Are you an apologist?

by Matt Slick

Sometimes, when I do seminars, after I introduce myself, I give a very brief history of what got me started in apologetics and what keeps me going.  Usually, those who are there are there to learn about Christian doctrine; evangelism; witnessing to Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or other cult groups; or are simply there to ask questions on different subjects.  Invariably, I introduce the term 'apologetics' to the group and define it as "that field of Christian study that defends biblical truth against anything that opposes it."  Also, I state that apologetics is as varied as people and subjects, and that no one can master all areas.  As God calls people into study, they will become proficient in what interests them according to the gifts and interests that have been entrusted to them by Him.

But one of my concerns when doing seminars is what I call "The Speaker Effect."  Basically, when a group gathers to hear a speaker, it is assumed that the speaker knows his material and is very experienced in the subject.  Given the fact that public speaking is America's number one phobia, the mere fact that a person can get up there and speak for an hour on a subject (and enjoy doing it) has a psychological effect of distancing the learner from the teacher.  The speaker is often elevated to the status of "A Special Teacher Called of God."   Actually, in my case, the speaker is just someone who likes to blab about what he knows.  I'm no different than anyone else, and that is important.  People need to realize that they are called by God to study and show themselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15).  Furthermore, this "effect" tends to make people think that they can't be good apologists since they aren't up there speaking.  This is not true, and I always try to motivate people to study and master those areas that the Lord calls them to study.

Apologetics is the attempt to make a defense for the Christian faith.  If you do that in any way, then you are an apologist.  In fact, you are commanded to be an apologist by Peter:  "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).

If God commands you to make a defense, then He is commanding you to be an apologist.  So you are, whether you like it or not, called to be an apologist.   But don't worry.  God is not in the habit of sending people to accomplish His will without equipping them.

Now, what I am going to tell you is true.  I've experienced this many times.  But please understand that this is the work of the Holy Spirit--not me.  There would be times in varying situations when I would be discussing something with an unbeliever.  He would ask a difficult question that would give me pause.  I'd nod, trust God, and inhale to begin to answer.  The answer would come as I began to speak.  In other words, I didn't know what to say until I started to say it.  I am reminded of Jesus' words in Mark 13:11: "And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit."

 I say this because I want you to learn to trust the Lord.  He said He will be with us always to the end (Matt. 28:20).  I believe it.  He is there when we need Him.   So, you need to study, be ready, and trust the Lord to provide what you need when you need it.  Trust God and Go!

 

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