“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).
As a pastor, I am confronted often with questions about the Christian faith. Some come from the saints of God and some come from skeptics. But regardless of where they come from, the Bible makes it clear that we are to be prepared to answer. The term for this is called “apologetics,” and the technical definition would be this – it consists of reasoned responses to questions or objections to the Christian faith. To put this into the language I like to use, it is providing reasons for what you believe.
Now as Christians, one of the most important things to remember when providing reasons for what you believe comes at the end of the passage from Peter – it is always to be done with gentleness and respect. As a new believer back in 1995, I was in the habit of banging the Bible over people’s heads. I am a whole lot older and a little bit wiser now and have learned to simply do my part . . . providing answers to questions with gentleness and respect . . . knowing that God would do his part without any head-banging help from me.
There are two things I keep in view when answering questions: first, it must be theological, which means it is rooted in the Bible; and second, it must be practical, which means it is relevant to life. But know this. We live in a world that no longer believes there are answers to the most important questions in life. And for those who claim to have answers, they are said to be as intolerant as they are arrogant. Our Western world has built their lives upon the shifting sands of relativism, where there is no such thing as absolute truth. When I am confronted with that statement my response is always, “Are you absolutely sure there is no absolute truth?”
As Christians, we have been given the gift of the good news of the gospel and the responsibility to be able to share it with others. Often that means we will need to be able to respond to sincere questions from those who are truly seeking answers. Other times, we will need to be able to defend the truths of the Christian faith with both logic and reason. And God has equipped all of his children to be able to speak the truth in love by giving us his word and his Spirit to lead others to his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So, are you ready to ALWAYS BE PREPARED? I have written a study called, “Who’s To Say” and each month we will briefly look at questions like, “Who’s to say . . . Christianity is true . . . Jesus is the only way . . . The Bible is the Word of God . . . Truth is not relative” . . . and so on. My prayer as we address these common questions is to assist you in your preparation to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Here is just a taste of things to come.
Who’s to say the Bible is the word of God?
One of the most amazing things about the Bible is its consistency (unity of message). There is a single strand of supernatural truth that runs through it from beginning to end . . . God in Christ is in pursuit of rebels on the run in his romance of redemption. In Understanding the Bible, John Stott says, “There is indeed a wide variety of human authors and themes. Yet behind these, there lies a single divine author with a single unifying theme.” Here is a simple way to put this remarkable truth – the Bible is One Word, from One God, to One World.
How truly remarkable is the literary coherence and consistency of the Bible when you consider the Bible contains:
- 66 different books
- Written over the span of 1,500 years
- By more than 40 authors
- On 3 continents
- Using 3 different languages
I cannot think of any rational explanation for the incredible literary coherence and consistency of the structural, historical, doctrinal, spiritual and prophetic harmony, than to conclude the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of the Living God.
This is the gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that… Amen.
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.