Lesson 11 Overcoming Objections To The Gospel

One would imagine that peace with God, forgiveness of sin, abundant and eternal life—all offered as a free gift—would find widespread acceptance. Instead there is resistance. Why? Because "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). They do not like to retain God in their knowledge (Rom. 1:28). Many do not love the truth (2 Thess. 2:10), and they refuse to hear God's words (John 8:47). Some are more interested in honor from men than honor from God (John 5:44). Many are deceived and so follow a way that seems right but leads to death (Prov. 14:12). Because of persistent rejection of God, some have even been spiritually blinded by God (John 12:40; Rom. 11:8, 25).

Because such resistance to the Gospel exists, we should expect that we will meet with all kinds of objections as we witness for Jesus Christ. For this reason, we are commanded "... do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pet. 3:14-15 NASB). This defense is possible because, unlike other religions, the Christian faith has the advantage of absolute truth in every respect. It is a reasonable faith based upon historic facts and documents and backed by the power of God and the attraction of the risen Savior.

We must remember that believers have an important responsibility and role in God's strategy for soul-winning. From God's standpoint, men come to Christ by the will of God (John 1:13) in the time and manner of the Holy Spirit's choosing (John 3:8). From the sinner's standpoint, the issue is whether or not he wills to do God's will (John 7:17). From our perspective as witnesses, we must effectively communicate the way of salvation and contend with objections by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is not sufficient that we merely know what we believe as Christians. We must also be able and ready to defend why we believe.

Types of Objectors

An objector is one who presents or raises a question that constitutes a hindrance to believing the Gospel and accepting Christ's claims on his life. In the course of a spiritual discussion, his objection may arise in a variety of ways. For example, he may present opinions about religious matters, such as creation or heaven and hell, that are clearly contrary to the Scripture. He may request information about the Bible. He may employ an objection to gain time to think. Each objection he presents has the potential of sidetracking a significant spiritual exchange.

An objector usually falls into one of two categories:

1. Genuine. The seeker of God may have a question, which if answered would lead the way for further exchange. This person is sincerely open for a reply. We want to provide a convincing answer.

2. Pretended. This person's objection invites an answer which would make no real difference to him. The objection may be a cover for unwillingness to change. It may be a guise for argument, ridicule, or attack. Each answer leads to another question. The real problem is not the questions but the questioner's attitude. Such a problem should be recognized, and we should not address the objection but expose the attitude. Jesus did not answer every question put to Him, nor should we.

Types of Objections

Objections may be classified under various headings for convenience.

1. Practical Objections basically ask, "does Christianity work?" Question: What about the conduct of professing Christians whose lives do not back up their claims to be changed by Christ? Answer: It is true that many people say they are Christians but fail to show changed lives. Yet why should a counterfeit Christian disprove the existence of a true one? Did not Jesus condemn the hypocrites (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 24:51)? Are we morally right to excuse our negligence by another's misconduct?

2. Moral Objections question the justice or righteousness of God. Question: What about the heathen who never heard of Christ? Answer: The Judge of all the earth will do right (Gen. 18:25). The heathen have two witnesses, creation (Rom. 1:19-20) and conscience (Rom. 2:14-15). The Bible tells us that the heathen will be judged according to their response to God based on these witnesses. Question: Why do the innocent suffer? Answer: God created a universe without suffering (Gen. 1:31). He also gave man the freedom to disobey Him. This right of choice opened the way for sin, suffering, and death (Rom. 5:12). Thus, all suffering in the world, including that which touches innocent people, is the consequence of man's disobedience to God.

3. Intellectual Objections are based on theoretical or speculative issues. Question: How do we know that God exists? Answer: The Bible makes no effort to prove God exists but says only that "the fool" denies it (Psa. 14:1; 53:1). Creation witnesses to the Creator (Psa. 19:1-4). The order, laws, and complexity of the universe more likely display the work of a creator than the work of chance. Does a wristwatch suggest a maker? Is there ever an effect without a cause? Question: How can miracles happen? Answer: Can an all-powerful God do them? If God is all-powerful, then miracles are possible. Question: Is not the Bible full of errors? Answer: "Well, name two or three that really bother you." Most objectors will be unable to do this. They have not read through the Bible one time or read one good book dealing with the defense of the Christian faith. The marvel is that so many discoveries over the past 100 years have confirmed the truth of Scripture. For example, Nelson Glueck, one of the foremost modern investigators has said, "No archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference."4

4. Emotional Objections might be called "non-rational" objections. Objection: Religion was pushed upon me as a child. I don't want it any more. Answer: Does your childhood experience nullify the truth of Christ's claims on your life? Objection: So many religions in the world claim to be true. How can anyone tell which is right? Answer: Have you tried to find the truth in sincerity? Have you prayed and sought God's guidance? Have you thoughtfully read the Holy Scriptures? Objection: Religion is a result of childhood training or fear of the unknown. Answer: Some beliefs come during childhood. This can be helpful if the input is good. However, many come to Christ as adults who are thinking about eternal questions. Also, faith in Christ does not come simply to people who are afraid. However, if people are afraid of health problems, do you condemn them for seeking a doctor? Why not seek God because of spiritual problems? Objection: My life is good enough to get me to heaven. Answer: God's perfect righteousness excludes all who are imperfect! Only His righteousness that He gives by faith in Christ (Rom. 3:22; 4:5), not good deeds (Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5), can qualify a person for heaven.

