1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
15 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;
I’m going to tell you a story about someone who had a gift that would revolutionize the world.
That person was just a little boy who was going to school. Just like every other weekday, he went to school, but this day was special. This the day everything would change forever! The day was Friday. And that meant show and tell!!!
How many of you remember show and tell in school?
My kids get so excited for show-and-tell. My youngest son Gabriel, for instance, will make all kinds of stuff and want to show everybody how awesome his creation is. He and I made this light-flashing loud-noise siren together with his soldering kit. He loved it, and we spent a couple of days working on it. And he showed his whole class the siren. He showed them how we soldered all the electrical parts to the circuit board and the process it took to complete.
Anyway, back to our little boy in the story.
The time to fix everything is here!!! If you are sad, he has just the thing for you. It brings him so much joy to know that they will get to experience the wonder and joy he has.
So, this little boy brings his presentation and dazzles the whole class with his joy and happiness. “My dad gave me this, and it is amazing!!! Look at everything it does! It does this and this and that and that. And…
… “Whenever I am sad, this thing is so great, that all I have to do is remember that my dad gave me this and I am ok.”
“It makes everything in life worth living for. All because my dad gave it to me and it is fantastic!”
“Everybody needs to have it. I plan on telling everybody at recess too and at lunch. And when I go home, I’m going to tell my neighbors, and when I get big and grow up, I’m going to continue to tell the whole world!!!”
“You don’t have to be sad anymore, you can have it too, and it will fix all the problems you have!!!”
This boy was so excited. He wasn’t sitting back and waiting for people to come to him, he was telling the world. He had hope. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what the gift actually was; he had a great gift and he could hardly contain his joy as he gave the account of the gift to his class.
The Bible says,
So, what does it mean to give an accounting for the hope that is in you? How do we even do that?
A couple of weeks ago Anthony talked about spiritual warfare.
Whenever we proclaim the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, we proclaim the defeat of the cosmic powers of darkness in this world and the defeat of death.
When we proclaim the good news, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. As I speak right now, I am fighting the battle, giving a reason for the hope I have. When you get married to another Christian, when taking the Lord’s Supper, or when you get baptized, you are fighting the spiritual battle
And each of those examples, you give a reason for the hope you have in Christ.
In the story, we can all relate to the little boy because we lived that very experience. We need to be ‘ready to make a defense to anyone who asks for an accounting concerning the hope that is in us.’
Our tendency, though, is to be the kids in the class who sit in the back and hear the message of good news. And we like it. We’ll be all into it, just not enough to go tell everybody about it. That’s a problem, when we think one kid is doing it well enough, I don’t need to share with others.
Setting Christ as Lord in your heart means you will proclaim him as the reason for the hope you have. You will engage the spiritual warfare.
And notice it doesn’t say at a particular time.
We should be ready “ALWAYS.” In every situation in life, when you are at work, at school, at home, in the car. Whatever you are doing, Jesus is the reason you are doing it. And when you mess up, Jesus is the person you run to.
And when people ask why you are the way you are—why are you hopeful, why are you joyful, why are you enthusiastic—Jesus is the reason you give.
That seems like a simple answer, and it is. The spiritual forces that we are engaging are going to use everything they can to get in the way of Christians making a defense for the hope we have in Christ.
So today I plan to explain what it means to make a defense for what you believe in by defining what we call here at Sonrise the ABC’s, which stands for Admit, Believe, and Commit.
I’m going to set you up with the basics so when somebody asks you about that special gift your Father gave you, you have a reason to be enthusiastic and excited to invite them to show and tell.
The first step is to….
What does it mean to admit and what am I even admitting to? Did I do something?
To admit is to confess what you did wrong. It’s like pleading guilty or no contest to the judge in court. Much like you would do in a court hearing, in the opening arguments, but the difference here is that God is the judge who is always in-the-right. We are the ones who plead our case before him, or rather we accept that we are the guilty party.
The Apostle Paul said,
All people fall short. All people are guilty.
Admitting we have wronged God is to plead guilty before God.
So, one way to admit is to think of it in cosmic terms in relation to our own personal fault. How does our sinfulness play into the natural order?
God is Perfect and Righteous, and all his ways are right, and nothing compares to him. He is the Creator of everything; he owns everything, he deserves everything. God is the King of Everything. When God began to craft our world, he did so with the intention of providing everything we needed and everything HE wanted for us to be able to be in communion with Him. He provided everything necessary.
But, every person ever has at one point or another decided that their way was more important than what God desired for them.
The Great Sin of the World is that, by nature, we don’t care what God wants. I want it my way.
And admitting that is necessary to understand who God is.
What are we admitting?
Every person ever has at one point or another decided that their way was more important than what God desired for them.
Admitting that is what we’re talking about. You have willingly ignored God’s ways, even if you didn’t realize that is what you were doing.
He even told us the punishment of disobeying him, of leaving his perfection. The Apostle Paul said,
That penalty would be death, because the wages of sin is death. Sin requires blood. For,
The command is simple. ‘Just follow him.’ Almighty God wants us to follow him and worship him.
