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In a culture where God’s Word is constantly under attack from those both inside and outside of the church, we must always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us.
God’s Word is constantly under attack in our culture, and the assaults come from all directions. We would expect nothing less from those who deny the existence of God—the Author of Scripture—but these are not the only people involved in the onslaught. Numerous Bible college and seminary professors, pastors, and other church leaders seem all too willing to undermine, perhaps unwittingly, the authority of Scripture, especially when it comes to the first eleven chapters of Genesis.
With each passing day, the church becomes less and less effective in reaching the lost.Far too many Christians lack the necessary discipline and discernment and do not take advantage of the tools required to defend the faith against “the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). With each passing day, the church becomes less and less effective in reaching the lost. There are several reasons for this serious problem, but a major cause is that many Christians cannot defend their beliefs. Consequently, Christianity is often viewed as a “blind faith” and its followers as uninformed and gullible people.
But Christianity is not a “blind faith.” Our faith is based on the Creator and His revealed, inerrant, and infallible Word. Hebrews 11:1 explains the biblical view of faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Wait a minute! How can the definition of faith include the word “evidence”? The answer is that Christianity is rooted in history—real people and events of the past. While evidence does not prove the Bible to be true, we can show that the evidence supports Scripture. The evidence is perfectly consistent with the Bible when it is properly interpreted by one whose starting point is based on the God’s Word rather than man’s opinion.
Peter wrote about the early followers of Christ: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). The authors of Scripture accurately recorded historical events, including the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Jude informed his readers about the importance of earnestly contending “for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The Apostle Peter also instructed his readers to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). The Greek word translated as “defense” is from the root ἀπολογια (apologia), and it refers to a verbal defense or a reasoned statement or argument. The term “apologetics” comes from this Greek word. Apologetics is the branch of theology which deals with giving a defense of the Christian faith.
Paul practiced apologetics as he regularly went first to a town’s synagogue and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2, 18:4, emphasis added). Paul reasoning with the religious leaders of the day does not sound like the actions of a man who had a blind faith. In fact, Paul knew his faith was defensible. He had encountered Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–8), and he told the Corinthians that over 500 people had witnessed the resurrected Savior at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6).
In 1 Peter 3:15, the reasoned defense is directly connected to the hope that we have as Christians. That hope is found in Christ alone and described to us in the Bible. If we are not intentionally connecting our defense and reasoning to the authority of the Bible so that we may affirm our hope in Christ, we are not doing biblical apologetics. To make sure that we are connecting our intellectual arguments to Christ takes a special effort, and it is essential to keep our efforts grounded in Him. If we excise the center of this verse by simply saying “always be ready to give a defense,” we run the risk of focusing in vain on academic arguments rather than Christ.
Another important component to consider in this verse is the manner in which we should approach apologetics—with meekness and fear. Too often, Christian apologists come across as boisterous, uncharitable, and prideful in their presentations. We should not be afraid to proclaim the truth with boldness, but we do it under control and with an attitude of a messenger delivering truth from the King. Secondly, we perform this function with reverential fear knowing that it is only by the grace of God that we have been granted the status of ambassador for the King, and that without the Holy Spirit’s convicting work, our efforts cannot succeed in bringing anyone to salvation. We must also be careful not to misrepresent God by misapplying the truth He has revealed to us.
As you seek to use the arguments presented in this article series, keep in mind that our goal is to faithfully communicate the truths of the Bible to point to the hope we have in Christ. As you face opposition, keep the following words from Peter in mind:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. (1 Peter 3:14–16)
As a result of these instructions and godly examples, several of our experts have teamed up to produce a series of books designed with the specific goal of providing believers with the answers to many of the current arguments being used against the Christian faith. Our popular New Answers Book series covers many of the most-asked questions about creation, evolution, and the Bible. This new series on apologetics will address dozens of the contemporary attacks on the Word of God that come from critics, skeptics, false religions, and even from within the church.
Over the next several weeks, we will be publishing chapters on our website from the upcoming first book in this exciting series. These articles will cover issues such as how we can know the Old and New Testaments are reliable, how we can trust the Bible in light of the history of translation, how to understand the issue of polygamy in the Bible, how to respond to the popular idea that Genesis 1 was written in some form of poetry and whether or not Genesis was derived from ancient myths, how to defend the Resurrection of Christ, refuting the false claims made in The da Vinci Code, and many more.
Please check back each Tuesday to read the latest article in this faith-affirming series.