Though the genuine hope of the Christian stirs up the strongest of emotions, do not make the grave mistake of thinking that the Christian’s hope is founded on emotion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our feelings are founded on facts. Our hope is firmly anchored in the truths of the Gospel—of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Peter was clear, saying, “We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitness of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). When Peter and the apostles were accused of being drunk on the first Pentecost following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:13), Peter responded with a reasoned defense, not a mere emotional appeal. He reminded his hearers that God “attested” (apodedeigmenon) to the miracles that Jesus worked while He was alive and in their midst (Acts 2:22). That is, God “demonstrated” proof of the divine origin, message, and mission of Christ in such a way that people could actually see the evidence and make an informed, rational decision about Him (cf. John 10:37-38).
What’s more, the assembly on Pentecost knew that Jesus had been “put to death” only days earlier (Acts 2:23), but unlike the tomb of King David, Jesus’ tomb was empty only three days later. Unlike the body of David, which saw corruption, the dead body of Christ had been raised and would never see corruption. Yes, Peter directed the assembly to evaluate the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, including the implied empty tomb (Acts 2:24,29-32), the fulfillment of Psalm 16:8-11 (Acts 2:25-31), and the witnesses who stood before them testifying that they had actually seen the risen Savior (Acts 2:32).
The nearly 3,000 individuals who obeyed the Gospel on Pentecost were not swayed by flowery words, phony miracles, or mere emotional appeals. They were “cut to the heart” by evidence-based preaching. They reacted to a sermon filled with sensible argumentation and properly applied Scriptures.24 They responded to the apologia of Christ—to Christian apologetics.
About 30 years following the events in Acts 2, Peter reminded the persecuted Christian pilgrims in 1 Peter that the hope for which they were to give a defense is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1:3). Indeed, the evidence proves that “God…raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1:21).
Since our hope is evidence-based, it is paramount to learn the reasons for our hope—for our own eternal benefit and for the benefit of others (as we teach and answer questions). Unlike the miraculously inspired apostles to whom Jesus said, “Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer (apologeomai); for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:14-15), Christians today must prepare themselves to give a defense. We must “get ready.”