For my daily devotions I sometimes watch a 10 minute YouTube clip called Look at the Book by John Piper, which examines a short passage of Scripture. Philippians 3:15-16 goes like this:
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel.
So how can we as Christians defend the gospel?
- By preaching the gospel.
In order for you to ‘defend’ the gospel, a person has to know what it is, which means you need to explain it to them! How would you explain the gospel? I usually explain it in terms of the four main chapters of the Bible: creation, fall, redemption and new creation. I also can never get past 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.
My young adult Bible study group has spent 8 sessions unpacking the gospel (with 8 more to go) and I feel like we are barely scratching the surface! We spent 6 sessions on The Prodigal God by Tim Keller (highly recommended) and now we are going through a resource called The Gospel-Centered Life.
- By speaking from experience.
If you read Galatians 1, you will see the apostle Paul defending the gospel by simply sharing his testimony of being saved by God through the gospel. What a wonderful encouragement for us to share our story of being saved by God! I always find myself and others deeply encouraged whenever I share my testimony of how God saved me through the gospel.
- By using the Old Testament.
If you look at many of the sermons in the Book of Acts, you will find Peter (Acts 4) or Paul (Acts 17) demonstrating how the Old Testament clearly points to Jesus as the Messiah. For example, how could anybody read Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53 and not think immediately of Jesus hanging on the cross!? These were written many hundreds of years before Jesus but it all points to him.
- By arguing from history.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul defends the gospel of the resurrection by saying that there were over 500 witnesses to it, many of whom were still alive, so they could go and check it out. I find this to be one of the most powerful and fundamental arguments for the gospel. Why were the apostles willing to die for the gospel when all they had to do was say: “Okay, I’m sorry, I made it all up!”
Defending the gospel is not just a job for Christian ‘elites’. 1 Peter 3:15-16 says:
In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (defence) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.