“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
1 Peter 3:15
For many Christians, any attempt to provide a rational defense for our faith is a waste of time. Some go a step further, insisting not only that the Christian faith cannot be defended, but that it ought not to be defended. This is fideism, the belief that faith and reason are antagonistic to one other. This of course is not the biblical perspective at all. As today’s verse passage instructs us, the Christian can and should be prepared to offer good reasons for holding to the Christian faith. Peter is not alone. Jude instructed us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). The local pastor, who is supposed to be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3), should be expert in this. Paul wrote that the pastor is one who holds “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). Becoming an able defender of the faith takes time, prayer, effort, and discipline. As the proverb declares, “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer” (Proverbs 15:28). Even so, we needn’t have earned degrees in science, history, or philosophy in order to successfully fulfill the command of 1 Peter 3:15. What is essential is that we first sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. In other words, we must set Christ apart as Lord over every area of our lives. God must get primacy over all of it. This means that we believe the Bible, not because it meets our chosen criteria for believability, but because it is the word of the Holy God of Heaven, the One Who alone possesses the supreme right to be believed and obeyed. We certainly can, and should, offer arguments and evidence for our faith. Throughout sacred Scripture we see God’s people defending the faith in just this way. Even so, we must never forget that God has already revealed Himself to every heart. Despite their protestations, non-Christians do believe in God (Romans 1:18-20). The non-believer’s reliance on his own mind and senses shows that he knows God created these faculties to be reliable guides to the truth (Job 38:36; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 94:9-10; Proverbs 20:12). Every time the non-believer makes a moral evaluation, commending some and accusing others, he reveals his knowledge of God who has written His moral law on his heart (Romans 2:14-15). May we faithfully and courageously give witness to these things when called upon to do so. Even in these last days, may God make our reasoned defense of the faith powerful, effective, irresistible, for His glory and the good of those He loves.