Apologetics and the Sword of the Spirit

“Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable, yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.” — Westminster Confession of Faith 1.1

This past week we have begun our studies in Defining and Defending the Faith. Pastor Zozzaro led us in daily lectures, and we were blessed to be accompanied in our evangelism and studies by Harvest OPC, all the way from Michigan. We went over the Apostle’s Creed in detail, seeking to understand what is the Christian faith, and why it is reasonable.

When we are sharing the Gospel, God’s Word is essential. That is where the facts of the Gospel are given, after all. It is invaluable, in evangelism, to have a Bible close at hand. We may make mistakes when attempting to communicate the Gospel in our own words. Our words are sometimes weak. But God’s words come with power and authority.

The role of apologetics in evangelism sometimes calls us to defend the Bible as the Word of God. But we should not treat the Bible as something that carries no weight or that we must be ashamed of. Yes, we may choose to defend its authenticity or historical preservation, but it is not as though the Bible must be held back from a conversation until its divine authority is proven. Why? Because if we do that, we forget the purpose of apologetics. The purpose of apologetics is to assist our evangelism. And in the end, all the evidence in the world cannot change a person’s heart. The Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, regenerates man.

 “Our faith is not blind. It is intelligible,” said Sen Zorilla, one of the Boardwalk Chapel’s evangelism interns who is going through Defining and Defending the Faith for the first time. “It instills humility in a sense that it is not my job to convert people. My job is to explain to them and take away the intellectual objections. At the end of the day, it’s not my arguments, but it’s the Holy Spirit that changes people.” Removing genuine causes of confusion and concern is the powerful benefit of apologetics. Stripping away lies that someone has built up around their heart to protect themselves from the reality of an all-holy God forces the unbeliever to face the fact that he is suppressing the truth.

“We’re going out and we’re preaching to dead people,” Pastor Zozzaro said during the lectures this past Monday. “There’s a sense in which they can’t hear what you’re saying. They don’t have the capacity. But it’s not just that they can’t, they don’t want to. It would mean an end to their autonomy. It would mean a confession of their own guilt. The unbeliever refuses to hear the Word of God, because it would mean the end of his own self-worship.”

When we go out on the boardwalk, when youth groups come and learn how to evangelize, we are strengthened and built up by our knowledge of apologetical arguments. And our greatest tool that we have is the Sword of the Spirit. We can have every confidence that God’s Word will not return void: it will accomplish what God sends it out to do.

“[God’s Word] is not there for you to accept or reject. You don’t give it authority. The authority is inherent within it because it comes from God,” said Pastor Zozzaro. “In the end, I don’t believe because of the evidence. I believe because God has done a work in my heart, and when I read, I say, ‘That’s my Shepherd’s voice.’”

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