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Akin urges believers to defend faith, hope
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
March 01, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

Akin urges believers to defend faith, hope

Akin urges believers to defend faith, hope
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
March 01, 2011

According to a Barna research study, the impression Christians

are making on the 16 to 29-year-old demographic isn’t a very good one. Of those

non-believers surveyed, only 16 percent reported a favorable attitude toward

Christianity. The research also found that 87 percent believe Christians to be

judgmental, 85 percent view Christians as hypocritical and 70 percent describe

Christians as insensitive to others.

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological

Seminary, began his message during the recent 20/20 “Conversing with the

culture” collegiate conference by referring to these statistics and noting that

sometimes Christians present a distortion of the faith instead of giving a

defense for the faith.

“Christians are often their own worst enemy,” he said.

In order to overcome these negative perceptions, and speak

the truth in love, Christians must be ready to make a case for their faith.

“We must know what we believe and why we believe it if we’re

going to profess well the faith we believe,” Akin said.

SEBTS photo

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, says that sometimes Christians present a distortion of the faith instead of giving a defense for the faith.

Speaking from 1 Peter 3:8-18, Akin outlined a three-fold

strategy to help believers understand what it looks like to be a person ready

to make a case for the faith. First, believers must be ready for action, which

begins with being united in love as believers in Jesus Christ. Christians must

guard their tongue, for “the Lord knows what’s going on in our lives. Who you

are must precede what you say,” Akin said.

Being ready for action requires a person to be zealous for

doing what is right. “Hold the truth with conviction and humility,” Akin said,

“with firmness and grace.”

The Christian life is not defined as a life free from

suffering and sorrow. In fact, scripture teaches that Christians can expect to

suffer for the cause of Christ. “You may suffer for righteousness’ sake,” Akin

said.

Yet, “suffering provides a glorious opportunity to learn what it truly

means to be a disciple of Christ.”

Suffering will not be considered from this perspective until

Christians understand their life is about pleasing God — not man. “Make sure

you fear the right one,” Akin said.

The second part of the strategy, being prepared with a

defense, requires believers to “slay the idols” of the heart and to consider

Christ as preeminent over everything in life. “Nothing displeases Jesus more

than disbelief. You trust Him no matter what comes your way,” Akin said.

One of the most poignant moments during Akin’s address came

as he talked about the need for believers to not just give a well-defended case

for the faith, but to give a well-defended hope. A defense for the faith can’t

come if believers are not personally experiencing the hope they are trying to

defend.

The gospel is about hope in Christ. If the defense is weak,

perhaps the way to make it strong is to go back and remember the hope that

comes when trusting in Christ. “What is it that makes you hope in Christ above

all else?” Akin said. “Why do you treasure Him above all else? Do you know

Him as the lover of your soul?”

Akin then challenged the audience to be active in doing

good. To do good requires the action to be done in the right time in the right

way. “Doing the right thing in the wrong way at the wrong time leads to

resistance,” Akin warned.

Believers must seek to do good by seeking to always be

gracious in attitude. While a gracious spirit does not mean compromising on the

truths of the gospel, it does not mean speaking truth in way that is rude or

evokes an “inferiority complex,” Akin said.

Believers must seek to cultivate a clear conscience and to

become known for good, godly behavior. Being ready to give a defense is not

passive; it is an active, constant process.

When Christians are committed to always being ready to tell

about the hope they have in Christ they will in turn learn to trust in the will

of God no matter what.

God’s will may not be safe — many Christians have given the

ultimate cost, their very lives, to advance the gospel. Yet, God’s will is

acceptable and perfect. The Christian trusting in Christ is one who is

unashamed to tell of God’s great love for sinners.

Related story

Panel discusses conversing with culture

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