I first encountered the need for apologetics when, early in my walk with Christ, I began to evangelize to a Jehovah’s Witness (JW). To defend the truth of the gospel and the divinity of Christ, I had to delve into Scripture and apologetic resources, such as books and websites.
I consulted various resources that not only provided me tips for talking to JW but also gave me a stronger foundation for my belief in Jesus as fully God and perfectly man and His free offer of salvation.
While my discussions with the JW woman were difficult and draining, God used the apologetic materials to help me stand firm in His Word.
All Christians can benefit from studying apologetics. Far from being a field reserved for intellectuals, apologetics can assist believers in defending the faith, strengthening their beliefs, and evangelizing to others.
Especially since we live in a world that is antagonistic against the truth of the gospel, we need a strong emphasis on apologetics study as we grow in our faith and disciple others.
What Is Apologetics?
Apologetics stems from the original Greek transliterated as “apologia,” which refers to a formal defense. The modern word “apology” stems from this meaning.
In Scripture, the word “apologia” occurs in 1 Peter 3:15, which reads, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV, emphasis mine).
Biblical apologetics focuses on giving a defense for the Christian faith. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church provides the definition of “apologetics” as “The [defense] by argument of Christian belief and of the Christian way” (E. A. Livingstone, Oxford University Press).
While many people may view this field as reserved for intellectual thinkers involved in debate and research, apologetics is also applicable to everyday life.
Every Christian, regardless of academic background, can learn how to defend their faith and apply what they learn to their daily walk with Christ.
1. Defending the Faith
As we saw in 1 Peter 3:15, Christians are instructed to prepare themselves to give an answer or defense to the person who asks about the hope they have in Christ.
The idea is that people will see our lives and notice our hope, thus motivating them to ask us about our faith. Thus, in one sense, apologetics involves a response to the outside world about our belief in Christ.
In addition to responding to unbelievers, apologetics also assists us in actively defending our faith against false doctrine and heretical views. Throughout Christian history, the church has defended biblical orthodoxy against heresy.
A compelling example of this is the Council of Nicaea, which met in A.D. 325 to deal with the Arian controversy. Arius taught that Jesus was a created being of a different “substance” than the Father.
Basically, Arius questioned the deity of Christ, which threatened the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. At the Council of Nicaea, the church had to defend the truth against the heresy that Arius had brought into the church.
Because of individuals like Athanasius, who defended biblical truth, the Council of Nicaea upheld the deity of Christ and exposed Arius as a false teacher.
Today, we can also defend the truth of Scripture against false doctrine while also being ready to give a response to those who question us about our hope.
By studying apologetics, we equip ourselves with tools and resources that we can use to answer questions and defend the truth of the Bible. In this way, we can “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 1:3).
2. Strengthening Our Faith
Another positive result of studying apologetics is that our faith becomes stronger. Apologetics exposes us to biblical doctrine and various areas of theology that help us grow in the knowledge of Christian teachings.
As we gain a deeper understanding of the foundation of our beliefs, we develop a stronger faith.
While some people might think apologetics is only helpful in the theoretical realm, biblical apologetic resources can assist us in practical ways, such as knowing what we believe and answering essential questions we might have about diverse topics.
For instance, a believer may have questions about conventional Darwinian or cosmic evolution that teaches that the universe and life on earth evolved over extended periods of time.
These are significant questions that impact a person’s worldview. Believers may wonder how these claims can be true if the Bible says that God is the Creator of all, not evolution and that He created everything in six days, including life on earth (Genesis 1; Colossians 1:16).
Claims of cosmological or biological evolution could cause Christians to doubt and stumble in their faith. By studying apologetics that defends and contends for a biblical view of creation, believers can receive answers to their questions, which in turn strengthens their trust in God’s Word.
The Apostle Peter encouraged believers to grow in the knowledge of Christ so that they would not be carried away by error (2 Peter 3:17-18).
Equipped with biblical teaching, we can stand firmly on the truth when we encounter ideas and claims that cause us to question or doubt our faith. As it is, God does not want us to have “blind faith,” but a faith that is rooted firmly in the reliability of His Word.
3. Equipping Us to Share Our Faith
In addition to defending and strengthening our faith, apologetics also assists us in sharing our faith. 1 Peter 3:15 specifically connects the act of giving an answer with our hope in Jesus. Telling people about the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is thus a vital part of apologetics. Believers should not just focus on arguments but on sharing the gospel with unbelievers.
Since biblical apologetics enables us to strengthen our faith and become familiar with what we believe, we are better positioned to evangelize to people who follow other religions and cults.
Individuals who are Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness have divergent views about Jesus, the Bible, and salvation, which we can address because of our knowledge of apologetics.
When a Jehovah’s Witness knocks at a believer’s door arguing that Jesus was “just a man” who died to “open the door to work out salvation” and that He was resurrected in a “spirit body,” they can be prepared to answer false claims if they have studied apologetics, comparing the JW belief system with biblical Christianity.
For example, the believer equipped in biblical apologetics can show from Scripture that Jesus is God, who took on human flesh at the incarnation.
Discussing His atoning work and resurrection, believers can also show how Christ died to offer everyone the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:4-9) and was raised in a physical body (Luke 24:39; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Thus, not only does the believer counter the arguments of Jehovah’s Witnesses with biblical truth, but also gains an opportunity to share the true gospel with members of a cult in need of salvation.
Therefore, the study of apologetics can fuel our evangelism to others. Knowing what we believe and why we believe it drives us to share the good news with others. As we continue to learn and grow, we become more enthusiastic about spreading the gospel.
Why Does This Matter?
Every believer can study apologetics to help them defend the truth of Scripture, grow in their faith, and evangelize to others.
When done from a place of love for God and others, our study of biblical doctrine in defense of the Christian faith helps us become better followers of Christ.
Biblical apologetics is not just for the academic realm but affects our everyday life in answering key questions while also motivating us to talk to others about our relationship with Jesus.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.