In 1 Peter 3:15, Christians are admonished to “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…”
I sometimes fall down on giving an answer with gentleness.For example, I said elsewhere that you Christians who maintain that you first believe (decide to have faith) and then are raised from the dead to decide to believe even more “need a (respectful and reverential) kick in your Arminian pants.” I may have been even more brassy to Arminians when, taking a leaf out of Paul the Apostle’s book, I didn’t only let loose, as Paul did (in connection with those believers who insisted that Gentile believers be circumcised – Galatians 5:11) that he wished they would go the whole hog and emasculate themselves. I was much more blunt: “Go and emasculate yourselves.” To add insult to injury, 1 Peter 3:15 is about giving an answer to those who ask me, and no Arminian asked me how faith and regeneration work together; I just went in hammer and tong(ue). Good thing I’m not an apostle.
But let me move on to the main clause in 1 Peter 3:15, “… always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” “Everyone” here refers to unbelievers. Permit me to expand the cohort of Peter’s listeners to Christians as well, who also need to ingest from other Christians the vittles of Christianity. Sometimes, alas, the meat dished out can be rather stringy. Here are two examples:
Not only those who call themselves Christians but even committed ones, say, when asked (and sometimes not asked) what Christianity means to them: “I’m no more than a sinner saved by grace.” To wit:
Hazlett Lynch, in introduction to “D. Martyn LLoyd-Jones (1899-1981: A Personal Appreciation,” says in his opening paragraph:
“As one who has been reading and studying the Lloyd-Jones material for about 40 years, I am delighted to offer this paper as my humble contribution to the legacy of this dear servant of Christ to the Christian Church. To write about such a man as the Doctor (as he was affectionately known) was is an enormous privilege, and yet is a deeply humbling experience for me. I lay no claim to an expertise in the works of Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and am no more than a sinner saved by divine grace; yet I am that, and for that I am eternally grateful” (my italics). (For more context, see here).
Another example: Your answer you give to the hope that is within you is “I have been forgiven.” With regard to forgiveness, guilt is one the greatest human burdens. So, when you are told that God can wipe away all your sin, and all you have to do is believe that Christ paid the penalty in your place, and all can be wiped clean, you may – most, of course, won’t – jump at the offer and “give your heart” to Christ. If, however, that is all Christianity is for you, and all the other “stuff” like reading your Bible, praying, going to church, sharing with other Christians are a drag, then all you would’ve done is replace one burden with a another: religion. You’ve dredged up your guilt and masked it by the drudge of religion.
A Christian is forgiven, of course, and that is most wonderful; the chains have been removed, indeed, you have been raised from death. But, the even more glorious thing than being no longer dead is becoming alive, is being in Christ. What is it to be alive in Christ?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory
(Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
Christians, should you give such an answer as above to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope within you? Won’t it be too much for an unbeliever? Shouldn’t we rather aim lower, at something an unbeliever can dig their rational teeth into such as the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? Now you’re making me want to pick up something sharp again. Don’t you think the Holy Spirit of God can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh, and don’t you think the best way He has chosen to do this is the scripture, for didn’t He say this was the way to do it? Wasn’t this the way He did it for you?
Talk till you’re purple in the face about the evidence of the resurrection and the moral argument for God, about the wonders of human embryology (something amazing to see) , even calling it “divine” and “miraculous,” but unless the Holy Spirit of God irrupts into your life, you remain dead; in what ultimately matters: a life with God in Christ.
Can’t continue…was cut off.