“Why do you believe in Jesus,” says the unbeliever, maybe a friend or a coworker who knows you go to church.
“Well, I believe in Jesus because … I grew up in church and that’s what the Bible says and it’s true and a good book,” says the Christian who hasn’t “prepared” for a conversation such as this.
“So that’s it? I mean the Mormons go to church, the Muslims go to their mosques, the Jews go to their synagogues, how is this Jesus any different?” asks the unbeliever.
What would your answer be?
Apologetics . . . that’s the word for “giving a logical and reasonable defense.” It comes from the Greek word apologia. Translated, it means “answer,” the same word Paul uses in 1 Peter 4:15:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answerto everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
In this context, Paul tells Christians they must be able to defend Christian worldview, the reason for our hope. In other words we must all be ready to defend Jesus Christ.
The word “prepared” in this verse compares to physical training. Meaning it takes discipline and effort, one does not simply “on the occasion” exercise if they are serious about maintaining physical health and wellbeing.
In the same way, Christians shouldn’t “on the occasion” attend church, maybe open up their Bibles once in a while and think that will prepare them to defend their faith logically and reasonably to an unbeliever.
Would you be prepared to defend your faith? Especially in this post-modern world where it’s the norm to believe that there is no absolute truth, are you ready to say, “Yes, there is an absolute truth and there is only one way to heaven,” and to back that up?
If you are still unconvinced that you have a responsibility to study, to prepare and to be apologetic in our worldview, preferring to leave that to the “scholars,” well, please keep reading and maybe this list will convince you otherwise:
- Christians should study apologetics to validate Christian truth.
This involves using empirical, historical and philosophical evidence and argumentation to defend the faith in order to develop a rational case for the Christian worldview.
Why does this truth matter?
Why is it important to everyone? Because eternity is a long time to be wrong.
If Christians who believe in an eternal heaven and hell, that should motivate them to defend the truth of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:2-3).
2. Christians should study apologetics to save the lost.
The goal is not to win the argument, but to persuade unbelievers.
No one likes getting into a debate with a legalistic, intellectual person who just wants to prove that they are right and smart … That person just steps on people’s toes and comes off as judgmental and rather annoying.
We cannot annoy people to Christ.
But we must be able to have loving discussions about truth with those who do not know it. The mission of apologetics goes hand-in-hand with evangelism, which goes hand-in-hand with the heart of the gospel: that God loves the whole world and desires everyone to know him. If apologetics is one of God’s tools to bring people to salvation, then we should do our part.
C. S. Lewis once said, “Nearly everyone I know who has embraced Christianity in adult life has been influenced by what seemed to him to be at least a probable argument for theism.”
3. Christians should study apologetics to strengthen the church.
Ephesians 4:14-15 says, “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
If we do not know why we believe what we believe, how can we be strong in our faith if someone tries to knock us over with another worldview? How can the church be strong against false teaching if they do not study the truth?
R. C. Sproul once said, “The Bible is addressed primarily, though not exclusively, to our understanding. That means the mind. This is difficult to communicate to modern Christians who are living in what may be the most anti-intellectual period of Western civilization. Notice I did not say anti-academic, anti-technological or anti-scholarly. I said anti-intellectual. There is a strong current of antipathy to the function of the mind in the Christian life.”
Apologetics is all about defending the truth with our minds and growing in it. If Christians know why they believe what they believe, they will also feel more secure in their faith and have more assurance that what they believe is true.
Beliefs affect behavior, and behavior affects the path of life.
So if Christians know without a shadow of doubt that what the Bible says is true, won’t they be a little more motivated to live out what the Bible tells us to?
Won’t they be a little more motivated to tell their friends about Jesus?
Won’t they be a little more motivated to live for the kingdom of God instead of for this world?
And won’t that mean the church is strengthened for it?
4. Christians should study apologetics to refute error.
“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).
Look at the world today.
How many other religions or people are saying, “This is right, this book is the truth, and I am the leader you should follow.”
Or how many people have given up on a god being out there at all? Because if there is a god, why is there suffering? Violence? Hatred? Especially among the groups that do atrocities in the name of their god!
How many people believe that there is no truth, no right or wrong at all?
How many people believe in “science” because “science” now says God is not necessary? We all came from nothing and we are just random cells and life is not precious?
Our world is in desperate need of the truth of Jesus Christ. And how, as Christians, can we share that truth without knowing how and why and the evidence for why Christianity is true?
For we will be challenged, we will be questioned for why we do what we do if we are living our lives for Jesus, and we must be ready to give an answer… or an apologia. Not for our sakes, but for people who are in desperate need of Jesus.
by Melody Siebenmann