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Should Christians Apologize for Jesus?
Paul says in 1 Corinthians that the word of the cross if folly to the Greek and a stumbling block - a scandal - to the Jews. In today's world, we see politicians, leaders, businessmen, athletes, and activists continually apologizing for every little thing they may have done to cause offense or scandal. Christians can be tempted in such a world to apologize for a Gospel that clearly says there is no other way to salvation except through faith in Christ - that is, all who don't believe in Christ do not receive salvation; are condemned. But should we apologize for the words of Jesus?
At this year's Summer Training, we're going through the book of 1st Peter, and in chapter 3 the Apostle best known for putting his foot in his mouth throughout the ministry of Jesus, Peter, says that we are to "be prepared to give an answer/defense for the hope that is within you." And that word for "defense" is actually the Greek word Apologia. Literally, it's "be prepared to give an apology for the hope that is within you." So is the Apostle Peter calling on Christians to apologize for the rather tactless, non-Politically-Correct, statements of Jesus? Well, no. Of course not.
In the Greek, Apologia means to make a defense against the prosecution. It means that whenever someone attacks or criticizes your faith in the Jesus who made such extreme statements, that you are prepared to defend him against such arguments. That's why we call doing just that Apologetics - answering the criticisms against the Bible, Jesus, even the Church. We don't apologize in such a way that we belittle Christ and his words and works, but we make an Apology so that we defend the words of our Lord. That's Apologetics.
In OAFC, we encourage Apologetics in one of two ways. We primarily train youth in the Bible and the consistency and Apologetics of the Bible, itself. So, through our different witnessing methods, we train youth and adults to defend the words of Christ with solid biblical teachings from Scripture. That's why the AH method is so solid and needed; it's a clear answer to the questions about what's in the Bible.
The other way of Apologetics is to use that which is outside of the Bible, like science and man's logic, to answer questions about why one should even read the Bible in the first place. We don't train youth to use these arguments at the door during our Witness Survey because that's not what the Survey is about. Yet youth are encouraged to delve deeper into this form of Apologetics through some of our Dramas and in using such in their everyday lives.
Both are important forms of Apologetics: the Biblical and the Extra-Biblical. Let me close with my favorite Biblical Apologetic: the empty tomb.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 - written 20-30 years after the resurrection of Christ - that he saw the risen Jesus and that he was not alone. He says that over 500 others saw the resurrected Jesus, too, and were willing to testify to what they saw, since most of them were still alive and able to be subpoenaed into court. If 3 witnesses agreed on the witness stand, you could believe it. If 10, there'd be no room for doubt. If 500 witnesses, one after the other marched into court, sat in the witness stand, and attested the exact same thing - that they'd seen the marks of the nails and spear in the resurrected Jesus - you would be laughed out of the court if you still refused to believe. So we know from the witnesses that Jesus appeared after his death to enough people to discount any type of stolen body or mass hallucination or any other naturalistic attempt to deny it. So he is risen, and risen, indeed! Alleluia! And since he died and rose again, God has made him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2), and given him authority over all the earth to judge all things. His resurrection proves that he is God and that what he said is true. And he says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14). So, if you desire eternal life according to the promises of Jesus in a place with no more pain or suffering or death, you must believe that he is your Lord and Savior. Let me show you how...
For God so loved ______ that he gave his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, and rise in victory for _____, so that, believing in Jesus as the Savior from sin, _____ shall not perish, but _____ shall have everlasting life.
This is God's promise to you and He cannot lie, as he says in Titus 1:2. If I promised that to you, I could be lying. But God, who cannot lie promised. And He promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus as they're Savior. Isn't it great to know that Jesus died and rose again to guarantee this promise to you?
Sound familiar? That's Apologetics.