Answering the unbeliever - Part 1

SERMON TOPIC: Answering the unbeliever - Part 1

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 8 March 2020


Sermon synopsis: Common questions asked when a Christian is confronted by a staunch unbeliever.

1) What about the heathen who haven’t heard the Gospel?
2) What about the sincere Buddhist, Hindu etc?

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Answering the unbeliever Part one.

How do we go about sharing the gospel with someone who has genuine questions.

There are many like that today, so if we are prepared, God may bring such people across our path and give us opportunity to reach out to them.

Common questions asked when a Christian is confronted by a staunch unbeliever.

What about the heathen who haven’t heard the Gospel?

What about the sincere Buddhist, Hindu etc?

Can the Bible be trusted?

Isn’t a good life sufficient enough to get to Heaven?

Why is there evil in the world if God is good?

Hasn’t science disproved the Bible (Evolution)?

Giving an answer for your Hope.

1 Peter 3:15.

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

The Bible presumes that people are going to be asking us about the hope we have.

Peter doesn’t say occasionally be prepared in case some people ask you, no, we are always to be prepared for everyone who asks us.

The word translated “give an answer” – is apologia, which is nothing to do with apologising, but instead means: “to make a defence like a lawyer.”

Giving an answer for your Hope.

Colossians. 4:5-6. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

2 Tim. 2:25. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

Giving an answer for your Hope.

Your conduct and speech before an unbeliever is vitally important. Your conduct should be with wisdom, your speech with grace.

I know a Christian who years ago worked with an unbeliever. For two years, this Christian answered the unbeliever's questions; he was gentle and kind in his conduct in all situations and always tried to point his friend to Christ. He sought to be wise and gracious.

Today that unbeliever has become a pastor. The Lord used that Christian, his wise conduct, his gracious speech, to help bring another into His kingdom.

Matt Slick President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.

Giving an answer for your Hope.

Your conduct and speech before an unbeliever is vitally important. Your conduct should be with wisdom, your speech with grace. I know a Christian who years ago worked with an unbeliever. For two years, this Christian answered the unbeliever's questions; he was gentle and kind in his conduct in all situations and always tried to point his friend to Christ. He sought to be wise and gracious. Today that unbeliever has become a pastor. The Lord used that Christian, his wise conduct, his gracious speech, to help bring another into His kingdom. To Jesus be the glory. Amen.

Matt Slick President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.

Giving an answer for your Hope.

Being a good witness starts with us being firmly grounded in our faith and having answered some of our own questions and doubts

2 Corinthians 10:5.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

1. What about the heathen?

This is a common question.

1. What about the heathen who have never heard about Jesus Christ, will they be condemned to Hell?

We must concern ourselves with what God has revealed to us in His Word and remember that God is “A Just God”.

Deuteronomy 29:29.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

There are questions God will not answer, they are none of your business.

There are questions God will not answer.

Acts 1:4-9. Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then they gathered around him and asked him, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?

He said to them: It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

There are questions God will not answer.

When Jesus foretold Peter’s suffering and death, Peter questioned Jesus about what would happen to the Apostle John, Jesus replied.

John 21:22.

“If I want him to remain alive until I return,

what is that to you?

You must follow me.”

What about the heathen?

In addition to this, we are told that if a person really seeks God, they will find Him.

Jeremiah 29:13.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

God revealed Himself to Abraham, seemingly the son of an Idolater who worshipped the moon.

Abram and Terah.

Against the backdrop of the story of the tower of Babel, we find that Terah and his sons Abram and Nahor and their families, set out from the city of Ur. Ur is one of the oldest cities in Mesopotamia, down near the Persian Gulf, and was notable as a center for the worship of the moon deity.

In fact, the temple/ tower to the moon still exists today, and it is amazing to think that a place where Abram and his ancestors worshipped is still in existence. That Abram and his families were idolaters and worshipped the moon is clear from the fact that Terah’s name is close to the Hebrew word for moon, yare’ah.

Haran, the city to which they traveled on the way to the land of Canaan, was also known as a center of moon worship.

What about the heathen?

Missionary history reveals instances of missionaries led by the Holy Spirit to villages where people had been worshipping an unknown God, having realized that their idols were worthless because they were the creation of their own hands. When They heard about the Living God in Jesus they immediately responded and recognised that this was the God whom they had been seeking.

Man has enough basic information from creation around him to warrant such a search if he is interested.


For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

What about the heathen?

It is important to realize that a person who hasn’t heard of Jesus Christ will not be condemned for rejecting one about whom they have never heard, rather their condemnation rests on their failure to live up to their own moral standard, however high or low that may be.

The assumption behind the question of the heathen is that there are people in some foreign place living beautiful moral lives, whose only problem is that they have never heard about Jesus Christ.

Actually no culture exists in which the inhabitants claim to have lived up to their own standard perfectly.

Every culture has a basic moral code which men knowingly violate, thereby condemning themselves. Romans 2:14-15.

