Knowledge will never save us, but love can
Many conservative Christians have been falsely taught to believe that if we can memorize the right facts or know all the right things, our souls will be saved. Further, we were taught to believe that if we can teach others to believe the truth as we do, we can save their souls, too. It is important to examine this belief to see if it lines up with what the Bible has to say. Does knowledge really save?
Always Be Prepared To Give An Answer
But in your hearts revere 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.1 Peter 3:15 NIV
If you have spent any time in conservative evangelical culture, you are likely familiar with this verse. You’ve probably quoted it yourself.
I know I have.
Should I fail to have all the answers ready on the tip of my tongue, I was taught to see myself as a failure and an immature Christian. Not knowing the answer to every question just spurred me on to know more and argue better.
This verse was used to pull me out of a gospel founded on love and into a gospel based on the work of learning and knowing.
Let’s take a look at the context in which this verse is found in scripture. Was the author actually arguing that knowledge is what will save souls? I say, no, they were not.
It was presented to me, for as long as I can remember, as an argument to always be ready to defend my faith. It was the motivation behind my desire to sink into the art of apologetics. I wanted to arm myself with all knowledge so that when my beliefs were challenged by the “unbelieving heretics” of the world, I would be prepared to defend my Saviour. I was ready to slay each and every falsehood with my knowledge of the truth.
What Does The Bible Actually Say?
As I read through the book of 1 Peter, and especially chapter 3, I do not see any concern for saving knowledge. Rather, I see the emphasis on living righteous and holy lives as a means to win others to Christ.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:14-16 NIV Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12 NIV Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10 NIV To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV
These are only a few of the many encouragements found in 1 Peter that emphasize holy behaviour as our answer to the unbelieving world around us. There is no hint in this letter that the gospel needs us to be intellectuals to defend its truth. This concept is simply not on the author’s mind.
It is by living out our faith in love, humility, and righteousness that we give our answer to those who might challenge us. Our lives are meant to be the witness that defends the gospel. If we just look at the immediate context of 1 Peter 3:15, we see this articulated directly:
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 their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere 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. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 5:1-4 NIV
Do good, not evil. This is the answer we should be prepared to give.
What Shall We Take Away From This?
We were not commissioned to be all-knowing. We were commissioned to love the world and to be a light to the world around us. God is love; therefore, our commission is to be love also.
We were not commissioned to be all-knowing. We were commissioned to love the world and to be a light to the world around us. God is love; therefore, our commission is to be love also.Tweet
Dear friends, please do not be ashamed if you find yourself lacking answers. If you happen to feel uncertainty about the gospel, the Bible, or even God, please know that you are not in sin. Even the disciples didn’t fully understand or know who Jesus was and they walked with Him daily for three years. We can also have grace and compassion for ourselves.
Your job is not to know all the answers with perfect clarity.
Your job is not to argue people into believing.
Your job is to love.
Continue the conversation
How do you feel about the pressure of a gospel based on knowledge instead of love?
Leave a comment to let us know!