We know what apologetics is, why it is necessary, how to study for it, and the different methods of apologetics, but how do we actually put it into practice? It is easy to say we need to do it but actually practicing apologetics seems a bit more intimidating.
Pray for a burden for the lost. We know people need Jesus but, if we are honest, we don’t often have a burden to give the Gospel to people. We become busy in our lives, we worry about what they will think of us, or, more frightening to consider, we don’t care or don’t want certain people to repent and believe in Christ.
Jonah dealt with that sinful view of people. He was afraid that if he preached to Ninevah that they might repent and God would be gracious to them and show them mercy. That is exactly what happened and Jonah was angry. We see how terribly hateful he was being and think “what a dark sin,” but, if we are honest, we have probably thought the same toward certain people groups or individuals in our own lives. We may deny it but would you eagerly go to a terrorist who just beheaded an entire city and share the Gospel with him? Would you willingly tell the truth of Christ to Hitler, a serial killer, a rapist, a drunk driver that killed your child?
We must pray for a burden to reach the lost. Only God can soften our hearts to those who hate our God and want to do us harm.Only God can soften our hearts to those who hate our God and want to do us harm. Click To Tweet
Pray for opportunities. God directs the path of our life (Proverbs 16:9) and He will place us in positions that present a wonderful opportunity to share His Gospel. We not only need to pray for these open doors but to pray that God will open our eyes to them. We often get so busy in our lives that we do not see the opportunities God has led us into.
Pray for the right words. Jesus promised in Luke 12:12 that the Holy Spirit would give us the words we need to say in the moment they need to be said. Reading the Word of God will put the right words in our head for which the Holy Spirit will remind us of in the moment we need them. Praying for this will remind us of the Holy Spirit’s work and will give us peace and strength for when the moment comes.
Pray for patience and gentleness. One of the most difficult things to do is to remain calm when our Lord, our religion, or our intellect is attacked. When people are rude, we want to be rude back. It is part of our sin nature. We are in a spiritual battle and must continuously battle our own sinful nature until we reach glorification. Pray that God will work in your spirit to make you more like Christ in your responses to challenges.
Pray for silence. This is another difficult thing to do…remain silent. Sometimes in our righteous desire to see someone come to Christ we have difficulty stopping ourselves. We push and push. Talk and talk. Argue and argue. But, more often than not, we are just as Paul and Apollos (1 Corinthians 3:6), we are just planters or waterers. Few of us are reapers. We must pray that God will close our mouths when it is time for us to move on and let Him do the growing.
Be Aware of Your Circumstances
As I said above, God ordains our steps and leads us to opportunities to practice apologetics in our ordinary life. Yes, you can be a part of a street ministry, go on mission trips, speak before audiences but there are many occasions in our ordinary lives that give us the opportunity to practice apologetics
- Social media
- Social interactions
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)
We are to practice apologetics only in the spirit of gentleness and respect. This does not mean we present with weakness but that we do not sully the name of Christ with our actions. If they should hate us, let them hate us for the message of Christ and not our disrespectful attitude and actions.
Listen to what the person is saying. Ignore rude, snide, cruel, and hurtful remarks. Respond to the message they are conveying, not the mode of which they are expressing it. Listen for errors in their logic. You do not have to say, “This is a logical fallacy,” but do explain how their argument does not logically flow when thought out critically. Listen for their motives, intentions, and possible hurt. You don’t always know a person’s history. If they have been hurt in the past, it may affect how they hear your message. Do not interrupt. Let them get their full message out. Show them respect by listening to their whole message and not interrupting them. This shows them that you really do care about their thoughts.
Speak the truth in love. This doesn’t mean we don’t address their errors or try to sweep them under the rug as if they really aren’t that bad but that we speak with gentleness and kindness. Christian love is not the same thing as what the world sees as love so we may be accused of not being loving. However, people always respond better when they are treated with kindness, respect, and honor.
“Speaking the truth in love addresses the way in which we speak. We must not be obnoxious with the truth, or personally offensive in how we approach others. Rather, we are called to communicate in such a way that the manner of our speaking honors our Lord Jesus and edifies His body, the church.” ~ Nathan Busenitz
Apologize quickly. Inevitably, we will step out of line. We will say something or do something that was inappropriate and sinful. We must acknowledge that and immediately apologize. Showing humility will help to fight against the belief that Christians are hypocrites and prideful. We certainly can be but acknowledging our sins and showing repentance goes a long way in correcting misunderstandings of the faith…one of the main reasons for practicing apologetics.
Remain calm or walk away. If you cannot remain calm, respectful, and kind, then you need to walk away. It is better to abandon your effort than it is to dishonor Christ and give a bad name to Christians.
Focus on the most important issue, don’t try to fix every error right away. Not every error needs to be corrected immediately. Address what is the most important thing and save others for another day. Sanctification is a life-long process. We do not expected someone to know the whole Bible immediately after conversion. Show grace and mercy as Christ has show grace and mercy to you.Show grace and mercy as Christ has show grace and mercy to you. Click To Tweet
Be honest when you don’t know an answer, research, and followup. If you don’t know an answer, don’t let it fluster you. Admit that you do not know something. None of us know all the answers. However, it will mean a lot to the person you are talking with if you do take the time to do some research and get back with him/her. We don’t have all the answers and some questions may not be answered until we see Christ face-to-face. However, for those questions that can be answered, it is showing respect to find out those answers. There are some questions that people disagree on the answer to and that is ok. Be honest with the person you are talking to about that.
Finally, just do it. You an expert right out of the gate. You will make mistakes. Ask for forgiveness and learn from them. The only way you get better and more comfortable at anything is with practice.
Apologetics isn’t easy. Anyone who tries to tell you that the Christian life is easy is lying to you. However, God has called us to give an answer, He has given us resources to equip ourselves, He has sent the Holy Spirit to help us, and wonderful examples in the Bible, in history, and in the present. We are not alone. We are soldiers in a mighty army, led by the King of kings.We are not alone. We are soldiers in a mighty army, led by the King of kings. Click To Tweet
- Busenitz, N. (2016). Speaking the Truth in Love by Nathan Busenitz. Ligonier Ministries. Retrieved 26 October 2016, from http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/speaking-truth-love/
- Driskell, R. (2016). Speaking the Truth in Love: 7 Helpful Tips. What Christians Want to Know. Retrieved 26 October 2016, from http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/speaking-the-truth-in-love-7-helpful-tips/
- Slick, M. (2016). Prayer in Apologetics. CARM. Retrieved 26 October 2016, from https://carm.org/prayer-apologetics