Lesson 26—The Believer’s Answer for the Hope
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15
Lesson Goal: To learn more about the hope that is in the life of the true believer. We learn today that this hope stirred the hearts of Peter’s audience to face and bear persecution.
Peter again alludes to Isaiah 8:13. In 1 Peter 3:14, he instructed believers that they should not be fearful of those who threaten them. In verse 15, he instructs them: “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” The word “but” refers the reader back to verse fourteen: “and do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” Now in verse fifteen, we read of the positive attitude and action in response to the threats of these who persecute them. The positive response is “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” The believer’s heart is to be sanctified, meaning to be filled with Christ and focused upon Christ.
The word sanctify is hagiazo. This word is used in a variety of ways in the New Testament. “Here Peter uses it to express the believer’s acknowledgment of the lordship of Jesus Christ in his life” (Phillips). Sanctify means “set apart” or “consecrate.” MacArthur says, “It also in this context connotes giving the primary place of adoration, exaltation and worship to Christ.” When our lives are centered on, rooted in, anchored to Jesus Christ, who is in control of our lives, the believer is able to respond properly to the uncertainties and inconsistencies of life.
➢ What does it mean to you personally and uniquely to have your heart sanctified to God?
➢ How do believers become sanctified in their hearts?
(Verse 15) “and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks.” The word defense is from the Greek word apologia from where the English word “apologetics” comes. Apologia means an organized, thoughtful defense of the faith.
A believer who has Jesus Christ as their Lord should always be ready to give an answer to those who seek a reason for this hope that lives within them.
➢ Why do you need Jesus Christ as your Savior? Please give scriptural explanation.
➢ With so many other gods, why Jesus Christ?
As believers, we should study and grow in our knowledge of God’s Word and know well the truths of Scripture and our faith, so that when the time arises, we will be prepared to present them in a persuasive fashion. Always be ready!
➢ Have you ever found yourself at a place where you had to defend your faith? Explain in detail.
➢ What did you learn about yourself and your knowledge of your faith, having been placed in such a position? Please answer sincerely and prayerfully.
Peter clearly tells his readers that Jesus Christ provides a solid basis for hope in the midst of suffering, and they should always be ready to give a reason for the hope they have in Christ. Peter’s overarching and prevailing theme rises again from the pages of his writings to remind them, and us, that our hope is found in Jesus Christ.
“with meekness and fear”—The believer’s defense of this hope must be strong and uncompromising, but at the same time, it is to be done with meekness and fear. Meekness lends the meaning and idea of gentleness. It implies humility and should not be viewed as weakness, but as gentleness—not overbearing. See and compare Ephesians 4:15.
Read 2 Corinthians 10:1a to see the words of description used for Christ.
Fear means reverence, reverent. See Proverbs 15:1.
➢ Please explain in your own words how it is possible to stand uncompromising and firm while doing it with gentleness and reverence.
IMPORTANT TRUTH: The fact that we (true believers) stand is important, but just as important is the manner in which we stand.
➢ Have you ever witnessed someone’s good intention to offer a defense be harmed by the manner in which they offered it? Explain.
In closing, I share a practical reminder I borrow from the words of John Phillips:
Even as Peter was writing, Christians at Rome were facing the most horrible deaths. They were hated, slandered and lived moment by moment in expectation of arrest. Many of them had suffered the loss of all things. Many of them had seen their loved ones die tortured in the arena or torched to light up Nero’s garden. What was it that gave these martyrs such courage? A pinch of salt on some pagan altar was all their tormentors asked in return for their release. However, these Christians refused to deny the Lord. At first, the tormentors were astonished at the faith and fortitude of these Christians. Later they were overwhelmed because, in the end, the Christians’ testimony took the pagan world by storm. Countless thousands of souls were converted in the face of all the dangers. The blood of the martyrs had become, indeed, the seed of the church. So then, what was the secret? Christ! The Son of the living God has entered into human life by way of a virgin’s womb. He lived a sinless life. He died an atoning death. He rose from the dead. He ascended on high. He is coming again. That was the reason for this hope: this same Jesus, who ascended on high, lives within the believer by His Holy Spirit. Once we sanctify Him as Lord, no foe can daunt us, no fear can haunt us!
Questions for Life Focus
With prayer, please finish the following statement:
Because of the hope I have in Jesus, I…
How does this hope affect you today?
How does this hope affect your future?
Write a prayer of thanksgiving for the hope in you.
I want to thank each of you for being a part of today’s Life Focus lesson. I pray that God has used this lesson to teach and help you. If today you realize that you do not have this hope in you, because you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please know that your teacher will be glad to talk more with you. The staff of Mars Hill Baptist would be glad to talk with you. Dear friend, if today you know in honesty that you do not have this blessed hope in you, I would be honored to talk more about it with you. May God bless you all.