An Answer in Suffering
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
"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)
The words of this verse have much to say concerning a ministry such as ICR's and have been oft-discussed in these pages. In short, they consist of a mandate to be always prepared to give a systematic, logical (scientific, if necessary) defense of one's faith, with the proper motives and attitudes, of course. Let us today place the verse in its immediate context, verses 13 through 17.
Normally one would not expect opposition for doing good, but such a situation must be expected, particularly if a person is a zealous follower of good (as in v. 13). Such a person is enthusiastic about his cause, not in an irrational way, but a wholehearted way. This intimidates and infuriates those who "loved darkness . . . because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
"But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye" (1 Peter 3:14). Our natural response of fear need not overtake us, for Peter warns us to be prepared, and he gives several commands. First, "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts" (v. 15). He must occupy the supreme position in our hearts. Next, we must "be ready always" with our defense. This implies forethought, study, and preparation. Lastly, he insists we must maintain "a good conscience" (v. 16), a lifestyle so pure and blameless that any accusations will be to the shame of the accusers.
It may be, however, that in spite of our walk with the Lord, our preparation and lifestyle, unjust persecution may come. It may be in "the will of God" (v. 17) for us. If so, so be it, "for it is better . . . that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing." JDM