|vol 4 no 17||July 18, 1999|
Jesus said "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." (1 Pet 3:15). A football team with an excellent defensive unit but unable to make an offensive drive and score points will never win a game. Thus, the old saying which is used as a title for this article. The logic of the statement also applies well to Christianity. The Lord holds you accountable not only to believe and obey, but to be able to explain to others why you are what you are.
Disciples in the first century are noted for the strong defense that they made concerning their faith in Christ Jesus. In fact, many times their "defense" seemed more like an offense. When confronted, they would give intelligent, rational answers to their accusers. They were not seen shrugging their shoulders and saying, "I don't know; I just believe what I believe." or "It's kind of difficult to explain why I believe in Jesus." or "I just know it in my heart." When such statements are made today the unbeliever feels justified in saying that Christians blindly follow myths. And it is all because some supposed Christian did not find it in his heart to obey the passage written above. They simply were not "ready" like the Lord told them to be.
Defending Our Faith
". . .Hear my defense which I now offer to you" (Acts 22:1). Paul defended his faith before his accusers on this occasion by appealing to his own experience on the road to Damascus. He told of what he came to know about Jesus as the Son of God. It was the custom of Rome to give the accused an opportunity to meet his accusers face to face and make a defense. You can be sure that early Christians took advantage of this and did so from one end of the empire to the other (Acts 25:16). Even when put into prison, Christians would continue to defend their faith, and not a few conversions took place even in those circumstances (Phil 1:7,12,13).
Every Christian has a duty toward God and men to prepare himself to give adequate answers to questions concerning our faith. Brethren, if we are wrong about our faith, then our faith has absolutely NOTHING to offer this world. But if we are right, then it has EVERYTHING to offer and we better be able to say so!
Choose Your Weapon
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts of the heart." (Heb 4:12). The Holy Spirit convicts the hearts of men and women through the word of the gospel. The way of life that Jesus calls upon us to live is superior to the many ways of men. We ought to be able to show that it is so in a reasonable and thoughtful way. The truth will not change everybody, but it will bring about change in honest seekers throughout the world; people like Lydia at Philippi, of whom it was said that as she heard the gospel being taught "the Lord opened her heart" (Acts 16:14).
It is Not a Myth
"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." (2 Pet 1:16). Skeptics like to place the Bible along side the various myths of the world and say that they are in the same class. But that is not where the Bible belongs at all! Well, how can you show the difference to someone?
The writers of the Bible knew the difference between myth and reality! This is easily seen in the above verse and many others like it ( 1 Cor 15:1-6, 1 Jn 1:1-3). An easily observed difference is that all the legends and feats of myth are about non-historical heroes. Hercules never really existed. No one ever met him or saw him throw a boulder, but they did meet Jesus and saw Him walk on water. No one ever treasured up the gold of King Midas because he never really existed. But they did receive the treasure that never fades away from King Jesus. No one ever saw that fatal wound delivered to Achilles' heel, but they saw the nail-scarred hands of Jesus!
Jesus is real. He lived and historians wrote of Him. Governmental records of Rome shortly after His lifetime here mention Him by name. How ignorant it is to say that Jesus was only a myth!
You Yourselves Know
"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know . . . " (Acts 2:22). This was a statement made to a large group which contained many of the same people who had earlier cried out "Crucify Him!" (Acts 2:23). Notice how the apostles express themselves. They are not talking about something that had happened in secret, or as Paul later puts it, off "in a corner" somewhere (Acts 26:26). These men are talking about events that were commonly witnessed by all. If they were not true, then the enemies of Christ are going to say so! But they cannot dismiss so easily what is commonly known. Oh, it is easy for the skeptic today because there are no witnesses left from the first century. But the skeptic in the first century did not have it so easy.
Did I say "no witnesses" left from the first century? That's not quite accurate. We have the written testimony of the witnesses. Perhaps I should have said that we have no living witnesses.
No, that's not quite accurate either, for in truth the word of God which we have as our witness is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword".
- Jon Quinn, preacher at Bradley, IL