Be Prepared.

15 “but 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,” (I Peter 3:15).

Not only are we to not fear, or be troubled, by those who would persecute us for being zealous for good and for God (I Peter 3:13-14), God also calls us to be prepared to share the gospel to those very same individuals. I Peter 3:15 provides believers with the foundational biblical text regarding the task and responsibility of biblical apologetics.

Apologetics addresses and answers any and all critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. In short, it means to make a defense. The word apologetics is taken from I Peter 3:15 from the word defense (ἀπολογία; apologia). Rather than making an “apology” for biblical truth, the word means to speak on behalf of oneself or of others against accusations presumed to be false—‘to defend oneself. In this case, what the believer speaks on behalf of is the truth of Scripture in general, and the gospel in particular.

In preparing ourselves to defend the Scriptures, we in effect are honoring in our hearts Christ the Lord as holy. Our heart (καρδία; kardia) is our intellect, emotions and will, or our soul. It is the core of who we are. With all of our being, God commands us to honor Jesus. To honor (ἁγιάζω; hagiazo) means to hallow or to consecrate Jesus Christ as the holy God He is (Isaiah 6; I Peter 1:16).

One way to prepare our hearts to defend the Scriptures is by never forgetting what the Scriptures teach regarding God’s holiness. Reading and meditating upon Isaiah 6 is one way. Singing hymns regarding the holiness of God is another, such as the following by Reginald Heber.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Hearts Honor.

15 “but 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,” (I Peter 3:15).

Not only are we to not fear, or be troubled, by those who would persecute us for being zealous for good and for God (I Peter 3:13-14), God also calls us to be prepared to share the gospel to those very same individuals. I Peter 3:15 provides believers with the foundational biblical text regarding the task and responsibility of biblical apologetics.

Apologetics addresses and answers any and all critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. In short, it means to make a defense. The word apologetics is taken from I Peter 3:15 from the word defense (ἀπολογία; apologia). Rather than making an “apology” for biblical truth, the word means to speak on behalf of oneself or of others against accusations presumed to be false—‘to defend oneself.’ In this case, what the believer speaks on behalf of is the truth of Scripture in general, and the gospel in particular.

In his commentary on I Peter, Dr. R.C. Sproul writes:

Our preparation is to make us ready to give a defense and a reason for the hope that is in us…If your neighbor says, ‘I notice that you are a Christian. What is it that you believe?’ are you ready to explain not only what you believe but why you believe it? Some Christians tell those who inquire that we simply take a leap of faith with no bother about the credibility of the rational character of the truth claims of the Bible, but that response goes against the teaching of this text. The only leap of faith we are to take is out of the darkness and into the light. When we become Christians, we do not leave our mind in the parking lot. We are called to think according to the Word of God, to seek the mind of Christ and an understanding of the things set forth in Scripture.

This defense for the Scriptures and the gospel is done while in the context of persecution. Certainly, we should defend the Scriptures at all times, but especially when we are persecuted for our faith. Instead of retreating, we must prepare ourselves to stand firm and hold our ground in the reliability of God’s Word.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Zealous For What Is Good.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, (I Peter 3:13-14).

The Apostle Peter gives his readers what appears to be a rhetorical question in vs. 13. The obvious answer would appear to be that no one would seek to harm Christians when they are zealous for what is good. Yet, we know of believers who have been harmed for their zealousness for what is good and for God. Is Peter, therefore, wrong and by implication, God?

The word harm (κακόω; kakoo) means to be hurt or mistreated. Zealous (ζηλωτής; zelotes) means enthusiastic. Good (ἀγαθός; agathos) means beneficial and useful. In this statement of cause and effect, predicated upon an act goodness, no harm should befall the individual who is enthusiastic for that which benefits other people and which praises God.

However, vs. 13 must be read within the context of not only the chapters and verses preceding it, but also vs. 14 which follows. Peter does not ignore the obvious. He is not naïve and neither is God. Therefore, Peter makes this disclaimer or qualification.

