Here are the topics with links that lead to each direct post, or you can continue scrolling and read the text further down.
1 - Why Learn to Defend Christianity?
2 - How Do We Defend Christianity?
3 - Where Should I Go?
4 - How Will I Know What to Say?
5 - Compromising Truth
Allow me to paint a scenario. Assume you are at school, or work, or chatting with your friends, or just talking to an acquaintance. Suddenly, your faith is placed in question when a teacher explains that the Big Bang resulted in the world and evolution took it from there, or that aliens brought life to earth. Your coworker adamantly proclaims that science disproves God's existence. A friend asks how you know that Jesus is the Son of God and that the Bible is trustworthy. The acquaintance laughs at the notion that Jesus rose from the dead. How would you respond?
Put quite simply, we need to be able to stand up for and explain our Christian beliefs because the Bible commands us to do so. Similar to being "God's Billboard," we should know what we believe and why so that when asked, we are prepared to give a solid answer. By knowing scripture and studying, not only are we as Christians prepared to give a reason for our faith when put on the spot, but we are preparing our own minds to fend off any falsehood others will claim is fact. Instead of being placed in a situation where your faith is put on trial and you find yourself without an answer, be ready. Prepare now. Don't wait until a suicidal friend gives you five minutes to convince her that her life has true meaning before searching for the answers.
An example I believe demonstrates this well is that of a fireman, policeman, or soldier. They prepare so that when they are deployed, they will know what to do. They pour their time and energy into knowing everything possible about their field of work so that when the time comes, they're ready to put out the fire, handle dangerous situations, and fight the enemy. In order to defend our faith, Christians must learn how to do it, and know what their answers will be when the opportunity arises. Don't be caught unaware. There's abundant evidence for the truth of the Bible in astronomy, geology, biology, physics, archeology, and all aspects of science. If you aren't sure where to find these evidences, ask strong Christians who hold your own beliefs, locate Biblical institutions that interpret the Bible literally and offer clear evidences. Most of all, study your Bible to know truth for yourself—don't simply accept what you are taught, even from pastors and people you trust. Base your own beliefs on doctrines you can Biblically support.
Previously, we discussed why we should learn to defend the Christian faith. I showed how 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to be ready to give a reason for our beliefs. The next step is understanding how we are called to defend our faith.
The first step is recognizing that the battle Christians are in is a spiritual war. Second Corinthians 10:3-5 makes this point clear. "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." [ESV] A lot is packed into these verses. Some key points I'd like to make for this topic are:
- Spiritual warfare is a very real battle every single Christian is engaged in, whether they realize it or not! The enemy is constantly seeking to devour Christians, and he succeeds far too often. Many people (Christians included) do not understand or choose to believe in the spiritual realm of angels and demons, but they are just as real as the sun shining or you breathing. Christians need to always be on guard against the attacks of the devil.
- In understanding this, it is also crucial for Christians to realize they aren't fighting earthly battles when defending their faith, but they are coming against the powers of darkness in the name of Jesus. Christians possess spiritual weapons designed to "destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God." Christians shouldn't try to make a "scholarly" case for Christianity without allowing God to lead them and give them the words to speak.
- The first bit we can glean from this is that Christians must honor Christ. One of the best ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others is to be the example so that the unsaved look at you and ask what makes you different from everyone else. Realize that you are serving a holy God, and give Him all the honor He is due.
- Additionally, when Christians are responding to people, they should behave gently and respectfully. This rules out the radical, yelling-at-people approach. Consider how receptive you'd be to an idea if the person attempting to convince you is screaming in your face. Behave in a manner you know is worthy of the King you serve. You are His ambassador.
- One of the biggest points non-Christians make that they seem to think undermines any Christian's stand is pointing out that Christians aren't perfect. They often point to the crusades and say that Christians are hypocritical for preaching one thing and living another. And they would be right in some cases. Sometimes, this causes Christians to doubt if they should be teaching and sharing their beliefs. They wonder if they are being hypocritical and if so, then they think they have no place criticizing others. Hypocritical Christians need to examine themselves and make sure that they are living in a God-honoring way that reflects Christ.
