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Sermon illustrations

Apologetics

Christian Apologetics Are Not…

Christian apologetics is not an attempt to prove we’re right. We have arrived at the point where we recognize that whether we’re right or not isn’t a huge cosmic fact. You may say, “Wait a moment. You can’t mean that. I’m saved, because I’m right.” No. You’re right because you are saved. If that’s the way it is, get it in the correct order. 

You didn’t get saved because you’re right—you got saved because of the grace of God, who loves you and gave his Son for you, and the Holy Spirit, which touched your heart through the word of the gospel so that you found yourself believing. And it turned out that what you were believing was right. That’s how you got saved. 

That’s why so many churches have “Grace” in their name. Not many people want to go to “Right Church,” but we’ll gladly go to “Grace Church.” I’ve been to Right Church—you may have been there too—it’s a tough place. There are a lot of dead people at Right Church, because life comes by grace.

Dallas Willard, The Allure of Gentleness, 2015, pp. 46-47, HarperOne.

Mangoes

Once, when sharing my faith with an agnostic friend, I was asked to make my greatest argument for God’s existence. I uttered one word: mangoes. I was not talking about just any mangoes. I was talking about fresh, ripe, just-off-the-tree mangoes, about have-to- change-your-shirt-afterward mangoes.

Mangoes, I explained, were my greatest argument for God’s existence. To this day, I cannot eat a mango and say with a straight face that this is a world that has been invented by a jerk. Or that something so delicious could come from nowhere. Creation is good. Why? Because God is good. And his goodness is reflected in what he makes. A mango, as part of creation, is God’s love letter to humanity.

A.J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, Kindle Location 443.

What is Conversion?

In England in 1955, a prominent atheist/humanist gave a series of lectures attacking Christianity. In response, the Anglican clergyman John Betjeman, wrote the following poem that deals with the quesiton of Paul’s conversion, and conversion writ large:

Saint Paul is often criticised

By modern people who’re annoyed

At his conversion, saying Freud

Explains it all. But they omit

The really vital point of it,

Which isn’t how it was achieved,

But what it was that Paul believed.

What is conversion? Not at all

For me the experience of St Paul,

No blinding light, a fitful glow

Is all the light of faith I know

“Which sometimes goes completely out

And leaves me plunging round in doubt

Until I will myself to go

And worship in God’s house below –

My parish church – and even there

I find distractions everywhere.

What is Conversion? Turning round

To gaze upon a love profound.  

For some of us see Jesus plain

And never once look back again,

And some of us have seen and known

And turned and gone away alone,

But most of us turn slow to see

The figure hanging on a tree

And stumble on and blindly grope

Upheld by intermittent hope.

God grant before we die we all

May see the light as did St Paul.

John Betjeman, ‘The Conversion of St Paul”, in Uncollected Poems, John Murray, 1982.

Without Testimony

There was once a court case that was lost because of the silence of an attorney. The distinguished lawyer Samuel Hoar (1778-1856) was representing the defendant. When it was time to present his case, he told the jurors that the facts favoring his client were so evident that he would not insult their intelligence by arguing them. The jury retired to deliberate and returned in a few minutes with a verdict of guilty. Samuel Hoar was astonished!

“How,” he asked, “could you have reached such a verdict?”

The foreman replied, “We all agreed that if anything could be said for a case, you would say it. But since you didn’t present any evidence, we decided to rule against you.” Silence had lost the case.How often the opportunity to speak a word of testimony for Christ is lost because we remain silent. Those who need to hear the gospel may conclude that salvation is not important enough to talk about.

Source Unknown

See also Illustrations on Evangelism, Faith, Truth