Devotional on 1 Pet 3:15 by Don Strickland
1Pe 3:15 “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
One day while driving to visit relatives, I came to a bridge with graffiti on its pillars. That sight was not particularly unusual in itself. However, one of the verbal expressions immediately caught my attention. Actually, it was two verbal expressions. Let me explain. The original, written with black paint, read, “Jesus or Hell!” The second, using blue paint, altered the first by two letters; it read, “Jesus For Help!”
As I thought about these two messages, I realized that both are true. If one does not have Jesus, he is certainly going to Hell. According to the second, Jesus is the One we must to go to for help–the most important help being salvation. Thus the intended result the writers of these messages wished to have upon their readers is salvation.
However, these two phrases also communicated two very different messages. The first was a message of condemnation. The second was a message of hope. The first is concerned with the results of man’s sin. The second conveys God’s love and the hope of the one who is under that love. The first emphasizes the problem; the second stresses the solution. Therefore, while being from two very different perspectives, we can still see that the content of both messages is needed in evangelism.
Without the idea of an eternal choice contained in the first message, Christ’s death loses its meaning. His life and teaching merely become solutions to the various problems in one’s life. Christianity becomes morality and nothing more. The daily decisions in one’s life (sanctification) are considered to the neglect of the moment in time when one is initially cleansed and enters into that saving relationship with his Lord.
But without the present significance of the second, God’s love is lost in His wrath. He is presented as a God who may be appeased regarding eternal destination, but who is not forgiving–a God who would rather send one to hell. The pattern of one’s life (sanctification) is scorned in the decision of the moment (justification). This decision is taken up without considering the path that one is to pursue after choosing Jesus.
While we can readily see that the content of both messages is present in the gospel, there is another difference between the two on which I want to focus. And that is one of attitude. The first message seems to be given from the standpoint of superiority. This attitude of condemnation is easily apparent. The second is given more from the standpoint of equals. (We would say that it is given as one sinner to another.) One message assaults with a choice; the other points to the answer.
Peter has written, “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to
everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3.15). This verse is located in the midst of a discussion on believers being persecuted, yet they are admonished to be gentle and respectful in presenting the gospel even to those who mistreat them. Therefore, remember to give the complete gospel message. While preaching the judgment to come, let us not forget to show the love we are to have for those to whom we present Christ.