Why Defend the Faith?
by Rob Lundberg
Lately I have been thinking how fast the summer is going. Unlike some of my colleagues having speaking opportunities in various venues, I have been not allowing the “green monster” envy force me in the thinking that apologetics is just done in front of groups of people. That is just one of many venues. Having this in to forefront of my thinking, I have reflected back on the numerous encounters to encourage people to think about the Christian faith. Just last night, I was visiting with a customer where I work, and he noticed 2 Corinthians 5:20 which says in part, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” That prompted a conversation to where this gentleman told me that he is searching.
You know that if we think about this long and hard, we must posit the question, “searching for what?”; “searching for ‘who’?” Knowing that the last part of Romans 3:11 (c.f., Psalm 14:1-3) tells us that no one does good and no one seeks after God, I find the question of “searching for what?” in my mind more relevant and appropriate. Which tells me that an apologetic or pre-evangelistic dialogue was about to very gently ensue. The purpose of this post is not to discuss this or any dialogue that I have engaged in this summer, despite there being a handful. My desire for this posting is to remind us, with the school year just over the horizon, why apologetics is needed.
Let me share just a few thoughts
I. Apologetics is commanded by God. This is the most important reason: God commands us to use our reasoning in the defense of the faith. We find, all throughout the New Testament, exhortations to defend the faith. Here are some of them:
1 Peter 3:15 says, “…but sanctify (set apart) Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense (apologia) [give a response back] to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (fear).” This passage tells us several things:
First it tells us that we should be ready. If you are doing the first part, of setting apart Christ as Lord in your heart, and living out the Christian life on a daily basis, I want you to know that people read you as a fifth gospel. They may never read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, but if someone knows that you are a Christian and they see you living it out, as it says “always being ready”. People are going to eventually ask you what is different about you. Being ready in your life also will encourage you to be ready in your preparation as an apologist. There are some great resources out there to pick up and study from. But it is not just having the information, it is also our attitude.
There is a lot of attitude issues in the apologetics community, which seems to be a sense of over-confidence and cockiness. Our attitude at Stand4Truth Apologetics Ministries is to seeking ways toward identifying with the people asking the questions; where they are, and possibly what they are going through. We seek to do this with “gentleness and respect” in a manner that the person knows that we are separating the question from the questioner/challenger. Having an attitude of readiness with this in mind will create a low level of eagerness and confidence. Figure it this way, we have the truth, people are seeking the truth. Respect the questioner, dismantle the question and get the person to see what is in their heart.
Second, when we give that reason to those asking the question (Colossians 4:5-6), we should not expect that every conversation is going to turn into an opportunity for pre-evangelism. Keep in the back of your mind that the one challenging what you believe does need it, but we must first be willing and able to give the answer first, and then leave the results to the Lord on what happens next.
Thirdly and finally, doing pre-evangelism and making Christ Lord in our hearts are unified together. If Jesus is really Lord, then we should be obedient to the Word when it says that we are “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and … taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). In other words we should be confronting issues in our own minds and in the expressed thoughts of others that are preventing them from knowing who God is. That is what the defense of the faith (apologetics) is all about…
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