By: Eli Ayala
The exciting thing about apologetics is that we are engaged in the very task of defending the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is indeed one of the greatest honors as a Christian. God has entrusted his truth to his people and has tasked his people to proclaim that truth to the farthest reaches of the earth. It is an immense task to be sure, however, God does not command us to do his will without first equipping us to accomplish the task that he is set before us. How has God equipped us? In this article I want to share briefly the many ways in which God has equipped his people to engage the culture and defend his truth.
The Spirit of God
Jesus said, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). One of the most profound truths found in the scriptures is the idea that the very Spirit of God indwells his people. That is to say, that anyone who possesses saving faith becomes the very temple, the very dwelling place of the triune God. The powerful implication of this truth involves the very idea that when you go forth into the darkness of the world you do not do so alone, rather, the Lord himself goes before you and empowers you to engage the world. This empowerment manifests itself in many ways, one of which includes the empowering illumination of the spirit to speak truth boldly before those who would object to the truth of God’s Word.
In Acts 4:31 we are told that “after they (Apostles) prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Again, Jesus himself told the disciples that “when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, you will be given what to say” (Matthew 10:19). Now, this is not to be understood as some mystical experience that substitutes genuine study and knowledge of the scriptures, but what it does ensure us is that the Spirit of God will work in the heart of the believer to bring to remembrance the teachings of Jesus (John 14:26), and he will do so at the proper time so that the believer is fully equipped for the moment.
When doing apologetics therefore, it is vitally important that we remember that success in the apologetic task does not rely simply upon our intellectual acuity, but upon the powerful working of the Spirit of God as He through his sovereign means, uses the words we speak to accomplish his purposes.
The Word of God
God has also equipped us with the Bible. One of the great dangers that many Christians have fallen prey to is the danger of taking the Bible for granted. Many pay lip service to the importance of the Bible and its significance to the Christian life, but in reality have neglected the reading and studying of its contents, and in so doing have dug a pit for themselves in that due to ignorance and an abandonment of consistently digging into the scriptures, believers have succumbed to an anemic spiritual state. They have in essence removed the very weapon that God has equipped them with in order to differentiate between truth and error, that which is of God and that which is not of God. It is vitally important that the church recaptures a genuine love and study of God's word; for it not only has the power to transform our lives and the lives of others, but it is indeed the most effective weapon against the powers, principalities, and wisdom of this world.
There can be no effective defense of the Christian faith without an adequate knowledge and grasping of God's written truth. Indeed, most attacks upon the Christian faith are based upon gross misunderstandings of the Christian faith. Equipped with a proper understanding of God's word will go a long way in remedying the many misconceptions of what we believe as Christians and open lines of communication between believers and unbelievers such that the gospel can be more affectively presented.
To capture the essence and importance and power of God's word, let us consider the author of the book of Hebrews when he says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In Ephesians 4:11-12 we are told that “he (God) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”. A profound truth that must be drilled into the heart of believers in general and the apologist in particular is that the ministry of apologetics is done within a context, and that context is the body of Christ. That is to say, apologetics is not a rogue discipline. It is not something that believers are to engage in independently of the church. Apart from the accountability structures that are so important in doing ministry, we have been blessed with profound and gifted teachers that have produced sermons, books, teaching series, that can be used to sharpen us in the task of Christian defense.
This is indeed a great encouragement, for when we are tempted to think that the task of defending the gospel is too great, we are reminded that we are not doing it alone. God has gifted us people who are able to teach and encourage so that we can engage in Christian defense with confidence, and accountability.
As I reflect upon my own ministry in apologetics, I am reminded of the great blessings and instruction that I have received from countless gifted teachers, preachers, theologians, and philosophers. Becoming equipped to do apologetics well and in a way that is honoring to God does not require us to start from scratch.
Be encouraged! God has called us to defend his gospel, but he has also provided the means whereby we can do so effectively and in a way that honors his great name.