Being ‘ready to answer’
When the author, as an Australian tourist, went to France and visited Bayeux Cathedral, he was ‘ready to answer’ (as instructed in 1 Peter 3:15) two non-Christian visitors from America, who were Jewish.
Published: 13 March 2014 (GMT+10)
Since my wife and I retired in 2004, we have been fortunate to travel almost yearly to Europe (from our home in Australia) for extended periods, mostly to my favourite country France. One year we visited the city of Bayeux, in Normandy, quite close to the WWII D-Day landing sites. While there we visited the famous Bayeux Cathedral. It was quite an experience. I have visited countless ancient churches and cathedrals in France over the years and never fail to be overwhelmed by their architectural beauty, always mindful that these massive buildings were built by hand with none of the power tools available today. I wonder if we could build equivalent masterpieces today even with power tools?
At one point during my visit, I noticed two women in the area behind the main altar, apparently transfixed, and perplexed. We got into a conversation. It turned out they were mother and daughter—New Yorkers, and Jewish. (I’d commented on their accents.)
We chatted for a while until the mother said, “We have suffered anti-Semitism and were told it was because the Jews killed Jesus. But why do Christians dislike us personally?”
I replied, “I don’t dislike Jews, in fact because of my Christian faith I have a soft spot for Jews. Any Christian who says they hate Jews is very unlikely to be Christian at all. My father, not a believer, had a saying: ‘How odd of God to choose the Jews, how odder still for those who choose the Jewish God but scorn the Jews.’ Just think about it, Jesus’ mother was Jewish and He, whom we know as the Jewish Messiah, was called the Son of David. How Jewish is that?”
Heartened by their attentiveness, I continued, “In fact, the apostles Matthew, Mark, John, Paul, and Peter, and most of the others, were Jewish. In reality we Christians follow and worship Jesus as our Lord and Saviour fully aware that by faith and the grace of God we are grafted into the tree that is called Israel. To become this we gentiles have to in one sense be converted to become Jews spiritually. Conversely for you to accept Jesus as your Messiah, your Saviour, there is no such ‘pre-conversion’ needed because you are already Jewish.”
The subject of faith was raised and I referred to Abraham as “our father of faith” which they found puzzling. I explained that “what we call the Old Testament, containing the Law, the prophets, and the writings, is considered God’s Word, and studied by true Christians (of course as well as Jews) as the foundation of our beliefs.”
Once again, emboldened by the fact that the women were clearly interested in what I was saying, I continued. “The very foundation for the Christian Gospel is contained in the early chapters of Genesis—the first book of your own Torah! We believe God is Creator as Genesis says, that He pronounced the curse upon His whole creation because Adam rebelled and did what God had commanded Adam not to do. And we believe that Jesus came as Messiah to reverse what Adam did, and to save His people from their sins. We are saved by faith, by God’s grace and Abraham is praised in the New Testament as a great man of faith, an example to all of us.”
These ladies admitted they knew little about what it meant to receive Jesus as their Saviour so I suggested they contact a Jewish Christian association I had had good contacts with. I told them I had had considerable contact with people from that organisation and knew them to be Jews who follow Jesus as their Messiah, but still Jews. We parted after about 40 minutes conversation with friendly goodbyes. I wonder if they ever pursued my suggestions, or whether God brought them ‘accidentally’ into contact with many more of His ‘fishers of men’. Was I just one step on the way of their ‘journey’? How rewarding it would be to know!
The author, Warwick Armstrong, is not the only person to have been ‘softened up’ to receive the truth of biblical creation through viewing a DVD such as Creation: Key to Dynamic Witnessing. Many personal testimonies received by our ministry reveal the dramatic influence that such ‘origins’ presentations can have in winning hearts and minds for Christ.
So what does this story have to do with the creation/evolution issue, that you are now reading it on the creation.com website? Plenty. I became a Christian in 1977 still believing God could have used evolution. However I came to see this did not fit with God’s Word and was therefore troubled. At that time I was living approximately 400 kilometres west of Sydney and did a round trip of 800 kilometres to attend an all-day Creation Science film seminar in that city. Though I was attending church I had not been confronted with the idea that God’s Word is sober historical Truth, cover to cover. I had never read Romans 1:20: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
Nor had I read 1 Peter 3:15—“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” The church I joined after my conversion was definitely a faithful church but in some way the faith taught appeared to be ‘blind faith’ based merely upon hope, not based upon the whole Bible and its fabulous historical record. It was never conveyed to me that anyone who ignored the fact that God is obvious via that which He created was “without excuse.”
Nor was I taught that I could defend my faith by giving a reasoned argument. The videos I watched at the seminar presented an exciting mind-opening case for the truth of all Scripture, especially Genesis creation, and all that flows from that. And they gave the foundational reasons why the faith-undermining evolutionary story was not scientific fact. Wow, what an eye-opener, what a ‘deliverance’ from confusion and doubt! It was like being ‘born again’—again!
My faith was transformed and I subsequently attended many more creation seminars/events and found that my faith in all of God’s Word continued to grow. I can honestly say that without this foundational teaching, I think it unlikely that I would have ever had the boldness to talk with others about Jesus in the way I do now. The example of the encounter in France is only one of many, including others in which I later found out that people had indeed become converted. Here’s an extract from an earlier account I had written about it, which was published in Creation magazine:1
The rough-looking Australian standing next to a smaller Fijian man looked as if he had ‘been around’. Tattoos, a black T-shirt with something rude written across the front, and the outline of a cigarette packet bulging under the sleeve completed the picture.
