We Must Apologize
Scripture warns that a time will come when good will be called bad and bad will be called good (Is 5:20), and Paul speaks of perilous times in the last days, which will be marked by earth’s inhabitants despising those who are good (2 Tim 3:3). Surely, these days are upon us. Currently, the bad are so beguiled that they believe the good should be apologizing to them for disagreeing with their life of debauchery. Truly, apology is exactly what this untoward generation needs. In fact, they desperately need the righteous to apologize like never before. Say what? The righteous need to apologize to the wicked? Absolutely, at this most trying time, every Christian must realize that ‘We Must Apologize.’ But what does this mean, really?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “The earliest uses of apologize more often meant “to offer an excuse or defence” than “to acknowledge a fault.” The verb came into our language from the noun apology, which similarly had an initial meaning (beginning in the early 16th century) that did not necessarily acknowledge fault (“something said or written in defence or justification of what appears to others to be wrong or of what may be liable to disapprobation [condemnation]”). (emphasis mine) [author’s comment]
From this earliest understanding of the word apologize, stems what some consider to be a distinct branch of theology called ‘apologetics.’ However, this discussion will attempt to identify apologetics as the ultimate commission of ‘all’ who call upon the name of the Lord.
“Apologetics is the study and practice of giving answers for the reasonableness and truth of the Christian faith. The word comes from the Greek apologia and means “to give a defence.” In 1 Peter 3:15, Christians are commanded to give an apologia to anyone who asks the reason for our hope.” Here is this passage in context:
1 Peter 3:14-17
“But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify [venerate] the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”  [author’s comment]
Notice that Peter indicates that the defence one makes, of the hope provided by the gospel of Jesus, is what ‘may’ cause the evildoers who falsely accuse the good, to be ashamed. Therefore, each and every Christian has to apologize (defend the gospel) when reviled instead of finding offense and expecting the wicked to say, I’m sorry. Remember, the only difference between the wicked and the righteous is the latter believes in Jesus. Paul spoke of this:
“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them [with the truth of Scripture 2 Tim 3:16].” (emphasis mine) [author’s comment]
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly [Apologize – Defend the truth], that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain [continue in a state of ready defence] good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (emphasis mind) [author’s comment]
While there is a distinct theological discipline of apologetics. It is clear, even from this cursory view of Scripture, that ‘all’ are to defend the gospel by showing and telling others the hope that resides in them. However, there is another aspect of apologetics that applies to every Christian, the defence of all Scripture without strife or quarrelling. Paul speaks of this:
2 Timothy 2:14-16
“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (emphasis mine)
Notice Paul encourages Timothy to charge the believers to avoid striving when defending the truth. This strife can only bring about the destruction of the hearer. This means the apologist (Christian) must simply defend the truth without entering into frenzied contention. The truth itself is enough, and salvation comes to the hearer that acquiesces to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Though, sadly, many choose to reject the Holy Spirit and become Godless.
The second point to notice here is that it is very important for the Christian to study God’s Word to the point of thoroughly understanding it. Whereby making the defence all the easier. Think about this: when you are very sure of your position, it is easier to state your case and leave it at that. Therefore, fully understanding God’s Word eliminates the need to strive.
While on the topic of strife, the apologist is to avoid foolish and unlearned questions because they are designed to cause strife. Paul eloquently deals with this:
2 Timothy 2:23-26
“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord [anyone who serves the Lord] must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (emphasis mine) [author’s comment]
James provides the capstone to this section of study when he speaks of the superiority of the true wisdom that comes from above:
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work [this is why the apologist must avoid strife]. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (emphasis mine) [author’s comment]
Each Christian, while relying on wisdom from above, is called to peacefully sow righteousness through good conversation, which ultimately defends the truth of God’s Word. This alone can bring about the environment necessary for the lost to find their way unto salvation by believing on Christ Jesus, whom the apologist defends. With this in mind, it is important to remember how the faithless come to saving faith…
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Paul’s words should spur us into the reasonable service of apologetically evangelizing for Jesus.
When we see Him face to face, and the Lord begins to judge all that we have done on earth, He will look at the teachers in a manner that is stricter than the student. Indeed, the teacher will be held to a much higher standard, as noted by James:
“My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” [author’s comment]
One can imagine the conversation between Jesus and any given teacher when He examines their works. One teacher may say, “Lord, I studied all of the writings of Luther, and I patterned my teaching after his.” Another might say they followed Spurgeon. Many others may indicate the scholar or theologian that shaped their teaching. In response, Jesus might say, “Why did you not follow me?” After all, Jesus instructed the disciples to teach those they went to, everything He had told taught them (Matt 28:20).
With this in mind, since Jesus is the Word of God, teachers should teach from the Word of God, not from the writings of any given scholar or theologian. Said another way, the Word of God must be the primary source of teaching. The writings of others must only be allowed to shed light upon (illuminate) the truth of Scripture.
Therefore, apologists must use the rock-solid foundation of Scripture in forming their defence of Scripture. This approach is antithetical to the process taught by most institutions of higher learning as they call for citations of many scholars in defence of any argument. Ironically, it often seems that in the process of citing sources, the thoughts of so many obscure the intended message of the one true God. This is akin to not being able to see the forest for the trees.
Before leaving this point, consider this: James chapter 3, understood in context, disparages anyone becoming a teacher, or as James put it, ‘master.’ Close examination reveals that James is actually teaching that no one has the right to claim a superior teaching position to that of Christ. In other words, we are not to be teaching in our own name or the name of any other. Instead, we are to do exactly what Jesus told the disciples to do… teach Him. If we truly desire to defend the truth, we must, without hesitation, teach Jesus Christ, all of Him, to the lost who desperately need Him. After all, He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and His name is the only name under heaven whereby men must be saved (Acts 4:12).
Every Christian who apologizes, by offering their best defence of the gospel, should greatly desire to hear these words, ‘apology accepted.’ In fact, our greatest earthly desire must be to see the dead come to life. The alternative is unthinkable, for without the truth, the lost will be eternally separated from God. Therefore, may every apologetic Christian answer this call:
Calling all Christians… will you answer the call to be an apologist who studies God’s Word in order to mount a defence of the truth in a world that prefers lies? Will you engage in battle in a manner that is void of strife but full of love for the lost? Will you speak wisdom to the foolish in a way that establishes the fact that they have need of the Saviour Jesus Christ? Will you be ready with this defence at any given time (instant in season and out of season, 2 Tim 4:2)? Finally, will you remain faithful until the very end?
If you answered yes to ‘all’ of these questions, welcome: Christian – Apologist – Evangelist.
Let us finish with a charge from arguably the greatest defender of the faith (apologist) to ever live, outside of Christ Himself, the Apostle Paul:
2 Timothy 4:1-5
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Written by C. Gray Adams