Defending the Faith Part 14: Final Reflections

| Saturday, September 10, 2011 | |
by Greg Koukl

“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.” -Marine Corps training adage

We have been looking at tactics to help you develop two indispensable skills in apologetics. These tactics enable you to maneuver comfortably and graciously in conversations with others about your Christian convictions and values, and teach you the art of maintaining appropriate control of the discussion. As you review these tactics keep in mind the following:

First, know your Bible well enough to give an accurate answer for the faith that is in you: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Second, study these tactics. Become familiar with how they work. Know when to use them and how to initiate them.

Third, push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Be courageous; you need to mix it up with others before you'll feel adequately prepared. You’ll learn best by immediately using the information you’ve gained. You’ll take a few hits along the way, but you’ll also give a few back in a good way. You’ll also learn what the other side has to offer, which often isn’t very much.

Fourth, don’t be discouraged by outward appearances. Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to assess the effectiveness of your conversation by its immediate, visible results. Even though a person rebels at what you say, you may have still put a “stone in his shoe.” The Holy Spirit can use all things to bring others to the truth.

Finally, live out the virtues of a good ambassador. Represent Christ in a winsome and attractive way. You are God’s own ambassador and are the key to making a difference for the kingdom. With God’s help, show the world that Christianity is worth thinking about.

In some circles there’s pressure for Christian ambassadors to “close the sale” as soon as possible. When pressed for time, they say you should get right to the Gospel. If the person doesn’t respond, at least you’ve still done your part, right?

A wise ambassador, though, weighs his opportunities and adopts an appropriate strategy for each occasion. Sometimes, the simple truth of the cross is all that’s needed. The fruit is ripe for harvesting. Bump it, and it falls into your basket.

Usually, though, the fruit is not ripe; the nonbeliever is simply not ready. He may not have even begun to think about Christianity. Dropping a message on him that, from his point of view, is meaningless or simply unbelievable doesn’t accomplish anything. He would likely reject a message he doesn’t understand and then be harder to reach next time.

Here is my own more modest goal: I want to put a stone in his shoe. All I want to do is give him something worth thinking about. I want him to hobble away on a nugget of truth he can’t simply ignore because it continues to poke at him.

Follow the strategy I use when God opens a door of opportunity. I pray quickly for wisdom (James 1:5), then ask myself, “In this circumstance, what is one thing I can say, one question I can ask, one thought I can leave that will get him thinking?”

Then I simply try to put a stone in his shoe. Leave them something to think about, to ponder. And trust the Holy Spirit to bring in the harvest.

For more extensive tactics training go to and look for Tactics in Defending the Faith Mentoring Series or STRi DVD interactive training in our online store or call Stand to Reason at 1-800-2-REASON.


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