Good intelligence has always been critical to a nation’s success. When Israel first arrived on the outskirts of Canaan, Moses sent twelve men on a mission to spy out the land. They returned with two major observations: the land was flowing with milk and honey, and its cities were well fortified and inhabited by large, powerful people (Numbers 13:27-28). Unfortunately, ten of the spies emphasized the latter over the former, and although the two remaining spies were confident God would give them the land, the hearts of the people melted.
Perhaps I should say, it is not only important to have intelligence, but also to know how to correctly discern that intelligence. Kingdom intelligence is no different.
In the world of theology, the word for the intelligence used to defend the Christian faith is “apologetics.” This field of study comes from the Greek word, “apologia”, which refers to a “verbal defense.” Apologetics is not a blind acceptance of the axiom “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it,” but rather a reasonable defense based on a variety of disciplines. A worthy defense of the Christian faith requires an understanding of such things as linguistics, biblical authority, archeology, scientific discovery and logic. Please don’t misunderstand me. Faith in Christ, without the ability to defend it, may be all we need for salvation. However, if we hope to reach a world that rejects the Bible and any notion of absolute truth, we must not only know what we believe, but understand the basis for our belief. There might also come a time when we will need to draw on apologetics to heal our own faith when it is shaken by a crisis.
A worthy defense of the Christian faith involves diligent study, but it also requires a consistent witness. It doesn’t do much good to win an argument for Christ if we lose our audience in the process. Peter once wrote, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
The church is fortunate to have great minds that spend the majority of their time writing and speaking in defense of the Christian faith. Perhaps you have read some of their works, or heard them speak.
In truth, most of the scholarly material sold and broadcast around Easter comes from a liberal bias (i.e. from those who neither believe the Bible to be true, or accept Jesus as Lord). It may seem strange for someone to give his entire life to the examination of truths he rejects, but it makes more sense if we remember the old adage, “it’s a living.” Some believe it is their job to refute other people’s faith.
An apologetic of the Christian faith begins with a study of the scriptures, and moves on to many of the disciplines already referenced. It also presumes we have a Creator who has made it possible for us to know Him in order to deliver us from Satan’s bondage.
Apologetics are important for defending our beliefs, but they also impact our everyday lives. What we believe ultimately affects how we act. The legalism of the Pharisees led them to plan Jesus’ death. The secularism of Pilate caused him to turn his back on justice, even as he asked “What is truth?” (John 18:38) And it was Jesus’ commitment to His mission that gave Him the courage to accept the cup of suffering awaiting Him on the cross (Matthew 26:39).
God reigns over His kingdom, and there isn’t a power on earth, or in the spiritual realm that can defeat Him. But if we hope to expand the kingdom, and extend the influence of the cross, we must heed Peter’s advice. We must acquire kingdom intelligence, or “apologetic” skills. Our education will require hard work and wisdom, but it is worth the effort. The souls of others depend on our ability to explain why we believe what we believe. Depending on the obstacles Satan chooses to toss our way, so might ours.