Outreach Ministry: Apologetics
What is Apologetics?
While "apologetics" may sound like a foreboding term, it's simply the word used for giving a defense of what we believe. Specifically it's about giving a reason for the Hope we have, addressing doubts people may have, and correcting misconceptions about God and His Word.
It comes from the Greek word "apologia" which we find in 1 Peter 3:15. The NIV Bible translates it "to give an answer" whereas the NASB reads "to make a defense" which both portray the idea of apologetics.
The How-To of Apologetics from 1 Peter 3:15-18
A study of 1 Peter 3:15-18 provides the "how-to" of apologetics.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
We can outline these verses as follows:
We need to ask why this verse starts with "but." The context lets us know of a problem -- fear that comes from asking 'What if?' What if I "suffer for what is right?" What if I am persecuted? Verse 14 says then "you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." "But," begins verse 15, there is an alternative to fear.
Fear is often one of the biggest hindrances in witnessing.
What will they ask?
How will I answer?
What if I don't know what to say?
What will they think?
"in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord."
You must first settle the issue of the sovereignty of God. If it is God's will for you to suffer, are you okay with that? Do you truly believe He knows what is best? We can know in our heads what the Bible teaches. We can say He is Lord.
But, if it has sunk down into our hearts, then we can step out in confidence without fearing the consequences.
"Always be prepared"
Being prepared to "give an answer" takes more than a course or two on apologetics. A Bible college degree is not enough. We need on-going training if we are going to be ready at any given moment. Hebrews 5:14 says "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."
Being able to discern what to say or do is dependent on a consistent walk with God wherein you constantly feed on His Word.
"to give an answer"
At some point lifestyle evangelism needs a voice. Live the life but also be ready to give a statement of explanation. Defend (apologia) the hope you have in Christ.
Know why you believe what you believe and be ready to put it into words. Remember, faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17) not merely by seeing it lived out.
You'll find the remainder of the outline of 1 Peter 3:15-18 in the Outreach Ministry Manual which also includes some additional Scripture and questions to help you further think through each of these points in light of your own practices.