Doubting Christmas

One of the ways I love to do ‘apologetics’ is by teaching the Bible. That works because the Bible itself takes the questions that we all ask, very seriously indeed and engages with them.

You can watch the whole talk here:

So on the Sunday morning I spent with Greenisland Baptist Church we looked at the way that Luke wrote to give people certainty. Luke particularly seems to appreciate the doubts, questions or problems believing that people with no background in the Christian faith bring with them as they read the gospel story for the first time. So Luke begins his account with the story of Zecharaiah, a man who doesn’t have certainty about the gospel or the promises of God.

I explored the ways in which The Lord deliberately and strategically confronted and dealt with Zechariah’s doubts, Specifically his doubts about miracles and the supernatural needed to be addressed, so I talked a little bit about the fact that such questions didn’t come about as a result of the scientific enlightenment but that The Bible took these questions seriously millennia ago!

We also looked at Mary’s pregnancy and her arrival at Zechariah and Elizabeth’s house, as an essential part of the restoration of Zechariah’s faith. Luke’s story comes to a great conclusion with the naming ceremony of John the Baptist – and the restoration of Zechariah. So we looked at the source of Zachariah’s doubts, and how God dealt with them –and then looked at his prophetic song in Luke 1. There Zechariah doesn’t merely accept the miracles he’s confronted with in his own household, but in his proclamation of Jesus becomes one of the first announcers of the gospel in the New Testament – before Jesus was even born!

I was very encouraged by the enthusiastic response from many of the people in Greenisland. Some sad they had never heard the story of Zechariah explained as part of the Christmas story. One lady was quite overcome with emotion as she explained that God had been speaking to her deeply about many of the issue in the text. She contacted me again later to say that she had never seen the ‘heart of God, the concern of God or the wisdom of God in this passage before – and what a great saviour we have!’

It was just a wonderful privilege to be able to open the Bible and help someone in that way. The point is that she saw all of that not through technical apologetics, or my philosophical expertise – but because the Bible itself addresses these questions so profoundly. It really is wonderful, the way in which God helps to navigate us through from uncertainty through to a confident Christian faith.