A Gentle Defense

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” (1 Peter 3:15).

- 1 Peter 3:13–17

As people who have identified with the Lord Jesus Christ through repentance and faith, we should not be surprised when persecution comes our way. After all, to suffer is part of our calling as Christians (1 Peter 2:21). Whether mild or intense, persecution and discrimination are an inevitable result of our profession.

Left to ourselves, we would not be able to withstand the onslaught of fallen humanity. However, we have not been left to ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit who, by illuminating our hearts and minds to understand His Word, enables us to stand firm in our faith.

In His providence, God has provided us with the first epistle of Peter as a powerful reminder of His work and a strong encouragement to stand for Christ in the midst of great suffering. We have been reminded that we have been brought by God into a living hope of salvation that can never be taken away from those of us with true faith (1:1–12). Because of this we are now God’s true people and will receive all of the blessings promised to His children (2:4–10).

As a result, we must live lives that reflect holiness and love (1:13–25; 2:1–3; vv. 11–12). Doing so will not be easy; in fact it will result in suffering. Yet to stand firm for Christ in the midst of such difficulty means that we patiently endure suffering and submit to God’s established authority structures (vv. 18–25; 3:1–7). Rather than be concerned with retaliating against those who cause us to suffer, we must instead offer them blessing (vv. 8–12).

That we must bless those who persecute us shows us that we are not always to endure suffering in silence. Today’s passage confirms this, calling us to give a gentle and reasonable answer to those who ask about our living hope. As we respond to suffering with patience and blessing, some will want to know what motivates us to do so.

Therefore, we all must become apologists. We all must equip ourselves to defend the faith. Yet in our defense we must be gentle, avoiding the temptation to be pridefully harsh or overtly contentious so that the non-believer to whom we relate may see the true character of the Lord who dwells within us.

Coram Deo

Are you equipped to be a defender of the faith? Have you studied things such as the historical background of Scripture and the evidence for Christ’s resurrection so that you can answer the critics of our faith? As you answer, are you concerned with being gentle and respectful? Take some time today to review some of the evidences for the truth of the Christian faith. Afterwards, spend some time focusing on the gentleness of Christ and your need to imitate it in your defense.

Passages for Further Study

Ps. 19:1
Matt. 11:28–30
1 Cor. 15:3–8
2 Peter 1:16

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343