Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Proper Defense For You!

I have not been called to be an Apologist. It is almost certain you are not one either. In the United States, presently, we are not hauled before the authorities to present a defense of our faith. Nor should we assume that every unbeliever out there are seeking to destroy or discredit us as depicted in the above representation of Paul before King Agrippa. Over the past 30 years or so Apologetic efforts has gained more and more popularity in some circles as the primary evangelism. Certain Bible teachers are gifted with this even in our relatively persecution free country. Certainly we have a place for this type of proclamation but should never replace the simple proclamation given the Church from Our Lord.

St Peter shows in what instances this should be used;

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
(1 Peter 3:13-16 ESV)

We see that it is when we are under attack and persecution and asked upon what we place our faith. It is a misuse to think one has to give complicated reasoning to an unbeliever when the simple and clear message of Christ is what is needed. Repentance and the forgiveness of sin is what Jesus taught was to be proclaimed throughout the world.

In contrast here is what Christ has told the Apostles those in public ministry and laypersons when they have opportunity is to be proclaimed:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

(Luke 24:45-47 ESV)

Notice how simple is what saves us. A child can understand it. Most of the time we do not have to start people at square one and give them an extended discourse about the Christian faith. Prior to having the gift of faith, given by the Holy Spirit, he or she will never get it right. We are justified by faith not our perfect understanding of doctrine. Later on comes the teaching.

When you are privileged to speak with a person who is terrified of his or her standing with God we do not have to defend our faith rather proclaim it. The troubled heart does not need the law for it is doing its job already. Tell them to turn from faith in their own efforts to defeat sin and trust in Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Praying always for God to grant them, and us, with this repentance and faith in Christ.

Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †