Fall Retreat 21 – Session 1 – Talk about Talking About It

Bible Passage: 1 Peter 3:15

Big Idea of Message:

Critically thinking about Christianity and your faith is necessary and encouraged.

Goal: For Students to buy into the idea that they need to be proactive in developing a confident faith in God, and to translate that confidence to their conversations with their friends.

 1   What are we talking about?

Apologetics: An attempt to defend a particular belief or system of beliefs against objections. Apologia: A defendant’s reply to the accusations of the persecution.

What’s true for you, is true for you, but not for me. (Relativism).

1st Peter 3:13-15

13 Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear them, or be intimidated,, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.

 2   Why is Apologetics Important?

1) You’ll know why you believe

Take a minute and ask yourself, why are you a Christian?  How would you answer that? Maybe you would answer the way I would have, by saying something like,

  • “Because I believe the Bible”
    • “Because I was raised that way”
    • “Because Jesus has saved me and changed my life”
    • “Because I just know and feel it in my heart”

Let me first say that these responses are not necessarily bad.

You may indeed have been changed by Jesus.  You may indeed believe the Bible, and that’s great.

However, these responses are all subjective and tend to be given by people across all faiths, not just Christianity, and that’s the issue.

Mormons and Muslims will also say “because I just know and feel it in my heart”. They will also say “because it changed my life” It’s your subjective experience against theirs.

How do we know who’s right? Studying apologetics can give you a better answer: “because it’s true!” We believe God is really real, and the Bible is really true.

Apologetics helps us to communicate that truth to others.

2) Strengthening Your Faith

I have found that studying the reasons why Christianity is true has really enriched my own personal faith and walk with Christ.  

There’s just something about being confident that God exists, that the Bible is trustworthy, and that Jesus rose from the dead that makes you want to learn as much as you can and grow as much as possible in the knowledge of Christ.

Whereas I found myself idling in spiritual neutral before I encountered apologetics, once I learned there were good reasons for what I believe I began to seriously study the Bible and take my role as an evangelist seriously. 

CS Lewis has some valuable insight:

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.  The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

CS Lewis

Apologetics helped to solidify my conviction that Christianity was true, which fueled a passion for God and His word. 

Study apologetics, and I guarantee it will strengthen your faith as well!

3) You’ll Feel More Confident in Sharing Your Faith

The biggest barrier that keeps Christians from sharing their faith with others is fear.

Fear of not knowing what to say, fear of being unable to answer their questions, fear of looking and sounding silly.  

Our biggest weapons against fear are confidence and preparedness and that’s where studying apologetics can really help. 

You’ll have a greater understanding of exactly what it is you believe and why you believe it which will help you present the Gospel with clarity and conviction. 

But then what if they come back with questions?  Questions like, “Aren’t there errors in the Bible?”,  “Hasn’t Science disproved God?”, and “Aren’t Miracles impossible?”

Apologetics can help there too in fact, a major part of what apologetics consists of is answering questions people have about Christianity. 

By anticipating these questions and learning a few good responses, your fear of being unable to answer questions while sharing your faith will shrink.

4) You Won’t be Fooled by False Teachings

The New Testament epistles are full of examples of the author, usually the apostle Paul, admonishing his audience to hold fast to the true Gospel and ignore false ones.  

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” 

Colossians 2:8

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” 

Galatians 1:6-7

The less we know our Bible, the more likely we are to fall for unsound teachings and doctrine.  

Paul even admits in his letter to the church at Colossae that false teachings often have the appearance of Wisdom (Colossians 2:23).  That’s what makes them so dangerous.  

On the flip side, however, the more we know our Bible, the less likely we are to fall for these bad ideas. 

Studying apologetics, as we’ve seen, gives you a zeal for knowledge and truth that will help you be able to spot false teachings and stand against them.

5) You’ll be Able to Help Others with Doubt

“Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church, and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.”

David Kinnaman

In his 2011 book “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are leaving Church, and Rethinking Faith.”, Barna Research Group President David Kinnaman discovered that it’s clear that Christians sometimes have doubts or questions but are afraid to ask them.  

If you’re experiencing doubts or have questions about your faith, become a student of apologetics and research the answers that faithful Christians have given. 

There is no shortage of excellent apologetics ministries that exist to answer questions like the ones you have.  Ministries like;

Even if you are very confident in your faith and don’t have any questions or doubt, the data I provided above should motivate you to equip yourself with at least the basic answers to common questions.  

You never know who in your church is experiencing doubt or has questions they may want to ask but are afraid to.  By being prepared with an answer and a willingness to listen, you might be just who that person needs. Study apologetics, and you’ll find yourself able to effectively answer some hard questions and minister to those with doubts.

“We don’t need another million-dollar apologist, we need a million one-dollar apologists.”

J. Warner Wallace — Cold Case Christianity.

6) Shaping Culture

There is a cultural struggle, not just political. Secularist are bent on eliminating religion from the public square. New Atheists want to exterminate religious belief entirely. American society is already “post” Christian. Belief in a sort of generic god is still the norm, but belief in Jesus Christ is politically incorrect. Why can’t Christians just be faithful followers of Christ and ignore what is going on in the culture at large? Why not just preach the gospel to a dark and dying world? Because the gospel is never heard in isolation. It’s always heard against the backdrop of the culture in which you’ve been born and raised. For a person raised in a secular culture, you might as well tell him to believe in fairies or leprechauns as in Jesus Christ.

We tend to think that Christianity is supposed to be for old women and children. So what’s this man with two earned doctorates doing defending the faith of the Christian faith with arguments we can’t answer?

If the gospel is to be heard as an intellectually viable option for thinking men and women today, then it’s vital that we as Christians try to shape American culture in such a way that Christian beliefs cannot be dismissed as mere superstition. Enter apologetics… I’m not saying that people will become Christians because of the arguments and evidence. Rather, I’m saying that the arguments and evidence will help create a culture in which Christian belief is a reasonable thing. Where people will be open to the gospel. Becoming trained in apologetics is one way, a vital way, of being salt and light in American culture today.

 3   Apologetics in the Bible

ἀπολογία -ας, ἡ; (apologia), N. defense.

Noun Usage

1.      defense (legal) — the speech act of attempting to prove some act or belief to be reasonable, necessary, or right; especially occurring in a court of law. Related Topic: Excuse. 

References to the word apologia in the Bible

Acts 22:1 – “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense before you.” (Paul speaking to the Jewish mob in Jerusalem)

Acts 25:16 – I answered them that it is not the Roman custom to give someone up before the accused faces the accusers and has an opportunity for a defense against the charges.

1 Corinthians 9:3 – My defense to those who examine me is this:

2 Corinthians 7:11 – For consider how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter.

Philippians 1:7 – Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Philippians 1:16 – These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;

2 Timothy 4:16 – At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them.

1 Peter 3:15 – but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.

References to the task of Apologetics in the Bible

2 Corinthians 10:5 – 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 Timothy 2:25 – Those who oppose [the servant of the Lord] he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

Titus 1:9 – [One who would be an elder] 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.

Jude 3 -“… I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (because some have been spreading false teachings about the gospel).

What’s coming up this weekend:

What difference does it make if God exists?

How do I know Christianity to be True?

How do I know the Bible is True?

How can I be confident in talking with others about God and Faith?

And your own questions…