Why Do Apologetics? Because God Commands Us to Do Apologetics: 1 Pet 3:15
Of course there are many wonderful reasons to do apologetics, but rather than marshal all them at this time, let’s begin with the basic fact that God commands every believer to do apologetics (remember: behind all divine commands are God’s blessings).
The first passage we examine is
1 Peter 3:15 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;
There are 5 things to note about this verse:
1) Sanctify Christ as Lord. All apologetics are to be done under the lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the motivation and the example.
2) Always is the Greek adverb aei (ἀεὶ) which has the idea of a continuous duration of time. The believer is to always be ready to do apologetics.
3) Ready (ἕτοιμοι). This refers to being prepared and this is exactly what this series aims to do. If someone asks you why you believe in Christ or why you think the Bible is the Word of God, you should be able to give a reasoned answer.
4) A defense (ἀπολογίαν). This is where we get our word apologetics. The idea is not “apologizing,” as if you did something wrong, rather it points to a well-reasoned defense of Christianity. The term was used in the ancient Greek courts for a reasoned legal defense. Any rational defense of Christianity is doing apologetics. Any defense of the Christian faith, or a Christian doctrine, or a person’s faith in Christ falls under the rubric of apologetics. Any correct response to an objection of Christianity is apologetics. What is unfortunate today (in anti-intellectual “Christianity”) is that before one even gets started in apologetics, one has to defend the idea of defending the faith. There are a lot of Christians who believe that we should not defend the faith—the idea being that there is something unspiritual about giving a reasoned defense of the faith. Many actually believe that it is ungodly to give evidence and reasons for the veracity of Christianity. It is because of the need to do apologetics for apologetics that I have begun this series with looking at passages that command us to do apologetics. The Bible is very clear about our obligation to defend the faith. 1 Peter 3:15 is generally considered to be the flagship verse for apologetics.
5) Hope. This hope points to the manifestation of supernatural qualities of the Christian who is living the spiritual life. The context of our passage is suffering. These believers were suffering under persecution. It was in the midst of this suffering that these believers demonstrated supernatural hope (confidence) which would inspire others to ask them about this hope. Their reply would not focus on themselves or how great they were, but on Christ and the wonderful truths/doctrines of Christianity. Again, the witness of their lives under suffering would prompt those around them to ask them what the source of their hope was—what are the reasons for this hope, how are you able to do that? The occasion for the apologetics in this verse was in response to a spiritual lifestyle rather than to an intellectual setting. The way our Christian lives are to be conducted should evoke those kinds of queries from those around us as well. No one is going to ask a believer who complains most of the time, or who is bitter, or who is miserable, or who is a hypocrite, or who gossips, to tell them about the hope that is in time. What hope? Furthermore, since there is no hope, chances are they have not spend enough time seriously thinking about doctrine or Christianity to be able to give answers, even if asked. Lack of their own faith in the grand truths of Christianity is what is responsible for their carnality and bad witness to begin with—what sad stupidity! Chances are they have already stopped seeking Truth and therefore have little to none to share with others --as they suffer from truth decay. They may filled with a plethora of factoids about this, that, or the other (work, celebrities, gossip, politics), but they likely do not have hope or answers or Christian facts for a dying world. They can sit at a table with friends for hours and hours discussing their factoids, but if someone asked them about evidence for being a Christian, there would be silence. On the other hand, there is the positive believer who continues to grow spiritually. He grows in his love for Christ and enthusiasm for the Plan of God. He is always learning and always exhibiting a supernatural hope. When that believer is asked, you better believe that the answers will be forthcoming, and if he does not have the answers you can be sure he will find them quickly and enthusiastically. He is truly committed to Truth! (John 8:31-32)