Standing up to those who oppose our beliefs can be daunting. There has only been a couple of times in my life where I’ve been faced with people who simply don’t believe in God and actually pose a real challenge in a discussion. When it comes to defending our faith we will spend the most energy on those who believe in God but have accepted heresy. I spend a lot more time debating Jesus’ deity than I do the argument there is no God.
Even now I sometimes find myself wondering if I am well enough equipped to defend what I believe when faced with those who have studied more, gone to seminary, or seem to know their arguments well. I think we all feel like this from time to time. So here are five tips on how to best prepare to defend your faith.
1. Know Your Bible
This may seem obvious, but the fact of the matter is many Christians want to defend their faith but are not willing to pick up the Word on a regular basis. I am not saying you need to open your Bible and have an in-depth study for hours each day. But what I am saying is that the more we hear and read the Scriptures, the more we know the Lord and the more we are able to defend what we believe. Reading a chapter every day can be a huge improvement for most people. Today, the Bible is available in ways previous generations could never imagine. Do you drive to work? Listen to a couple of chapters of the Word during your commute. Want to get into a daily habit of being in the Word? Start a reading plan on the Bible app. Feel like you have to choose between family and reading your Bible? Have a time of family reading where you read a couple of verses with your kids.
The point is, the more you hear and read the Word, the more you will be able to recall what you have read. This is the most powerful weapon we have in defending our faith. Know your Bible!
2. Be in Community
For many Christians this is obvious, however, the fastest growing Church in the world today is the “unchurched Church.” That is people who are followers of Jesus but are not part of a believing community. As believers, we need people around us that can build us up in the faith, bear our burdens, pray for us and with us, and can simply talk about the Word with us. Family is a great place to start, but we need brothers and sisters that can see things outside of our family unit and can encourage. If you are not part of a Church or faith community, find one! Being with believers does not just mean seeing them for an hour on Sunday. Find believers that you can call, text, get together with for dinner every month or two. Having a couple of believing friends that you can hang out with and be friends with can strengthen and build us up in the faith.
3. Listen to Good Teachers
You might have a fantastic Bible teacher for a pastor. If so that is great! But it should not stop there. One of my favorite things to do is listen to good Bible teachers when I go to the gym. Finding good podcasts is not difficult these days, and hearing great teaching about theological issues can prepare us and help us understand some of the more in-depth biblical truths. If you are having trouble finding good teachings start with the standards. Here are just a couple:
- Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries)
- John Piper Sermons (Desiring God)
- Truth for Life (Alistair Begg)
- Timothy Keller Sermons (Gospel in Life)
- Grace to You (John MacArthur)
If you are a pastor or in leadership within a Church I would recommend ‘Pastor Talk.’ And if you’re able to handle deeper theological issues check out ‘On Script.”
4. Ask Good Questions and Find Answers
This does not come naturally to everyone, so it could take some practice. Start by writing down three questions about the Bible passage you read in your devotions every day. Or try to write down three questions you have about your pastor’s sermon. It might sound easy, but for many, this is a greater challenge than they might realize. The more you write down questions, the better you will get at listening and realizing when something needs more explaining or when something doesn’t make total sense.
This is not the end of the exercise. Having questions is useless if you can’t find answers. Ask your pastor or small group about your questions and see what answers you get. Find several commentaries or reference tools that will help you find answers to the questions you are asking. If you are going to go to the internet for answers, make sure that the places you go to are trust-worthy. Ask your pastor if the sites you’re going to are trustworthy.
Asking good questions and finding answers is a skill. Just like any skill you learn you need to practice. Be willing to tell someone, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will research it and get back to you.”
5. Learn True Theology
I left the hardest one for last. Often we think we are too busy to read our Bibles, let alone pick up a book and start reading. Trust me I get it. You don’t have to read a book a week to start picking up theology. Ask your pastor or small group leader what book would be good to start with. If you find something that’s small and an easy book to start with, read a page a day, or find ten minutes a week to open it and read. Dedicate 5 minutes before you go to bed. Reading a book a year about theology is better than reading no books at all. If you’re learning about the Word, you are preparing to defend what you believe. I want to stress that picking up the Scriptures each day is far more important than reading theology. But finding time to read things that expand our theological understanding can be a huge help when it comes to living and defending our faith.
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Cover Photo by Jason Briscoe