Be ready to provide a defense of your hope in Jesus

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pe 3:15–16)

Our world is increasingly growing hostile to Christianity. I’m not talking about cultural or progressive Christianity, rather, I’m referring to gospel-centered evangelicals who stand firm on God’s Word. The world in which we live is growing more hostile each and every day towards our message and values. Instead of assimilating or disassociating from the culture around us, we should engage. 

Peter tells us that we should be ready to provide a defense to the hope we have in Christ. It is that hope that keeps us going and it is that hope we should be ready to share with others. But we must not share the hope of the gospel in combative harsh ways. Instead, we must be gentle in the way in which we share. As well as we must share with a good conscience. We are not out to attack or one-up someone. We are not out to be harsh and disrespectful to other human beings. Instead, we must be gentle and loving in the way in which we share. That doesn’t mean we shy away from sharing the truth. We must continue to share the truth because it is the truth that sets us free. It is the good news from ages past that is still good news today, so we must not and cannot alter the gospel message. Instead, we must share it with others so that they might experience the same hope we experience. 

One book that has been helpful for me lately is Sam Chan’s book Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable. He does an excellent job of walking you through how to share the gospel with others in today’s culture. If you are looking for a way to reach the world in which we live, give Chan’s book a read. 

The things of the world are rubbish when compared to Jesus.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil3:8)

To know Christ is the greatest thing in the world. There is nothing better or more joyful than to have a relationship with Jesus. A saving relationship. One that redeems us from God’s wrath.

It is Jesus who makes us righteous. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, His righteous life is credited to our account. As well as His payment of death redeems us from the demands of the law, which is death for our sin. The law can’t provide us righteousness because it demands what we can’t give — perfection. The law for us restrains and points. It restrains sin by providing guardrails in which we are to operate. It also points forward to the need for a Savior because we can’t save ourselves.

Paul knew the value of a relationship with Jesus, which is why he counted everything else as rubbish, as garbage, as not worthy of keeping. A relationship with Jesus is penultimate and the only relationship worth keeping and continuing to pursue.

The things of the world are rubbish when compared to Jesus. Chase after Jesus. Pursue Jesus. Count everything else you could gain as loss in comparison to Jesus.

Death is the great equalizer but there is hope

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15:20)

Death is the great equalizer. No matter how rich or poor all will face the same fate. We will all die one day. We cannot in and of ourselves escape the grip of death. It’s grasp is too strong for us to break.

There is one, however, who broke death’s grip. That person is Jesus. He died at the hands of the Romans on request of the Jews. Beaten to a bloody pulp, a crown of thorns pressed into His scalp, nailed to a cross, spear pierced His side once His last breath was breathed. Jesus was dead when He was removed from the cross.

Instead of being throne in the city dump, He was laid in the grave of a rich man. Even though a massive stone was rolled in front and guards were stationed at the tomb, Jesus walked out after three days. He defeated death.

Jesus’ victory provides hope. Not just hope for this life, but for the life to come. All those who believe in Jesus will be raised from the dead to eternal life. Death is not the end for Christians. Death is just the beginning of life in a perfect world ruled by a perfect King.

Jesus is the first fruits. He is the beginning. The first to be raised. Will you follow Him? Will you be among the fruit that is gathered into the Kingdom to Come?

Are your feet beautiful?

“And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” (Rom 10:15)

As Christians we have been sent out to make disciple-making disciples. We are to make these disciples “as we are going” about our day. We don’t have to travel half way around the world to be “on mission” for Jesus. We can live “on mission” for Him right here in our own community.

Paul reveals in this section of his letter to Romans that we are sent to preach the good news. It is a beautiful thing. Beautiful can be translated as “the appropriate time; timely” or it can be translated as beautiful in the sense that it is an appropriate action or a lovely action.

If we translate the word timely, which it seems many commentators lean towards, the idea links more to God’s plan being worked out in His time. The preaching of the gospel as the message of hope to both Jews and Gentiles has come at the appropriate time in God’s plan of salvation.

While at the same time, the feet of those who come with the good news of the gospel are beautiful, they are lovely. It is a beautiful action for someone to preach the good news of Jesus to others.

We are to be those beautiful feet who in God’s timing are bringing a message of hope and light to those who live in darkness. Are your feet beautiful?

There is hope after this life has ended

“Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8)

In Paul’s defense before King Agrippa he asks the question posed in verse 8. Why is it incredible to believe that God raises the dead? God is the all-sovereign, all-powerful, ruler and creator of the universe. Why is it so difficult to believe that He has the power to raise the dead.

Not only does God have the power to raise the dead, but it also fits His purpose. He promised we would experience life in a new heavens and new earth. One free from sickness and death. One where we worship King Jesus for all eternity for His glory and our blessing. For millennia, God has been calling a people to Himself to give to His Son. His Son, God Himself, came to die for these people. He will raise those who have died so that they might join Him in His kingdom one day to worship and serve Him for all eternity.

Why is it so difficult to believe God can raise man from the grave. It is within in His power and it fits His purpose. The resurrection is a reality. It is our only hope. Death is not the end. There is hope after this life has ended. But only for those who believe Jesus was raised from the dead as the first fruits of a new creation.

Do you believe in Jesus’ resurrection?

Do you know the forgiveness of the Lord?

“If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Ps 130:3-4)

There is a wonderful truth in this verse. One we couldn’t live without. One that would keep us from hope and lead us into despair if it weren’t true. With the Lord there is forgiveness.

Despite our sin our against him, which is plentiful and heinous, the Lord offers forgiveness. He doesn’t hold sin against those who repent and seek His face, desiring to walk according to His ways.

He forgives because He absorbs the cost. He can absorb the cost and be just because of Jesus. Jesus has always been the Father’s plan to deal with our sin. He is not plan b. He is not an afterthought. Jesus is plan A through and through. Because Jesus was coming and the Father’s plan would come to fruition, the Psalmist can write 1000’s of years earlier about the Father’s forgiveness.

Do you know the forgiveness of the Lord? Is Jesus your Savior? Your hope?