Defending the faith
In Acts chapter six, we are introduced to Stephen as he is chosen by the Apostles to be one of the seven from among the church to oversee the services ministries. He is pointed out as being a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
By the time we get to chapter seven, Stephen has been brought before the high priest and accused of blasphemy and being a traitor to the nation of Israel because of his bold preaching and uncompromising stance on the gospel.
As he is brought before this religious council, he is asked about the truthfulness of his claims, giving Stephen an opportunity to offer an eloquent defense of the gospel that delivers the good news of Jesus.
The ability to give a defense of our faith is something that is vitally important to us as Christians. In fact, Pastor John MacArthur said, “To reach the world effectively with the gospel, believers must be able to defend their faith.”
In other words, in order to reach your spouse, your child, your neighbor, the stranger at the store, effectively with the gospel, you should be able to defend your faith.
There are far too many Christians in this world that, if you asked them what they believe, couldn’t answer you, let alone give a defense. Could this be a massive reason as to why we see such a departure from evangelism among many Christians?
If someone doesn't care enough, about what they claim to believe about God and learn to defend it, why should we think that the same person would take that information to someone who doesn’t have it?
In a very real sense, our love of the gospel can be seen in our desire — or lack of desire — to study God’s word with a passion to know it intimately.
The word used in reference to a study of the defense of the faith is apologetics. Apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia,” which means “a speech in defense of something.”
But why is a defense of the faith important? Foremost of all is the command that we find in so many places in Scripture that call us to be able to do so.
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter writes, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
And when Paul writes to Titus and he tells him, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:9)
So we see the purpose of being able to offer a firm defense of our faith is at least threefold — to give a testimony of the work of God in our lives; to exhort believers in their faith; and to convince those who oppose the truth of Scripture.
Kris Estep is the pastor of Barberville Baptist Church in Waynesville.