Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 31, 1961

Ready Always To Give An Answer

John Allen Thurman, Columbus, Georgia

"And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good? But even if ye should suffer for righteousness sake, blessed are ye: and fear not their fear, neither be ye troubled; but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord; being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, wherein ye are spoken against they may be put to shame who revile your good manner of life in Christ." (1 Peter 3:13-16)

Peter admonishes Christians to be ready always to give answer to all who might ask a question regarding the faith or the manner of life of those who hold it. The answer given will often be determined by the Christian's knowledge, or lack of knowledge, as the case may be, of the truth. In God's word we may read many passages which instruct Christians to increase their faith, or to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Paul told Timothy to "give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth." The same writer again wrote to the same young preacher, instructing him, "Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching." On the other hand, Christians are warned against having an insufficient knowledge and are reproved for a failure to grow from their infantile state. "For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food." (Hebrews 5:12)

In these days of the twentieth century we may look about us and see an increasing number of people who are without knowledge of Bible teaching. It is even more surprising, however, to view the number of so-called "Christians" who do not even know the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God, being unable to give an intelligent answer regarding God's plan of salvation.. They have no idea where to find those passages which teach on faith, repentance, and baptism. This dangerous ignorance has reached vast proportions among God's elect, and the flood tide may not be far behind which will utterly destroy the last threads of church unity and bring about a final alienation from God, the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ. Will it be said of Israel today, as it was said of Israel of old: "Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk therein." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Every Christian — whether he be an elder, a deacon, a preacher of the word, or just a faithful member of Christ — is directed by inspiration to be ready always to give answer to every man that may ask a reason for his hope. Many Christians among us today would hinder this command being obeyed. There is a marked unwillingness to discuss (either privately or publicly) the divisions which exist, and to use God's word as a basis or standard for solving the problems or misunderstandings. In the church of God at Corinth there were problems; and Paul wrote them that, "there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you." (I Corinthians 11:19)

Many instances might be cited today where Christians have been "quarantined" without any investigation or examination at all by the other Christians who were doing the quarantining. Sometimes an entire congregation is involved; sometimes only a part of a congregation, or perhaps a preacher. But each Christian is accountable to God for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil; so every Christian should be given opportunity to testify to men (while he yet lives upon the earth) concerning his faith and practice. Christianity is individual in nature; and the only way the church universal functions is by the functioning of each individual as he does his duty under Christ, the head. When one is asked concerning his faith and practice, he should proceed to give answer concerning his hope and the reasons, based upon the word of God. We should ever avoid personal opinion, things which may promote animosity and ill will; but should be firm and unyielding in the faith, striving to give a 'Thus saith the Lord" for every item of faith and worship.

We are hearing much these days of Christian brethren making reference to other brethren in slanderous terms of malice and anger. "Anti," "hobbyist," and like terms are used over and over again. It is becoming quite common to read in some of the journals which carry appeals for local preachers that "no anti or hobbyist need apply." An unbiased heart can only ask in amazement, "Are these men Christians? is this that which Christ would have his followers do?"

Dear Christian friend, it is time for each person to think seriously about what a Christian is and what he should be and not be. God's word tells us in one place to "be ready always to give answer to every man," and in another place to "let love of the brethren continue." We cannot be true to Christ if we fail to live according to these commandments. We must learn to submit ourselves to God in everything, striving to the very best of our ability to live "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world," and we must constantly look "for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the gileat God and our Savior Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:12-13)