This morning we looked closely at the events of Acts 4 and Peter’s bold response to the efforts of Satan to silence the gospel. Peter was a man of great personal conviction. At times it is easy to condemn Peter for his overconfidence and seemingly presumptuous attitude.
- Jesus rebukes Peter for being too quick to speak up (Matthew 16 – told Jesus He would not be killed – “Get behind me Satan”)
- In the garden Jesus scolds Peter for using a sword to protect Him.
But we dare not overlook the fearless conviction that prompted Peter to be so outspoken for Jesus. He seemed always ready to answer the pivotal questions that were designed to define one’s convictions.
- When others were deserting Jesus at the end of John 6, it was Peter who gave a profound and clear answer to Jesus’ question. John 6:66-69 – From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” When others may have been tempted to be silent, Peter spoke up.
- In Matthew 16, Jesus asked who do you say the son of man is? Matthew 16:16-19 – 16 Simon Peter answered and said,”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” His public confession of Jesus became a pivotal moment in the coming of the kingdom as Jesus promised to build His church on the truth contained therein.
If there is anyone in the N.T. who can encourage us toward boldness it would be Peter. He has been tested and proven. He knows the importance of answering the questions that are destined to be posed to us concerning our faith. His experience makes his statements in 1 Peter 3 even more compelling.
1 Peter 3:15-17 – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. NIV
I. Prepared to give an answer: What does that require of me? Does it mean that I must be ready and willing to debate anybody on any religious issue they might propose? Does it require me to confront every false claim and every false way?
A. Other translations of this passage replace “give answer” with “make a defense” (NAS, RSV). This seems a better rendering of the thought. God is not simply calling on us to know the answers to some questions. It is a call to a comprehensive defense of my hope.
II. Who Needs to be Prepared? This letter was written to Christians who were different than those around them. They were different from what they had been in the past; different associations, different goals in life. Their different lifestyle created the need to be ready to give an answer.
A. Notice first that this verse speaks to all of us. Peter is not just addressing preachers or elders. In vs. 8 he calls on “all of you” to be of one mind. The overall context of this command is focused on all the Christians who were being persecuted for their faith (v. 14). If anyone asks we must be prepared. If we are living our faith, they will ask.
III. What are the Questions? Peter assumes that others will ask us questions concerning our hope. Have you ever been questioned about your faith? If not, it might be because you are not living a different lifestyle than those around you.
A. What questions did they have to answer? We often think of intellectual questions on Bible topics. What if they ask me about the mark of the beast, or the book of Revelation. Maybe on instrumental music or the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are certainly questions that need answers and we need to be prepared.
B. But I am convinced that the questions that Peter has in mind here are more personal and practical to the inquisitor. Their former friends and present associates would think it strange that they no longer ran with them in sin – 1 Pet. 4:2-4 ..”that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles– when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.” ; They would be spoken against, and reproached (3:16) , and accused of evil ( 2:12). Those who choose to serve God today face the same response. For this context the questions that we face may not be theological inquiries. They may be more personal and intimidating. Why don’t you like to go out with us anymore? Are you too good to do what we do? Aren’t you going overboard with this religion thing?
C. Peter says the questions will challenge the reason for our hope. This implies that the world will notice if we have any hope that differs from others. It will take notice if our hope impacts the choices that we make.
1. How often do you speak to others about your hope? Earlier Peter spoke to these Christians about the value of the hope of heaven: 1 Peter 1:3-7 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, …
IV. What Do I Need? What kind of preparation do I need to make? From the context of Peter’s letter, there are things I need:
A. I need the truth. I cannot defend my faith with anything other than the truth.
- 1 Pet 4:11 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;” (KJV)
- The NIV translates I Pet. 4:11 as “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (NIV) You cannot successfully defend your faith unless you take the Word of God seriously and learn the truth for yourself.
- 1 Pet 1:13-14 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (NIV) How are you preparing your mind for action? Do you know what the God thinks and desires from you? Do you spend time in meditation and study of God’s word?
B. I need a sanctified heart. 1 Pet 3:13-15 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,... Peter calls for courageous sanctification.
1. The call for sanctification is a call for single minded devotion. Peter says in our text that in preparation to answering the questions of the unbeliever, I must “sanctify the Lord Jesus in my heart.” What does that mean?
a. The NIV translates it “set apart Christ as Lord” – consider Him to be absolute Master. This is the heart of answering the questions that relate to my hope.
b. The answer that God wants me to give others is more in the form of “who” than “what”. I will tell you what I hope for, but first let me tell you who I hope in.
c. The words of Jesus answer every question. My conviction rests on what He says alone.
d. This is only possible as we develop a clear perspective on our identity and accountability. We are God’s people; accountable only to Him… To the world Jesus is a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” ; but to us He is “precious … “chosen of God..” (1:7-10)
C. I need a good conscience. In vs. 16, Peter says we must have “a good conscience, that wherein you are spoken against, they may be put to shame who revile your good manner of life in Christ..” If others question our hope, it is a clear indication they are scrutinizing our lifestyle. Peter points us to holiness through obedience as an answer: 1 Pet 1:14-16 “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” We must resist the temptation to blend into our culture and strive to be like Christ in all things.
- Our actions and behavior can discredit our words. Our answers may be right, but if our life is wrong, no one will listen. 1 Pet 2:11-12 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
- There was a time when this was a crucial discrepancy in my life. I was dating a young lady that was not a Christian, but she was living her convictions much better than I. She had a good conscience and my unfaithfulness discredited even the right answers I could give from the Bible. (can you preach about seatbelts if you don’t wear one?)
D. I need the right attitude. Peter says I must answer others with “meekness & fear” – a submissiveness to others and a respect for God. My answer must reflect my discipleship to Christ as I follow His example – when He was reviled, He did not revile in return.
1. I can either create animosity or curiosity by the manner in which I respond to others questions. Just having the right answer is not good enough. I must learn to speak the “truth in love” so the truth can change people’s lives.
Conclusion: I must never lose sight of what God calls on me to defend. It is not myself, or my self-respect. Peter says I must be ready to defend the hope that is within me.
What is the Hope within Me? Peter relates it to the “revelation of Jesus Christ” ( 1:13).
- It is the true expectation that even if we are ridiculed and put to the test here, we can never forget that “He that believeth on Him shall not be put to shame.” (2:6)
- It a hope born through God’s Holy and incontrovertible word. Do you have this hope.. If you do then prepare yourself defend it. If you do not, then find it in the obedience of your own faith toward God.