This is part four of an ongoing series about scripture and examples of apologetics in the Bible. You see, much of the opposition to apologetics come from within the church itself; believers. Dr. William Lane Craig states in his book, On Guard, that apologetics is used to “strengthen the believer, reach the lost, and change culture”. Thus, if the opposition is coming from within the church, it appears believers need to see and understand the Biblical mandate of apologetics. My personal goal in this series is to provide a better understanding of the scripture and give examples of the use of apologetics within the Bible.


When I started this series many probably thought I would start with, possibly the most used verse, by many apologists, to support apologetics. I have purposely not used it until today. In fact, a pastor once told me he thought this verse was being taken out of context.

Today’s verse, 1 Peter 3:15, states:

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (NASB).

As with the previous verses I have presented, let me give you some background to establish a foundation of where I am going.

1 Peter was written to Christians in Asia Minor who were suffering for their faith. What type of suffering would be my first question. The church was being persecuted for their faith. We do not typically see a lot of church suffering here in the west. But, it is still taking place today overseas. Christians are dying daily for their faith.  However, here in the United States, the most obvious suffering the church is experiencing is the mass exodus of our youth. About 75% leave the faith after graduating high school, as they fail to see of relevance of the church in today’s culture. Many believers do not see or accept what is happening to the church. We, the church, are a dying breed. Herein lies the importance of the verse we are specifically looking at today. Jesus stated that we would suffer, that we would experience trials and tribulation. Many of us have not experienced the types of hardship Jesus spoke of and Peter is writing about. Yet, in a similar way Peter is addressing the same type of suffering in the 1st century, as the suffering we are experiencing in the 21st century. The world is against Christianity.

Peter is attempting to convey that we, as Christians, are to take comfort in our salvation, in the hope we have. Unfortunately, that appears to be what we are doing. We seem to be simply sitting back and waiting on Jesus to return. Yet, that is not what we are told to do. Peter gives many examples concerning how to handle suffering from the outside world. He relies very heavily on the Old Testament, quoting it eight times; more than any other book in the New Testament except for Hebrews and Revelation. And, as compared with so many other writings in the Bible, Peter was written by…Peter! Of course, there are always objections to authorship and 1 Peter is no different. Though contested by some, this writing has possibly the strongest case of authorship than any other New Testament book outside the gospels and the letters of Paul.

Beginning in chapter 1 verse 13 Peter tells us to keep our minds ready for action and set our hope on the grace of Jesus Christ. He speaks of how we came to salvation through the blood of Jesus. He emphasizes the Truth of Christianity through the resurrection. We are to love God first, and one another, believers, as well. In fact, the Apologetic Study Bible commentary, states, as previously stated here, we are not to simply set back as our brothers and sisters suffer, telling them “it will be okay, think of the reward in heaven.” We, as the church, are to take care of one another!

Peter continues touching on such subjects as submitting to the government, with exceptions, wives submitting to their husbands, and husbands showing honor to their wives. We should not pay people back if a wrong is done to us. This is addressing believers, not the outside world. WE, as believers, are not to speak badly of other believers but to do what is good and right according to scripture. We must focus on God. We must put Him first. This is where “having an answer” strengthens believers as Dr. Craig states in the use of apologetics.

How is that for a foundation? 

Anyway, remember, this is the “go to” verse for apologetics. Though I have presented three others, with more to follow, apologetics is not an option, it is mandatory! And though it has been written and stated previously, everyone does apologetics; It is whether one does it effectively that matters.

So, let’s look at our verse again and determine why having an answer is important:

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and]reverence (NASB).

As I have shown in my “brief” foundation, we are to love God with all our heart. To sanctify Him. Remember the first and greatest commandment. We are shown here how to do that very thing. Even in suffering, God must come first! And if we love God, as instructed, we must, yes must, it is not an option, be able to give a reason for the hope we have. That hope is in Christ. Consider the impact of knowing, or having an answer, during suffering, that we, the church, would have when we are not suffering. Thus, apologetics is vital in our everyday walk. This one verse, if nothing else, not only provides so many examples, from suffering, to husbands and wives, to government, of why we must always, not sometimes, but always, be ready to give an answer for the hope we have.

I am going to continue this series next week with Old Testament scripture. Though I wonder why it is necessary. Why so much push back from the church. Why so few seem to take apologetics seriously. I have provided four strong pieces of scripture demanding us to know why we believe.

Is apologetics biblical? Of course! Do we all use apologetics? Of course! Will we keep doing the same things we have always done expecting different results? (insert Einstein quote here). It appears we will! But that IS NOT biblical! This verse, 1 Peter 3:15, commands us to have an answer. Will you follow the Bible? Will you strengthen your brother and sister? Can we change culture? Can we reach the lost? I would suggest yes to all the above!

 

John Mays is the Regional Director for the state of West Virginia and the Chapter Director of Ratio Christi at Marshall University. Contact him at johnmays@ratiochristi.org