Evangelism, Apologetics, and Godly Conduct

Calvin’s Commentaries (46 vols.)

In his first letter to the early church, the apostle Peter very much emphasized the themes of Christian speech and Christian conduct. In Peter’s teaching Christian speech and Christian conduct are derived from the truths of the gospel. Through Christ’s death and resurrection the Christian is given new life, forgiveness, and hope. Now our calling is to holiness as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our Savior and example.

Peter also wrote that when we do good we will sometimes suffer for it. Sometimes people will abuse us, ridicule us, and slander us for doing what is right in God’s sight. We’re called to keep walking in Christ’s footsteps and not retaliate with evil speech, but to bless instead, as Jesus himself called us to do and as he did in his own life.

It’s very important then for Christians to know that when we talk about the Christian faith our daily conduct is also of utmost importance. When we’re defending the faith, sharing the gospel, or explaining the hope we have in us, Peter said we should do so with meekness and respect (3:16). In the same context Peter talked about our good conduct in Christ (3:16). In other words, if you are the most polished apologist or the most proficient teacher of theology but your conduct is unchristian, you are doing no one a favor except the devil. Calvin explains it well in his comments on 1 Peter 3:16:

What we say without a corresponding life has but little weight; hence he joins to confession a good conscience. For we see that many are sufficiently ready with their tongue, and prate much, very freely, and yet with no fruit, because the life does not correspond. Besides, the integrity of conscience alone is that which gives us confidence in speaking as we ought; for they who prattle much about the gospel, and whose dissolute life is a proof of their impiety, not only make themselves objects of ridicule, but also expose the truth itself to the slanders of the ungodly. For why did he before bid us to be ready to defend the faith, should any one require from us a reason for it, except that it is our duty to vindicate the truth of God against those false suspicions which the ignorant entertain respecting it? But the defense of the tongue will avail but little, except the life corresponds with it.

 John Calvin and John Owen, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 110.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

Our Living Hope (Clowney)

Reading through Edmund Clowney’s commentary on 1 Peter 1:3-5 this morning brought me to these excellent observations about Christian hope:

Peter writes a letter of hope. The hope he proclaims is not what we call a ‘fond hope’. We cherish fond hopes because they are so fragile. We ‘hope against hope’ because we do not really expect what we hope for. But Peter writes of a sure hope, a hope that holds the future in the present because it is anchored in the past. Peter hopes for God’s salvation, God’s deliverance from sin and death. His hope is sure, because God has already accomplished his salvation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus was a life-changing reality for Peter. When Jesus died on the cross, it was the end of all Peter’s hopes. He knew only bitter sorrow for his own denials. The dawn could not bring hope; with the crowing of the cock he heard the echo of his curses.

But Jesus did not stay dead. On that Easter morning Peter learned from the women of the empty tomb and the message of the angels. He went running to the tomb and saw its evidence. He left in wonder, but Jesus remembered Peter and appeared to him even before he came to eat with the disciples in the upper room. Hope was reborn in Peter’s heart with the sight of his living Lord. Now Peter writes to praise God for that living hope. The resurrection did much more than restore his Master to him. The resurrection crowned the victory of Christ, his victory for Peter, and for those to whom he writes. The resurrection shows that God has made the Crucified both Lord and Christ. At the right hand of the Father Jesus rules until the day that he will come to restore and renew all things.2 With the resurrection of Jesus and his entrance into glory, a new age has begun. Peter now waits for the day when Jesus will be revealed from heaven (1:7, 13). Peter’s living hope is Jesus.

 Edmund P. Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 44.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI