#9 in a series on 1 Peter…
By Kyle McNamara
Preparing your Christian apologetic is a high calling to which God commanded every follower of Christ in 1 Peter 3:15. That verse explains it as being prepared to make a defense for our hope in Christ alone. What makes this uniquely sanctifying is not the hard work it takes to equip ourselves. That comes down to simply reading and understanding scripture, and then exploring the endless apologetics materials now available that effectively defend the faith.
It is that wee phrase at the end “yet do it with gentleness and respect” that represents the truly challenging part. That is the lifelong, sanctifying work in becoming a godly apologist, to which every follower of Christ is called. People cannot hear us or the see the spectacular beauty of Christ and His gospel through our normally unrighteous anger, as we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 13:1.
God is calling us to be prepared to defend the faith, in love, in all circumstances. The reality is that when we look at 1 Peter 3:15 in its surrounding context, verse 14 lets us know that this is often going to be difficult. Then looking verses 16–17, we see the same. So do not be surprised that this will be uncomfortable at times since God said “when” you are slandered, not “if.”
More times than not the intellectual objections people raise are rarely their actual objections. The presenting questions might be, “Wasn’t the Bible written by a bunch of men?”, “Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself?” and “Hasn’t science disproved all that?”. The real questions behind the questions come down to things like, “Why does God allow suffering?”, “Why is my life not like I want it to be?”. To discern well, we need to be wiser than we are capable of by being filled daily with the Holy Spirit, because if we attempt to answer only the intellectual questions, we will end up in fruitless debate rather than sharing the gospel. The good news is that in preparing as an apologist you will be led to a deeper walk with Christ. In that, you will be more prepared to identify and answer non-believer’s deeper emotional questions.
Do you feel inadequate for the task? No one could have been less prepared than I. I do not exaggerate in saying that as a young person I could barely identify who Jesus was. I could have told you “something to do with Christianity.” I never even met a professing Christian until college! The first prayer I ever heard prayed for me by believing, faithful followers of Christ was that God would give me a thirst for Him. He answered that prayer powerfully. He will honor that same prayer in your life. I can promise this with confidence because in James he said, “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” It will be given him.
As a warning, to quote others, our hearts are idol factories, and this is no exception. We are uniquely capable of turning God’s very blessings into idols and curses. I count myself among those many souls who at one time or another exchanged the glory of God in some measure for worshiping (through pursuing) the facts of His kingdom. As breathtaking as those facts may be, they cannot compare to the One who created them. If you lean on apologetic facts and your own understanding, those things will ultimately fail and disappoint you and you will be left empty, wondering why sinners will not understand your very clear arguments. Let God do the saving while you do the obeying, and watch how He blesses you and others in your obedience.
Apologetics has a unique place in my heart, as it is part of the means God used to draw me, a former pseudo-intellectual atheist—at the statistically improbable age 29—to saving faith in Christ. Please let me exhort you to obey 1 Peter 3:15 as uniquely suited to this time in history, when the objections raised are often based on a “rationality” that is as false, flimsy and as damning as is any other trick of satan. Even if one more soul were added to the kingdom in all the world by removing intellectual stumbling blocks to belief, would it not be worth it? I am personally grateful that while I was still in darkness and an enemy to God, someone took the time and effort to prepare and present the reason for the hope in their heart, and that they did it with gentleness and love.