BUT WE DON’T WANT TO!
Until we admit that, we will never be able to give a defense for the hope we have within.
That is our admission of guilt. We have wronged God. And we are held accountable to God.
Even Ignorance of the law does not condone our behavior. We are held to the standard regardless of the fact that we believe that God has even established it. Just like the one who gets a speeding ticket because they didn’t see the posted speed limit sign is still guilty, we are all guilty of breaking God’s law even if we were previously unaware of it.
Why do I need to admit? How am I affected if I do or don’t admit?
We are children of wrath by nature and we have disobeyed God.
Humanity needs to admit our sin, our willing disobedience to God, as part of our salvation because sin precisely what we are saved from. We need to confess our guilt to God that we have wronged him.
We need to admit that we sin continually and that we need God to cleanse us from our unrighteousness. We admit that we cannot do it on our own and we need help. We are completely and totally unable to save ourselves from the consequences and magnitude in our lives.
We, A, Admit. Then we are called to…
What do I need to believe? What happens when I believe?
God calls us first to admit we need him, but he also calls us to believe that his perfect sacrifice will cover that need. The Bible says,
But what does it mean to believe that (1) Jesus is Lord and (2) that God raised him from the dead?
(1) The first part of belief is that Jesus is Lord…
What does that mean? How is he Lord?
A lord is one who has authority over others, they are above you. He is the one who determines what do, how you live, what you eat. Like a king, the one who is in charge.
Jesus has ultimate authority over everything. Jesus is the head honcho in charge. Over the church, over our families, over our politics, Jesus is the Lord of all.
(2) The second part of belief is that God raised Jesus from the dead. To believe in Jesus is to believe that the Son of the living God, the Lord over all, humbly came to earth in human form and he willingly endured a human life with everything we go through yet remained sinless. He then was killed in our place. He died the death we were supposed to die.
Remember how we said that the debt of sin could only be solved through death?
Jesus, the Son of God, took that debt upon himself. All the weight of humanity’s sin was on his shoulders so that you wouldn’t have to bear it.
And they mocked him and beat him and nailed him to a cross to die a criminal’s death. And he really died. He died so that you would not have to endure the punishment of God’s wrath. He died the death that we deserve. That you deserve.
But what happened next is just as awesome for us. It’s the reason we have show-and-tell with the whole world.
Who can tell me what happened? (Jesus rose from the dead)
Jesus rose from the dead!
He suffered and died on the cross, spilling his blood for us, taking the punishment of sin for us
He was buried and three days later God raised him from the dead! He defeated death once for all so that we could be perfect in him and live eternally with him.
That’s the hope we have, we believe that, and we make a defense with that.
The Apostle Paul said,
In Colossians 1 Paul is writing to a church in a struggling city. Colossae used to be a city full of commerce with tons of wacky philosophies and religions there. Paul is writing to them to tell them that there is no other way to the Father, there is no way to restore our relationship with God, but through Jesus. And in the book of Colossians, he is defending a biblical view of Jesus Christ to combat dangerous philosophies and false teachings.
The blood of Christ brings peace to those who the Lord has given the gift of salvation. The Father has appointed us unto grace and we are made righteous by the blood of Jesus.
The reason that this is so important is that the only one who could fix the problem of sin in the world, since we are utterly unable to do so, is God himself.
We are saved by God’s grace alone, we are justified by our faith alone, and our salvation is accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ alone, all for the glory of God.
We aren’t called to believe that we are broken and there is no hope. For we have hope in Christ and are therefore to be always ready to give a defense for the hope we have within.
We are called to believe that Jesus is Lord and accomplishes salvation from God’s wrath for us because we can’t. That’s what we need to believe to be saved.
Why do I need to believe all that?
Because, the Bible says to…
Giving a defense means telling people what we believe and why we believe it. Having conviction that you are completely unable, as a sinner, to accomplish the will of God on your own is intrinsic to belief.
So, what are we called to believe?
And that …HUMANITY IS UNABLE TO DO ANYTHING FOR THEIR SALVATION EXCEPT MAKE THE PROCESS NECESSARY.
The Christian is called to believe that Jesus suffered for you, he suffered for humanity, and he suffered for the world. Sin has completely changed the relationship not only of humankind, but also the relationship of the universe to God.
So, to Sum up:
We have been called to A, admit that we are sinners, hopeless in the face of a perfect almighty God, and we are called to B, believe that Jesus provides the way of escape from God’s wrath.
What’s next? What do we do with this?
James says we will need to…
…to the activity Christ calls us to. He wrote,
God is calling us to this incredible commitment where…
Admitting and Believing means you have a Commitment to make.
How could you truly believe something to be true and act in a way that communicates to others that you don’t? That is why James says what he does.
You wouldn’t tell somebody “God will clothe and feed you on your way,” and then push them out of your house hungry and cold. Just believing simply isn’t enough, the Bible tells us that.