5. Religious Objections. Groups outside of orthodox Biblical Christianity have deviant views on the nature of God, the deity of Christ, and the way of salvation. Question: Is Christ the only way to God? Answer: Jesus said He was (John 14:6). Did He lie? His life confirmed Him as a man of truth. He fulfilled the prophetic word. Examine His claims against the many vows of lesser men. All cannot be equally right. We cannot change the law of gravity by vote or agreement—nor the way to God. Question: How can salvation be as simple as you say it is? Answer: The good news of salvation must be simple enough for a child or a person of low intelligence to understand, or it would favor certain groups of people.

How to Handle Objections

People tend to look closely at your response when they raise objections. Are you upset or angry? Do you appear confused because you do not know how to handle the matter? Are you defensive or just ignorant? If you show a calm poise and have an intelligent response, you may be able to overcome any objections and win a hearing for the gospel.

Ask yourself these questions before answering any objection:

1. Do I Understand? Clarify the objection. Repeat it back to them in their own words: "Do I hear that you are saying . . . ?" This shows that you are treating the matter seriously and intelligently.

2. Do I Know How To Answer? Admit, if necessary, that you do not know. Offer to check it out and get back to them. Do not bluff!

3. Why Is This Objection Being Raised? Is it a sincere request for information? Pause and consider the matter. Use a counter-question like, "If I answered this would it make a difference in your life?" Some questions or objections might be intended to lead you away from spiritual issues the objector does not wish to face. You must discover if you are dealing with a sincere objection or a pretended one. Only answer genuine objections and do so briefly. Defer pretended objections until later. Redirect the conversation to the gospel presentation. An example of this is seen in John 4:18-22. The woman was faced with her sin by the Lord. She tried to evade this with a controversial religious question about whether Jerusalem was the only place to worship, rather than the mountain in Samaria where her people worshiped. The Lord responded briefly and refused to be sidetracked. He got back to the subject of her need of salvation.

4. What Scriptures Can Be Used In My Answer? The Lord Jesus constantly employed quotations or references from the Word of God to deal with those who came to Him. The Word, also called the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17), is powerful. Even Satan himself could not overcome this weapon (Matt. 4:1-11). Remember that the Word is "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds" and is capable of "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Use this mighty offensive weapon!

5. Am I Praying And Seeking God's Help? When Stephen, the first martyr of the church, was responding to those who opposed him, he showed that he was a man in touch with God. "And they were not able to resist the wisdom and Spirit by which he spake" (Acts 6:10). When our words come from God, in the power of the Spirit, no one can be successful in opposition. God's mind is superior to every other mind. Therefore, pray, think, and seek words from Him.

6. Am I Being Patient With Others? The mind which is blinded by Satan and confused by the world cannot quickly understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Be kind, humble, and patient with others while boldly speaking for the Lord. If the other person is ensnared in a false religion or cultic form of Christianity, the task may be difficult. In such cases you may require more information and greater perseverance.

Conclusion

We are commanded to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3 NASB). Preparing yourself to deal intelligently with objections can be a great help. Learn to handle rightly the Word of God in answering objections (2 Tim. 2:15). Read good books which intelligently defend the Christian faith. Keep a notebook in which to record objections you encounter and their answers. Dawson Trotman, the founder of a Christian service organization called The Navigators, made it a rule never to be stumped by the same question twice. Perhaps you can adopt the same practice. Such preparation will strengthen your confidence as you stand in a Christ-rejecting world with the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.

Our goal is to clear any obstructions in the minds of others that would hinder their coming to know Christ as Lord and Savior. Such a task deserves thoughtful consideration. Are you prepared?

Overcoming Objections To The Gospel

Christians encounter many objections when sharing the Gospel. The Bible is our best source for answers. Read each question/statement below and the Scripture references. Answer each objection in your own words using the listed verses and any additional verses that may help. Indicate by a question or statement how you would redirect the conversation to a Gospel presentation.

1. "There are too many hypocrites in the church" (Matt. 6:2; 24:51; Rom. 14:12).

2. "What about the people who have never heard the Gospel?" (Rom. 1:19-20; 2:14-15).

3. "There are many ways to God" (Prov. 14:12; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

4. "The Bible has many errors and has been changed a lot. I don't believe it" (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).

5. "I am not so bad. My good outweighs my bad" (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 3:10, 23; Jas. 2:10).

6. "Why would a 'good' God allow suffering in the world?" (Rom. 5:12; 1 Pet. 5:10; Job 1:5-22).

7. "I'll wait until another time. I want to enjoy myself now" (Prov. 27:1; Isa. 55:6; Luke 12:19-20).

8. "There are things I might have to give up" (Psa. 37:1-5; Matt. 6:33; Mark 8:36-37).

9. "I am trying to get some things in my life straightened out first" (Luke 5:32; Tit. 3:3-5).

10. "God is too loving to condemn anyone. I do not believe in hell" (Matt. 7:13-14; 25:41; John 3:18-20, 36; Rev. 20:11-15).

Optional Project

Research one of the Gospels, studying the various ways Christ dealt with objectors. When did He answer the objection? When did He ignore it? Be prepared to share in class any principles you learned from your study.

4 Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert; History of Neteg (Philadelphia; Jewish Publications Society of America, 1969), p. 31.