- However, no one is perfect, and all Christians will mess up. The world interprets this as a piece of evidence that Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites. The difference is for Christians who recognize their faults, and praise Jesus for saving them from their sin. Something I've noticed that seems to cool the steam of hostile unbelievers when they accuse Christians of being judgmental hypocrites is having the Christian readily admit they themselves are flawed as well. This often catches unbelievers off guard and destroys their accusations of judgment on the part of the Christian. When a Christian says, "Yes, I mess up. Yes, I'm sometimes a hypocrite. Yes, I'm a sinner. And yes, I've been saved and forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ" suddenly the unbeliever can't call the Christians judgmental. The Christian has knocked down a barrier and worked in the gospel message all in one.
- Coming back to the verse, Christians should do good, simply because God tells them to, but also because it is a wonderful witness. But when they mess up, even that can be used to bring people to Christ.
- The three major pieces of instruction offered first all direct the behavior of Christians. They are to walk in Christ, and be established firmly in the faith. You can't defend your faith if you aren't convinced of it yourself. Know what you believe and why.
- Don't allow anyone of the world to cause you to doubt God. Many intellectuals and scientists have what may seem like good and compelling arguments, but don't allow their empty deceit to fool you. If someone brings up a seeming "contradiction" in your faith, then ask a strong fellow Christian and reestablish your convictions. Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek answers, just don't fall prey to the "logic" of the world.
These verses just barely scratch the surface of the Biblical instruction for how to defend the Christian faith. I've found countless others rich with teachings on this topic.
Maybe this isn't a post best suited to be a "defending the faith" post, however, even before you defend your faith, you need to know where to start.
To share your faith, you don't have to be a missionary to Africa. You don't even have to go with your youth group to Mexico or downtown Los Angeles. You don't need to stand on street corners or in front of Planned Parenthood clinics. Yet . . . the Bible tells Christians to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . ." (Matthew 28:19) So where do we do this if we're not traveling to Africa, Mexico, or L.A?
True, God does call some people to go forth as a missionary to foreign nations and preach the message of the Kingdom of God. But He doesn't ask everyone to travel to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I'm sure you've heard it said that the biggest mission field is the streets of America, and there's never been a truer statement. For example, my family lives in a rural area about an hour away from a town, and my dad is the pastor of the local church. Years ago a church in the local town decided to help support my family as missionaries. We were surprised when they informed us of this. Were we traveling to share the gospel? Were we dwelling among people who speak a different language? No. Yet this church considered us missionaries. God has given us a local mission field, reaching out to our friends and neighbors in this little community.
Any Christian could be supported as a missionary in this sense. You don't have to be a pastor in order to have your own special mission field God has given you. Are you attending school? Shine your light with your fellow students and tell them about your best friend, Jesus. (Yes, students do still have the Constitutional right to talk about Jesus Christ in schools.) Do you work long hours every day? Even if your workplace doesn't permit you to discuss Jesus with coworkers, you can show Him to them in the manner that you handle situations and your work ethic. Are you standing in line at the grocery store? Maybe in that moment, your mission field is the cashier or person standing behind you. Sitting in a restaurant, do you see a girl walk in with a broken arm? Perhaps God is calling you to go pray for her.
Always be on the lookout for "God moments" and people that He puts in your life. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit living in you and watch for opportunities. Get involved in outreach events your church hosts. Volunteer with a local food bank or Samaritan's Purse. This summer a few of my friends and I will be staffing at summer camps for youth and teaching them about Jesus.There are so many places and chances to share your faith with others. Always be on the lookout.
Don't let your life fall into a monotonous pattern; find people God wants you to pray for and bless. There's always someone whose life could be changed by you listening to the Holy Spirit prompting you to start a conversation with and pray for them. Maybe you are one of the people God has asked to go to New Zealand as a missionary, but more often than not, God has called you to be a minister to those around you right now. God has put everyone in your path for a reason. Whether it's a friend, family member, or coworker who you see every day, or whether it's the person in line at Disneyland you might never see again, be watchful for opportunities God places before you and listen for His voice.
