SET FOR THE DEFENSE
by Wayne S. Walker
"…I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17, KJV). As Christians whose duty it is to share the gospel of salvation with those who are lost, we need to be acquainted with the evidences of Christianity. In Philippians 1:17, Paul wrote about the motives of certain teachers, saying, "But the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel" (NKJV). To use the familiar language of the King James Version, as Paul went about trying to teach truth and save souls, he said that he was set for the defense of the gospel. And we should be set for the defense as well.
I. What it means
Being set for the defense of the truth involves the study of what is known as "evidences." We read in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." W.E. Vine defines the word translated "evidence" as "a proof, proving, test." The mere fact that faith exists is by itself evidence that things not seen must exist, but that faith in turn must be based on credible evidence. The study of evidences is often called "apologetics," from the Greek word apologia. It means, according to Vine, "A verbal defense, a speech in defense." It is found in 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." The purpose of this series is to give a defense of the reason for our faith and hope.
II. What we teach
In being set for the defense, we affirm the existance of God as the Creator. We learn in Genesis 1:1 that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." We also affirm that the Bible is the word of God, a special divine revelation. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." And we affirm that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, as Peter confessed of Him in Matthew 16:16: "And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’" The strongest proof of the last, and in turn of the first two since Jesus Himself firmly believed in them, is the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. "Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3-4).
III. What the foundation is
What is the foundation for the Christian to be set for the defense? There are practical reasons and rational grounds. But the most important basis is biblical. God’s people have always been set for the defense. This was true of the prophets in the Old Testament, of the apostles and other Christians in the New, and even of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Furthermore, in Jude 3 we are told, "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Christians must contend for the faith (be set for the defense of the gospel) not only to be able to share salvation with others but also to protect their own faith as well against the onsloughts of the devil in this crooked and perverse generation, and most of all, to please God.
The Bible teaches that we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1). And once we become Christians, we are to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, in order for us to please God and influence others for good, our faith needs to be strong. We hope to be studying lessons in future articles which will help us to have a strong faith and to teach others also, so that we may truly sing, "Lord, I believe, yes, I believe, I cannot doubt or be deceived; The eye that sees each sparrow fall, His unseen hand is in it all" (A.W. Dicus). (–taken from With All Boldness; March, 1992; Vol. 2, No. 3; p. 8)