At the 2012 Organic Outreach Conference we heard from two speakers who are gifted and skilled apologists. Both Mark Mittelberg and Nabeel Qureshi are trained in apologetics and are highly skilled at defending the Christian faith with sound and wise argument. In a panel discussion with Mark, Nabeel, and me, we talked about the meaning of 1 Peter 3:15 where Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.”
We looked at the need for followers of Jesus to study the Bible, history, and other disciplines so that we can give a logical and sensible response to the many questions non-believers ask. We heard a challenge to dig into the Bible and know what it says. We celebrated the goodness of faith and confidence in what we believe, but were reminded that the world will be changed as Christians learn to put their faith into words.
In addition, we talked about the final words of 1 Peter 3:15 that often are not discussed and quoted. Peter ends his exhortation with these words, “But do this with gentleness and respect.” We need to be ready to defend the faith with sound reason, deep passion, and convincing words. But, we need to have humble hearts and gentleness in our speech. Our goal is not to win an argument, but to win people to Jesus. If we use our words to defeat people with razor sharp verbiage, we have not won anything.
Let’s sharpen our minds, let God’s Word grow deep in our hearts, increase our ability to defend the faith, use our intellect, and give a clear and bold defense for the faith. And, let’s do this with deep humility, a gentle spirit, and respect for each person we encounter.