Some of Jesus' last words here on earth were instructions to the disciples (and to all followers):
". . . you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Be a missionary to your family, in your hometown, and in every place God puts you. (As a side note, Christians are not always called to defend their faith, but they are always commanded to share their faith. This verse says to be a witness—to tell people about their faith, but not force conversions.)
So where should you go to share the Kingdom of Heaven with people? Maybe to a foreign land, but also consider your next door neighbor.
Ah yes, the age old question. "I want to talk to people about my faith, but I don't know what to say! They'll ask me questions that I won't know how to answer. How will I know what to say?" There's a few aspects to touch on regarding this topic.
First off, I want to point out God's response to this. In Exodus 4 when Moses is begging God not to send him back to Egypt to free God's people, one of his many excuses is that he doesn't speak well. God replies that He made Moses' mouth and "I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak" (verse 12). I don't know about you, but that's a pretty amazing thought. God Himself will teach me what to say.
Secondly, Philippians 4:19 teaches that God will give us what we need to do what He asks of us. He knows that we need the words to speak, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Once again, God is telling us that He will take care of it.
Another case where God confirms He will handle this need comes from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." The context to this is Paul explaining that He has asked God to remove some sort of "thorn" from his flesh. The Bible isn't clear whether this was a physical ailment, person causing him trouble, or something else entirely, but regardless, this "thorn" is something burdensome to Paul. Instead of removing it, God says that He will use this weakness to make His power even greater in Paul, ". . . For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 2:10). In our weakness, God reveals His strength. When you are uncomfortable speaking to people about your faith, that's when God will shine through all the more.
My personal favorite passage that directly relates to the worry of what to speak is recorded in three of the gospels. Each place is slightly different and adds even deeper meaning, so I'll share all three here:
Matthew 10:19 "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour."
So far, we gather that when we are in situations where we have to defend our faith, we don't need to worry about how to do it, because at the time we need it, God will tell us what to say.
Luke 12:11-12 "And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
Now we know that even when we are being brought before rulers, we still don't have to be concerned about defending ourselves or what to say because the Holy Spirit in us will teach us. We might not know what to say even sixty seconds before we have to speak, but when we open our mouths, He will provide.
Mark 13:11 "And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit."
Finally, we gather that in addition to what we've learned above, it's not even us who are really speaking! It is the Holy Spirit doing the talking for us, and all we have to do is be the messenger and listen for what to say.
This is such a comforting thought to me. I really don't have to worry about what to say, because when I need to speak, the Holy Spirit will put the words in my mouth. These verses are what I'm holding to this weekend when I will be speaking with unbelievers.
Does this mean we will always have all the answers? Not at all. However, even when we don't have the right responses for someone, God has still given us what we need. He simply decided that we didn't need that answer at that time.
However, I see another side to this whole topic as well. Someone could interpret these verses to mean that they don't need to do any preparation, because God will just tell them what to say. I don't believe this is what the Bible is teaching at all. If my Dad never prepared a sermon and said "Oh, God will just tell me what to say when I get to the pulpit, I don't need to worry about preparation," . . . I think he would be very embarrassed when he stands up front without a clue of what to say and has to admit that he doesn't have anything because he failed to prepare. That being said, there have been times when he prepares all week but something about his planned sermon doesn't feel right, so he walks to the pulpit unprepared, but God always shows up and gives him the perfect words for that day. God honors his attentiveness and efforts. First Corinthians instructs us: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Do your best to prepare, but don't worry. Make an effort, but rely on God in your hour of need. Study the Bible so you have verses that God can bring to your mind. Remain attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, so you hear His quiet whispers. Do all to the glory of God. Be on the lookout for "God moments" and trust Him to give you the words to speak.
