How do we defend our faith?

January 7, 2009

St. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi that “in the defense and confirmation of the gospel you are all partakers of grace with me.” The word translated “defense” is from the Greek word “apologia” that means “to give reasons why we believe.” What Paul is telling the Christians at Philippi is that as he went all over defending and proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah, the Philippians shared in his ministry through their prayers. What Paul is not telling them is that defending the faith is solely his task, and not the task of the church. The New Testament clearly teachings that defending and confirming the gospel is the task of all believers. St. Peter wrote, “always be ready to make a defense (“apologia”) to anyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” Thus, we all need to be ready to defend the faith. But how do we defend our faith?

First, know the facts. The Old Testament Scriptures predict that God would send a Messiah to rescue us from the sin that separates us from God. There are at least 60 major prophecies that tell us the identity of the Messiah, and Jesus fulfilled every one.

The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses, or by those who had contact with the eyewitnesses, and all 27 New Testament books (with the possible exception of John and Revelation) were written by A.D. 70. These firsthand accounts were copied and recopied, but we possess so many old and reliable copies of New Testament books that it is easier to reconstruct what the New Testament originally said than it is to reconstruct any 10 works of antiquity combined. In short, the New Testament, especially the Gospels, are reliable historical accounts from eyewitnesses and primary sources.

In the Gospels Jesus claims to be God in the flesh, Who’s mission is to die for the sins of the world. Jesus also said He would rise from the dead after three days as proof of His claims. The validity of everything Jesus said and did hinged on the historical event of His resurrection. And just as He predicted, He rose from the dead and showed Himself alive to hundreds of people.

Defending the faith means knowing how to tell people that God is faithful, and the He did as He promised by sending Jesus to die in our place. Defending the faith means proclaiming the life-transforming words of Jesus, as recorded by the eyewitnesses, which tell us of God’s love that made a way for us to be forgiven of our failures and be given the gift of eternal life. Defending the faith means letting others know that they, too. can receive God’s precious gift of salvation by His grace, through faith in Jesus.

Defending and confirming the gospel (Philippians 1:7) is not a mere option for those who believe in Jesus–it is a command that should be practiced as a natural outflow of our inward faith