A Question I Was Asked:

....How about the argument that according to Matthew 10:18-20 we should not get involved in Apologetics?”

My Reply:

Okay. Let us check this Scripture very carefully. Is this Scripture really saying that we do wrong to get involved in Christian Apologetics (the reasoned defense of the Christian Faith)?

'On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.' (Matthew 10:18-20, NIV).

Actually Matthew 10:18-20 is also used by some preachers to say one should never carefully prepare a sermon. I think I have heard such sermons: repetitive!!!

The Matthew text is talking about giving a defence of Christianity in a time of serious trial before magistrates and judges. At such a time we do not need to prepare our defence because the Holy Spirit Himself will speak through us. The context of these verses is set in verse 17:

'Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues.'

This Scripture is not saying that the Holy Spirit will do everything for us whether it is preparing a sermon or anything else, although we should always ask God to guide us and lead us. But Jesus was here warning that serious persecution would come upon the Church of Jesus Christ, and we know that the first Christians experienced dreadful persecution until the fourth century AD when things greatly improved with Emperor Constantine's general acceptance of Christianity. The reign of Nero, in particular, was accompanied by terrible suffering coming upon believers. But Jesus is saying that when a Christian is brought before magistrates, governors, judges, or even kings and the purpose is to persecute and condemn that Christian (and this is surely still applicable), then the Holy Spirit Himself will give a defence of the Christian Faith through that person The person may speak but it will truly be the Holy Spirit who is at work! This does not apply, of course, if the Christian is brought before the courts or magistrates for any other reason - especially if it simply foolishness on the part of the believer which has got him or her into such a position.

We see this Scripture being clearly fulfilled in the life of Paul in Acts, chapters 25 and 26. Please take the time to check it out.

Indeed, even in the last 200 years many times Christian missionaries have been put in this position and seen the Holy Spirit work powerfully!

But regarding the discipline of Apologetics, the Scripture tells Christians always to have an answer for those who wonder at the faith which we hold (1 Peter 3:15-16). Indeed the whole Book of Acts shows Paul and others making a reasoned plea for the Christian Faith!

Other Scriptures clearly advise believers to study the Scriptures to improve their knowledge (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18). But despite such Scriptures, modern Christians seem amazingly resistant to Bible study; they somehow never seem to have enough time - although they often seem to find enough time for other things including favourite leisure activities. The truth is that all Christians who are not really new in the Faith should have a good general working knowledge of basic Christian Apologetics, i.e., how to defend their beliefs against a few of the more common lines of attack directed against Christianity! Yet quite recently a man who has been a Christian for 20 years told me that he has never known how to defend his beliefs and that Apologetics is a completely new field for him.

But can Christian Apologetics itself bring people to Christ? Of course not! That requires the activity of the Holy Spirit - but we should be prepared to help those who come to us with questions and those questions often do reveal that the Holy Spirit may be beginning to work with some of these people.

Robin A. Brace, 2005.


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