I was reading in 1 Peter today and thought I should share some of it with you.
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him. (1 Peter 3:13-22 NIV84)
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right you are blessed.”
God will protect you, and if He allows you to be harmed for your good, you are blessed.
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
I think this has to do with persecution. Have you ever known what was right but not done it out of fear of persecution (it does not have to be physical persecution. Perhaps you could have been made fun of, or you might have lost a friend)? I have. It is one of the things I regret most.
You may be thinking, “I have never done something I was not supposed to do out of peer pressure. I never threw a rock through a window because I was called a sissy, I never wore immodest clothes because they are cool, and I never smoked pot because my friends said it was fun.”
That is all very good. I am glad you have refrained from hurling bricks and dressing immodestly and smoking, but that does not mean you have not sinned out of fear of persecution. Failure to act is an action of disobedience. Have you ever seen someone in poverty and done nothing to help? Have you ever seen an injustice and known someone must rise against it, yet acted not? That is disobedience! If you know what you ought to do, yet do not do it, you have sinned, and do not say you do not know what must be done, you know you ought to read the bible.
So act when you know you ought to, and do not do what you know you ought not, whatever the world tells you.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
You should always be prepared to defend your faith. How? The bible (you should really read this book). Science. Wait a second there, you do not actually mean that science and the bible can work non-contradictorily in a sentence together, do you? Actually, I do, and, for your information, the bible is the most historically correct book in the world. It passes the internal test (the test that checks for contradictory statements within the book) flawlessly. It passes the external test (the test that searches for contradictions to books that have been deemed historically correct and for contradictions to archaeological evidence) just as well. It also passes the bibliographic test (in this test, the historical document is deemed more correct if there are many copies made a short time after the original, rather than few copies a long time after the original).
You were also told to answer gently and respectfully, so that whoever speaks maliciously against you may be ashamed of their slander. I am not going to promise you that every time you answer someone gently and respectfully when they inquire of you about your faith, they will immediately repent and speak harshly no more, but I can tell you they are much more likely to heed what you are saying. No one wants to listen to a man that rudely screams their face, no matter how true his statements are, but a man who speaks gently and respectfully, even (or perhaps especially) when respect is not given to him, opens the ears of his listener.
“In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him.”
I have heard someone ask the question, “If someone is on the way to the church to be baptized, and they are in a car crash and die on the way, are they saved?”
I know without a doubt that physical baptism is necessary for salvation, so what does that mean for the one who died on the way to his baptism? After reading this passage, I am convinced that he was saved. 1 Peter says that the baptism that will save you is not from the removal of dirt from the body but by the pledge of a good conscience toward God. Also in the beatitudes, Jesus makes it clear that God is concerned with the heart, not your physical actions. Why, then, is physical baptism necessary (Acts 2:37-38)? For the same reason that you cannot go to heaven without good deeds. Good deeds do not save you; faith saves you. But good deeds are a direct byproduct of faith, as smoke is from fire, and you cannot have faith without having deeds as a result. Committing deeds does not give you salvation, but you commit good deeds because you have salvation. Being dipped in water does not save you, but you are dipped in water because you have accepted salvation in Christ Jesus.
Finally, you are saved by the resurrection of Christ, who is now in heaven at God’s right hand, and, if you heed the words written in the bible, you will someday be there too, at Jesus’s feet, worshipping a good and holy God for eternity.