1 Peter 3:14-17
But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;…
I. THE CHRISTIAN HOPE? Why is the word hope used instead of that of faith? Usually it is faith that stands so conspicuously in the foreground in Christianity. Faith has mainly a reference to the hard dry facts of the intellect. Of course there is in Christianity a living, vital faith, and every Christian must possess this. But hope is a much softer word, and has to do more with the emotional part of human nature. Hope to be worth any thing must be based upon faith. Yet hope is the higher state of the two. The reason why St. Paul so often speaks of hope is twofold:
1. It had a reference to the early state of his people.
2. This hope was connected with something personal and future. Hope will, of course, differ according to the disposition of the man. The miser hopes for gold, the ambitious man for power, the vain man for applause. But we have to do with the Christian's hope.
(1) The Christian has a hope in the purpose of his life. He has a mission in the world which God has planned, and he knows that whatever happens will be for the best. He allows all his arrangements to depend upon the Divine Will. In the most minute events of life, as well as in the most gigantic schemes that the human brain can evolve, God rules.
(2) The Christian has a hope in the trials and afflictions of life.
(3) The Christian has hope in death. The most brilliant human lives must end.
(4) The Christian has hope in the hereafter. This is the most glorious hope of all.
II. THIS HOPE HAS A RATIONAL BASIS. The hope of the Christian may be cheering and consoling, yet if it had not a rational basis it might after all be a delusion. But Christianity is as much in harmony with reason as it is with the emotional side of man's nature. And it is the only religion that has a rational foundation. The necessity for a revelation from God has been felt in all ages and amongst all peoples. And if such revelation has been made it must be found in the Bible, for it can be no where else. Then the evidences of the truth of Christianity are overwhelming. The resurrection of Christ is a fact established by conclusive evidence.
III. EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE PREPARED TO DEFEND HIS HOPE. "Be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you." Each man is expected to be able to defend his faith. This reason must be —
1. Intellectual. Christians ought to study the evidences of the truth of their religion.
2. Moral. Every Christian's life ought to be morally higher than that of others.
3. Spiritual. The Christian religion is an experimental religion. "He that believeth hath the witness in himself."
IV. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH OUR REASONS ARE TO BE GIVEN.
1. Meekness. There must be no self-sufficiency. Humility is a Christian virtue. A religion of love must be defended lovingly.
2. With fear. This means reverence to God and respect to man. He must take care that the great truths which he has to teach do not suffer from his ignorance or incompetency. We must each make this hope our own. Christianity is a personal matter.
(George Sexton, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;