After spending the last two evenings listening to Dr. Frank Turek, my mind is full of new ways to win arguments and look really super smart. But rather than fill your mind with the ontological and teleological arguments for God’s existence, let me take you to some verses that always bring me back into balance.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ESV)
As believers, God has equipped us with weapons to conduct successful warfare against the strongholds, arguments, and lofty opinions that rise up to challenge the knowledge of God. What are these weapons? Since they are not of the flesh, these weapons must be spiritual in nature. Perhaps the most obvious spiritual weapon we possess is the Word of God. God describes his Word as a sword (Ephesians 6:17). Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word is sharper than any two edged sword and cuts through the issues with ease. The Word of God, when rightly applied, stops Satan in his tracks. We must become skillful with God’s Word, just like a skilled swordsman.
Another spiritual weapon is praying in the Spirit. In fact, the sword of the Spirit and praying in the Spirit are mentioned side by side in Galatians chapter six – “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:18 ESV). I am aware that the concept of praying in the Spirit carries all sorts of denominational baggage, but let’s not complicate the issue. Praying in the Spirit is essentially praying as God gives you utterance. In simple terms it means that we’re not only coming to God with a list of our needs, but we’re waiting for the Holy Spirit to pray through us by giving us the words to pray. In even simpler and more abrupt terms it means stop yammering God’s ear off and let him get a word in edge-wise. Learning to hear the voice of the Spirit when we pray and following his lead instead of ours is crucial.
No list of spiritual weapons would be complete without faith. Faith is the essential element to wielding any spiritual weapon in the first place. If I don’t have faith that God’s Word will be effective, I might as well wield a spaghetti noodle. Trusting that God’s Word and that prayer is effective inclines God to move on our behalf. That is why it is written that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith moves the heart of God and leads us to abundant life. When we trust that his Word is sufficient, the Holy Spirit works on our behalf to accomplish great things. We cannot hope to be victorious in any spiritual battle, unless we trust that Christ has already purchased our victory.
So this begs the question: If our weapons are spiritual, why bother with intellectual arguments for God’s existence? Was Dr. Turek hopelessly blowing smoke into the wind? Not at all. In fact he and other apologists are following the Biblical command to be ready to offer a defense for the reason you believe (1 Peter 3:15). Part of our work in spiritual warfare is to “destroy arguments and lofty opinions raised against the knowledge of God,” and to do so, as Peter says, with gentleness and respect. It is essentially the removal of obstacles to faith. In apologetics you are helping create a clear path for the mind of the unbeliever. And doing so with gentleness and respect means that you are not the proverbial “bull in the china shop” with their belief system. Does this negate the activity and role of the Holy Spirit? Of course not. In fact, God loves using creation to reveal his divine attributes (Romans 1:20). Therefore to insist that we only use the Bible and prayer to defend God’s existence goes against what God himself practices. God is the greatest apologist, and he uses his creation to explain his existence every day.
So what does it all mean? Spiritual warfare is a spiritual battle that engages the spirit and the mind. Our weapons are spiritual by nature – faith, Word, and prayer – and our tactics involve using our minds – apologetics, testimony, and reasoning. Neither are sufficient by themselves in the fight. The mature man or woman of God has mastered both and wields both of them with precision. We all need to become spiritual ninjas who are skillful with the spirit and the mind in battle.