As Christ-followers we miss many opportunities to share Jesus, mainly because we are not ready. Learn how to be ready to share your faith.
Last week, Pastor Mike shared a great message on the importance of PRAYER in relation to the Christian ministry of evangelism. Every follower of Christ is called to share the message of the Gospel with other people, and we need to commit ourselves to praying for God’s blessing on that work.
One of the items that Pastor Mike mentioned that we should be praying for is that we would have ANSWERS for questions people ask about our HOPE IN CHRIST. He drew that from a verse, 1 Peter 3:15. Let’s look at the whole passage that verse is in, so that we can see the larger context:
1 Peter 3:13–17 (ESV) - 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
As a church body, we’ve adopted the motto “Love God, Love Others, Share Jesus.” We see this as a summary of the Two Greatest Commandments, and the Great Commission. It guides our thoughts as we consider what we’re meant to do both individually, and as a church.
There are several things we could draw from the passage we just looked at, but there are only two primary insights we plan to focus in on this morning. Both help us to understand our role in the “Share Jesus” part of the church’s motto.
The first insight is this: Christians need to be PREPARED TO MAKE A DEFENSE for their faith in Jesus. In other words, we need to be ready to explain what we believe, and why we believe it.
This comes right from verse 15, which Pastor Mike shared last week. Let’s unpack a few details from that verse:
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; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
There are at least two levels of “making a defense” that we should consider:
Being Prepared to share the Gospel itself, combined with your own testimony of God’s Grace. These “GRACE STORIES” are incredibly important. They combine the factual message of the Gospel with a snippet of the redemptive work God has done in our lives.
A story from our lives without the Gospel woven in is merely a personal narrative. And, an act of service that doesn’t point to Jesus is merely a nice gesture. But including the message of the Gospel in our sharing makes our anecdote a GRACE STORY, and our actions a MINISTRY to those who don’t know Christ.
So, we need two components Our story. And Christ’s story.
If someone asked YOU to share the Gospel in a nutshell, what SIMPLIFIED explanation would you give them? Take a moment and write a few sentences down on your bulletin. (NOTE: If this is difficult, or you don’t have an answer, here’s one place you need to get prepared.)
the word “defense” is ἀπολογία (apologia), from which we get apologetics. This is the more thorough examination and defense of your faith in relationship to other religions, worldviews, and philosophies. (Perhaps you come from a Mormon background, so you prepare well to defend Biblical faith against Mormon teachings. Perhaps you have a Muslim friend at work, so you learn how to answer their objections that Jesus is merely a prophet. Etc.)
Tone matters. You can’t “Share Jesus” and make disciples effectively if your heart is filled with hatred, fear, or merely a desire to win an argument. Does that mean you can’t be angry at certain false teachings? No, anger can be righteous. But you need to be calm, and loving in your response. And that only happens if you’re ready (spiritually, prayed up, etc).
On the other hand, part of being ready isn’t the preparation of our GRACE STORY, but the realization of what “could happen” when we do share. Obviously our hope is that people will hear and respond in faith... But what if they don’t?
This might sound odd at first, but the second insight from our passage is this: Christians need to ANTICIPATE REJECTION. In other words, we need to be ready to lovingly engage with those who oppose the Gospel, but not be fearful of their response.
Scripture says some will reject the message of Christ, even when woven into our GRACE STORY:
Luke 10:16 (NLT) - Then he said to the disciples, "Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me."
This is both good and bad news.
Good: People who reject the Gospel aren’t really pushing against US. In fact, it’s not about us. Rejection shouldn’t be something that lessens our self-worth or resolve to keep ministering.
Bad: They ARE rejecting Jesus. They are pushing against God. And that’s a road we don’t want to see people go down.
All this said, the principle of “ANTICIPATING” rejection DOESN’T mean that we should EXPECT people to reject the Gospel.
ASK: I think sometimes we fall into that trap, don’t we? ... It can be very demotivating to EXPECT rejection. It almost makes it impossible for us to work up the nerve to Share Jesus in the first place.
It’s like a guy asking a girl on a date “I, uh, was wondering, and it’s okay if you aren’t interested, but, uh, do you want to go and get some food, uh, noodles or something, this weekend?” He’s so busy apologizing for asking that when she says yes, he doesn’t even realize it and says “Oh, okay, that’s fine, I understand...”
On the contrary, as Pastor Mike shared last week from Luke 10:
Luke 10:2 (ESV) - And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
The harvest is plentiful, which means there are PLENTY (lots!) of people who God WILL save through professing faith in Christ when they have an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel!
On the other hand, we need to be aware in advance that not ALL will trust in Christ. We need to ANTICIPATE that opposition is possible, yet remain faithful to do our part.
I like what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2. The New Living Translation puts it well:
2 Timothy 4:2 (NLT) - 2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
Preach: Share Jesus. Be Prepared. Whether the time is favorable or not: even if people don’t receive your message, share it. Even if the culture is set against you, be faithful. Don’t let possible (or actual) opposition wear you down or intimidate you! Indeed, our passage in 1 Peter tells us why. First, in verse 14:
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
And again, in verse 17:
17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
Our role is to share the hope we have in Jesus. Not to save people (that’s His role). And not to lose our resolve (because God cares about His people).
Not every opportunity that we have to share is a defensive nor, nor do we always have to wait for people to ask us about things. As you continue to pray for opportunities, we believe you will also see more of them as they arise. Some of them will be more offensive than defensive.
Another great passage that gives us insight into this topic is found in the book of Colossians, and it is a VERY easy passage reference to memorize: Colossians 4:5-6
Colossians 4:5–6 (NLT) — 5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
Making the most of every opportunity does NOT mean forcing Jesus into every conversation.
Illus: [BAD] neighbor working on a wood project: that’s cool! Jesus was a carpenter and he died for your sins on a wooden cross!
But it does mean bringing your faith and hope into every day conversation where appropriate. Let me share this save verse for you in ESV and see if it takes on a different flavor:
Colossians 4:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Illus: [GOOD] I am planning a bunch of hiking trips this summer. Not just because I love it. When I am in the mountains I feel closer to God, and we always take time during our trips to look at a Bible verse or two and learn more about how we can live for God.
Illus: [GOOD] I hope to someday build an addition on my house, not just because I want to get everything together on one floor for the days when I cannot do stairs well, BUT also because it will allow us to have more space for small groups and dinners with church families which are some of our most treasured times.
If people never see that your faith is a part of your life, they will have very little reason to ask you for the hope that you have. However, when they DO see that you have hope and a purpose bigger than the house and retirement, then they have a reason to ask you.
Something that often comes us when we cover a topic like this is, “Well, I don’t ever share my faith, I just let me actions talk. After all, actions speak louder than words.”
Well, let’s grab the good part of that and throw away the heresy. The GOOD part is that your actions DO speak volumes. They SHOUT what you are all about. Faith without works is DEAD according to James!
HOWEVER, good deeds are no substitute for sharing your faith. The 2 passages we just shared are proof that we are commanded and encouraged to share our faith VERBALLY.
Romans 10:17 (ESV) — 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Faith in Jesus does not come from watching others, but from hearing the good news.
Romans 10:14 (ESV) — 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
They cannot believe if they do not hear.
Our good deeds may be all we can do at some points, and they might just be seeds that open up opportunities in the future for a conversation. BUT they are not an actual form of evangelism. WE love God (worship), and we love others (good deeds) but we must also share Jesus.
Can we revisit the concept of “Always Be Prepared” for a few minutes? Perhaps you’ve listened to us share this morning, and aren’t quite “ready” to go out and share Jesus in your day to day life.
What strategies of preparation might we use?