Romans 2:11-16.

For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.

They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Visions and dreams.

In 2007, Dudley Woodberry and others published a study that recounted interviews with 750 former Muslims who had converted to evangelical Christianity. Many of the reasons they gave for their conversion would be expected—the love of God, a changing view of the Bible, and an attraction to Christians who loved others. But one reason might come as a surprise: the experience of a dream they believed to be from God. These study results aren’t isolated.

Mission Frontiers magazine has reported that out of 600 Muslim converts, 25 percent experienced a dream that led to their conversion. The great missionary Lillias Trotter also reported dreams that drove Muslims to Christ.

What about the sincere Hindu, Buddhist etc?

This question is closely related to the first one and once again brings God’s Justice into question.

2. What about the sincere Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist etc Don’t they worship the same God, but under a different name?

The first response to this question is the fact that sincerity does not create Truth.

The basic consideration is the validity of the object in which faith or sincerity is placed.

If the object of faith is invalid, all the sincerity in the world cannot change the fact that one merely has superstition. There are cases where people have done things in the sincere belief that it is a good thing that will bring healing and life and it has resulted in death.

You can be sincerely wrong.

The story is told of a bottle of carbon dioxide that was incorrectly marked oxygen in a hospital and when it was administered to a patient, it resulted in their death.

You can be sincerely wrong.

From the earliest moments of the Christian era the church has admonished men to be sincere, conscientious, kind-hearted, and well intentioned. Christianity inherited this emphasis from its Jewish ancestors, for Judaism always insisted that morality and religion were one, not two. Certainly this is a noble inheritance. But to say to a man that he must be sincere and conscientious, important though they be, does not cover the ground. Sincerity is not enough. If sincerity is not [buttressed?] by intelligence it can become the most ruinous force in human nature.

You can be sincerely wrong.

Indeed, the Apostle Paul was quite cognizant of this fact. He had the experience of having his life's work opposed on every hand by a group of men who were profoundly sincere yet desperately stupid.

These men, referred to as Judaizers, insisted that before a Gentile could come into the Christian church he must first be circumcised and accept the tenets of the Jewish law.

You can be sincerely wrong.

In the earlier days of the AOG, people were taught and sincerely believed that woman should have head coverings and that they shouldn’t wear make up.

They believed that men should not have long hair and that that if the Lord’s second coming took place when you were in the cinema or bioscope that you would be left behind.

Gavin shared recently some views of David Wilkerson on rock music, and how David later admitted he was wrong.

No matter how sincerely you may hold certain views and opinions, you can be sincerely wrong.

What about the sincere Hindu, Buddhist etc?

Islam denies the deity of Christ, Christianity affirms it.

Both cannot be true.

The question is “What is Truth”

Christians do not say that Jesus Christ is the only way to God because they got together as a club and decide that this is true, rather it is because Jesus Christ Himself said it.

The questioner often assumes that if Christians were only less bigoted that they could change the rules of their club.

John 14:6.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What about the sincere Hindu, Buddhist etc?

Acts 4 records how Peter when taken before the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law including Annas the high priest and Caiaphas.

Acts 4:11-12.

Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

What about the sincere Hindu, Buddhist etc?

Entrance into the Kingdom of God is not determined, for example, as the rules of the road are.

A R500.00 fine for not stopping at a stop street could quite easily be reduced by a committee to R50.00, but certain laws of the universe involve an inherent penalty.

If you put your hand in a fire you will get burned. A group of people could get together and pass a resolution that a person’s hand would not be burned if they put it into a fire, but this would obviously be futile.

Just as there are immutable physical laws in the universe, so there are immutable moral laws. An immutable law inherent in the nature of Jesus Christ makes it impossible to come to God in any other way than through Him, because He is God.

The Five Solae of the protestant reformation.

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers' basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. "Sola" is Latin meaning "alone" or "only" and the corresponding phrases are:

Sola Scriptura: by Scripture alone.

Sola Fide: by faith alone.

Sola Gratia: by grace alone.

Solus Christus: through Christ alone.

Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone.

According to Martin Luther, justification by faith alone is the article on which the church stands or falls.

Solus Christus is the teaching that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that there is salvation through no other but “by Christ alone”. It rejects all other mediators between God and man like Mary and the ‘saints’.

1 Tim 2:5. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…

By definition a mediator is one who brings estranged parties to an amicable agreement. In the NT the estranged parties are God and man, and the mediator is Christ.

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

The effectiveness of a mediator is measured by their influence with the parties they have to reconcile. The best qualified mediator would be one who is essentially ‘one’ with both parties.

Jesus Christ, God and man, one person, identical with God, identical with man.

As the ‘last Adam’, Jesus is the head of mankind and, therefore, its natural representative. By His human origin Christ is a member of the human family; by reason of His divine nature, He is “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

Being both God and man Jesus is able to mediate and reconcile the 2 estranged parties:

Col 1:19-22. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of a your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)

God’s ways higher than ours

C.S. Lewis stated in “Mere Christianity: The Three – Personal God”:

If Christianity were something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. Christian apologist How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.

