As the Scriptures claim, one of the greatest signs of the end is the mass defection or apostasy from the Christian faith by those who once claimed to be believers. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, warns that the "Spirit expressly says that (when) in latter times (who) some (what) will depart from the faith, (how) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). This great apostasy is characterized by a rebellion or revolt against God and His Word. And it is promoted by those who once claimed Jesus as Lord but are now "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." Peter says "scoffers will come in the last days" (2 Peter 3:3-4). Jude calls them "mockers" (Jude 17-19).
So what are we to do in the face of this great apostasy? How do we answer skeptics when they demand we "prove our God exists?" How do we defend our faith in the unseen God? What are we to do? Historically, the answer has been to study up on apologetics and be prepared to go toe to toe with those who demand answers from us void of faith. But is that the real purpose of apologetics? I'm not so sure.
For the message (or, preaching) of the cross is foolishness (mōría - folly, absurdity, moronic, stupid, senseless, foolhardy, insane) to (who) those who are perishing (or, being destroyed completely, to render void), but to (who) us who are being saved (to deliver, make whole, preserve safe from danger, loss, or destruction) it (the message of the cross) is the power (dúnamis) of God - 1 Corinthians 1:18.
Our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic to those who are perishing. Period. And apologetics won't change that fact. Think about it, our God doesn't need defending. He can take care of Himself. And you cannot lead someone to Christ by logically answering all their questions about faith and the Scriptures to their satisfaction. Why? Because faith in Him is a gift from God and, before God imparts faith to the individual, the lost are incapable of believing the Gospel. To them, our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic.
So, is apologetics important? Absolutely. But not necessarily in the way you think.
The purpose of apologetics is for you to have all your questions answered about God and salvation and to allow your faith to grow strong. It is not for the direct benefit of the lost. This is what 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 shows in graphic detail. It has always been God's plan to thwart man's wisdom by revealing Himself through something man considers foolish. He does this to bring to nothing the wisdom of this world and, in turn, exalt faith in Him as the key that opens the door of salvation. Consider the following from 1 Corinthians 1:21-22:
Question: Where is the wise (or, respected, learned philosophers and experts)?
Question: Where is the scribe (or, writers, scholars)?
Question: Where is the disputer (or, debater, reasoner, influencer) of this age?
Question: Has not (who) God made (what) foolish the wisdom of this world (kósmos)
For since, in the (what) wisdom of God, the world through (its) wisdom did not know (ginōskō - or choose to know) God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached (foolishness to those who are perishing) to save those who believe (faith).
The reason for apologetics is for you to be secure in your faith and not necessarily to convince someone by the power of your arguments to receive Christ. That is a sovereign act of God alone. And prior to the impartation of faith in the elect, our most important argument is foolishness (stupid, ridiculous, moronic, insane) to those who are perishing. Jesus never gave signs for others to believe in Him. So let me ask you just a few questions about your belief vs. God's wisdom.
- Do you believe in the creation account in Genesis?
- Do you believe in the virgin birth?
- Do you believe in the floating ax head?
- Do you believe in the lion’s den or the fiery furnace?
- Do you believe in the fall of Jericho?
- Do you believe a good God sometimes does things that don’t seem so good to us today?
- Do you believe God rewards faith and punishes unbelief?
Are there parts of His Word that you don’t believe? If so, you are on very dangerous ground. Why? Because Jesus said the deception in the last days would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24). And that includes you and me.
As we see the day of His return approaching, it is vital to know what we believe to be true. For help in securing your belief against apostasy, keep listening.
The following is a study on the Limitations of Apologetics as found in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.