As we conclude our current study in apologetics, we have learned that our belief in a creator and in Jesus Christ as Lord is a rational belief and a belief that is justly held. Scripture is both authentic and reliable as we seek to know God, and God is just in what He does: always showing more grace and mercy to even the worst sinners.
What does all of this mean for us? What good is the practice of apologetics in life and ministry? Where do we go from here? In Matthew chapters 5-7 we see Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount, in which He gives direct moral teaching, including the fact that not one letter will pass from the Law. Of course, this leads into the rest of His life and ministry on the earth. He is the fulfillment of the Law. At the end of His sermon on the mount, Jesus teaches us something very important regarding the foundation of our lives:
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”
When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because He was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.
Foundation for life
In this passage, we learn that a we all have two options as we live on this earth. Either we will build our lives upon the foundation of Christ’s words or we will not. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between here. We are either fully committed to live according to the words of Christ, or we are not committed at all. If Christ is the eternal word, then it was through Him that all of Scripture was inspired and all of Scripture, including the words of the Law that Jesus mentioned, are words that mean something very significant for our lives. This is a clear indication that the words in all of Scripture are words that are either accepted fully or denied fully. They are not words that can be accepted only in moderation. They cannot be accepted only in part. Furthermore, they are not words that can be accepted only on a trial basis. We will either build our lives on Christ’s words or we will not.
As we consider our own lives, we come to the realization that Christ taught that when we build our lives on the foundation of His words, he or she has a firm foundation in this life. Considering this, we might think about some of the struggles we have. We endure shaky ground. There are storms that impact us in this life. Most of the time, we do not have any control over the storms. We might lose a loved one, a relationship might end, we might experience financial struggles, problems in marriage, persecution of some kind, loss of a job, or illness. What we learn, here, is that a life in Christ is a life firmly grounded. This does not mean that we do not suffer. It does mean that when storms come, we are more prepared to stand through them because we have built our lives on the firm foundation of Christ. This can serve as evidence for our own lives. A life firmly grounded is a life in Christ. Christ helps His people to stand in times of great trial and tribulation. The context of this part of the text, though, runs much deeper than this. According to verses 22 and 23, a life built on Christ’s word will help us to stand through Christ’s judgment when the time comes. There is a time coming, brothers and sisters, when Christ will judge the whole world. This will be a tribulation greater than any other for those who have not built their lives on Christ’s words.
Thus we learn, and this is what Jesus taught, that whoever does not build his or her life on Christ’s word (that’s all of Scripture) has a faulty foundation. This foundation may hold for a time, but will ultimately fail (especially concerning the judgment of Christ). If we build our foundation on our own words, thoughts, feelings, or orientations; our foundation is less likely to weather the storm. Furthermore, it will not withstand Christ’s judgment. Here, the challenge is the same for someone with a sexual orientation other than what honors Christ and someone with a tendency to condemn someone else when Christ is the only one with authority to condemn. We deny a shaky foundation that we have built for ourselves so that we can build our lives on the foundation of Christ’s word for the purpose of honoring Christ, not ourselves. When we build our foundation on our own material possessions, on our families, on our own thoughts about organizational church structure, on our human relationships, or even on the work we think we are doing for the Gospel, we have a misplaced foundation and it is faulty because we are imperfect people. The challenge is always self-denial and submission to King Jesus.
By the life we live, then, we either show Christ or deny Christ. Whether or not we like to put things in these terms, every genuine believer is also an apologist. We choose every day to either show God plainly to people or not in our obedience to God’s word. The sad reality is, most people do not reject God because the earth seems to be older than what some ‘Christians’ claim. Most people do not oppose God because evolutionary theory contradicts some interpretations of Genesis 1-2. Most people don’t choose to reject Christ because resurrection is impossible by materialistic standards. Most people who have rejected the faith or consider the faith to be unimportant because many people who claim to be Christians live in a very un-Christlike manner (this is why I rejected the faith early on). Many people in the church today have not built their lives, their churches, their relationships, or their basic beliefs on the actual words of Christ. When posed with difficult questions, most ‘Christians’ choose to give a “That’s the way it is!” type of answer rather than giving a true reason for our having the faith that we have. We choose every day to either answer difficult questions about the faith or not. We choose every day to either obey 1 Peter 3:15 or not. With out lives, then, we argue either for God or against Him.