J. Wallace Hamilton landed on “The Unanswerable Answer” as a title for one of his sermons in A Faith for a Nuclear Age. He used 1 Peter 2:15 as his jumping off point:
It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
The ominous shadows of persecution provided the occasion for writing this letter. The fires were stoked. The accusations were loud. The arguments were unfair. And the name of Jesus was drug through the mud. Maybe word reached Peter that these Christians were unsettled.
What are we supposed to do?
Give us some talking points, Peter.
How do we answer these heathens’ questions?
Hamilton writes, “And the Apostle tells them it will do no good. There is no argument that will stop an argument. The only thing that will stop an argument is not an argument, but a demonstration. The one unanswerable answer to the enemies of Christianity is a Christian.” That’s the way you “silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (NIV). Give them an example. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Perhaps Peter’s words were drawn from the deep well of experience. Decades earlier Peter and John had been thrown into jail for throwing the Temple precincts into chaos by healing a beggar in the name of Jesus Christ (see Acts 3:1-11). The people were astounded. The Bible says that Peter “saw his opportunity” and began preaching the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus—facts to which, undoubtedly, some of those people had been eyewitnesses just a few weeks before (see Acts 3:12-26).
Peter’s preaching was impactful: 3,000 believers on the Day of Pentecost, and now (just a short time later) the number of believers totaled about 5,000 men—very disturbing to the movers and shakers of Jerusalem (see Acts 4:4)
This is getting out-of-hand.
We intended the cross to put an end to this “Jesus talk.”
And now these two ordinary men are turning everything upside down with their foolish talk of healing and forgiveness in the name of Jesus.
But this Council which two months earlier orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus was now a toothless tiger. All their arguments were empty because of a demonstration.
…since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. – Acts 4:14
The unanswerable answer.
How in the world do I get there?
- Settle it in your heart that God has not left you on your own (see 2 Peter 1:3-4). He will not withhold anything you need. He is generous and does not give grudgingly (see James 1:5)
- Plant this sign in the front of your brain: God will transform me into a new person. God deals in light, life, power, and newness. This is your heritage as a child of God! His blood flows through our veins. Christ lives in you (see Galatians 2:20).
- Reinforce your thinking with truth (see Romans 12:1-2). A good place to begin is by reading Romans 1—8, one chapter a day. Don’t hurry this. Take enough time to soak in the truths of each chapter, and how this is good news for you. Understand that the Gospel is as much for you as it is for the unbeliever. He can break every chain.
- Another way to reinforce our thinking with truth is through singing. This Sunday we will sing the following songs together. Spend some time this week dwelling on these truths.
What an adventure: stopping the foolish arguments of the enemy not with an argument, but with the demonstration of life that is an Unanswerable Answer!