1 Peter 3:15-16, Pastor Eddie Arnold, Pathway Christian Church of Harlan…
When we look at the current world situation, all appears to be spiraling wildly out of control. Over these past few months, we have all endured the effects of the COVID-19. From home quarantines, job losses, to the ongoing fear of the unknown, to now seeing our cities being torn apart by hate and violence that has spawned out of the peaceful protests over George Floyd’s senseless murder. Needless to say, our world is dark, hurting and filled with chaos that seems to have no end in sight. However, these conditions have caused many to look for a greater purpose in this life, a greater good; a place of refuge and peace; someone or something to make sense of all that is happening. Now more than ever, people are looking for real, lasting hope. They want to know that there is something more than what this world has to offer. You see, for those of us who know and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, these current circumstances have created an open door for us to confidently share the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
But in order for us to share the hope that we have been given, we must live and know the Gospel. In Peter’s first letter he writes: “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 Pet. 3:15, 16).
The Apostle gives the church a command. He says honor Christ in your heart as Lord. In other words, live your life with Jesus at the center, your greatest treasure, your Lord, Master! Because when you are consumed with who He is, those who are around you are going to want to know why you have such a hope! They are going to want to know why you are different; why you have such a peace and joy in the midst of all the trials and tribulation. And when God opens the door for you to speak the truth, you need to be able and ready to give them the answer with gentleness and respect.
Beloved, if someone asked you to share the Gospel with them would you be able to do it? Could you open the Bible and walk them through what it is to have eternal life, to be a child of the King? You see, the great tragedy of our day is there are many who profess the name of Jesus but have little or no understanding of His Word. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). As Christians, we were not only commanded to believe the Gospel and be saved, but then to be ready to stand in defense of the truth as a bold and fearless witnesses for Him. Understand, if you belong to Jesus, you have been commissioned as His ambassador to make Him known (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
We are living in a time where people are searching for answers. And for those of us who belong to Jesus, we have been entrusted with the life-giving cure. However, before we can administer the cure, we must first address the cause of the sickness. There is no good news without first coming to terms with the bad news. We must understand our spiritual condition apart from Christ. All have been born into this world spiritually dead in our sins and separated from God (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 3:23). The Bible tells us that there are none righteous, no not one (Psalm 14:1-7). And in God’s courtroom we all stand guilty and deserve an eternal death sentence in hell (Rom. 6:23). But God in his kindness and mercy made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be made right in His sight.
While you and I were justly sitting on a spiritual death row, God demonstrated His love for us by sending His perfect Son to die in our place, taking all of our sin and all of our punishment for our rebellion on the cross of Calvary (Romans 5:8). On that cross, Jesus endured the agonies of hell as our substitute so that we could be forgiven (2 Cor. 5:21). And then after three days He rose from the grave, forever defeating death for all who would place their faith in Him. But to receive His forgiveness we must turn from our sin, confess our allegiance and trust in Him alone to save us from God’s judgement (Rom. 10:9). We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). This is the Gospel by which we are saved and there is no other (Acts 4:12). And as a believer, you need to know it; you have been empowered to live it and you have been commanded to share it (Matt. 28:18-20). For a world that is sick and hurting, God has given His church the cure. We need to know it well, hold it close to our hearts and be ready to share it with all who will listen!