In today's society, compromising truth has never been easier for Christians due to great societal pressures. Pastors sway under pressures from “science” and teach that Genesis is figurative. Churches agree not to discuss any potentially “divisive” doctrines. Christians neglect to speak out when the opportunity arises and cower instead, afraid to be called judgmental. Some Christian colleges insist on editing out news stories from school newspapers that don't follow their agenda.
According to WORLD Magazine's September 1, 2018 issue, this is the compromise in Liberty University's journalism department. Journalism students are taught to write accurate stories, but when it comes to practicing their skills in the school newspaper, the Liberty Champion, their informative articles are placed under extreme criticism. When they write about a topic the president of the university, Jerry Falwell Jr, doesn't wish to have made public about campus policies, he forces them to edit it out. Similarly, if they write accurate but unflattering information about the United States presidential candidate that Falwell was an advocate for, he either forces the students to remove it from the newspaper or also state which candidate they themselves are voting for. While it's not necessarily wrong to include warning readers of an author's potential bias, being forced to specifically state your choice of candidate is. Time and again, the article asserts, the students try to simply write truthful articles about topics they find fascinating, only to have them be struck down by a president who would rather hide and compromise the truth. Erin Covey, the Champion's news editor, states her frustration and confusion. “The level of oversight we have does make it difficult to pursue the accurate journalism that we're taught in classes.” When the students stand up for what they have been taught is right, the consequences are drastic. Former editor-in-chief, Jack Panyard, ultimately was fired from the position and lost the $3,000 scholarship each semester this job earned him. The president of the college that instructs the students to write truthful articles in class, teaches the students not to do this in a “real world” environment—and this is in a Christian setting. If this is true, then it's no wonder that so many lies circulate through our secular society today.
No longer are Christians as determined to uphold truth. Many have compromised on one of the most important aspects of life. As Randy Alcorn put it,
“Suppose a professor or inspirational speaker says, 'What’s important isn’t finding the truth, it’s searching for it.' Try applying the same logic to your search for a life preserver when you’re drowning! Or, 'Truth is whatever you believe, as long as you’re sincere.' Certainly, you can step off a building sincerely believing you won’t fall. But gravity cares nothing about your sincerity. Even sincere people are often wrong, sometimes catastrophically so.”Finding truth and holding fast to it are key elements of living a life glorifying to God. As Christians, we shouldn't be compromising truth, we should be standing firm for it, and doing so with gentleness, grace, and love. C. S. Lewis makes an outstanding point. “The glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life.” A Christian's job is to glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) We glorify Him through helping point people to Christ. How can we point them to Jesus if we are inconsistent and compromising in our other Christian beliefs?
If we hide some truths because we'd rather not think about them, and give in to secular pressures (or even pressures from other Christians), how can we honestly expect people to trust us when we say that we know the Truth? If we claim that Genesis is figurative because “science” disagrees with the Creation and Flood accounts, then what right have we to say that our Savior was born of a virgin, performed true miracles, battled demons, and resurrected? Science says those are impossible as well.
When we compromise on truth, we are compromising any reason we have for others to trust us and our beliefs. We are giving into worldly pressures to hide truths that might be a bit “messy,” uncomfortable, or embarrassing. Even if you do not recognize your own inconsistencies, others will point them out. If you say the gospels are true and accurate accounts of Jesus, then you cannot also claim other parts of the Bible are figurative.* You can believe that all of the Bible is true, or none of it, but you cannot compromise and believe both.
Don't give in to pressures from society and “science.” Stand for what you know is true. It won't be easy, and sometimes will be very uncomfortable, but it's worth it. Don't compromise truth.
*I'm not saying some parts of the Bible are not figurative. Some certainly are, and are very clearly so. I'm specifically referring to Genesis, which contains plain, straightforward language and is put forth as a very literal book.
Crotts, Charissa. Rieth, Elizabeth. Johnson, Isaiah. "Papered Over." WORLD Magazine. 1 September 2018: 40-45. Print.
Stay tuned for more posts about defending your faith!