Should We Apologize For Christ [Part 2]
We saw last month that our attitude when giving apologia should be one of humility and godly fear, framed by a good conscience. Now we’re going to turn to Peter’s answer to his Jewish audience in Ac. 2:15-30 to provides the apologia pattern for us. He declared the truth about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and buttressed his arguments by quoting from Joel and the Psalms. Stephen’s answer in Acts 7:2-53 is a sustained argument from Scripture. Paul’s answer to his Jewish audience in Acts 22:1-22 was the story of his conversion, and his answers to Felix (24:10-21) and Agrippa (26:2-29) again include his personal testimony, the facts about the resurrected Christ, and scriptural allusions.
Following the example from the Acts, the answer we should give when others ask is simply the gospel message, supported by quotations from the Bible, and our own testimony. Thus apologetics is for all believers—even a young Christian can give her testimony and share the verses that the Spirit used in her salvation. So apologetics is not for seminarians who took the course, but for all believers. In fact, the best apologist is the believer who sets Christ apart as Lord in her heart, lives a consistent Christian lifestyle, maintains a good conscience, prays for guidance, and knows her Bible.
A common objection to this simple advice is that unbelievers won’t listen to the Bible unless we first prove to them that the Bible is true. Now there are excellent arguments for the inerrancy of Scripture, such as the fact of the resurrection and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy—both often cited by the apostles in the Acts. Thus Scripture’s claim to be God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:16) is not circular reasoning, because the initial premise “the Bible is God’s Word” does rest on amazing evidence. But the Bible is not only inerrant; as God’s Word, the Bible is also self-authenticating. By the work of the Holy Spirit, people intuitively know the words of Scripture are true (John 1:9; 16:8). So we can presuppose the truth of the Bible when we speak to unbelievers. The Spirit of God defends it; we just have to unleash it.
If the philosophical and scientific arguments that comprise modern apologetics are neither necessary nor sufficient to win a soul for Christ, why bother studying them? Because they can greatly encourage and invigorate believers who are exposed at school or work to the barrage of hollow arguments against God. They can also cause people to start to take the Bible seriously, and remove initial obstacles in the way of those who are seeking for the truth. And they are a part of our “defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil. 1:7, 16), of contending for “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), of destroying “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5), and of wrestling against “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12). We will therefore discuss some of these apologetic arguments in future articles.
David Vallance is in fellowship with his wife in the assembly that meets in Stark Road Gospel Hall, Livonia, MI (USA). He is employed as a Medical Doctor.