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; – 1 Peter 3:15
Ok let’s ask some questions:
- Do you know what it means to sanctify the Lord God in your heart?
- What does it mean to be “ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you”?
- What is our hope in Christ?
- What kind of questions should we be able to answer?
- How do we go about this with meekness and what exactly is meant by “fear”?
Let’s begin with the first one: sanctification. Interestingly most people overlook this part of the verse – the sanctifying the Lord in our hearts aspect. But truth be told, it’s actually the most important. You see, if we don’t sanctify Christ in our hearts (not just in our heads) then how do we expect to be a good testimony to the unbelieving? How do we expect God to be glorified when we aren’t living for Him? How do we expect the world to see Christ in us when we look no different to them? Very hard-hitting questions, right? If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my sermon that I did last year called “Sanctification: The Doctrine of the Narrow Way“. The subject of sanctification is quite a complicated one to explain here so be sure to head over and read through that sermon.
What does it mean to be ready to give a defence? As Christians we must be “on guard”, on the alert, vigilant, situationally aware. We must put on the whole armour of God – see Ephesians chapter 6. We must be prepared to quench the fiery darts of the devil and that can come in any number of directions, shapes, sizes and forms. We must be prepared to give an answer for our hope in Christ at a moment’s notice.
For example we must be prepared to explain to the guy sitting next to us on the train or bus why we are a Christian and what it truly means to be a follower of Christ. We must be able to engage the atheist who has stopped by to have a bit of go at us whilst we’re handing out tracts or street preaching. We must be able to give hope to a depressed and needy individual who has come to us for help because they know that we “do the Jesus thing” or we’re “religious”.
We must be able to answer basic questions like “why are you so joyful and peaceful?” “how can I have hope in a terrible world?”, “who is Jesus?”, “what makes him so good?”, “what makes you think the Bible is true”, “why do bad things happen to good people?”, “why is Christianity different to all the other religions?”, “can you explain to me the Gospel?” and the list could go on and on but you get the picture. Of course these questions won’t be limited to the ones I’ve just mentioned and you can expect to get asked some surprise ones that might be complicated and involve a bit of logic and thinking but the idea here is that you are able to anticipate these and be able to respond to them in everyday life at work, shopping, school, college or whatever.
But how do we get to this point where we are prepared to answer these questions? How do we get to the point where we are able to clearly articulate our faith and do it without loss of words, fumbling around or hesitation. I would say first and foremost that nothing replaces a good solid personal relationship with Christ. The man who must know God must spend time with Him reading His word, praying to Him, reading good books on theology, creation vs evolution, Christian philosophy, apologetics, hermanuetics, politics (yes God has a lot to say about politics!) and listening to CD’s, audiobooks and watching DVD’s on all these topics.
The man of God must have a good working knowledge of all these topics I have just mentioned above so that he may be able to adequately defend and articulate his faith, Christ and Biblical truth if they so happened to be called in to question.
What is our hope in Christ? If you’re a true Christian, that ought to be very obvious. But I want to be clear here so as to avoid beating around bushes so to speak. You may recall that I published an article recently entitled “Ambassadors for Christ“. Yes, that’s exactly what we are: ambassadors. Thus it is our task to bring God’s message of Hope (the Good News or the Gospel) to a lost and dying world. We must bring that message in full. It must not be watered down, it must not be compromised nor must it be altered. We must speak as though we’re dying men to dying people because it’s a message of urgency. We must speak with firm conviction yet with meekness, love and compassion.
It’s easy for us Christians to get passionate and hot-under-the-collar especially when our faith and what we stand for is challenged and it’s especially easy to do it when the other side turns vitriolic. It’s so easy to end up hating our opponents. It’s easy to be full of malice, pride, arrogance and zero empathy. But that’s not how God wants us to deal with those people. He wants us approach this task with meekness and fear. We must be reminded of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verses 24-25:
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
We can be so filled with our ownselves and our ego but we have to see them how our Heavenly Father would. God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9) so we should love these people the same way He loves them. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be tolerant of their twisted views (for example if they’re homosexual etc) but we need to see them as people, humans whom Christ died for, whom He created and whom He wants reconciled to Himself.
Yes it’s hard because we naturally want to prove our point and we want to do it in a vicious manner but God has called us to be different. The world responds with malice, pride, hate and vulgarity but God wants us to be filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit because then He is glorified when we are being kind, gentle, loving, meek and compassionate!
Having said all the above, please don’t get me wrong when it comes to the issue of public debate whether that is on the streets or on social media. I am not discouraging it by any means but it must be done in a principled, orderly and controlled manner. Yes it may get heated at times but never let it get out of hand. Always try and show the other person the patience and lovingkindness of Christ by letting it radiate from you as His servant. They will notice the difference and hopefully God will use it (according to His will) to draw them to Himself.
The bottom line is that the way we engage in a conversation or debate says a lot about who we are as ambassadors or representatives of the King of Heaven. We must represent Him appropriately as He has commanded us to do and do it to the best of our ability. What a challenge that is.
What does it mean by fear? We have several things to be fearful of: the judgment of God on the unrepentant sinner. We are fearful of their destinies and their unrepentant state before God. We must fear God (in the other sense) because He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We should be very fearful of the fact that as preachers we will undergo greater condemnation should we preach a false Gospel or false teaching and lead an unbeliever in to error (James 3:1).
So my challenge to you is: “Are you able to clearly articulate your faith if someone asks you a reason of the hope that is within you?”
Are you able to defend your faith in Christ?
May God bless you!