How do I defend Christianity from the never ending stream of attacks? How do I argue for the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)? What can I use to defend against accusations made against Christ?
Do I have to be a scholar or brainiac to defend the truth? Do I have to memorize complex philosophical arguments? Do I have to be a whiz in history? Do I need to know more about creation than Bill Nye the Science Guy?
Those questions can haunt us as believers and can cause us to lose confidence in our ability to respond to the questions and accusations of unbelievers. But there is good news! Although classical apologetic arguments relating to philosophy, history or science are helpful, they are not required for a Christian to be able to confidently and biblically defend the faith. Using nothing but 1 Peter, we will show what we must use, and how we must us it, to confidently and effectively defend Christianity.
Proclaim the Word
“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” (1 Peter 3:15). This classic apologetics verse is very often misused in attempts to justify certain apologetic fields. It is sometimes argued that we need to know certain things from science, philosophy, archeology, history, etc. in order to be “prepared to make a defense.” But this is an extremely faulty interpretation of this passage that ignores the context and relies heavily on eisegesis.Our chief weapon in defending Christianity should be the gospel contained in the Word of God. Click To Tweet
It is clear from 1 Peter that the means by which someone is saved is through the proclamation of the word. Peter says to his readers that they had been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). God’s word is what God uses to regenerate people, and His word “is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25b). Peter’s desire for people to escape judgment is what led him to preach the gospel (1 Pet. 4:5-6). The gospel contained in the word of God is the only thing capable of bringing someone to salvation.
There is no evidence of Peter using, commanding, or commending apologetic arguments outside of the word of God. Moreover, 1 Peter 3:15 says that we are to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” What is the reason for the hope that is in us? Is it because we heard a convincing argument on how evolution is wrong? Is it because someone showed us the historical evidence for the reliability of the Bible? Is it because we heard an intense philosophical argument about the existence of God? No. The reason we have a “hope in us” is because we have been transformed by the proclamation of the gospel contained in the word of God (1 Pet. 1:23-25).
Therefore, our chief weapon in defending Christianity should be the gospel contained in the word of God. Peter makes clear what this gospel is: that Jesus is the prophesied “Christ” (1 Pet. 1:1-12) and holy Lord (1 Pet. 3:15a), that he bought our salvation by dying to pay for the sins of the unrighteous (1 Pet. 1:18-19; 3:18), and that he rose from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3, 21; 3:21). This salvation is given to all those who are “believers in God” (1 Pet. 1:21) and who obediently accept Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:4-8). We should understand these basics of Christianity so that we are “prepared” to articulate them to those who ask us.
Proclaim the Word in Love
But we must articulate the word to others in a loving manner. For we are commanded to make our verbal defense “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15b). Harshly rebuking or bitterly condemning someone in a prideful or rude manner is a disgraceful disregard of the commands of God. We are to humbly communicate the word of God in a kind and moderate manner.
One of the most powerful apologetics of our faith is in the way we live our lives. We are to reject the “passions” of this world and be “holy” in all of our thoughts and actions (1 Peter 1:14-16). Peter commanded his readers to “keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). By “doing good” we can “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15). If you want to have a defense against the accusations of unbelievers, then live a righteous life that silently shows your innocence and points people back to the transformation that God has accomplished in you.
Suffer Boldly for Christ
It is not a strange thing for believers to suffer for Christ, but rather it is a normal consequence of being a Christian (1 Peter 4:12). Believers are therefore commanded to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings…if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed” (1 Peter 4:13-14b). If you suffer not for your sinful actions, but for righteously following Christ, you will show forth Christ (1 Peter 2:18-24). Peter also says, “when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16). Suffering boldly for Christ is an excellent apologetic as it will point people back to the sufferings of Christ and will cause those who are persecuting you to feel the weight of a guilty conscience.
You are not as smart as Ken Ham. You are not as logical as Ravi Zacharias. You are not as articulate as Josh Mcdowell. But even though you may not know as much philosophy, history, or science as these men, you still have the ability to effectively defend your faith. The best defense of Christianity is gently and respectfully proclaiming the word of God to unbelievers, while living a righteous life that is marked by a willingness to suffer for Christ. You can defend your faith….so get to work!