What is apologetics? It is a big word we don’t talk very much about but it is critical to our survival. The act of giving an apology is to give a defense of your faith. It comes from the greek word “apologia” which means to give a reply. It is where we get the word we use in the english language so often. However, it is not used the same as we use it in our everyday language. Instead of expressing our regret for something, an apology expresses the hope that is in us. The bible instructs us in Peter 3:15,
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
We are called to give an answer for our faith anytime we are questioned about it. And we usually do, but to what avail? The study of apologetics teaches us how to give an unarguable defense for the attacks against our faith which is more potent than the feeble answers we usually provide when cornered without training.
Through my study this week, it was brought to my attention that we are not always required to defend our faith to unbelievers alone. The fact is, we often give a defense to fellow believers for our obedience to God. We all have stories of how we knew God was calling us to make a decision that others would not agree with. This happens a lot in the family when someone is called to missions, or to take a job that will cause changes in the family’s lifestyle. The sad truth is that it can be much more difficult to defend our faith to believers than to unbelievers. Fortunately, there are great examples of where great figures in the bible have modeled these very difficult apologies for us, to guide us in our daily walk. One such apology was given by Peter in Acts chapter 11.
Peter had seen a vision from God where he was told by God that everyone that is cleansed by God is most surely clean and that the gentiles would be heirs to salvation as well. Right after his vision he was met by some folks who wanted him to come see a gentile Roman leader who God had told to seek him out. This led to the first Gentile Christian in the bible Cornelius. Peter had broken some sacred Laws and customs of the Jewish world because he fellowshipped and ate with unclean sinners. This was not going to go over well back home and Peter knew it. It tells us in chapter 11 that Peter rehearsed his apology all the way home indicating he was in much stress about the situation. And when he returned he had to defend his obedience to God to other believers in his own church.
We must always be ready to give a defense. But in addition to that, we must be ready to defend our faith against those of our own churches and families as well. This truth begs us to give a more earnest look at the subject of apologetics. We should make time to study this discipline so that we can bring glory to God in all situations. God will only use us when it will benefit his will and the more we are prepared the more blessings we can receive from being used of Him. Peter handled this situation perfectly and it created a teaching moment in which he was able to grow the others of his household spiritually as well, bringing glory to the Father and blessings to himself and others.