Even if a believer suffers for righteousness sake, they will be blessed. Notice the contrast given by the conjunction of contrast “but.” To suffer (πάσχω; pascho) means to experience pain. Even if believers experience pain for doing that which is right in the eyes of God, they will be blessed. By whom? By God. Peter’s conclusion, quoting from Isaiah 8:12, is to not fear what men can do, neither to be troubled.

This promise mirrors Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:11-12 which says, 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

One commentator writes, “Though the adversary, through physical suffering or material hardship, would distress those who were eager (zēlōtai, lit., “zealots”) to do good, no real harm can come to those who belong to Christ. For even if suffering should occur, Christians are blessed and thus should not be frightened. The word here translated “blessed” (makarioi; cf. 4:14) was used by Jesus (Matt. 5:3–11). To be “blessed” in this context does not mean to “feel delighted” but to be “highly privileged.” Christians are not to be afraid of what men can do to them (cf. Matt. 10:28). Consequently 1 Peter 3:14 concludes with a quotation from Isaiah 8:12 which, in context, is part of an exhortation to fear God rather than men.”

Do you want God to bless you? Or course you do! Well then, realize the next time you are ridiculed or persecuted for your faith in Christ, God has highly privileged you before Himself. How awesome is that?

Soli deo Gloria!

Peter and Psalm 34.

10 “For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (I Peter 3:10-12).

Lest we believe that what Peter poses in I Peter 3:8-9, and what Paul shares in Romans 12:17-21, is exclusively a New Testament ethic, Peter immediately quotes from Psalm 34:12-16.

Psalm 34 is a Psalm of David. The historical context of the psalm is when David pretended to be insane before Abimelech the priest when David was also fleeing from the wrath of King Saul, as recorded in I Samuel 21. Saul was pursuing and persecuting David due to Saul’s jealousy of David. However, rather than seek revenge against the king, David did everything he could to honor Saul.

As one commentator writes, “In the psalm David called on the congregation to praise the Lord for their salvation. And after affirming that God is good to those who trust Him, he instructed the people on how to live a long life.”

David exhorted Israel to listen to his instructions regarding the fear of the Lord. The instructions were about living a righteous, peaceful life (v. 12), shunning evil and treachery (v. 13), and doing good (v. 14). This is wisdom teaching about the way of the righteous, which produces a life of excellence with the Lord’s blessing.

Additionally, for those who live righteously in the Lord (vs. 15, 17, 19, 21), God gives several assurances. First, He looks positively upon the righteous, which is a sign of protection (v. 15). However, the Lord is against the wicked and will cut off their memory … from the living (v. 16; Prov. 10:7b). Second, the Lord hears (vs. 6, 15) the prayers of the righteous who are broken in spirit.

It may well be hard to be nice to someone who has hurt you deeply. To say that you are broken-hearted would be an understatement. However, the way to overcome such pain is not to inflict pain of your own. It is God’s will that we bless rather than curse.

May our growth in Christ be evidenced by such an ethic beloved. Have a blessed day, and may you be a blessing.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

Do not Revile.

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (I Peter 3:9).

In I Peter 3:8, Peter listed five virtues of Christian living specifically related to how we speak. I Peter 3:9 relates to how we physically behave towards others.

First, we are not to repay evil for evil. Second, we are not to revile when others have reviled us. What does it mean to revile?

Reviling (λοιδορία; loidoria) means to slander, or to strongly insult another person. The word slander means to defame someone’s character or to speak about them with the intent of hurting them or their reputation.

Notice, people may revile or slander us, but we are not to slander them in return. I’m sure you have experienced someone speaking unkindly of you. I’m also sure that your first inclination was to return the favor. How can I be so sure? Because this is how I feel when people revile and slander me. When hit, verbally or otherwise, our first desire is to hit right back. However, this type of response will not please God and will not be a good example to others.

Peter’s audience perhaps wanted to strike back at their enemies for their slanderous statements of being perverted in following Christ. People called first century Christians cannibals because they ate the so-called body and blood of Christ when they gathered to worship and observe the Lord’s Supper.

