Has that scene ever played itself out in your home? As I sit here red-faced, I must admit it has played out in mine - and more than once. As I drove home from visiting my parents the other day, I listened to a recording my Dad gave me of a sermon preached in his church almost 40 years ago by the late Dr. Walter Martin - the original Bible Answer Man. You see, the pastor of my parent's Southern California church, concerned by the weakening influence of the Gospel in his community as the Age of Aquarius swept over the nation, resolved that the truth of the Gospel would not be allowed to quietly evaporate in his community without a fight. He arranged to have Dr. Martin be the guest speaker in a week-long series of seminars at the church, all targeting fundamental Christian apologetics and the equipping of believers for evangelism.
As I listened to Dr. Martin's description of the culture of the day and the issues facing the Church, I was amazed when my Dad told me that I was hearing a sermon preached back in 1972! Dr. Martin didn't pull any punches, when it comes to the duty of Christians: The "work" of every Christian, first and foremost, is to believe in Christ, unconditionally:
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:28-29)
Beyond this, every Christian is commanded to share the gospel:
Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32 - NASB)Not only are we commanded to share the gospel, but to be prepared to defend it:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
As Dr. Martin relayed a sad account of a woman who proudly described her strategy for dealing with Jehovah's Witness who come to the door - "I pull the shades, lock the door, and pretend I'm not home," he reflected on what a sad commentary that is for an evangelical church that once thundered with so much authority that hardly anyone dared ignore it. He proposed, rightly, that the Christians of today are simply not equipped to defend the gospel. We know what we believe, but we don't know why we believe it. The only way find out is to go back to school. And the only school we need is gathering dust on the top shelves of our bookcases.
As Dr. Martin took his audience through a defense of the concept of the Trinity, I thought to myself, "Hey, this isn't that hard. I could do this!" I can, and so can you. All we need is to do our homework.
One final thought I would leave you with: God isn't interested so much in winning arguments as He is in saving souls. And each and every person we meet is a person Christ died to save.