How Do We Get Ready to Defend and Explain Our Faith?
Being Ready to Give a Defense
In a culture that values control and success more than mystery, the following verse has often been incorrectly taught and misunderstood.
“...But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,” 1 Peter 3:15 (emphasis mine)
This verse begins by instructing us to sanctify, or set aside, Christ as Lord in our hearts. Christ is to have the first place in our hearts. This is a deliberate decision we are to make and maintain as we follow Jesus. As we make Him King of our lives, we should be constantly prepared to defend and explain our faith. The question is: how do we get ready to defend and explain our faith?
The word for “make a defense” in 1 Peter 3:15 is apologia (from which we get apologetics). Apologia means ‘a verbal defense.’ The meaning can be refined to include an intelligent or well thought out response. A popular view is that apologetics starts with a sufficient religious education for refuting questions or accusations against Christianity. With this understanding of apologia, most believers will feel inadequate. How can ordinary believers ever know enough to deal with the many complex issues out there?
Many books have been written on the topic of apologetics to help believers become better equipped at defending their faith. A glance at just the table of contents in these books may seem too complex to pursue further. Apologetics can be a very intellectual topic. There is just too much to know for most believers to give a well thought out response to the endless list of questions people can ask about our faith. With this understanding of apologia, few people will feel competent and confident enough to make a defense to everyone who asks. It serves to silence the majority to get ready to give a defense.
A Better Way to Understand How to Get Ready…
I believe there is a better way to approach this verse or the concept of ‘apologia’ that works well for all believers and fits well with the words of Jesus and the examples we see in the New Testament. To always be ready to defend your faith means that you are ready to depend on God for the right words at the right time during interactions. To trust that Jesus will do what He has promised and give us what to say at the right time to say it is something anyone can do.
To give a defense (apologia), we simply talk about the “hope that is within” us. We do not have to be ready to refute every doctrinal, theological or philosophical argument! We only need to share the hope that Christ has given us when we place our trust in Him. We don’t have to debate people with the goal to crush their opinions; we can respect that they are made in the image of God but don’t know Him yet.
Once I was flying from Chicago to Washington D.C. where I had a long conversation with Dr. Laura. Dr. Laura was a Ph.D. and a professor at an esteemed university. There is no way I was humanly prepared to engage her intellectually. God allowed me to be instrumental in sharing His love for her. God is gracious to include us in His work in people’s lives as He also shapes our hearts to be more like Christ.
My conversation with Dr. Laura covered areas where she was an expert, or at least more educated than me, and yet, God gave me the precise way to interact with her at the moment. The only preparation I had for that conversation was depending on the Holy Spirit to bring to my mind what she needed to hear at that time, and He did! In every interaction where the Gospel is either hinted at or the central topic, God is at work. He will give the believer the right words at the right time to accomplish His purpose in the heart of the not-yet–believer (Ephesians 6:18–20). That brings freedom. First Peter 3:15 does not instruct us to know the best response; it tells us to ‘always be ready’ to give an account for the hope already in us. God makes us ready when we rely on Him to give us the necessary words. The person we are talking to is the important one in spiritual conversations. Evangelism is not about us, it is about what God is doing in the other person at the moment!
I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to leave comments below.
You can find more equipping information about making the impossible become reality at wildfiregospel.com.
 Several studies (McDowell, 1999; Strobel, 2013; Geisler, 2007; Moreland, 2003; Craig, 2010; Licona, 2004).
 The Bible is a treasure of wisdom for believers, but we’re not limited to a physical copy when we study it. Word studies, Bible commentaries, sermons, podcasts, and books are a few ways for us to learn and grow in our understanding of the Scriptures. As we learn and grow, we open a door for God to bring to our mind what He knows the person we are talking to needs to hear at the moment.