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Archive for March 17th, 2012

Many people get confused with the term apologetics.  When they hear the word apologetics, they think it means a person is being sorry for something.  But that cannot be the correct understanding because Christians should never apologize for the truth of the Bible’s message.  The word apologetics is derived from the Greek term apologia.  This word that is derived from the term apologia means, “defense.”  As a result, Christians are not supposed to apologize for their faith, but they are to defend or contend for the faith (Jude 3).  According to Kelly James Clark, “Apologetics is the art of defending a claim against objections.”  Christianity is concerned with the truth.  And since they are concerned with the truth, they are called to defend the faith from hostile objections.

When it comes to apologetics, the term appears 17 times in a noun (apologia) or verb (apologeomai) form in the New Testament.  They both can be translated defense or vindication.  Vindication means to prove that what you argue for is correct, reasonable, or justified.  When Christians defend or vindicate truths of Christianity, they use Scripture to justify, to make right, and to make the truth reasonable.

The term apologia not only appears in the New Testament world, but it was also used in pagan literature.  In the New Testament we see it being used when Paul was before a mob in Jerusalem.  And it was there in Jerusalem, when he said, “Hear my defense (apologia).”  But what sources do we have that indicates that the term was used in pagan literature?  For example, the term was used in the Apology of Socrates.  In this literature, we see that Plato gave an account of Socrates’ trial in Athens.  But let us investigate more in detail to see how this term was used in the New Testament.  Let’s see how Paul used it.  Paul used this in a variety of contexts: 1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 12:19; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Romans 2:15; 2 Timothy 4:16; Philippians 1:7; and Philippians 1:16.

In 1 Corinthians 9:3, you see Paul defending his apostleship from the Corinthian believers.  The Corinthian Church were rumbling or doubting his apostleship.  As a result, he felt the pressing need to defend it.  In 2 Corinthians 2:19, Paul’s source of defense comes from God, because Paul’s Judge was God—not any human court or government.  Whenever Paul judged or defended God’s truth, he understood that his defense of the truth is an extension of God’s mouthpiece.  In 2 Corinthians 7:11, you see Paul’s vindication being used in the area of repentance.  The Corinthians were to vindicate themselves through repentance.  In Romans 2:15, apologia is used in the context of conscience.  Your conscience either accuses you of sin or defends you from sin.  In 2 Timothy 4:16, Paul talks about his defense not in his first Roman imprisonment, which Timothy would have already known, but Paul was talking about his defense in his preliminary hearing that lead to his present trial.  He defended or vindicated the notion that no one came to his support, but rather everyone deserted him in his trial.  People were deserting him probably because it became dangerous to be identified as a Christian in Rome.  But even in his defense, Paul showed compassion.  He said, …”may it not be counted against them.”  Basically Paul forgave them for what they did.  Even when Paul was deserted, he demonstrated an attitude of love and compassion.  In Philippians 1:7, although Paul is imprisoned, he thinks about the saints when defending the Gospel. He understood that his partnership with other believers in defending the faith and propagating God’s grace is fundamental.  As a result, when defending the faith, think about partnering up with other saints.  We need to have a team attitude. God desires us to be united as a sacred thread that is woven together to the defend the truth. He also defended the faith for righteous reasons and defended the faith for the glory of God so that He may be exalted.  And he did this in light of partnership. The others in the other hand, had a Gospel ministry of envy, rivalry and selfishness.  Envy, rivalry, and selfishness are reeks that smell worse that cattle dung.

Besides what was addressed by Paul, we must also take a look at other key verses in the New Testament concerning apologia so that we could understand the importance of apologetics and what Scriptures teaches concerning it.  We have already seen a few examples of Paul’s use of apologia, but let’s see some key verses.  Let’s take a look at 1 Peter 3:15.  1 Peter 3:15 says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

It is clear that one’s defense of Christ should be inseparable with sanctification (set-apart).  In his heart, a believer must sanctify Christ in all areas of life, even through difficult times.  In other words, he acknowledges that Christ is his strength, cornerstone, foundation, power, wisdom, etc.  If one acknowledges those truths, then one is able to overcome the fear of man.  When one has Christ sanctified in His heart, one sees this biblical model: God is big and man is infinitesimal.  But when one does not sanctify Christ in his heart, here is the model or paradigm they follow: God is infinitesimal and people are big.  So when one sanctifies Christ in his heart, one will be ready to defend the faith from hostile foes that hate the truths of God.  One will not fear man, but will fear God.

Hence, we can learn much from church history when it comes to God being awesome and man being infinitesimal.  Martin Luther was a clear example of a man who saw God being awesome and man being infinitesimal.  His love for God led him to hate false doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church.  He responded by nailing the 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.  And when he was held on trail in the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther boldly said before the secular dignitaries and powerful Roman Catholic clergy with this, “Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments, I am conquered by the Holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the Word of God: I can not and will not recant anything, since it is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against the conscience.”[1] Luther continued and ended his bold statement by saying: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me! Amen.”[2]

As we battle false teachings, may we battle with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).  It is a dismal reality when Christians defend the faith without compassion towards the unbeliever.  We need to see them as people who are enemies of God that are in danger of Hell.  And God has called us to share the Gospel with them in love.  Soli Deo gloria!


[1] Charles R. Biggs, “The Story of Martin Luther: The Reformation and the Life of Martin Luther Until the Diet of Worms (1521),” Monergism, http://www.monergism.com/Reformation.Church.History.Martin.Luther.pdf (accessed March 17, 2012), 130.

[2] Ibid, 130.

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Stay tune in the next couple of days, we have added a new contributor on here who goes by the handle Evangelz.

He will probably have something to add to the table, being someone who has a love for God, the Bible, the church and doctrinal and practical purity.

 

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