And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
Christians are exhorted to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense (answer, KJV, ASV) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear...” (1 Pet. 3:15). The apostle teaches us to reply to questions about our faith with a reasoned defense (see 1 Pet. 3:13-14). Such an answer, coupled with a good conscience and good conduct, brings the wrongdoer to shame while keeping us in God’s blessings (1 Pet. 3:16-17). Consider the passage more closely:
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. To give an answer for our hope we must set apart Jesus Christ in our hearts as the Ruler of our lives (Matt. 6:24, 33; Lk. 6:46). Our first objective is to please the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9). Unless we give Him our abiding allegiance we will be ill-equipped to give an answer for our hope.
Always be ready. Preparedness is essential to living faithfully (Matt. 26:41). In Christ, the gospel prepares us to fight against and be victorious over sin and Satan. To do so we must equip ourselves with God’s word through study, meditation and obedience (Eph. 6:15, 10-13; 1 Tim. 4:13-16; Jas. 1:22-25).
To give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. A “defense” is an answer (apologia), a “reasoned statement or argument” (Thayer). Paul gave a defense of his faith in Acts 22:1. He gave a defense of his work as a gospel preacher in 1 Corinthians 9:3. Paul was “appointed for the defense of the gospel”, and the Philippian saints had fellowship with him in that work (Phil. 1:17, 7). The answer or defense we give for our hope must come from God’s word, since it is the very source that produces and assures our faith and hope (Rom. 10:17; Col. 1:5).
With meekness and fear...good conscience... Meekness is gentleness of spirit (cf. Gal. 5:23; 6:1). Giving an answer for one’s faith with an air of superiority and conceit destroys effective teaching (not to mention the soul of the teacher). The Lord’s servant must teach with patient humility (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Doing so serves both the Lord and the person who is lost.
Fear of God compels us to be careful to honor Him in the answers we give and the lives we live (Matt. 10:28). Respect for God and His truth results in a good conscience.
Consider with me a few ways brethren choose to “give an answer” and asked about their hope. By comparing these answers to the inspired exhortation of 1 Peter 3:15 we hope to learn how to please God with the answers we give.
1) “We teach the truth.” Such a reply begs the question. What is the truth you believe and teach on the topic in question? For example, if someone asks what you believe and teach is the purpose of water baptism, “I teach the truth” is an inadequate answer. The Mormon could answer the same question in the same way! But, what is the Bible truth on the subject? That is the question you have been asked: “give an answer” from God’s word.
When someone asks what you believe, teach and practice on divorce and remarriage, replying that “I teach the truth” is an inadequate answer. It is not hard to give the Bible answer: Marriage is ordained by God for all of mankind, it is a vow and obligation that lasts a lifetime, and there is only one cause for putting away a mate that gives one the right to remarry, namely, fornication (Heb. 13:4; Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:10-11; Matt. 19:4-6, 9). Giving the Bible answer may lead to additional questions and more opportunities to teach. Merely saying “I teach the truth” leaves an uncertain sound. Such an answer is at best, shortsighted, and at worst, evasive.
2) “I will not dignify your question with an answer.” It is true we must assess the nature of questions to determine a proper and wise reply (see Prov. 26:4-5). Christ chose not to answer Herod when questioned (Lk. 23:6-11). The text tells us Jesus was being treated with contempt; answering was futile.
Some choose not to answer questions sincerely offered because they believe their reputation is sufficient to satisfy the questioner; they are above being questioned. One gospel preacher became indignant that a church would ask him his teaching on divorce and remarriage prior to arranging a gospel meeting with him. He likened it to the “yellow tag of quarantine” applied to good brethren during the battle over institutionalism. When reminded that 2 John 10-11 gives a church the right to know the teaching of one who would teach from their pulpit, he chose to remove his name from consideration for a meeting instead of answering the question. May we never follow such a poor example.
3) “I don’t know the answer, but I will study it and find out what the Bible teaches.” We commend such an honest answer. Nobody knows everything, and we should be ready to admit it when we do not have an answer. Your goal is to give a Bible answer, not exalt yourself. So, study God’s word on the subject. Find a fellow-Christian who can help give an answer (2 Tim. 2:2, 15).
Giving an answer when asked is not about promoting oneself; it is about giving reasons for our hope from the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17). May we so answer that it is evident that Jesus is our Lord.
Scripture Reading: John 1:9-13
1. Why did
Jesus come to earth? This question presupposes several things, Jno. 8:58;
I. JESUS CAME TO EARTH...
Proclaim Good News, Lk. 4:16-21.
His Father, Jno. 17:1-5.
people do not believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Jno. 12:37-41.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Hiding Your Faith
Scripture Reading: Psalm 25:1-5
1. Just as some try to hide their sins from God, some try to hide their faith from men.
2. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven must not do so, Matt. 5:14-16.
I. BIBLE EXAMPLES OF HIDING FAITH.
B. The People of Jerusalem, Jno. 7:13.
Jewish Rulers, Jno. 12:42-43.
D. Peter...Again, Gal. 2:11-14.
E. The One Talent Man, Matt. 25:24-27.
II. WHY DO PEOPLE TRY TO HIDE THEIR FAITH?
A. Ironically, it is Because of Faithlessness, Lk. 6:46; Phil. 2:12-13.
B. The Loss of Privilege, Jno. 9:22; 2 Cor. 6:17-18.
Fear of Men, Jno. 7:13 (Matt. 10:28)
of Persecution, Matt. 24:9, 12.
Love of the World, 2 Tim. 4:10.
Christian’s faith must testify to the world that we trust in Jesus, 1 Ths.
The World is Still Here...For Now
The Mayan calendar, doomsday predictions, Armageddon...THE END OF THE WORLD!! As of this writing (21Dec2012, 3:15pm PST), the world is still here. That’s not to say it will not end before this article is completed. The simple truth is we do not know when the world will end – and we will not know – because the Lord has not revealed that information to us (Matt. 24:36). He will not reveal when the world will end because that is not our business. Our business is to “be ready, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:44). Our business is to do the will of God every day with faithful diligence to avoid neglectful complacency (Jas. 4:13-17; 1 Ths. 5:1-11).
Some people think the end of the world will bring them relief from life’s problems. The problem is, they are living without God in sin, and when the world ends they will be forever without God (Rom. 1:28-32; 2:4-11; 2 Ths. 1:8-9)! If you are presently lost in sin you must not view the end of the world as a blessing. No, it is just the beginning of eternal agony; a just reward for choosing to live in sin (Matt. 25:30; Mk. 9:42-48). Now is time to fully repent (2 Pet. 3:9).
Some people think the end of the world will not happen because it has not yet happened. This is willful ignorance; God has come in judgment before and He will again (2 Pet. 3:3-7). Russian President Vladimir Putin recently tweeted the world will not end for another 4.5 billion years – when the sun runs out of energy. Many share his view and live without thought of being answerable to Almighty God (Rom. 14:12).
The world will end when Jesus returns. Let us “watch and be sober” to be ready for the last day (1 Ths. 5:6).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/24/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA