Some may ask, “Isn’t it enough that I believe what I believe and even why I believe it? Do I really need to ever defend it?” This question may expose more than we realize. Why? If we as Christians find ourselves hanging around only other Christians that believe like us, think like us, and even grew up in the same type of church system as us, we will see little need to have to defend the faith.
But while we will get to Jesus laying the foundation, Peter picked up a key component from Jesus when he wrote in 1 Peter 3:15:
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.
We shall see that apologetics are for believers and unbelievers. Many times we think about defending the faith against those who do not believe. Believers need to know not only how to share their faith to convert an unbeliever, but to counsel and comfort the believer. Scripture says that the only way we can know the thoughts of God is by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). So bring the spiritual dimension of the Scriptures in play to defend against unbelievers may not be met with acceptance by that natural man—but it will strengthen the believer.
And is this not what believers need? An unbeliever submerged in the culture will question believers—we believers defend it for the sake of answering the skeptic and for alerting and comforting the saint.
Let’s look at what the Scriptures have to say about this.
Apologetics starts with a conviction to the truth!
Let’s go back to John 7:37-38. Jesus stood up on what the Scriptures say is “the last day of the feast, the great day.” This feast, as the beginning of Chapter 7 notes, is the Feast of Booths or the Feast of the Tabernacles. This feast commemorated the faithfulness of God while Israel was wondering in the wilderness—where God’s continued guidance, presence, and provision kept and preserved His people! What a faithful God!
But it was also a time to celebrate God’s faithfulness in the harvest. In Leviticus 23:39-41, we see the basis for this feast:
39 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
It is in the midst of this understanding of God’s faithfulness, deliverance, and His provision in bring in the fruit of the harvest that Jesus stands up in that solemn assembly (Numbers 29:35) and says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believers in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38). Jesus expresses a truth. The Scripture he quoted is actually a summary of a truth. Proverbs 4:23 says,
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Isaiah 58:11 says:
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
Apologetics starts with a conviction of truth. If you believe in Christ, the living water will rush out—with the water being representative of the Holy Spirit. There would be a water-drawing ritual at the Feast that represented God’s Spirit leading and dwelling with them. Jesus says, “I am the source of that water whose fountain will refresh, restore, and replenish.” In the wilderness, God told Moses to speak to the rock, and from that water would come out. Scripture makes it clear that our hearts, outside of Christ, are a stone. But when God speaks that saving word of Jesus to us, from that rock will flow the waters of the Spirit, giving evidence to God’s deliverance (like from Egypt) and provision (like the manna and quail in the desert) and guidance.
Do you have a conviction of the truth that you are ready to share and defend? Some have a non-confrontational approach (I won’t bring it up—but will talk about it only if they do).
Others have a polite approach. If it seems like it would become uncivil, politely change the subject.
Others make it personal, not absolute: Keep it pragmatic—encourage whatever works for them.
Others make it experiential: It’s about what you experience—it’s all about you and your feelings, and thus we forget about investing in others.
I’m going to suggest a missional approach as we move along.