Even the most soft-spoken Christian will find himself being accused and attacked by unbelievers on a regular basis simply for what he believes. Should the Christian respond? If so, how?
Join us for mid-week study during the month of January as Pastor McShaffrey introduces us to the field of apologetics by explaining and applying 1 Peter 3:15-16.
“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; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
The Need for Apologetics
While the concept of defending the faith can seem somewhat academic, the disciples in Peter’s day desperately needed instruction on the topic.
Not only was their identity that of pilgrims among pagans (1:1, 2:11 ), but their experience was one of constant defamation and false accusation (2:12, 3:16).
Peter met their need by emboldening them and equipping them to engage their opponents in an appropriate manner so that they might become ashamed.
Discussion: How are Christians defamed and reviled today? Why are we so hesitant to defend our faith? Will we receive this passage as God’s calling for us?
Getting Ourselves Ready
The majority of time spent “doing apologetics” occurs not in the marketplace, but in the believer’s heart and mind. Let’s look at the logic of this passage:
But… this disjunctive points us back to our natural response to opposition (vs. 9) and calls us to more. How often do we forget this calling in the heat of the moment?
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts… we are here encouraged to deepen our relationship with God inwardly before engaging anyone outwardly. How do we do this?
Always be ready… this is the state of mind to which we aspire and for which we prepare: A constant readiness to respond appropriately when accusations or attacks arise.
Giving an Answer for our Hope
Many apologetic approaches are way too complicated. Our key verse (1 Peter 3:15) describes it as rather simple act: Giving a Reason for Your Christian Hope
A Reason – We must be able to articulate our faith in a rationally coherent manner. The Apostles’ Creed may prove helpful here (e.g., creation, redemption, consummation).
For Your – Apologetics is more than offering a personal testimony. It is also more than abstract argumentation. We are called to give a reason for our personal hope.
Christian Hope – We have something that unbelievers don’t have and desperately need. We should keep our message Christ-centered and hope-filled (c.f., 1 Peter 1:3, 13, 21).
Maintaining a Proper Attitude
Our attitude and approach in apologetics is just as important as the intellectual arguments we offer in explanation of our hope as Christians:
Responsiveness – Apologetics is not an aggressive or even offensive activity, but a conversational response to someone who has asked us about our faith.
Meekness – Aristotle defined this as the balance between two extremes (e.g., getting angry without reason and not getting angry at all). Strength under control is the main idea.
Fear – This may only be a reminder to be respectful to others, but it is probably more: The fear of God creates in us a quiet confidence which is itself a very powerful witness.
Grace Reformed Church is committed to promoting and defending the biblical and reformed faith by providing Bible study guides online. Please feel free to use these lessons (with appropriate attribution).