When I was in college at the University of Houston, I usually kept to myself. I was an engineering major and not very well equipped with social skills. However, I had began to learn a little about Christian apologetics and my faith had been growing.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV
One day I was having lunch in a campus cafeteria and I somehow got into a conversation about Christian denominations. I began to explain that there were some denominations that had become liberal and were not holding to the truth of Scripture. Before I knew it, a crowd was beginning to gather and not everyone agreed with my conservative convictions. I still remember the look on a young man’s face as he snickered and said to a friend, “Watch this.” He then presented me with a problem he seemed very confident would stump me. He said, “Did you know the word ‘hell’ did not exist when the Bible was written?”
I wish I knew then what I know now about the history of Scripture, but I did have sense enough to know that the Bible was not originally written in English. Instead of trying to debate him in an area that I was not too confident in, I simply replied that I would have to do a little research and get back with him. Then I moved on to other conversation. I watched the guy’s smirk fall away and he walked away apparently disappointed. I supposed he had hoped that I would act shaken or perhaps he just wanted to debate. My point is that I did not allow his criticism to shake my faith. I stood firm.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.Psalm 16:8-11 ESV
Had I thought about it a little I could have easily refuted his attempt to remove the doctrine of hell from Scripture. The reality is that none of the words we find in our English Bibles existed when the Bible was written. The English language did not exist as we know it during the time of Christ. Furthermore, the Greek word we translate as “hell” is transliterated into English as “Gehenna.” This literally means a place of fire and eternal punishment. His criticism was irrelevant.
I told this story to my children the other night as we were wrapping up family worship. I encouraged them that if someone ever presents information critical of Christianity, and they are unable to answer, to not let it shake them. They just need to smile and say, “I’ll have to look that one up.” God’s Word is very defensible, and pretty much every criticism that has been made of it has been refuted in the past. I highly recommend owning a harmony of the Gospels such as Thomas and Gudnry’s. Having a copy of Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties is worth having on your shelf as well. If you would like something more modern, Jason Lisle’s book, Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason: Refuting Alleged Bible Contradictions can be very handy.
What books we have on our shelves is not my ultimate point. What I want to drive home is that God has called us to stand firm in our faith. We may not ever get answers to all our questions, but we can trust that the Creator of the universe and the Savior of mankind is as real as the screen you are staring at. Our children need to know that they can trust Him no matter what they are confronted with.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.Philippians 4:1 ESV
I believe it is imperative that we teach our children that they can trust the Scriptures and that they can stand firm in their faith. There have been a few stories in the news about well know pastors of large churches essentially saying we did not need to believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. They think these “old fashioned” beliefs will drive people away. The reality is there are many churches who have made this mistake in the past and now they have dwindled to almost nothing. Compromising on the authority of the Word of God is not the answer to building the kingdom. Jesus did not do this. Instead, we must trust the Lord and equip ourselves to defend His Word. I have discovered that my children find it exciting when they learn that there are good answers to tough questions. They then want to go out and defend their faith and share the gospel. At the same time, I often remind them that they may not always be able to answer the critic. That is when they must stand firm and trust Jesus Christ. Then they can come home and ask their daddy.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.Ephesians 6:13 ESV