I have for some time now been challenged by the task of apologetics, which immediately conjures up the idea of being “apologetic” for being a follower of Christ and all that this entails. Apologetics, however is quite the opposite, being simply defined as:
Giving a reasoned or positive defense of the Gospel!
Charles Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers would respond with these words: “Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion. Just turn the Bible loose. It will defend itself!”
The Iron Men’s group as we’re called, that meet on a Friday morning have been delving into this area under the topic, Knowing what we Believe – an urgent pursuit in these challenging days in which we live where so much is considered relative to the individual, days in which the things of God let alone the Word of God are not assumed as the norm by which we are to conduct our lives. I often find when asking folks to state in a nutshell what it is that they believe about God the Bible and Salvation, that the response is often faltering, to say the least. The Apostle Peter, sums up our challenge in this Key verse to the task of the apologist, from 1 Peter 3:
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
We begin this brief two-part study in considering Paul’s world and ours, which in essence, other than the incredible advancement of technology of course, is not so far apart as we would assume. Ours, like the apostle`s is a Thinking World, with little room for gullibility – where sound evidence is required to convince the educated minds of the day; all the more reason to be convinced and knowledgeable of our message of hope that would be backed by a lifestyle that brings honour to the Lord Jesus. Ours is also a Pleasure-seeking World, where the demand to have personal needs and desires met is all consuming. But the world, possibly more than ever, is a Hurting World where people both young and old are feeling the pain and pressures of life from every side and looking to every possible source for relief other than the Author of life, the Living God Himself, whose character we are called to reflect to a generation dying without Christ. Sadly, ours is also an Accusing and critical World which is where our task as effective apologists becomes all the more urgent. Consider some of these common objections to the Faith, keeping in mind however that the goal is to win souls, not arguments, to engage seekers of the Truth by building bridges for them to cross by clearing the rubble of disbelief and not to dominate in futile debates.
- Christianity is often accused of being an Exclusive Religion, intolerant of other views. Our response may include the fact that yes, while our access to God`s Salvation is exclusive (John 14:6), the Invitation certainly is not and is open to all who would come to Him.
- Christianity is a Crutch, a religion for losers, is often said and our response would be that Yes, we have a God who hold us firm in the fiercest storm and No we are in fact winners, more than conquerors because of Christ`s victory at the Cross!
- Most Christians are Hypocrites and no fun to be with, sadly we have to agree but at the same time we need to speak of the Grace of the Lord Jesus that enable us to more clearly reflect the Light and life of our Saviour as He transforms us into His likeness.
- What God would allow such Suffering in the World? This is surely one of the most common objections to our faith and one that demands a thorough response, but suffice it to say that our God is big enough to allow suffering and evil to exist while He promises his loving protection and peace to all who would look to Him to be their strength and refuge in their day of trouble! (Ps 46, 91)
Next week we will consider some great apologetic encounters in Scripture as we seek to be more effective ambassadors for the Lord Jesus to a generation that neither knows God and hears little of what He is doing for His people in these days.
Join us this coming Sunday as we continue looking at some amazing Miracles in Matthew`s Gospel with a focus on Jesus Calming the Storms in our lives.
Yours in His Service,