C.S. Lewis

God’s ways higher than ours

Even in the physical realm, many of the laws, which govern our universe, cannot be fully explained by our present theories.

Inability to grasp or understand a concept does not invalidate its reality!

Jesus, God our Saviour

God did not send some lesser being or His Junior assistant to pay the price of sin and redeem mankind, God himself died for us. He came himself in the form of a man and shed His blood for us. Acts 20:28: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Two Yahweh’s?

Before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God appeared to Abraham in person with 2 angels. After Abraham has interceded on Sodom’s behalf, we read in Genesis 19:24:

KJV: Then the LORD rained down burning Sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah – from the LORD out of the Heavens.

World English Bible: Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Yahweh out of the sky.

Thus we simultaneously see Yahweh both on earth in physical manifestation (Jesus) and in heaven (the Father).

OT - The deity of Jesus

Isaiah 7:14 Tells us that the one conceived of the virgin would be GOD WITH US.

Matthew 1:22-23: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet, ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ which means GOD WITH US.”

NT - John

Most cults which propagate anti-Trinitarian teachings claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was introduced in the 4th century A.D. But the 1st century NT writings tell a different story.

In the opening verse of his gospel John, the disciple of Jesus writes about the Word (Logos) who became flesh:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… John 1:1,14 (KJV)

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God… So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us (John 1:1, 14, NLT)

Jesus: in very nature GOD

The following 8 characteristics are unique and peculiar to God alone. These characteristics deemed peculiar to God are found in Jesus.

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Omnipotence (all-powerful)

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus coming up spoke to them, saying, All power has been given me in heaven and upon earth.

Phil: 3:20-21: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Omnipresence (present everywhere at once)

Romans 8:34 Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God …

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Omniscience (All-knowing)

John 21:17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; You know that I love you.”

Why then did Jesus say only the Father knew the day of his second coming?

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Omniscience (All-knowing)

The answer is that the incarnation created a special circumstance, wherein God became flesh and allowed Himself to the limitations of a man. In the same way that as a man Jesus got tired, thirsty and hungry and was clearly not omnipresent, so too his knowledge was limited while on earth. This is clear from the Scripture:

Philippians 2:7 (Jesus) … emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Immutability (unchanging)

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 1:8,11-12 But of the Son he says... “They all will grow old like a garment does. As a mantle, you will roll them up, and they will be changed; but you are the same...”

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Eternal pre-existence

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Colossians 1:17 … He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus: Creator

Yahweh created alone:

Isaiah 44:24 …"I am Yahweh, who makes all things; who ALONE stretches out the heavens; who spreads out the earth BY MYSELF”

Jesus: Creator

But Jesus created alone:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make.

Col 1:15-16: “For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Holy and Sinless

2 Cor 5:21 God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us …

1 Peter 2: 21-22 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Rightly worshipped

When Peter went to the house of Cornelius he refused to accept worship:

Acts 10: 25-26: “As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Rightly worshipped

In Revelation 22:8-9: John related how the mighty angel refused worship:

… I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”

Rightly worshipped

After Jesus’ resurrection the woman and the disciples worshipped him:

Matthew 28:9 And behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and took hold of his feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:16-17 But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him…

Rightly worshipped

Furthermore we read that the Father commands the angels to worship Jesus:

Hebrews 1:6 And again, when God brings his first born into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Rightly worshipped

Jesus is entitled to receive worship because HE IS GOD! More examples of Jesus accepting worship:

From the wise men - Mat 2:11

From the leper - Mat 8:2

From the ruler - Mat 9:18

From His disciples in the boat - Mat 14:33

From the Canaanite woman - Mat 15:25

From disciples following His ascension - Luke 24:52

Thomas - John 20:28

All creation worships both Father and Lamb: Rev 5:11-14

Jesus: in very nature GOD

These are 8 characteristics unique and peculiar to God alone. Jesus has all 8 characteristics; thus by induction we have proven that Jesus is God. You can make a god out of anything, but it will not be God by nature i.e. possess the characteristics of God. Heathen gods fall into this category of those you are worshiped as gods while not being God by nature.

Galatians 4: 8: “Formerly when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.”

Jesus: in very nature GOD

Jesus is God by nature.

Philippians 2:5-6: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…”

Concerning the term “nature” (morphē) or as the NASB and KJV translates, “form”, theologian, Charles Ryrie notes that the word nature (morphē) in the Greek connotes: “that which is intrinsic and essential to the thing”. Thus here it means that our Lord in His pre-incarnate state possessed essential deity.


1 Corinthians 1:18-23. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

What will you say in your defence when you die?

Will you say “I have my own religion”?

Galatians 2:21.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

If we could be righteous through any other religion, Jesus died for nothing.

We do not reach Christ through righteousness, we reach righteousness through Christ!

John 14:6.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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