What are you talkin’ about?


Evangelism should be an important part of the life of a Believer.  There is plenty of scripture that leaves no doubt about the truth of this.  The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to “Go” did He not? (Matthew 28:19)

The gospel is “good news”, the word means news, Euaggelion glad tidings of salvation through Christ the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ, the gospel, as the messianic rank of Jesus was proved by his words, his deeds, and his death, the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ came to be called the gospel or glad tidings.

What’s the last thing you were excited about?  Something you discovered that you really wanted to tell people, and let them know this is something that should interest them?  I’ve told lots of people how great Dropbox is.  I’ve told plenty of people how cool my new Thinkpad is with a solid state hard drive.  This really excites me and causes me to want to share the news with others.

Yet I forgot to tell them that Jesus offers sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and eternal life to the dead, all spiritually speaking of course.  Ooops, how did I leave that one out?

But I must tell them

I can’t let myself off the hook by saying “use words when necessary”.  Words ARE necessary.  Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?

The preacher is a proclaimer.  Not just your pastor or the professional evangelist.  You and me, Believer are preachers.  We can’t proclaim unless we open our mouths.

So now what?  How do we do this?  The fact we should proclaim is clear.  The most notable verse about this comes from 1 Peter and one most Christians are quite familiar with.

This all begins with the concept that those that proclaim the good news are going to be persecuted for it.  In case I forgot to mention it, you will be despised when you bring God’s word to bear.

It’s not optional.

Isn’t this why the modern church has changed the message to be palatable?  It’s easier to talk about the love of God because that is just easier to swallow for most people, those fire and brimstone sermons are just not much fun.  Everyone likes the god that forgives sin, loves everyone and never expects anything in return, certainly doesn’t require us to pursue righteousness and turn from sin.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meeknesss and fear.

I remember before salvation I really didn’t understand this verse.  I get the always be ready part, but I wasn’t sure about the sanctify business and what does it mean with meekness and fear.  What am I supposed to fear?  It just didn’t come together in my mind.  Of course I couldn’t grasp it because my mind was at enmity with God.

Sanctify – means to make holy, that is (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: – hallow, be holy, sanctify.

The word heart does not mean the muscle beating in your chest; it’s the thoughts and the control center of your being, so when we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, we are to set Him up in a special place in our minds that He is pure and holy.

Have you sanctified the Lord God in your heart?  This is not something to gloss over; it’s the starting point of this verse.  It’s a directive, not simply a question or a suggestion.  If we desire Him above all things, this should come easy, but it won’t.  It’s not easy; the Christian life is never easy.  This is why the Lord said to strive to enter by the narrow gate.

Charles Spurgeon: Have your doctrinal views, and all your knowledge of Christ, packed away in a handy form, so that, when people want to know what you believe, you can tell them. If they wish to know why you believe that you are saved, have your answer all ready in a few plain, simple sentences; and in the gentlest and most modest spirit make your confession of faith to the praise and glory of God. Who knows but what such good seed will bring forth an abundant harvest? (1 Peter 3 Commentary)

In considering Spurgeon’s exhortation, we must know Scripture.  This doesn’t mean you will be able to give a snappy answer to every non believer that comes along.  This is not the point of this verse it’s a Believer’s responsibility to share their story and offer scriptural truth in a world gone wrong.  The opportunity to point someone to Jesus as the One true hope.

What about the meekness and fear.

The word meek denotes a gentle spirit, or mildness of disposition.  Simply put we don’t need to be aggressive in our approach of presenting the hope we have and as many people will take this as an aggressive stance, we must not offer that in response.

As we take this whole chapter in context Peter is setting us up for the reviling and the suffering that will undoubtedly come our way when we present God to them.  So as a gentle answer turns away wrath, so can we offer our hope with meekness.

What does it mean to fear?

Are we to fear the people we are presenting our hope?  Have you seen the shirt “Fear This”?  Does the wearer of that shirt expect you to be afraid of him or should he be afraid of you?  What he’s trying to let you know is you need to be afraid of him because he’s a tough guy.

Who should we fear?

Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The word fear means to fear and it also means awe and reverence.  We cannot revere God if we first don’t fear Him as one that has complete power and authority over our lives.  So when we present our hope never forget who we are to fear.  Let’s present a gospel message that will give the listener a healthy dose of fear.

The message Jesus loves you generally won’t cut it.  Unbelievers must know they are headed to hell without the saving work of Jesus Christ, which is something to seriously fear.

There is a delicate balance here to offer the message with a gentle but firm dose of reality.  This is something to enter into with fear and trembling knowing that we represent the God of the universe.  He is worthy to be feared.



Joy in tribulation


Today is December 31st, the last day of 2012.  I am writing this morning from a local Starbucks.  It’s something I do on occasion as I enjoy getting up early and heading to the coffee shop to read my bible and write.  I’m always hopeful for a chance to share the gospel if the opportunity avails itself.  It’s sometimes interesting to see people look at you as you’re reading a bible.  One man said to me “I didn’t think anyone read that anymore”.

I was in a Starbucks in Cincinnati a couple months ago and the place was loaded with people working on computers doing whatever it is they were doing, probably blogging, they all looked so cool.  I’ll admit I’m not one of the cool people sitting in Starbucks.  I work on a three plus year old ThinkPad, not a Mac Book Pro or an Ipad, I like the utilitarian look of my ThinkPad.  I think it fits my personality.  I also don’t have a cool paraph or don’t sign off my emails with “cheers”.  I like being different in a very normal sort of way.  My desire is to be very workmanlike.  I think if I played professional football I’d be an offensive lineman, of course that would be impossible at five foot eleven and a hundred and eighty five pounds, but that’s how I envision myself.

One area I desire to stand out and be different is in the area of evangelism.  I desire to share God’s Word and have people consider me different.  Not for my own recognition but for God’s Glory which brings me to the point of this post.  Ephesians 3:13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 

This past Saturday we discussed this verse at our mens bible study.  The question was posed to each man if they were suffering tribulation.  Each man gave testimony about tribulation in his life and when this was done we looked at Paul’s tribulations.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon my daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

As I considered this throughout the rest of the weekend I came to realize how completely normal I am.  I say this to my shame.  On occasion I may suffer some reproach, I might even actually have someone upset with me.  Sometimes that might be a family member or someone I care about.  Sometimes it’s a stranger when they are challenged with the reality of God.  As we went through all of Paul’s tribulations one by one I realized that Paul never became discouraged in any of these tribulations, in fact he was joyful.

I want this to really sink in for a moment.  He was beaten and then he picked himself up and went to the next town where it was likely it happened again and then again and again.  It can be very intimidating when someone reviles you and is upset with you, but not to Paul.  He just kept going back for more.  How small we are today.  How weak that we can’t speak up when we know we should.  How self focused we are when we say things like, “well that was Paul”.  Don’t forget Paul says imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Or my favorite, “he’s too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”.  Maybe in reality your too earthly minded to be any heavenly good.  See this great article if you say that, then repent and stop saying it.  Heavenly  minded

In all of Paul’s tribulations he was joyful and he tells us to not to lose heart why?  It’s for our glory; our glory and the glory of the King that suffered and is worthy of our suffering.  As a new year is approaching many will make resolutions.  If you call yourself a Believer, I propose you make it a goal to suffer more for Christ this year.  If you’ve never experienced any sort of tribulation for Christ’s sake, you need to examine yourself to see if you are really in the faith.  You might not be saved, or at best you are in rebellion to God.  2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

I pray 2013 is the year that God make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory… (Romans 9:23)