Be Ready (part 1)
1 Peter 3:15-18
Let me ask you a few questions this morning:
- Would you consider yourself a Christian?
- If you answered yes how do you know that you are a Christian?
- How would you define what a Christian is?
- What would you say to a friend at school or work; or a family member or colleague, if they asked you if you were a Christian?
- Have you ever had to give a defense of what you believe in?
- What do you say to a person / a teacher / someone you work with or play ball with or the guy doing your x-rays when they question your mental capacity when you say you believe in the Bible?
We are going to look at couple of verses in 1 Peter but before we do that let me refresh your memory about this Peter who was one of the 12 and in fact he was one of inner group of 3. The Apostle Peter was an interesting character:
- Before Pentecost you didn’t know what might come out of his mouth. He was on fire one moment making a great proclamation like when he proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah.
- A few verses later in Matthew 16 we find Jesus correcting Peter for trying to tell Jesus what to do.
- He gets to have the privilege of going with James, John and Jesus to the event we call transfiguration where Jesus is shown in His glory with and Moses and Elijah on either side of Him. Instead of just being in awe and saying nothing Mark reports that Peter wants to put up 3 shelters.
- When Jesus was arrested – his “loyal” disciple Peter followed – he didn’t run away but kept his distance. When they took Jesus into the high priest house for questioning he stood by the fire warming himself. Several people in the crowd recognized him as a follower but he denied any connection to Jesus, “Sorry don’t know Him.” Before the rooster crowed in the morning Peter had denied that he knew Jesus 3 times. Jesus had predicted he would do just that.
- Right before Christ ascended into heaven Jesus asked Peter 3 times whether he loved him. Peter answered the Lord 3 times that he did. Christ commissioned him to take care of church.
- We probably shake our heads thinking to ourselves that we wouldn’t be so fickle or lack the courage to keep loyal when all else fails. But have we talked about our faith – heve we proclaimed our allegiance to Christ?
- After Pentecost and the birth of the Church Peter became a bold witness for the resurrected Lord. Did he make mistakes after that? Did he put his foot in his mouth? Absolutely – he was still Peter. But he became the rock in which Christ built His church. Listen as Carl reads from I Peter 3.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)
15 But in your hearts set apart 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
We are going to take a few weeks looking at these two verses. Before we do I want to outline for you 3 commands and a principle. (If you are part of the email Bible Study or have heard me teach on “How to Study the Bible for Yourself.”) There are key questions that we need to ask when we look at a particular verse:
- Is there a command to obey? Actually there are 3
- Commands tell us God’s directions or orders
- Most of the time we find the command beginning with a verb.
- They are not debatable – we are to follow
- That doesn’t mean that we always do what is commanded. But it is God’s expectation that we do as we are directed to do.
- Is there a principle for living a Christian life in the verses we are studying? There is 1
- A principle is a code that we are to follow
- A standard of living / a system that we need to follow.
Command One: in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord
Command Two: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Command Three: do this with gentleness and respect,
Principle One: keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. Good behavior keeps a clear conscience.
- Set Apart Christ as Lord. Before I ask you the question is Jesus Lord of your life I would like to define the word Lord and define what it means to set apart. Then I think we can define our relationship (D.T.R.) with Jesus. Peter sets a command before us - Set Apart Christ as Lord. For Peter following Jesus is a matter of obedience; it was his standard for living. It is a matter of doing it Jesus’ way.
- Jesus defines the type of relationship that He desires throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). He modeled being a servant for His disciples and He expected that type of allegiance. Let me refresh your memory.
- Jesus came to 2 sets of fishing brothers and called to them, “Come Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men.” The scripture says they left their nets and followed Jesus. Notice that didn’t stop and put a for sale sign on their family business. Nor did they ask for their brothers to buy them out so they could follow Jesus. They immediately dropped what they were doing and followed.
- Matthew did the same he dropped what he was doing but he included having a party following his call. He wanted to share Christ with whole bunch of sinners. But he dropped his lucrative business as a tax collector and followed.
