THIS IS WHY I BELIEVE IN...
HAVING AN ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION
1 Peter 3:14-16
1. This week I want to apologize for being a Christian. What’s more, before this week is over I want you to be able to make a similar apology. In fact, that’s going to be the theme of our session!
2. I don’t mean what you may be thinking, though.
a. What I’m talking about is suggested by a phrase in 1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
b. “Make a defense” is from apologia.
i. We’ve adapted it to mean “I’m sorry.”
ii. The original term meant “a defense presented in court;” to “apologize” like this was to offer a reasonable and intelligent account of one’s position.
c. We are to be able to explain and justify our Christian confidence whenever we are asked the reason for it.
3. Since we’re going to explore some of the reasons this week, we want to start by understanding why having them is so important.
1. I believe in having an answer to this question because that is what it means to be a rational being.
a. I am a person with a mind and a will
i. I am therefore not just a creature of fate, nor only an operative of hormones, nor merely a member of a herd.
ii. I can think, reason, understand, and make choices intentionally. I can act as I have planned, and I can give account for how I have acted.
iii. This is exactly the basis upon which, according to the Bible, God deals with all of us. (Rom. 14:12)
b. The most important things in my life, then, must not be allowed to “just happen.”
i. I am not willing to be like a crooked creek or like a piece of driftwood in it; I want to choose who I am and what I stand for – and that’s what God expects me to do.
ii. A godly life begins with an informed choice. (Joshua 24:15)
iii. And, it must be lived with an active mind. (1 Peter 1:13)
2. I believe in having an answer to this question because I have to in order to understand myself.
a. Self-awareness is a crucial aspect of anyone’s life.
i. Any of you who have ever been asked “What were you thinking?” know that.
ii. Being aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing is crucial to accepting yourself, or to forming social ties, or to connecting actions with consequences.
iii. So I want to clarify in my own mind what I really believe in, what’s not negotiable, what guides everything else.
b. Our text teaches us that it’s right to be aware of, and concerned about, what’s going on in our hearts. The rest of the Bible does, too.
i. The springs of life flow from a person’s heart. (Prov. 4:23)
ii. The words and actions that either bless or defile a person proceed from the heart. (Matt. 12:34-35; 15:18-20)
iii. A sincere and pure heart leads the way to every relationship and responsibility of the Christian life. (1 Pet. 1:22)
3. I believe in having an answer to this question because I want to have the strength to be an influence for good.
a. When Peter wrote of “always being prepared to make a defense” he may well have been alluding to his own failure.
i. It happened the night Jesus was arrested and taken to the house of the high priest, while Peter was sitting around the fire out in the courtyard.
ii. When a servant girl came up to him and said “You were with Jesus,” Peter hotly denied that he even knew him. (Lk. 22:56-57)
iii. One writer observed, “When he was unexpectedly asked by an unfamiliar person in an unusual place in a passing, superficial way he was not ready with an answer.” (Stibbs, 136)
b. I want to learn from both his failure and his instruction in our text.
i. I want to know what I really stand for before the pressure is on.
ii. My neighbors, or my friends, or my family will ask me “Why do you...?” at some unexpected time, and I want to be able make my defense.
iii. But I won’t be prepared to give and answer unless I have an answer.
4. I believe in having an answer to this question because I hunger for real hope.
a. Without an adequate reason, it’s just a wish.
i. Biblical hope is desire plus an expectation of its fulfillment.
ii. It demands a basis in reality, a solid reason.
iii. You can’t hope in the Bible sense unless you have a sufficient basis for expecting to receive what you desire.
b. So what kind of reason will support what Peter calls “a living hope.”
i. Peter’s answer is that the Son of God, who was without sin himself, offered himself up to bring us back to the Shepherd of our souls, and that the Father proved that was enough by raising him from the dead and making him Lord and Christ. It’s that we’ve heard the news of what Christ has done, and embraced it through gospel obedience. It’s that we’re abiding in him, believing that he’s able to guard us and keep us.
ii. 1 Peter 1:20-21
iii. 1 Peter 1:3-5
5. I believe in having an answer to this question because of the kind of person it will turn me into.
a. Hoping on the ground we’ve just described doesn’t produce shameful lives.
i. It doesn’t lead to hypocrisy and envy and slander.
ii. It’s not a cover-up for evil.
iii. It won’t issue forth in haughty, scornful or harsh answers.
b. Instead, it produces what someone called “the only unanswerable argument for the faith” – a Christian life.
i. A person who is “prepared to make a defense” for real hope can do it “with gentleness.”
ii. His demeanor will be marked by “respect.”
iii. He will be conducting himself so that he may be found “having a good conscience,” unafraid of what anyone might say about him.
1. This week will be a rich one for us all if we start with a will to be prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in us.
2. Peter says this readiness begins with Christ being set apart as Lord in our own hearts. Does he rule in yours?
3. There is a way to appeal to God for a good conscience. (1 Pet. 3:21)