14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 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, 16 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. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, – 1 Pe 3:14–18 ESV.
Instead of looking at the overwhelming suffering around them and declaring that there is no God, they are rather to declare, “Jesus is Lord.” They are to “sanctify” or “set apart” the lordship of Christ in their hearts by showing his lordship when suffering comes. Peter then goes on to tell them (and us) that the command to set Christ apart as Lord is fulfilled as we ready ourselves for a defense of what we believe. Peter is telling us here that, when objections and attacks come our way, we are required to respond to them…
Perhaps the most significant point of Peter’s command is the reason he gives for it. It is as simple as it is profound: “For Christ also died for sins once for all” (3:18, NASB). The ironic twist, one that points us to the transposition of the gospel, is not that when we see suffering, we should conclude there is no God. Rather, it is that when we see suffering, we should remember that God himself, in the person of his Son, did exactly that so that suffering and sin would one day cease. Suffering is clear evidence that Christ is Lord; it is not a testimony against that truth. The suffering that is the cross of Christ—the very thing that, on the face of it, might lead us to believe there is no God—is, as a matter of fact, the deepest expression of his sovereign character as Lord.
It is the clear and steadfast conviction that Christ, and Christ alone, is Lord that has to motivate our Christian defense. Peter’s point is clear. In commanding us to set Christ apart as Lord, Peter is not talking about whether one has received Christ as Savior, or as Savior and Lord—not at all. Peter’s point is that, if one is to be adequately prepared to give an answer for one’s Christian faith, the lordship of Christ must be a solid and unwavering commitment of one’s heart.
Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2013) p. 34
Books by Scott Oliphint
Other Quotes by Scott Oliphint on The Cross Quoter