This was in a tough part of Sydney, Australia. A group of us from our church were doing evangelistic street-singing and story-telling when these two came up and watched us for a while. In the end, I walked over, introduced myself and asked them to join us. The young Australian said something like ‘No mate, what you believe is garbage.’ I said ‘O, yeah—why would you believe that?’ He said it was because evolution had proved it wrong.
While we were talking, one of the members of my church, who didn’t think the creation/evolution issue was important and had some vaguely theistic evolutionary beliefs, came up and kept trying to witness to these two about the Gospel. Each time, he was rebuffed by the argument that evolution had proved it wrong. He kept trying to use standard approaches about the Gospel, instead of answering the issue of evolution. Eventually one of the two simply told him to shut up and that would normally have been that.
Having been involved in creation science ministry for some time, I cut in and asked why they believed evolution had proved the Bible wrong. The tattooed man said it was because of all the fossil forms in between one kind of animal and another. He was quite startled when I was able to tell him of the opinions of expert evolutionists that the intermediate fossil types, required to show evolution, didn’t exist. After a while, his ideas that science had proved the Bible wrong were obviously crumbling. So when I invited them to our church service that night they came.
After the message, the pastor made a call for those who wanted to commit their life to the Lord Jesus to come forward. The Fijian jumped out of his seat and literally raced to the front. His Australian friend, clearly greatly moved, stood up and sat down a few times, but he didn’t make it to the front that night. They were due to return to Fiji shortly after, but it was clear that my answering their evolutionary objection had been used by the Holy Spirit to break through their mindset, to get them to this point.
So the creation vs evolution debate is not merely of ‘peripheral, academic interest’, but is vital for the building-up of Christians to be both knowledgeable and to have a passionate, outspoken faith in the whole Bible. Those first creation presentations I attended gave me the surety that Genesis was true and a proper understanding of its foundational importance to the Gospel. Thus I was on the way to becoming increasingly comfortable, confident and knowledgeable enough to talk about my faith anywhere, anytime. What I learned at CMI seminars/events, and through Creation magazine and other literature from CMI, lit a flame in my heart which has never been extinguished. Speaking to other people on this subject, whether in the privacy of a one-on-one situation, or when many are in earshot, is just so rewarding. It is truly a most necessary, and dynamic message for the whole world.
We receive so much mail from people frustrated that they cannot convince friends or family as to the truth claims of the Bible—particularly in the area of creation. One reason is that emotions play a factor when it is face-to-face.
But there is no better ‘subtle evangelism’ tool than Creation magazine. People are drawn to its glossy and attractive pages, and they get to hear convincing information from someone else.
So, improve your evangelism ‘batting percentages’ by giving a gift subscription to someone whose life could be changed by the powerful information in its pages. Subscribe here.
References and notes
- Armstrong, W., The rabbit doesn’t live there anymore, Creation 15(4):37, 1993; creation.com/tatts-and-fijian. Return to text.
This is a great article and has a lot of practical relevance. Thanks.
I'll share another case of using Creation magazine to witness to some who might otherwise seem unreachable. Years ago I was doing contract work in a semiconductor plant in Malaysia. Tea break was a regular event and the second or third day, as I headed to the cafeteria, I wondered how I might witness to my companions; three engineers, two Muslims and one Hindu. I prayed about it and after we had set down to drink our tea and having answered, again, about how cold Canada really was, I blurted out, "Do you know that it's the male seahorse that gets pregnant?" Now, I don't know how a statement like that gets made to a group and somebody doesn't question it. Eventually, the question I hoped for came out, "How do you know that?" Reply: "I have a magazine in my room at the hotel that tells about it. Want to see it?" The answer was “Yes”. The next day I brought in a copy of Creation magazine with a story on seahorses. I did not get the response that I, of little faith, expected. Not only did they want to keep and share that magazine they wanted to know if I had more issues. I did not, but I had noticed a Singapore phone number on the back of the magazine, so I called the number.
The lady said they did not carry the magazine any more, but they had some back issues. The price was good and she agreed to send what she had; however, she said you probably won't get them before you have to go home in two weeks because the Muslims don't like Christian literature coming into Malaysia. I said send them and pray. She did. We did. The next day the magazines were on the bed in my room after work. I gave them all away before I left Seremban; except one copy......but that is another story and I am out of space.
Just had to time to start this article and need to read it all, but the beginning is great. A very real way to approach the issue and something I have been thinking about lately myself. My ex is Jewish and my children are considered Jewish since their mother was. On the other hand, I am getting more into the bible and Christ.
Having read and continuing to read the entire Old Testament (as well as the New) this is a very important issue. Christ even points to the conflict in his exchanges with the Pharisees and Sadducees. This issue is critical and this looks like a good way to address it without offending the person you are talking to. Thanks for the input.
I thoroughly enjoyed the article by Warwick Armstrong. Testifying about his faith in a non-threatening way to the Jewish listeners and using their own Torah while quoting from the first book, Genesis, got my attention! When I worked as a school chaplain, I was confronted by school teachers, telling me the very same thing - that evolution has now disproved the Bible!
I think it will serve me and others who have struggled to "witness" effectively to watch the DVD, "Creation: The Key to Dynamic Witnessing" by Dr Carl Wieland.
Thank you for this article!