The Church as Apologist
Hello! My name is Travis and I have been asked to become a regular contributor for Help Me Believe. Before I begin my first post, let me briefly introduce myself.
First of all, I have been married for almost five years and am an expectant father! Secondly, I currently serve in two areas of ministry:
•youth ministry in a local church
•research and leadership for Docent Research group
Finally, I am pursuing a PhD in Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I hold both a BA and an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Criswell College.
Apologetics is not my strongest subject. My posts will focus more on biblical and theological matters (though I will tackle apologetics from time to time). I want to begin today with some thoughts about the church as apologist.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an “apologist” as “one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something.” Usually this falls on individuals, but it is also the job of the church as a whole. The “someone” the church is to defend is Christ (or the Godhead as a whole). The “something” the church is to defend is the message of the gospel with which it has been entrusted.
So how does the church serve as an apologist? It begins inside the church, where believers are taught proper doctrines (orthodoxy) and led into proper practice of those doctrines (orthopraxy). This takes place through preaching, Sunday school classes, small group discipleship, and many other avenues, such as the lyrics of the hymns or worship songs being sung.
This then overflows outside the walls of the church with the understanding that the church is not the building but the people—the believers who gather regularly. As followers of Christ, every step we take, every word we speak, and every decision we make is either (1) a defense of Christ, or (2) a protest against Christ. It has often been said that you might be the only Bible some will ever read. How are you representing Christ and His church?
I will conclude with two practical implications. First, in order to preserve its unity and holiness and to serve as a proper apologist for the Lord, the church must keep its membership pure. Only true believers should be allowed into membership, and those who stray should be disciplined. This ensures that the gospel of Christ will not be misrepresented inside the church. The church cannot allow unregenerate individuals to participate; they must only listen and learn, which will hopefully lead to their conversion.
What follows is a second and related implication: believers must remember that at all times they are representatives of Christ and their local church. The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers means that every Christian is a minister of the gospel, both with their words and actions. We must live as Christ followers 24/7/365. This will ensure that the gospel of Christ will not be misrepresented outside of the church.
What will you do to ensure that, whether congregated together or dispersed as individuals, your church is serving as an apologist for Christ and His gospel?
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