We are expected to defend what we believe, not only to demonstrate to the world the truth of Christianity but, more importantly, to keep our faith strong. We even have a name for the discipline: apologetics. Even the scriptures record various doubts and crises of faith among the giants of the New Testament: John the Baptist, Peter, Thomas, and even Paul. These men had personal encounters with Jesus, walked with Him, talked with Him, ate with Him, yet their faith could still be rattled.
In the church today we get wrapped up in too much minutia: what color the carpet should be, what to wear, political views, etc. I think our defense of our faith, to stay truly encouraged in this tempest called life, needs to be much simpler. Apologetics is defending your faith. Polemics is confronting errors. Let’s leave that alone for now. That’s minutia…for now. We need to choose our battles wisely. Let’s not get caught up in all of this static. I try to keep it simple. Here are the things I cling to.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead. When I say that, I mean a man who was murdered, clinically, physically, and irrefutably dead, after being buried in a sealed tomb, placed under Roman guard, and expected to stay there came alive again, by the power of God and was seen among witnesses who died rather than deny that fact. Period. I don’t believe the story of Easter is a metaphor for a “rejuvenation” of Jesus’ message because of His “martyrdom.”
All the claims of Christianity hinge on this miracle. It is the coup de grace, that divine demonstrative power over man’s greatest fear: death. It’s the one miracle that distinguishes Jesus from all of the other religious teachers. Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to give life and that eternal (John 10:28). The resurrection proves the validity of Jesus’ promise, while all the false prophets remain in the grave. Had Jesus remained in the grave? I have no assurance of eternal life.
The apostle Paul exhorts us with some urgency of the necessity of holding fast to this truth. With the redefining of what the resurrection really means, we must remember that Paul forcefully reminded us that there is no faith without a literal resurrection; preaching it would be a waste of time (I Cor. 15:14-19). If Christ is not raised, we have no hope to share with a lost world. We have no hope ourselves. Christ being the first fruits of them that died (I Cor. 15:20) vanquished the sting of death (I Cor. 15:54-57). If we hold to a hope of eternal life, that hope must reside in Christ. That is the truth, even in the face of challenges. Embrace it, meditate on it, hold fast to it.
The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. If Jesus showed forth His power by rising from the dead and He bore witness to the truth of the Word of God (John 17:17), what the Bible says must also be true. Further, we should take very seriously and heed the warnings about the state of the souls of men, his alienation from God, and the eternal consequences for not doing so.
The believer is always under attack. The echo chamber of the message from a world alienated from God can wear us down. It is faith that helps us weather these attacks (Eph. 6:16). Holding fast to the most important truths strengthens our faith.
The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to study the scriptures “which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 3:15). If men can be shown their natural state (sin and death) by pointing them to the truths of God’s Word, which gets its authority by Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead, ignoring the Word becomes less likely and responding to it more urgent. The progression is logical. Denying it is futile.
Jesus Christ died for our sins. If the above two can be established, men are left with no hope in themselves. The state of men, which is eternal separation from God on account of his sin, has doomed him to the eternal separation from God. If the above truths can be accepted, and the state of men established, then the remedy has also become obvious. And thank God for that! Jesus Christ died in the sinners place. Once the remedy has been established, men have no choice but to make a decision to accept or reject God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, which is revealed in His Word.
Your faith is established on the authority of a Man–if He can be called a “man” (Josephus)–who rose from the grave, gave authority to the Book written by the men who kept the record, and made promises to the believers He came to save. You can defend your faith, even in the cloak of our earthly state. Let no man take your joy and assurance from you.