Have you ever felt challenged to defend your Christian faith? Do you get shy when it comes to talking about the Bible? Do you feel like certain people will go out of their way to argue or try to silence you when you bring up Jesus, God or the Bible? Sharing the good news of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Jesus Christ is the duty and challenge for all Christians. And when you open your mouth or live your life as a testimony to Jesus Christ, be sure that you have stepped on the battlefield of spiritual warfare and will be challenged.
At Pentecost in the book of Acts, the Apostles received a supernatural blessing of the Holy Spirit to start spreading the Gospel and building the Christian Church. In Chapter 3 Peter and John continue their mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, heading to the temple to preach. On their way they heal a crippled which provided the opportunity to preach The Word boldly and passionately and sure enough, they drew strong opposition. By Chapter 4 not only were their beliefs challenged, they were thrown in jail for their testimony. In their example all Christians can find principles for defending the Christian faith.
And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them [to arrest them], and put them in [jail] unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. – Acts 4:1-4.
Use The Word
After 3,000 people joined the church at Pentecost, another 2,000 joined after the preaching of these two Apostles at the temple! It was the hearing of The Word that led to their belief. This “grieved” the Sadducees who along with the Pharisees formed the religious and political authority of Judea (1st century Israel). The spirit of the sinful world that led them was opposed to and hostile to the Gospel. That same spirit exists today. Ephesians chapter 2 states: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians2:1-2). People who are unsaved and love this present world will be ready to challenge or silence you if you display your faith. Peter and John were arrested and thrown in jail for their public preaching. In Acts 4, the Sadducees, questioned Peter and John about the healing of the lame man.
And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. — Acts 4:6-12.
Peter and John were now confronting the very same people who had wrongfully framed Jesus and had him executed at the hands of the Roman empire just several weeks earlier! Peter, who had denied Jesus 3 times out of fear of the Sadducees and Pharisees was now confronting them with the truth: the same Jesus Christ they had crucified, is the son of God and is the Messiah. Notice Peter quotes scripture, citing Psalm 118 which contained a Messianic prophecy: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Peter did not rely on his personal experiences with Jesus or emotions he felt for Jesus to defend his faith. He went to The Word. He quoted scripture. Let this be a lesson beloved.
We must never forget that it is the Gospel that is “the power of God” (Romans 1:16) right in our hands and hearts. Be ready to defend your faith in Christ with Scripture. Can you explain the Gospel to others? Do you know the verses from the Bible that can explain to someone why they are a sinner before God, deserving of His wrath and then point them to their need for a Savior? Well the good news is that there are hundreds upon hundreds of verses in the Bible that can be used (for an example of some good verses see here). Make it your mission to memorize several of them to have on hand at all times.
Give Godly Solutions to Earthly Problems
Also note that the Apostle Peter was not afraid to tell his audience about their sin. Christians should not let the “offense” of bringing up sin stop us from sharing the truth. If someone wants to know why there are so many problems in the word. Or why they are suffering. Or why God seems so far away. Or why a loving God would ever send them to Hell. While we may have an urge to answer these questions in many different ways, the Bible gives one simple explanation. The root cause of all the problems this world is facing is sin. Sin has brought corruption, suffering and death into this world and our only escape is through Jesus Christ. Peter brought up the sins of the Sadducees not to shame them or attack them. But to point them to the need for a Savior.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13.
What a compliment. The Sadducees, the educated religious scholars of the day, knew Peter and John were “ignorant” men attributed all of their knowledge of the Scripture and wisdom to being around Jesus. Praise The Lord. Pray this same thing is said about you. A Christian does not have to rely on debate skills, memorizing historical facts or their own ingenuity to “win” a religious discussion. There is nothing wrong with having extra knowledge that supports the Bible but the true victory is won in sharing God’s Word. It is God’s Word that has the power to change the heart. Not any intellectual argument. Peter and John preached Jesus to the people at the temple. And when the Sadducees apprehended them they preached Jesus once again. Do you quote Jesus’ words in conversation? Do you know some of the Old Testament Scriptures that declared He was the coming Messiah? This is how the faith is defended. By giving the message Jesus commanded His followers to preach. Even if it meant that you would be despised for it:
But when [the Sadducees] had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.- Acts 4:15-21.
Seek Strength and Courage From God
More and more in society, the effort to silence Bible-believing Christians is on the rise. Whether it’s trying to remove any mention of God in public schools, calling anyone who believes the Bible literally “bigots” or “intolerant” or mocking anyone who believes in the Creation account over evolution, there is no shortage of challenges that a Christian will face. And in restricted nations, being an outspoken Christian can lead to jail, torture or even death. Even in the United States, the time may come, and seems to be swiftly approaching, when stating Biblical truths may cost you your friends, job or even your freedom. How do you prepare for this? Again, the answer is in Scripture:
And being let go, [the Apostles] went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. .. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. — Acts 23-31.
The way to gain courage to proclaim your faith is through prayer. Are you too shy to share your faith with others? Do you let people mock Christianity and say nothing? Do you feel embarrassed to mention your faith when you are in a room full of unbelievers? These are normal feelings to have in our earthly flesh. Which is all the more reason to rely on the Spirit of God and seek Him in prayer. Peter and John were just locked up for a night and threatened by the same people who had Jesus murdered not to preach anymore. And did they pray for their own safety? No. Did they pray for a quiet way out of town? No. All they prayed for was more boldness to keep preaching! They were clearly worries about the threats and took them to The Lord.
And so it is for Christians today. If you are anxious about sharing your faith, pray to God. If you want to overcome your nerves, ask God to embolden you. When you are praying to follow something clearly commanded by Jesus Christ, you are working in God’s will and you can trust that He will respond. The Apostles preached to the Sadducees and did not persuade them. On the contrary it got them thrown and jail and threatened with potential death. Did they fail? Was their boldness in vain? No. Because the victory is not in persuading people or “winning” a debate. The victory is in obeying God and sharing His Word. All Christians have to do is share the Gospel, use Scriptures, point people to Jesus and let God handle all the rest. Whether or not that person is converted, indifferent or responds with even more anger, a seed has been planted, a sinner is one step closer to forgiveness and that person will know that you have been with Jesus.