What are we to do instead? We are called to consistently bless. We are to praise and speak well of someone (εὐλογέω; eulogeo) all the time. This is what God calls or summons His children to do.

As you and I do this, God says we will obtain a blessing in return. God will praise and speak well of us, as will other people, when we behave this way. It may not always be easy, but it will be an example of excellent Christ-like behavior.

Who has recently, or in the past, slandered you? Do their names come to mind? Bless them right now, where you’re at. Don’t wait another minute to obey God’s calling. If necessary, and I’m sure it is, ask God for His help in doing what He has called you to do.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Christian Behavior.

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (I Peter 3:9).

The Apostle Peter now transitions in speaking to all believers in Christ about living peacefully in a pagan culture. We can all identify I believe with that since the culture we are now living in has become pagan before our eyes.

In light of the perspective of submission to the God created institutions of government, work and marriage, the apostle begins to encourage all believers to embrace specific Christian attitudes and behaviors in all areas of living. While not an exhaustive list, it is one which all disciples of Jesus should seriously embrace.

In vs. 8, Peter listed five virtues of Christian living specifically related to how we speak. I Peter 3:9 relates to how we physically behave towards others.

First, we are not to repay evil for evil. I’m sure you have seen the sign or bumper sticker which says, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” The phrase Peter used literally means to give back evil for having received evil. Evil (κακός; kakos) means to treat someone harshly, harmfully, or in a damaging way.

The Christians to whom Peter was writing to had experienced evil treatment by the government and possibly by others. It would have been easy for them to retaliate or to respond with the same type of behavior. It comes naturally, but God says no.

The Apostle Paul says something similar in Romans 12:17-21:  17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

So, instead of insulting the president, pray for him. Instead of yelling back at your boss behind his back, bless him/her. Instead of ignoring your wife or husband, speak kindly to them.

We may not be able to control the evil we encounter and experience in this fallen culture, but we sure can control how we respond to it. Have a blessed day!

Soli deo Gloria!

Peaceful Living.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (I Peter 3:8).

The Apostle Peter now transitions in speaking to all believers in Christ about living peacefully in a pagan culture. We can all identify I believe with that since the culture we are now living in has become pagan before our eyes.

In light of the perspective of submission to the God created institutions of government, work and marriage, the apostle begins to encourage all believers to embrace specific Christian attitudes and behaviors in all areas of living. While not an exhaustive list, it is one which all disciples of Jesus should seriously embrace regarding our speech.

First, to have a unity of mind. It means to be united in spirit (ὁμόφρων; homophron). It is to have the same attitude and to follow the same path. Believers are to pursue a likeminded attitude regarding the Scriptures and to not be argumentative with each other in areas of disagreement. In other words, while we may disagree at times we are never to be disagreeable.

Second, to have sympathy towards one another. To be sympathetic (συμπαθής; sympathes) means to be understanding, concerned and kind towards others. In other words, to be caring and compassionate.

Third, to have brotherly love. Brotherly love (φιλάδελφος; philadelphos) means to love one another as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is to have a fond affection for fellow believers.

Fourth, to have a tender heart. Being tender hearted (εὔσπλαγχνος; eusplanchnos) parallels the previously mentioned word sympathy. It means to be compassionate and caring to others. The Apostle Paul used this word in Ephesians 4:32.

Fifth, to have a humble mind. To be humble (ταπεινόφρων; tapeinophrones) means to literally have simplicity of life, or to regard others as better than yourself.

Practically speaking, if we strive to put these virtues into practice in government, at work and in the home, I wonder how different life would become? Make every effort today to demonstrate these virtues before God and other people.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Self-Sacrificial Love.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Peter 3:7).

How may a husband display a responsible self-sacrificial love (Ephesians 5:25) to and for his wife? The Apostle Peter gives two examples of how this must occur in the home for marriage to be God glorifying.