- When Jesus was asked by a really wealthy guy what he needed to do to get eternal life (Matt. 19:16-29). Jesus says that he needed to obey the commandments. And this guy asked which ones? Jesus replied: “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
- Now he must not have been intently listening to Jesus or had not been at the Sermon on the Mount – because he tells Jesus that he had kept all those commands,
- “Wow! That is awesome – you got it made.” I really a skeptic here – I think he may have been testifying falsely / lying because he kept all these.
- Jesus knew his heart. As you probably remember Jesus was all that impressed “He tells him “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” There it is again “Follow Me”
- FOLLOW ME defines what Christ expects. We are to set apart our lives. It is a matter of leaving our self-centered life and to follow Him.
- Listen to what Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
- Lord – may not be a common word today and may be a little hard to understand in the 21st century. In the Contagious Christian video they used the term Leader instead of Lord. I don’t think the word Leader really describes the power behind the word Lord. To try and modernize the word Lord is difficult and I feel that it might be better to use the word and try to define it instead of trivializing it.
- The early church knew exactly what the word Lord meant. For the early church it meant the following:
- The One Who Has Absolute Authority.
- The word lord was used by the slave that was owned – he/she would call the owner – Lord. It meant the slave was bound to the authority of his / her owner. The owner, the lord, gave commands and expected them to be carried out.
- As American we have a difficult time understanding the Lordship Principle. We are used to a democracy that gives us many different choices. We have input into decisions, we choose our vocation, we marry who want. At the heart of democracy lies concept of freedom and choice. Jesus never proclaimed democracy – He came proclaiming a kingdom.
- There is a major difference between a kingdom and a democracy. In a democracy we choose the rules of the game. Each person has a say or vote in a democracy even in its flawed state, we still have choices.
- In a kingdom all the rules are determined by the King or the Lord. Each person has given responsibilities. The king doesn’t need to get a consensus or vote on something. He commands.
- Jesus never called for volunteers or put a plea in the bulletin nor did He ask us to consider serving. He commanded us to follow. We are His servants. That certainly will set us apart in this world.
- Wait why I think about following is disobedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Nor can we pass that command off on the pastor or on someone that has a gift of evangelism.
- If Christ is our Lord – we are always to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Let me use the Messages translation. Peter is commanding us to be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath (The Message).
- If Christ is Lord then there should be something different about us. Is there something different about you? Do people notice that you are different or unique? Have people notice that you march to a different drummer? Has anyone ask you why you are living the way you are?
- And if you answered yes to that last question do you feel as if you can share your faith? If someone came over to you and asked you to explain why you didn’t cuss out your boss or the student for being rude and crude toward you. Would you be able to answer them? Would you be able to share your faith?
- If you answered no to the question why you are living the way you are? Have you figured out why no one has asked; there are 3 possible reasons:
- You aren’t around non-believers that much. In other words you primarily hang out with like minded Christians. Then I suggest that you need to get out more.
- The other reason isn’t so good. It means that your life isn’t so unique. In other words we aren’t living a lifestyle that is much different than those we are associating with.
- It could mean that we are afraid to look different. We are afraid that someone would ask us to explain why we believe. Our faith matters.
- Next week I would like to prepare you so you can give a defense for the hope that is in you. I would to share some simple ways for sharing your faith.
Our Faith Matters:
Suppose a young man goes out and buys a $15,000 engagement ring – the jeweler throws in for free a small box to hold the ring and even wraps it for you. The young man sends the box with the ring in it to his fiancée. Just imagine the shock this man gets when she responds by saying, “Thank you, honey that is really a cool little box that you sent me. I will take special care of it and keep the box wrapped up in a safe place so nothing will ever happen to it.
- That is ridiculous, but is it? That is what we do when we are not willing to share what is inside us. When we don’t open up and share the grace given to us – we are hiding our salvation.
- Jesus said, 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:36-38 (NLT)
Is He Lord of Your Life? Then we must be obedient – learn to share your faith
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.