Contending for the Faith: Introduction to Apologetics
The Church has always maintained that in scripture we have the embodiment of divine revelation – God’s Word to man. It is God communicating to man concerning Himself, man’s lost condition, God’s love, how man might be saved (redemption), warning of impending judgment for those rejecting His love, and the warfare with Satan in the battle for the souls of men.
The scriptures are God breathed. Peter wrote, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Some have tried to pervert and twist this inferring it is “all Scripture given (that is given) by inspiration of God,” suggesting that some scripture is given by inspiration of God and some may not be. By this, inferring the Bible merely contains the Word of God. If that were so, what part contains the Word of God and what part doesn’t? Who decides which parts are divine revelation and which are not? No, the Word is emphatic, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). All scripture is God breathed.
It’s amazing how many mainline denominations over the years have fallen into error here. Even today many of our young, nondenominational churches have denied the inerrancy of scripture. Denying the inerrancy of scripture is the first step in theological liberalism. Once we begin doubting the infallibility of the Bible, it is a slippery slope. From here we begin to falter in other areas of essential Christian doctrine. This is indicative of the time in which we live.
Harold Lindsell, in his book “Battle for the Battle,” points out how many theologians and scholars began to doubt the inerrancy of scripture when working on their post doctorate degrees. “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). William Tyndale said the day would come when “A ploughboy with a Bible would know more of God than the most learned ecclesiastic without it.” (Evidence that Demands a Verdict, page 3)
We as Evangelicals must hold firm our belief in the inerrancy of God’s Word and be able to defend it. We must “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer (make a defense) to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
We as Christians and pastors particularly, must be ready and equipped to stand firm on and defend not only the inerrancy of scripture, but all doctrines essential to the Christian faith – the reason for writing this introduction to apologetics.
Our English use of the word conveys the idea of excuse, apology or amends for some injury done. However, Apologia (apology) is a verbal defense, a speech made in defense and is sometimes translated answer in scripture. Any honest inquiry has a right to be answered.
I’m not referring to those wanting to argue or flex their intellectual muscles, not honestly seeking answers. Christianity has real answers for those honestly desiring truth. Clark Pinnock, an able apologist wrote, “An intelligent Christian ought to be able to point out the flaws in a non-Christian position and present the facts and arguments which tell in favor of the gospel.” (Evidence that Demands a Verdict, page 3)
A common accusation aimed at the Christian is that all we have is a blind leap of faith. Many seem to think one has to commit intellectual suicide to become a believer in Christ and the scriptures. What they are really describing is existentialism, which is a blind leap of faith, a leap into the dark in hope of the ultimate experience. Each person’s experience is unique to him alone.
Christianity, on the other hand, is a leap into the light (2 Timothy 1:12 and John 8:31-32). Clark Pinnock said, Christian apologetics “Strives at laying the evidence for the Christian gospel in an intelligent fashion, so that they can make a meaningful commitment under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false.” (Evidence that Demands a Verdict, page 2)
Apologia is Used Eight Times in Scripture
- Acts 22:1 “My defense”
- Acts 25:16 “Make his defense”
- I Corinthians 9:3 “My (answer) defense”
- 2 Corinthians 7:11 – “Vindication”
- Philippians 1:7 “Defense and confirmation of the gospel”
- Philippians 1:17 “Defense of the gospel”
- 2 Timothy 4:16 “My first (answer) defense”
- I Peter 3:15 “Ready to make a (give an answer) defense”
Rejection of Christ and the Authenticity of Scripture is Usually for the Following Reasons
- Ignorance. Jesus said, “You are mistaken (do error), not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). “My people (perish) are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). This is often self imposed and willful ignorance, refusing to look at the facts. Read also Romans 1:18-23.
- Pride. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God” (John 5:44). This is often spiritual or religious pride, “That is what I believe and I don’t care what you say.”
- Moral problems (sin). “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20). If they accept the authority of scripture and Christ they might have to change, God will begin dealing with things in their life, like Jesus did with the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27).
- Self will. “You are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:40). Jesus demands to be Lord and we want to do our own thing and run our own life.
A Strong Defense of the Faith is Expressed in the Following Ways
- Verbally. We must lay out a defense of the faith in a systematic way and present people with a challenge to commit their life to Jesus. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
A verbal defense of the faith also has to do with our defending the faith against false teaching. Jude said, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
It’s incumbent upon us as followers of Jesus and especially ministers of the gospel to defend our faith (essentials of gospel and Christian faith) against those who would seek to pervert it (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 and Galatians 1:8-9).
- Through love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). There is no better defense of the faith then seeing God’s people loving one another.
- Through unity. Jesus prayed, “That they may all be one… that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). Dr. Francis Schaeffer called love and unity among God’s people the great apologetic. Jesus prayed that we all might be one (unified) in order that the world would believe Jesus was sent to be the Savior of the world.
When the world sees Christians from diverse backgrounds, varied economic and social statuses experiencing unity and love for one another it’s a testimony to the proof of the gospel. Read also 1 Corinthians 1:10, Romans 16:17 and Ephesians 4:11-16.
- With our lives. Paul said, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2). We are to present a defense of the gospel, not only verbally, but also with our lives. St. Francis of Assisi put it this way, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Men will read our lives for the better or worse.
Jesus faithfully represented the Father – “Jesus Christ, Who is the faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5). Will we faithfully represent Him? He gave us the empowerment of the His Spirit for this very purpose. “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Let’s make a defense of the faith by means of our lives and words.
Let’s study to show ourselves approved unto God and be ready always to give a defense of what we hold dear and fight for the faith that has been delivered to us through holy writ – 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 3:15 and Jude 3.