No! No! No!
This is not the answer to your problems. Over the years I have taught classes on evangelism and apologetics. I have always stated that Christians will only get motivated to learn and apply apologetics into their lives when they start to engage the culture for the faith. I am troubled by what seems to be an obsession with ‘lifestyle evangelism’ in the churches. Sadly, for many this can lead one to assume that a silent witness is the best witness.
It is as if many Christians assume if they live a certain way, many people will automatically ask “what makes you tick?” Now don’t get me wrong. I know our actions matter. I do know we need to live what we profess. But how many of us ever meet the standard that will cause people to ask us about what we believe? Also, what if a Mormon or a Muslim is an outstanding moral person who feeds the poor and goes out of their way to love others? The point is that we need to remember something: The Apostles were not martyred for lifestyle evangelism. Instead, they were martyred for proclaiming the Lord. If you want to see the evangelistic vocabulary in Acts, one of my former professors (Barry Leventhal) wrote about this in his article In Search of That Elusive Jewish Evangelist. Note: there is no direct link, but you can type in the article title and read it online. I have also written a post called “Who Were The First Apologists?” Anyway, here is some of the verbage of Acts:
5. “spoke boldly”
11. “disputed against”
15. “bore witness”
16. “spoke loudly”
17. “cried out”
18. “reasoned daily from
the Scriptures in the synagogue”
22. “vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ”
23. “reasoned daily”
25. “begged to listen patiently”
26. “solemnly testified”
27. “persuading them con-erning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets from morning until evening”
28. “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the hings which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him”
It is clear that we are living in a day of religious pluralism and theological illiteracy. On a very general level many Christians have been told they need to share the Gospel with people. But why? What is it that motivates you to even engage the culture for the Christian faith? Or maybe you just don’t engage it all. Overseas, Christians are being persecuted and killed for their beliefs. So don’t take it for granted that we have the freedom to share what we believe with others. I have come up with SOME reasons as to why we should desire to give a verbal witness for our faith.
1. The Starting Point
If you don’t agree with the following syllogism, it makes it hard to want to share your faith:
1. The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence.
2. The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate. This claim to divinity was proven by His miracles/His speaking authority, His actions, and His resurrection.
3. Therefore, there is reliable historical evidence that Jesus is God incarnate.
So if this syllogism is correct, it leads to the next syllogism:
The Command to Make Disciples: Matt 28:19
1. Whatever Jesus teaches is true.
2. Jesus taught that we are to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).
3. Therefore, Christians should desire to “Go and make disciples of the nations” (Matt 28:19).
This command does not mean we need to be sent to some far distant land to preach the Gospel. The command applies to every Christian no matter where they are located. God uses us wherever we are.
It is true that much of the Church has focused on the “go” part of this command. But we need to remember that The Great Commission is accomplished while we “go” about living our daily lives.
The context of Matt 28:19 is that in fulfillment of the Great Commission, we are to make disciples. We are to baptize new believers and we are to teach them. Unless there has been teaching and instruction about the commands of Jesus, there has not been any discipleship. So it is clear that people can’t enter into the process of discipleship without hearing about the Gospel.
Let’s be honest: Can Christians really do evangelism in today’s culture without apologetics? No!
If a Christian tells God they are willing to share their faith and put themselves in challenging settings where they can share and defend their faith, God will honor that request. Remember, the apostles approach to spreading the message of the Gospel is characterized by such terms as “apologeomai/apologia” which means “to give reasons, make a legal defense” (Acts 26:2; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15); “dialegomai” which means “to reason, speak boldly” (Acts 17:2; 17; 18:4; 19:8), “peíthō” which means to persuade, argue persuasively” (Acts 18:4; 19:8), and “bebaioō ” which means “to confirm, establish,” (Phil 1:7; Heb. 2:3). Not much has changed from the first century. As long as we follow the apostles example, we will realize there is no need to separate evangelism and apologetics. Also, go read the Parable of the Sower (Matt: 13) and 1 Cor. 3:5-9. Stop judging success by people praying some prayer to accept Jesus into their heart! be faithful and let God handle the results!
Bottom line: If you want to see transformation in your life, get the focus off yourself and share the Gospel with others. When you do, you will see the need to learn to have reasons for what you believe and why you believe it. You will grow because you will learn to be fully dependent on the Holy Spirit!