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Passage of the Week: August 5, 2012

August 5, 2012

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17 ESV

Since we have spent all this time (much more than I had intended) reviewing apologetics, it makes sense to conclude with the cardinal passage on apologetics. It is from 1 Peter 3:15 that we get the word “apologetics” which is translated here as “make a defense.” This verse is often quoted out of context as a proof text for e apologist. While that is not an entirely inaccurate interpretation, it is less than complete.

The context of this passage is clearly persecution. The early church was plagued by severe persecution when they would literally suffer for confessing the name of Christ. In our western world today we may suffer ridicule but our experience normally does not include physical persecution as was suffered by the infant church (and by many of our brethren abroad. Peter encourages these believers, as well as us, that they are blessed by the suffering and to have no fear of their persecutors. Why? This makes no sense from our perspective. The answer is in the very next phrase “honor Christ the Lord as holy.” We are to fix our eyes on the Lord whom we serve and His promises. Our focus through persecution is not to be on the stuffing but on the Lord. Why? To glorify the one who is worthy of all glory and who has saved us from our sins and made us children of God. If they could endure physical persecution for the sake of Christ, why is it so hard for us to endure ridicule?

Only after our focus is on Christ are we in the proper frame of mind to make a defense for the faith. Remember that apologetics is about presenting a case to those who ask. How can we do this if our focus is on simply winning an argument or showing how clever we can be? We can’t. This is why Peter starts with the most important thing, keeping Christ at the center of our focus.

I sincerely hope the series of articles I just completed on apologetics has been helpful. However, I want to stress that if this is not done for the glory of God, it is meaningless. While someone may be helped by the presentation, if God is not the focus and not given the glory He is due then any attempt on the apologetic front is without true meaning. So I want to close this article by asking anyone who seeks to use the material presented on this blog to keep their focus on the glory of Christ and not on themselves. If you cannot do this then it is better to remain silent.

God bless.

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