevant and an investment of time to share the message of hope.
“If we want to reach them, we have to follow Jesus’ command – stretch yourself and go to them and build friendships. Love them and get to know them and earn trust and respect,” he said. “Share the truth they are sinners in need of a Savior and over time you can walk them to the cross of Christ.”
Licona led two conference sessions on the topics of “Did Jesus Claim to be God?” and “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” Founder of Risen Jesus, Inc., he is a leading New Testament scholar with particular focus on the resurrection of Christ.
Detailing the importance of historically proving the resurrection, Licona outlined four lines of evidence which support the existence of supernatural activity including near death experiences, verifiable apparitions, supernatural events and radically answered prayers.
“Miracles happen today. There are all kinds of supernatural events that occur, so why could they not have happened in the past?” Licona asked attendees.
He went on to document multiple independent sources, New Testament references and Jesus’ own predictions of his death and resurrection.
“If Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christian life is not worth living,” Licona said, further emphasizing the importance of the resurrection.
“We have hope of eternal life because of the resurrection,” he continued. “Because Jesus was raised, we will be raised. The dead in life is coming.”
Additional [un]Apologetic conferences were held this spring at Grace Point Church in San Antonio, with 350 in attendance, and First Baptist Church Wylie, with close to 300 in attendance.
Audio recordings from this year’s [un]Apologetic conference sessions and workshops are available on download cards for $10. Visit texasapologetics.org, under the downloads button, to order yours today. For consulting on apologetic resources for your church, contact Scott Willingham at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (214) 828-5234.