In my last post, we discussed that Christian apologetics is not just for the trained, philosophical and theological thinkers, or those with a burning passion for it. Christian apologetics, as Peter outlines, is for all Christians. He teaches that we are to honor Christ as Lord in our hearts while always being prepared to give a defense for our faith and the hope we have in Jesus. We are to do it with gentleness, respect, and keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
I proposed that preparation is ongoing, defending happens as others ask or inquire through comments or questions, and that we have to always first revere Christ as Lord in our hearts. The hope we have, as we know, is from Jesus Christ. The defense of our faith is as a result of Christ's death and resurrection. The transformation in our character (see Galatians 5:22) and lives that then draws questions and comments, happens as a result of us being in Christ. Even with this, I would be remiss to ignore the question many have in regards to the Christian faith in general. Why is Jesus even worth defending? Why, in the face of incredible persecution, loss of liberty, and even death were Peter's instructions to Christians to always give an answer or defense for the hope they have in Christ? In light of who we are, how is the truth of who Christ is able to bring hope that's worth defending?
During one of the more difficult seasons of my life last summer, God lead me to studying the book of John again. I fully believed at the time that Jesus was my Savior. I knew I desperately needed him, but I had yet to truly fall in love with the person of Jesus; God in the flesh who came down to the evil in the world in order to feel what we feel and yet remain sinless for our sake. I had seen the transformation that happens as God unveils your eyes to His glory, holiness, and gift of a savior in Jesus. Yet, my heart had not fully surrendered to the deep, unending relationship found in seeing Christ fully God and fully man. From the advice of a John Piper sermon, I studied one chapter at a time while simultaneously asking, "What glory of Jesus is being displayed here?" The more I pressed in and uncovered, the more Jesus was, as Peter instructed, set apart as Lord in my heart. So as we aim to not just understand but live out of a place where our hearts, souls, and minds sanctify Christ as Lord, how do the glories of who Christ is in both the book of John all parts of the Bible point us to the hope that we have that's worth defending? As I discovered both in that season and now in a new set of difficult circumstances, Jesus wasn't just a sacrificial lamb for us to enter into Heaven through our faith in him. Although He is most definitely that, He is so much more. He is the connection between all history, and the ultimate bridge builder of the heart, mind, and soul; a bridge leading to death of self and life in Him, cancelling of debts and undeserved grace, and ultimately union to Him and fullness of life. (Colossians 2:6-23) In the midst of job loss and isolation, I have become aware yet again, that Christ alone is where my hope lies; a hope always worth defending. I pray that as we spend the rest of our time uncovering more of who Christ is, you continue to fully surrender all things that get in your way of placing all your hope in the abounding love of Christ Jesus.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is fully human and fully God (John 1:1-5 and John 1:14)
Jesus is infinitely knowledgeable about all people and all that we would or will do (John 2:24)
Jesus gives the ultimate gift of new life in Him (John 3:16-17)
Jesus offers non-discriminatory, all-consuming, and undeniable grace to those that accept it (John 4:1-45 Jesus & the woman of Samaria)
Jesus is infinitely holy and completely connected to God His Father (John 5:19-23)
Jesus is the eternal nourishment for our hungry souls (John 6:32-35)
Jesus is the eternal water for our thirsty souls (John 7:37-38)
Jesus is the light in the darkness of our world (John 8:12)
Jesus is the source of true healing and spiritual sight (John 9:39)
Jesus is the Good Shepard for all lost sheep (John 10:1-9)
Jesus mourns with us in our sorrows (John 11:35)
Jesus is our beautiful connection to God and Savior of the world (John 12:44-50)
Jesus the most perfect example of a loving and humble friend (John 13:12-15)
Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6)
Jesus is the giver of God-honoring fruit (John 15:5-7)
Jesus turns sorrow into joy (John 16:22)
Jesus intercedes and prays on our behalf (John 17 - High Priestly Prayer)
Jesus who was betrayed and yet still died for His friend (John 18:15-27 - Peter's denial of Jesus)
Jesus, the crucified and finished sacrifice on the cross (John 19:30)
Jesus the conqueror of death (John 20:9)
Jesus our ultimate hope that is bigger than the world itself (John 21:25)
It is upon grasping who I am in light of all who Jesus is, that I began to understand why defending the hope I have in Him is not just an instruction but a gift. As we see in John 18, Peter denied Christ three times before He was crucified. It becomes no coincidence then that Peter is now the one giving instruction to all Christians about the importance of setting apart Jesus as Lord in your hearts, preparing to give an answer to the hope that is in you, and doing it with gentleness and respect. Christ knew Peter would deny Him as He faced death, and yet, He continued to die for him. Peter knew after he met the Risen Christ that his denial was sinful, erroneous, and painful to Jesus. Yet, the last passage written in John is of a conversation between Jesus and His friend Peter. As Jesus instructs Peter on feeding the future Christians with the truth of the gospel, He calls him to a life-long journey by saying, "Follow me." Peter isn't just speaking to Christians about the importance of being prepared to give an answer to the hope we have in Christ simply because it's something he felt like we should all do. Peter is speaking to all Christians about being prepared to give an answer to questions others have about our faith in Jesus because he, himself denied Christ when asked if he was His disciple (John 18:17). Peter is being the Shepard that Jesus instructed him to be over future Christians. (John 21:15-17) When Jesus spoke to Peter before He ascended into Heaven, He reiterated that Peter was to follow Him alone.
As Peter is writing to Christians in 1 Peter 3, he is giving them practical wisdom in relation to the gospel. As a part of that practical wisdom, he tells them now as we know to "in your hearts honor 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; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." Peter knew what it was to suffer emotionally and internally for doing evil when he denied being a disciple of Christ. He was speaking to all of us when he says these things because he saw first-hand the undeserved grace and love that Jesus offers even in the midst of our imperfection. Peter is abiding in the instruction Jesus gave him so that as we aim to honor Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts, we are prepared for defending our hope that is in Jesus alone.
God created us for glory, but we all have fallen short of that glory just like Peter did before Christ's crucifixion. We, like Peter, deserve the punishment that Christ bore on that cross, but yet in God’s great mercy sent His only Son Jesus Christ into the world to provide for sinners the way of eternal and fullness of life. Therefore, eternal life is a free gift to all who will trust in Christ as Lord and Savior and supreme Treasure of their lives. This is why we can have hope and peace during hard times. It’s not because everything will be better tomorrow - although it might; It’s because we have hope in Jesus.
Our hope is in Jesus, and that is always worth defending.