6 Essential Reasons Christians Must Be Prepared to Defend the Faith

6 Essential Reasons Christians Must Be Prepared to Defend the Faith

“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…” (1 Peter 3:15).

Apologetics. It’s a word that I personally never felt comfortable using when talking about defending our faith. It reminded me too much of “apology” – as if we are making one for what we believe. But the definition of the word is entirely accurate. According to the Oxford Languages dictionary, apologetics means “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.” 

Now that one makes sense. It means that logic and reason don’t have to take an absolute swan dive to believe what we believe.

Of course, some may ask why that is important. After all, they may say, the Word of God should not need to be defended – and yet, what about someone who doesn’t believe the Bible is the word of God, and doesn’t understand why we believe it? Others may believe that human reason can’t answer anything about God, but isn’t that, in itself, a statement of reason about God?

The great author and Christian apologist Norman Geisler (“I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist”) put it this way: “This does not mean there is no room for faith. But God wants us to take a step of faith in the light of evidence, rather than to leap in the dark.”

Generally speaking, people seem to refuse to believe something – rather, believe in something – without evidence. Oh sure, they’ll often believe what is said on the news they listen to, or even to a degree on social media, without evidence. But to give up control of their lives, to submit to a moral authority greater than themselves, they need evidence. After a lifetime of being taught that evolution is a fact – and hearing about how Christianity is “evil” – they need truth. They need to hear of the love of Christ.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

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open Bible on table

1. The Word of God

How often have we all heard it? “The Bible was written by men.” “The Bible is full of errors.” “The Bible has been translated so many times…” There are so many more.

When given this, we must be prepared to counter these false arguments, lest our faith be empty. While there is certainly insufficient space here, there are ample resources to get the answers about the absolute truth of the sources of the Bible.

For example, the Bible consists of approximately 66 individual documents, written by 40 or so authors over a period of 1500 years. It includes multiple writing styles and was written in three different languages on three different continents. Yet these documents contain a consistent theme throughout, with nothing ever proven wrong or mistaken – and with hundreds of specifically fulfilled prophecies. Further, the Bible is full of divine miracles confirming the source and verifying what God wants us to believe. (Exodus 4:1-8; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Acts 2:22-43; Hebrews 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12, and more.)

Did you know that the manuscripts of the New Testament and its eyewitness testimonies are the singular most documented ancient manuscripts – by thousands of copies? 

That’s why we believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

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wooden cross laying on open Bible pages

2. Jesus Did This

Jesus continually offered evidence of who he was. Rather than simply words, Jesus offered evidence. To the Samaritan woman at the well – the first person Jesus told he was the Messiah (John 4) – he told her of her husbands. To a disbelieving group of Pharisees, Sadducees and “teachers of the law,” he offered the works he did. To so many others, he offered miracles.

“Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep” (John 10:25-26).

“But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (John 10:38).

Even to John the Baptist, his own cousin, Jesus offered this:

“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Luke 7:22).

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3. Peter, Paul and Jude Gave Examples

Peter, of course, gave us the instruction to always be prepared. Always be ready to give an answer to everyone and anyone who asks:

“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” (1 Peter 3:15).

Paul was a master at defending the faith. Expressing his reasons to believe was a regular endeavor for him, and quite clearly often got him into trouble. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul confirmed that he was a defender of the gospel:

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel…” (1 Peter 1:7).

Then, in verse 16, Paul declares that he is a prisoner of Rome for defending the gospel:

“The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”

Paul’s entire mission was spent defending the gospel and illuminating for others why he believed as he did. Whether before the Greeks in Athens (Acts 17:16-34) or visiting the synagogues when he came to a city, Paul “…spoke boldly for three months. He talked with the people and persuaded them to accept the things he said about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).

Then, once he was arrested, Paul spoke before Festus and then before Agrippa. Paul again offered reasons as to why he believed and that he was prepared to go to Rome to speak before Caesar (Acts 25-26).

Not surprisingly, Paul even made defending the faith a requirement of local church leadership. 

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

Jude, too, admonished us to contend for the faith:

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude v. 3).

Jude provides us another reason to be prepared to give a reason to everyone who asks:

“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires’” (v. 9).

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bible covered with post-it notes with question marks on them

4. We Ourselves Must Know the Truth

There is an old saying, “If someone can talk you into Christianity, then perhaps someone else can talk you out of it.” How many have we seen and heard of who turn away from the faith? How many, when troubles hit, begin to doubt? While doubt may be quite normal, when allowed to be taken too far it can also mean that one was not anchored in the faith. 

If they don’t know why they believe what they believe, then they can be talked into disbelief.

Peter walked on water until he took his eyes off Jesus. And Thomas doubted, until he saw the evidence.

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand here in my side. Stop being an unbeliever and believe’” (John 20:27).

Jesus didn’t seem to get upset with Thomas, though Thomas doubted. Instead, he encouraged Thomas to seek the truth and let his doubts turn to belief.

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graphic of protestors

5. To Respond to Controversial Social Issues

There are a great many controversial social issues facing us today. Many try to make arguments about what the Bible does or does not teach. Whether it is abortion, homosexuality, transgender issues, same-sex marriage, heaven and hell, the return of Jesus – to name only a few – we ought to know what the Bible says. 

There are those who say “Jesus never spoke about homosexuality or abortion.” But unless we know the truth of God’s word, we won’t know how to respond, or we even run the risk of falling prey to their misinformation.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

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6. To Teach Others about Jesus

The resurrected Jesus called on his disciples – which includes us, by the way – to make disciples of all nations. “Of all nations” means of all people groups – all races and ethnicities, skin colors, sex, regardless of who they are or what their lives have been up to that point. It includes sinners (all of us) and those who consider themselves righteous. Teaching is a path by which people are altered, their lives are changed forever. They become disciples – and disciples are transformed to be more and more Christ-like.

But how can we teach what we do not know. How can we teach if we don’t know the reasons why we believe what we believe?

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

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The Role of the Holy Spirit

We are called to live godly lives. Of course, shouldn’t we know what God expects of us? Jesus said that the person who puts his words into practice is like a wise man:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Jesus offers us love and mercy and grace. He teaches us the same: to love one another, care for each other, to love our neighbors as we do ourselves. To help us get there, Jesus offers us his Spirit as a deposit on what we are promised (Ephesians 1:13-14). But even more than that, his Spirit will be with us, guiding us, teaching us and helping us to walk in God’s will. He fills us with wisdom – and intercedes for us in prayer when our words fail us (Romans 8:26-27).

Jesus teaches that you will know believers by their fruit – and his Spirit fills us with the fruit of the life of Jesus.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Spirit and Logic

Look, none of this is to say that apologetics is the be all/end all of evangelism or that our arguments alone can bring someone to saving faith, apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit. 

But it does not have to be one or the other.

It does not have to be logic or reason alone. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit must move someone to a position of faith, but perhaps we can help plant the seeds. God can and will use whatever means and people He chooses to water those seeds. Or perhaps the seeds have been planted and we are simply helping them to grow. 

That said, Scripture commands us to be prepared - wherever or to whomever we may be led to preach the gospel. So let us “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Who knows what can result? Just imagine – there may be someone who needs to hear the words you speak. Who knows, when we step out into eternity, who may come up to us and thank us? Only God knows.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15).

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SWN authorGreg Grandchamp is the author of "In Pursuit of Truth, A Journey Begins" — an easy-to-read search that answers to most common questions about Jesus Christ. Was he real? Who did he claim to be? What did he teach? Greg is an everyday guy on the same journey as everyone else — in pursuit of truth. You can reach Greg by email greg.grandchamp@gmail.com  and on Facebook