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You Should Know

"I might believe in the Redeemer
if His followers looked more Redeemed."
— Fredrick Nietzsche
"But in your hearts honor
Christ the Lord as holy,
always being prepared to
make a defense [apologia]
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 (ESV)
I have a bit of a rant for you. Hopefully, it will motivate people. A few months ago on Stormbringer's Thunder, I wrote a piece about areas in which atheists are right about Christians. Not surprisingly, it drew no comments from either atheists or Christians. (My guess is that it took the wind out of the sails of the atheists, and that Christians were embarrassed.) I will probably rework it and present it here sometime.

Still, I have to talk about two things tie into the quote at the top and what I just mentioned: Know what and why you believe. This is where the atheists are right, that too many Christians are ignorant of the Bible that they claim to believe. Not only what it says, but background as well.

I have been listening to and reading apologetics materials, something which has long had appeal to me. An associate of Ravi Zacharias mentioned that today is the most important time for apologetics because people are looking for explanations and meanings.

Suppose you are doing your part and being obedient to Jesus (Matt. 28-18-20) by sharing the gospel message. Then, you are stopped cold by a question. Looks like you were not "ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you".

I should mention that the Greek word apologia is the basis for apologetics. No, it has nothing to do with the modern use of "apology", which has become, "I'm sorry" (often followed by an excuse). The real use of "apology" is "an orderly explanation", or a "defense" in a legal sense.

It was pointed out that it says, "anyone who asks you", followed by a very good question: What is there about you that would prompt someone to ask in the first place? Are you living in the Spirit, obedient to God's will, walking in love and kindness? Are you acting "redeemed"?
(Wait right there for a minute. I need to go back and read that for myself!)

In addition to "being ready to make a defense" (or plead your case), which is important in itself, are you ready? Can you explain why you believe the Bible's teachings?

One time I was in an apostate United Methodist Church and making a similar appeal. A woman said to me, "We can't all be Bible scholars like you!" Well, I am not a Bible scholar. But I do know some things, and I make a point to get a bit more involved in learning apologetics than some people. That is fine, we all have our niche, as well as various spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12.4, 11). However, we should have not only a working knowledge of what the Bible actually says, but why we believe the Bible in the first place.

You are not going to be much good to God if you do not spend time in his Word and in prayer, as well as putting into practice good teachings that you have heard. I am not talking about specialized information about the history of Christianity or traditions. First, learn what the Bible clearly teaches.

Yes, there are differences of opinion on interpretations. But for the most part, we must be knowledgeable about the basics of the faith; most Christians are in agreement about those. We have all sinned (Rom. 3.23) and deserve death, but God offers us eternal life as a gift (Rom. 6.23). Jesus died for our sins and was bodily raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15.3-5). Salvation is by faith alone (sola fide, Rom. 11.6, Eph. 2.8-9). We cannot earn our salvation (Eph. 2.8-9), or maintain it, by our own efforts (Rom. 4.5, 2 Cor. 5.17); it is only through faith in the atoning work of Christ (1 John 4.10). When we are in Christ, we are born again (John 3.3) and have become new creations (2 Cor. 5.17), and the Holy Spirit lives in us (2 Cor. 1.21-22 ESV). (By the way, I know that there are sincere people who believe that you can lose your salvation. I will not debate that here, but will say that I have found much stronger Scriptural support for the security of the believer than for the idea that you can undo what God has done, Phil. 4.6).

I am not going to do all of your work for you. This is to begin laying out the basics for you, and I gave you some links at the beginning of the last paragraph so you can continue. As for the apologetics aspect, I have many links available to you here, as well as resources and Weblogs in the right-hand column.

Let me caution you with one important thing. In the scenario above, I mentioned being stopped cold by a question. Don't fake it! If you do not know the answer, admit it. "That's a good question, and I do not have an answer for you." Of course, if you have an idea, you can say, "I think the answer could be..." or something similar, making it clear that you are offering possibilities.

Again, we are not all required to be experts. But there is no good reason to be completely lacking in skills and wisdom (James 1.5 NASB). There are good books available, and the Internet is a powerful tool for equipping the believer.

By the way, Fredrick Nietzsche, quoted above, promoted the "God is dead" belief. He died in a madhouse, and we have a pretty good idea about his eternal destination. Do you care about where your friends and family will end up?

I just had to continue this here, with "Cult Busters".