In 1 Peter 3:15-16, we are reminded to provide a defence to whomever asks for a reason for what we believe. Since we should love God with all our heart and all our mind (Luke 10:27), it makes sense therefore to not only love God but also understand God as much as we can. It should help our soul if we are able to articulate what we believe too.
Of course, sometimes we can over intellectualise core doctrines that we hold fast to. We often use our intellect to make the mysterious attributes of God more reasonable to people by, for example, comparing God’s triune nature with the three states of matter, space, or time. Yet as we learn in 1 Corinthians 3:19, even the highest worldy wisdom is foolish in God’s sight.
Despite such efforts to use reasoning, we understand and accept that our ability in persuading sceptics is limited by God’s sovereign grace in opening their hearts to accepting Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour (John 6:65). No amount of reasoning will convince those with the hardest of hearts to repent and place their trust in Jesus. For some people, the fact that Jesus died on a cross for our sins will never make any sense (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Nevertheless, we see numerous examples where the Apostle Paul gives a defence of the Gospel in the form of reasoning. We have just finished a wonderful preaching series on the letter of Galatians at Grace Church Southall in which Paul defends his ministry and the Gospel (Galatians 1:11-12). In Acts 14:1, Paul spoke in such a way that some of the Jews and Greeks to believe the Gospel message.
It’s clear that Paul would refer back to Old Testament to show people how the Scriptures point to Jesus as Lord and Saviour and how his reasoning persuaded them. In Acts 17:1-3, we again find that Paul had reasoned with the Jews in the Synagogue. We also see in Acts 17:17-18 that Paul was reasoning amidst a crowd including philosophers. We see therefore that part of God’s sovereign plan is that we do explain and provide a reason for our faith in Christ.
Ultimately, we are commanded to tell the world about Jesus (Matthew 28:19) and the purpose of Christian apologetics is to persuade someone of their need of Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Whether we like to use intellectual reasoning, quote various passages from the Bible, or to simply stick with the Gospel, we should do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).