So, what type of commitment are we called to? What activity is required of our belief in Jesus?
When we make a commitment, we are showing through our lives and speech that we are committed to following Jesus as Lord and King, no matter what. We are submitting to his leadership of our lives.
That means we follow his lead. We desire to please him with our obedience.
In a nutshell, to commit to Jesus means to do everything for the glory of God. It means that everything you do is to please him.
Faith without works is dead. It isn’t even faith to begin with if it doesn’t produce action. It doesn’t mean that doing good things is what saves you; it means that you will want to do good things for God because you are saved. God’s love will pour out from you when you have admitted and believed.
For example, those who are committed to living for Jesus let go of their worldly desires and possessions and give them over to the kingdom.
Another way to say it is to pledge your allegiance to the kingdom of God. Committing is part of pledging allegiance to Jesus. He is the Lord that rules over his Kingdom.
We also commit to following his commands, we take every moment and thought in life as an opportunity to be obedient to Jesus. Everything you do, every thought you have is influenced by your belief.
I can say I believe in God, and that’s good. But doing what Jesus says is commitment.
I’ve been thinking about this lately and have decided that there is at least 3 ways we can express our commitment to Jesus. Please take out your Next Step cards, because, as James says, our belief requires action.
So what action, what next step will you take this week?
The first way we can commit is through…
I suspect there is… a serious lack of prayer in the Christian life today. Polls say that just over half, 55% of Christians, pray every day. If we were graded like in school, that’s an F. 21% say weekly or monthly, and 23% seldom or never pray. Take that in, 23% say they never pray at all!
Many say they believe, yet they aren’t willing to take time out of their day to go to God and talk to him. Prayer usually comes as a response to an unpleasant situation in the believer’s life. We should go to God when things go bad.
That is a perfect opportunity to give glory to God and give a defense for the hope we have.
But we also need to go to him when things are going right, or even for everyday life. Prayer is part of how we dialog with the Father. The Bible tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. We need to thank him for all the good and perfect gifts He has given us.
God is always faithful to us; we should be faithful to him. We should be especially thankful for his provision.
If you are going to make prayer your Next Step this week, please write PRAY on your Next Step card.
Reading the Bible is the primary source of hearing God today. God talks to us through his Word. While you might ask a question and expect to get an exact answer, that’s not exactly how it works.
I’ve learned that whatever gives God the most glory, however we can remain most faithful with what he has provided, that is the answer. Our intent in reading the Bible to hear God is to listen to what he has to say and not look for what we want to hear.
There is only one message through each passage that God wants us to know.
Every part of Scripture that was written for a specific purpose. How we work that out is what may be different for each one of us. But, you won’t ever know what it is that God is calling you to do if you don’t hear from God through His word.
If you are ready to start reading your Bible this week, write READ the BIBLE as your Next Step. I recommend you start in the book of John.
And a third way you can express your commitment is to…
This is the whole point of the message today.
God says that we are all to commit, as admitters and believers, to both go and tell the world about Jesus and to teach people to follow him. The primary part of our commitment is to tell others about the ABC’s and teach them what it means.
There’s no better way to start doing this than with your close circle of friends and family.
God has placed 8 to 15 people in your life so that you could give a defense for the hope you have in Jesus. Those people are comfortable with you already and are there for a reason. Today, you may have somebody ask you why you live the way you do.
The closest people in your life know you were at church today. Talk to them about it.
When you go home and your friend, family, a coworker asks you why you always do what Jesus wants you to do, “why do you pray, why do you read the Bible?” give a reason that proclaims Christ.
Your answer is simple: “to glorify God.” No matter the situation, you can always tell others about God. You can always pray, you can always live your life for him.
Our job is to let God do the work, in the hearts of others and call them to hear the good news.
So … when you’re asked for a reason, graciously and kindly you can say something like this:
I admit that I can’t live this life pleasing to God because I have contributed to its brokenness. The pain and loss in the world is because humanity has strayed from God’s perfect design. I admit that I need him and he’s the only one that can fix the brokenness in the world.
He calls us to believe that the only one that can make up for the sin in the world is the perfect one who willingly died in our place, Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the cross to die for our brokenness. I believe that Jesus is God and perfect. He didn’t deserve to die for me, but he did because he loves us.
I don’t deserve that gift, but he has offered it. And I’ve been called to commit to living my life faithful to God.
I’ve committed to obeying what God has called me to do out of thankfulness for the gift I have received. That’s why I live the way I do. That’s why I go to church, that’s why I read the Bible, that’s why I pray when things are going good or bad. That’s why I strive to do everything to give glory to God.
Maybe you haven’t heard this before and God is calling you to admit that you are a sinner and need him. God loves you, he is calling you to believe, and he wants you to commit to him. If that’s you then I encourage you to mark the box on your Next Step card that says, ‘Commit to Jesus’ and then join us as we pray and get ready to take the Lords Supper, giving a defense for the hope we have in Christ Jesus.