With apologetics in mind, I have three important points for you to consider if you are a Christian. I urge you to think carefully about my responses to the points below and your feedback is welcome. You won’t be convinced you need apologetics if…
- You believe faith is blind.
- You think doubt is good.
- You don’t speak the gospel regularly.
If you have fallen for one of the three traps above you will not only have little concern for learning to defend your faith, but you will also find yourself to be spiritually and intellectually vulnerable. Why? You’re about to find out.
Most Christians have a misconception that their faith is supposed to be blind. Most assume, as the unbelieving culture does, that if it’s not a leap in the dark it’s not faith. But this is exactly the issue: We are letting culture define faith, not God’s word. Faith is, at the core, a trust in God. Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” (John 14:6) Just like we trust our closest friend or family member, we trust based on good reasons. We have gotten to know that person over time, learned about them, and they have proven themselves. In the same way, when we become Christians we read the Word of God and get to know Jesus over time. As we pray, interact with his people and rely on Him increasingly for strength He proves Himself trustworthy. We also use the gospel to be reminded of what Christ did already in attaining our complete salvation through His death for us on the cross. Jesus deserves our trust because of what he did for us and what we cannot do for ourselves.
“Your faith must be reinforced with knowledge.”
Faith itself is also evidence. Just like God’s creation (Rom. 1:20) and His special revelation (the Bible), faith is the most important evidence because it is a divine assurance only found in Christ’s true believers (Heb. 11:1, Eph. 2:8). God gives faith for His Glory as well as evidence for each individual believer. One might say at this point, if faith is evidence, why not just rely on that and nothing else? “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8) Did you catch that? Your faith must be reinforced with knowledge. The blind faith movement claims intellectual endeavors are useless for the Christian. This is contrary to scripture and detrimental to developing your faith. Don’t let your growth in Christ be stunted by false ideas. Faith is built on trusting Christ, is maintained by a continual pursuit of the knowledge of God, and is buttressed by reasons for why that knowledge is reliable (apologetics)!
“We should identify if we struggle with doubt and use that as a motivation to seek answers.”
Next, if you believe doubt to be a good thing you are very mistaken. It’s not just the unbelieving world that teaches that doubt is good, there are “Christian” leaders teaching this lie as well. Let me be clear here: I’m not saying that it’s not common for us to doubt. It’s one thing to say “it’s normal to doubt,” it’s another thing to say “it’s right to be doubting.” Doubt is sin at the core because doubt is not believing God. The Bible is clear: “you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) Consider the words of Jesus to Peter when he began sinking in his experience of walking on water, “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Mat. 14:31) If you doubt you are lacking faith. We should identify if we struggle with doubt and use that as a motivation to seek answers. This is why apologetics is important for building up your faith, it will help you battle doubt.
Finally, if you don’t speak the gospel, as opposed to “living it” as some say, you won’t care about apologetics. I’m not convinced it’s even possible to “live” the gospel… I know some people are good at Charades, but I can’t imagine anyone good enough to act out the gospel in a way someone could clearly understand it! Many teachers quote a historical figure named Francis of Assisi: Last time I checked Francis of Assisi isn’t in the Bible, not to mention it’s well documented that he is misquoted in support of this idea. Romans 10:14 is clear, “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Clearly unbelievers need to hear the spoken message of the gospel. Second Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” You can’t make an appeal without a clear and urgent form of communication. That means you need to use words to speak the gospel.*
“Your story is not a valid replacement for the saving message Christ tells us to proclaim.”
What’s more, if the false idea of “living” the gospel isn’t’ enough to keep most Christians from evangelizing, there is another related misconception that sharing your story is all you need to do. Your testimony is useful for buttressing the gospel message or encouraging the body of Christ, but it won’t save anyone. Paul said “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2) If you include the gospel in your testimony, great! But your story is not a valid replacement for the saving message Christ tells us to proclaim. Paul says “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) He didn’t say preach yourself or preach your testimony; instead he says preach the word. The gospel, rightly proclaimed, comes straight out of the word: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:1-6) The gospel is simple, but it also needs to be explained to many in our declining society who don’t understand who God is or the weight of our sin. Keep this in mind for discipleship as well as evangelism: Christians need to hear the gospel just as much, if not more, than unbelievers. If we take advantage of the knowledge that God has provided for us so readily in this day and age we will have no excuse not to be prepared to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15).
“In many cases, when we can provide an answer to an unbeliever’s question, it will move that “obstacle” out of the way and clear a path for the gospel message.”
This brings us back around to apologetics. Apologetics will be of particular interest to those who are being obedient to the great commission because when you engage with unbelievers or are disciplining someone newer to the faith they will inevitably ask questions you don’t have answers to. Bobby Conway, the One Minute Apologist, gives the insight, “Evangelism and apologetics are like two wings of an airplane, and the church needs both to fly… I got into apologetics because I was sharing my faith and getting stumped over and over again. I would take non-Christians’ hard questions and treat them like homework. Over time, I felt better equipped to defend my faith.”(The Fifth Gospel, pg.175) A tell-tale sign of someone practicing Biblical evangelism is someone who is seeking out answers to questions they have been asked. We seek them not to win an argument but because we care about that lost person and want to genuinely provide them with an answer. You will also find that you will want to know the answers for yourself. In many cases, when we can provide an answer to an unbeliever’s question, it will move that “obstacle” out of the way and clear a path for the gospel message.
In the end, if you seek to be obedient to your Lord and Savior, you will find that apologetics is not simply a luxury but a necessity. It may sound like work if you’ve never sought after a good apologetics or evangelistic study, but the benefits will be clear once you’ve started to share your faith and use what you’ve learned.
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