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Eternal Perspectives: We Need to be Prepared to Defend Our Faith

As we consider how much closer we are to the time Christ returns, we can learn lessons from the past that are meant to strengthen our faith and our resolve to defend it.

Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair

After Christ’s death and resurrection, Rome proclaimed it a crime punishable by death to be a Christian. This necessitated meeting and worshiping in secret and it caused many false rumors, such as cannibalism, against Christians. Consequently, some learned believers wrote letters in defense of their faith. History records that a Roman pagan once challenged a Christian, Octavius, about his faith in Christ. The inspiring debate included some of the same challenges the Christian church faces today.

The Romans worshiped a variety of gods, including the sun, moon, and stars. But Octavius debated, “Man is different from the wild beasts … who are always looking down at the earth … for their food. But man stands erect. His face is turned toward heaven. For this reason, we recognize, feel, and imitate God. No person has the right or reason to be ignorant of the celestial glory that’s imprinted on our eyes and senses. It’s wrong to seek on earth what can only be found on high.”

In defense of God as Creator, Octavius quoted Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Octavius also cited God’s perfect order of creation: the sun’s circuit, the moon’s phases, the seasons, the differences in animals, and “the very beauty of our own bodies,” demonstrating that God is our designer.

Octavius continued the debate by defending Christians. They didn’t kill humans, he argued, nor did they abort babies, common practices among the Romans in their god-sacrifices. Octavius urged the pagan to take an honest look at his religious rituals as “pitiful and laughable.” He challenged the non-believer to use common sense, rather than blindly follow the traditions of his ancestors. Then he could see that man-made gods had no power, no life, no real beauty.

“You must KNOW God before you can WORSHIP him,” Octavius said, quoting Jesus in John 17:3. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Because of Octavius’ articulate and passionate defense, the pagan ended up embracing the Christian faith.

Lord, prepare us through Your Word and the power of Your Spirit to defend our faith whenever we are challenged by unbelievers. Help us know You better—through dedicated and intentional meditation, study, and prayer—so we will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have.” (1 Peter 3:15) In Jesus’ name, amen.

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