by Michael C. Sherrard, author of Relational Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith with Holiness, Respect, and Truth
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” -Romans 10:15
Feet are repulsive. They are not objects of beauty. Yet, there is nothing more beautiful than the feet of those who preach the good news of Jesus Christ. Now, it is quite easy to say that the feet of those who preach the Gospel are beautiful. But it must be our feet as well. We must proclaim the hope found in Jesus. We all must be evangelists.
Sharing the gospel is not easy in our day. The world does not tolerate exclusive beliefs. We will be hated for preaching that it is only in Jesus that man can be saved. We will be called judgmental, arrogant bigots. We may lose our jobs, our friends, and even our family members. Some may even lose their lives. But because there is nothing greater than knowing our Lord, we must sacrifice ourselves in love so that others may have the chance to know our God.
A particular struggle to evangelism today is that the lies of postmodernity have built up walls in the lives of many people that serve to keep the Gospel out. Lies like truth does not exist, all religions are the same, the Bible is a forged book, and the resurrection was a fake, become a barricade to the light of the gospel. As such, we must become equipped to destroy these obstacles because we love others and want them to believe in Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:2). To be a faithful steward of the Gospel today, we must become able to defend our hope in Jesus and show why a belief in Him is not foolish. We all must be apologists.
Now, I sometimes hear that apologetics has no value in evangelism, that all you need is the Gospel. People often say that you can’t argue someone into heaven and apologetics has never saved anyone. They are right, mostly. The Gospel is what saves someone, not apologetics. But people must hear the gospel to believe it and be saved. You would be right in saying that the Chinese language has never saved anyone. But if you are going to preach the gospel in China, you had better learn Chinese. A good missionary would learn the language and customs of the people group they are visiting. I have never heard a missionary say, “I don’t need to learn Chinese; I’ve got the Gospel.” That would be a ridiculous attitude.
Likewise, as good missionaries, we need words and concepts that are suitable to convey the truth of the Gospel to our culture. We must learn to speak the language of our time. For example, say you meet a person who does not believe in truth. You tell him that Jesus is the only way to be saved.
“What do you mean... saved?” he replies. “Saved from what?”
“Sin is all the wrong things you have done.”
“I don’t believe in right and wrong. Truth doesn’t exist.”
“Yes, it does.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
Do you see how you are speaking a different language? If they don’t believe in truth, sin is a meaningless word. It is gibberish to them and the Gospel won’t be understood. Apologetics helps to create a common language for the skeptic and believer to communicate. By enabling the Christian to explain things like the existence of absolute truth, apologetics allows the Gospel to be heard.
Speaking a different language is one reason why people don’t hear the Gospel. Another reason is Christians. We are notorious for being hypocrites who are rude and arrogant. Sometimes this accusation is justified. There are many Christians who are hypocrites and conversations of faith do quickly turn into shouting matches because of us. You know. You have done it. However, whether it’s because of silence, an unholy lifestyle, or just plain rudeness, you must not be the reason someone doesn’t hear the Gospel.
Every relationship you have is an opportunity for you to connect people to their creator by displaying your hope, both in word and deed. Defending your faith is not just about answering questions and “proving” that God exists. It is about showing that He is real by the way you live. It is about demonstrating the power of God through your holiness. And it is about drawing people to Jesus through your kindness.
It is my belief that the best apologetic for Christianity encompasses holy people who preach the gospel with their mouths and display the gospel in every aspect of their lives. Truth is robbed of power when it is delivered from the mouths of hypocrites, and if we are to faithfully defend our hope in Jesus Christ, we must focus as much on who we are and how we talk as we do on what we say. And if we do all three, enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit, then our feet may be counted as beautiful.
–Michael C. Sherrard is the author of Relational Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith with Holiness, Respect, and Truth. He and his wife, Terri, live in Peachtree City, Ga with their three children. michaelcsherrard.com facebook.com/relationalapologetics
[We will return to this theme of a three fold method in apologetics and evangelism in upcoming blogs.]