Tuesday, June 23, 2015

displaying the pearls -- part 2

The Word for today:
1 Peter 4:7-19
“Why do you believe in Jesus?”
Someday (if it hasn't been asked already) somebody is going to ask you that question. When they ask it, you will know whether they are sincerely wondering about your faith, or whether they are picking a fight.
If they are just looking for an argument, don’t waste your breath. Jesus said not to throw your pearls before swine (1). So, keep your pearls in your pocket.
But if the question is sincere, we should be ready to display our pearls, so to speak:
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. (1 Peter 3:15)
Yesterday, we used some whimsical examples to arrive at this serious conclusion:
“Believers are often less prepared to answer questions and objections about our faith in Jesus than real estate salespeople are prepared for the objections they face. So we hope to see you tomorrow, when we’ll offer specific ways that we can be prepared.”
Well, tomorrow has arrived, so let’s get prepared:
1. Be able to tell the Good News.
The Good News (the gospel) of Jesus Christ is that God Himself died in our place in order to save us from the eternal consequences of sin.
We, ourselves, must understand what happened at the cross in order to express it to others. Then we should condense our understanding to a phrase which communicates the cross to a sincere seeker. In order to condense the cross, I use the title of the old song, “Jesus Paid it All.” Using that phrase, I can explain the salvation purchased at the cross by the blood of Christ. Others might prefer the phrase “Jesus took my place,” or “He got what I deserve.”
2. Do not leave Jesus on the cross!
After Jesus died for our sins, God powerfully and visually proclaimed that the plan worked! The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that the cross was not just a “nice try” by a nice guy. The resurrection means that the cross was God’s great victory over evil and sin and death.
3. Point to prophecy (pre-cross)
The Bible clearly told the Story before it happened. So equip yourself with prophetic scriptures that you can point to. Nearly 1000 years before it happened, Psalm 22 described the cross through the Savior’s eyes. Nearly 700 years before it happened, Isaiah 53 described the cross through the eyes of those who were being saved.
The cross happened exactly as the Bible foretold. Prophecy shows us that the cross is not only historically verified, but pre-historically verified!
4. Point to history (post-resurrection)
While prophecy (history written before history happened) proves the cross, the resurrection is proved by its undeniable historical after-effects.
The radical changes wrought in the lives of a little band of previously fearful men (who had each deserted Jesus on the night he was captured and tried) can only be explained by the fact that they were men who had witnessed an astounding miracle! The resurrection that the disciples proclaimed was verified by their radically altered lives--lives that turned the entire world on its ear.
Each of the disciples died for his fearless testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Their faith swept the world and is -- to this day, far and away -- the world’s predominant influence.
5. Point to the differences Jesus has made in you.
It is right here that many believers tend to get moralistic. That would be a mistake. Don’t tell the sinner that you cuss less, drink less, and hardly ever chase skirts anymore. Those were your problems, not their’s.
Or we tend to get religious, telling about our church or our prayer or our scripture study. But those kinds of changes do not persuade the seeker. He does not notice — or need, or want -- your personal halo.
Instead, tell them (as 1 Peter 3:15 advises) of the new-found hope in your heart: that the future seems a little brighter; that there really is a Somewhere just over the rainbow; that you’re not alone anymore; and that you look forward to the future instead of fearing it.
Tomorrow, in part 3, we’ll bring our testimonies to a grand finale, when we display our pearls.
(1) Matthew 7:6

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