First, the husband must live with his wife in an understanding way. Understanding (γνῶσις; gnosis) means possessing knowledge. A husband must not only live with his wife having knowledge from God’s Word regarding his responsibilities as a husband, but also having knowledge about his wife’s personality. He needs to understand his wife’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

Second, he must honor his wife as the weaker vessel. To honor (τιμή; time’) means to give and recognize one’s wife as possessing a high status and deserving high respect. He does so because she is the weaker partner in the marriage. Weaker (ἀσθενής; asthenes) refers to physical weakness but not emotional or intellectual inferiority.

The husband carries out both of these responsibilities since the wife, if both are believers, is an heir with the husband of God’s grace. This refers to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

One of the results of such biblical behavior on the part of the husband is that the prayers of both he and his wife will not be hindered. To be hindered (ἐγκόπτω; enkopto) means to cause someone not to do something. Husbands are to be obedient to God’s instruction so the prayers of his wife, along with his own, will never stop. If one’s prayer life is in trouble, the marriage is in trouble.

Living in harmony with your spouse should be a lifelong goal. It can be consistently achieved as each partner follows God’s Word regarding their individual responsibilities in the marriage. Pursue it today, and keep on pursuing it ladies and gentlemen.

Soli deo Gloria!

Husbands.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Peter 3:7).

I often hear husbands demand submissiveness from their wives, while never understanding that husbands are to also be submissive to their wives. Even though husbands are the head of the home (Ephesians 5:22-24), they are likewise to be responsible to and responsible for their wives. In a word, they are to likewise be submissive.

How may a husband display a responsible self-sacrificial love (Ephesians 5:25) to and for his wife? The Apostle Peter gives two examples of how this must occur in the home for marriage to be God glorifying.

First, the husband must live with his wife in an understanding way. Understanding (γνῶσις; gnosis) means possessing knowledge. A husband must not only live with his wife having knowledge from God’s Word regarding his responsibilities as a husband, but also having knowledge about his wife’s personality. He needs to understand his wife’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

After 40+ years of marriage, I believe I know and understand my wife. My wife Diana does not cry easily or often. So if and when I receive a phone call from her and she is crying, I know it is a big deal. I need to immediately stop whatever I am doing and focus on loving my wife and meeting her needs at that moment in time.

Gentlemen, as you read this article, ask yourself this question: do you understand your wife and God’s instruction to you regarding your ministry to her? Second to your worship of God, this is your highest priority. Do you know what makes your wife sad, happy, angry or frustrated? If you don’t, you should. If you do, then minister to her today by demonstrating your understanding of who she is and how you may best love her.

This will truly bring God glory, and fill your home with happiness.

Soli deo Gloria!

Holy Women of God.

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (I Peter 3:5-6).

In continuing his thoughts of submissiveness within the home, the Apostle Peter describes a truly beautiful woman as one who was holy. As we have already seen (I Peter 1:16), the word holy (ἅγιος; agios) means pure, divine, dedicated and separated from sin.

These holy women of the Old Testament were individuals who hoped (ἐλπίζω; elpizo) or possessed confidence in the character of God. Therefore, they believed God’s promises.

These were women who adorned or beautified themselves by submitting to their own husbands. They were responsible to and responsible for the husband God gave them. One such example was Sarah.

As one theologian explains, “Sarah is chosen as a specific example of a woman who was submissive to her husband. She obeyed Abraham and called him her master. That is, she recognized him as the leader and head of their household (Gen. 18:12). Like other holy women of the past, Sarah put her hope in God. This kind of conduct gives women the spiritual heritage of Sarah: You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear (ptoēsin, “terror”—used only here in the NT). Wives who are fearful (perhaps because of disobeying their husbands) are not putting all their trust in God.”

Some women fear being submissive to their husbands. Many husbands give their wives reason to fear. Holy is the woman who trusts in the Lord and is obedient to God. This results in her specifically being submissive and responsible to her man.

Ask God to give you the courage to be obedient to Him today.

Soli deo Gloria!