Are Christians supposed to defend the faith?
The most commonly used verse related to Christians defending the faith is 1 Peter 3:15 that teaches, "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." This verse certainly calls believers to "always" be prepared to "make a defense" or "give an answer" (NIV). The defense or answer may not always require a technical or academic response, but all believers are taught to prepare to answer why we believe in Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the apostle Paul provided such a defense: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."
This passage includes many of the important facts that can be used to defend the faith. First, Christ died as predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53; Psalm 22). Second, Jesus was buried, affirming His death. Third, Jesus was raised on the third day to fulfill prophecy (Psalm 16:10-11). Fourth, Jesus appeared alive to many people.
In addition, Jude 1:3 calls believers to stand against false teaching: "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." To contend is to struggle, stand for, or fight for as an advocate. Believers are not to run away in times of false teaching, but rather stand for what is true. This matter was considered so important that Jude wrote about contending for the faith even though he had originally wanted to write about salvation.
When we defend the faith, there are two main audiences to consider: unbelievers and believers. Unbelievers need to learn the evidence and reasons that show why it is important to believe in Jesus as Lord. Believers, too, need answers in order to stand against false teachings that come against the church. Today, the field of Christian apologetics offers numerous resources to help provide information to answer the questions of both unbelievers and believers with integrity and winsomeness. Those who study this area can both grow in their own faith and help others grow in their understanding of Christian beliefs.
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