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Service Archives > 60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013 > When Holiness Meets Hostility

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When Holiness Meets Hostility
1 Peter 3:13-17
Skip Heitzig

1 Peter 3 (NKJV™)
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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60 1 & 2 Peter - Rock Solid - 2013

Faith is not neutral. It’s a powerful and dynamic force that changes behavior (if it is genuine faith). Unbelief is also a powerful force, and when believers try to live out their faith in an unbelieving environment, there are some predictable and unavoidable results. Let’s consider four truths from Peter’s pen that will be helpful when God’s holy people meet up with a hostile world.

When Jesus asked his disciples. "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Peter responded "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus promised Peter that upon the Rock of that confession He would build His church.

The truth of who Jesus is empowers common man to speak the message that opens the doors of heaven to sinners. Join us to learn strong principles for godly living and reach new heights in our faith as we work our way through Peter's epistles—writings which evangelize the lost and instruct the church. Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series

Outline

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  1. Normally, Goodness Is Profitable (v. 13)

  2. Eventually, Persecution Is Inevitable (vv. 14, 17)

  3. Practically, Reasons Are Beneficial (v. 15)

  4. Inwardly, Conscience Is Indispensable (v. 16)

CONNECT QUESTIONS


  1. What did God reveal to you in this passage?

  2. Is there anything that applies directly to you or to someone you know? How can you take aim at changing a negative behavior in a biblical way?

  3. Who was this passage originally directed to?

  4. How does this passage apply to believers?

  5. What does it mean that if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed?

  6. Why should we not be troubled or afraid when we suffer for doing what is right?

  7. What does it mean to sanctify the Lord God in your heart?

  8. How can you always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you?

  9. What characteristics should encompass your response or defense for that hope?

  10. What is the outcome of this defense?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. What does a preacher say when he hits his thumb with a hammer?
    2. The world is always watching Christians; what happens when your holiness meets the world's hostility?
    3. Graham Staines and his two sons burned to death in India because they were Christians
    4. Peter offers the believer two possibilities
      1. You do good and the world leaves you alone
      2. You do good and the world harms you
  2. Normally, Goodness Is Profitable (v. 13)
    1. Doing good usually works out for the believer
      1. Verse 13 is a rhetorical question
      2. Answer? Nobody!
    2. The history of Christianity is, in part, the history of societies benefitting from the goodness of Christians who live in them
      1. Human and women's rights
      2. Hospitals and education
      3. Eradicating slavery (England); child labor laws
      4. Alexis de Tocqueville saw the impact of Christianity on American culture
  3. Eventually, Persecution Is Inevitable (vv. 14, 17)
    1. Isaiah 8:12
    2. Being righteous will not make you immune to trouble
      1. John 3:19
      2. 2 Timothy 3:12
    3. The world will tolerate you, but not for long
    4. If people's eyes are adjusted to darkness and you shine a light on them, they will not be happy with you
    5. Jesus Christ went about doing good (see Acts 10:38), but the world still killed Him
    6. Persecution is the result of obedience; great persecution is the result of the Great Commission
    7. People will eventually ask you why you do good things; when you say you do them because you love Jesus, sparks will fly
    8. John 15:18-20
    9. Christians aren't better than anyone else, but we are better off than everyone else, and we have a better message; John 14:6
    10. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake (see Matthew 5:10)
      1. You can be persecuted for being obnoxious, but you won't be blessed for it
      2. Matthew 10:16
      3. The Lord is looking for sharpshooters, not grenade launchers
      4. Blessed means honored by God
  4. Practically, Reasons Are Beneficial (v. 15)
    1. People will ask why you're doing what you're doing—you need to be ready to share your reasons
    2. Better translation of "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts" is "set apart Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart"
      1. In the early days of the church, a Christian wouldn't get in trouble for saying "Jesus Christ is God," but "Jesus Christ is Lord," because Lord was the title reserved for Caesar, considered the lord above all gods
      2. Setting apart Jesus as Lord needs to start inwardly with your heart before you can take it outwardly to the world
      3. The only way you can stand publicly is because you can kneel privately, like Daniel (see Daniel 1:8)
    3. Defense = apologia (Greek)
      1. We get apology and apologetics from it, meaning to have a defense or to offer an explanation
      2. Can also mean, in reference to ancient lawyers, to stand in a courtroom and give good, compelling reasons on behalf of a client
      3. This world is a living courtroom; believers are always on trial
      4. Unbelievers have really good questions—Christians ought to have really good answers
      5. Do you know why you believe what you believe?
    4. The Bible encourages Christians to think
      1. "Love the Lord your God… with all your mind" (see Matthew 22:37; emphasis added)
      2. "Any Christian who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith will be insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers. In some cases, that insecurity can undermine their own assurance of salvation. The world's attacks can overwhelm them"
    5. Meekness and fear means gentleness and respect
      1. The goal is not winning the argument; the goal is saving the soul
      2. It takes time
  5. Inwardly, Conscience Is Indispensable (v. 16)
    1. Your conscience is a divinely implanted mechanism whereby you either feel accused or excused, convicted or confirmed
    2. At salvation, your conscience is cleansed—Hebrews 9:14
    3. You must win the inward war with sin to keep your conscience clear
    4. Acts 23:1
    5. Peter's point: a clear conscience will help you face a hostile world
  6. Closing
    1. Graham Staines' wife Gladys and daughter survived
      1. Gladys wrote a letter that was published in Indian newspapers
      2. She said she would stay in India to spread God's love
    2. That's how a Christian should respond to having their thumb hit with a hammer—with love, forgiveness, and grace

Figures Referenced:  Graham Staines, Gladys Staines, Alexis de Tocqueville, Caesar

Greek/Hebrew words: apologia

Cross references:  Isaiah 8:12, Daniel 1:8, Matthew 10:16; 22:37, John 3:19; 14:6; 15:18-20, Acts 10:38; 23:1, 2 Timothy 3:12, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 3:10, 13-17


Topic: Persecution

Keywords: persecution, persecuted, suffering, righteousness, witness, holiness, hostility, conscience, goodness, light, darkness, apologetics, defense

Transcript

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Pastor Skip Heitzig guides us through First and Second Peter in the series Rock Solid.

Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to First Peter, chapter 3. We're studying the book of First Peter. Peter, of course, was one of Jesus' close friends and followers while he was on the earth; First Peter, chapter 3. Can we pray together? Father, we never want to presume that we can understand even your revelation as simple and plain as it is, and, yet, the true meaning of it, without the help of your Holy Spirit, there are so many different interpretations out there of what things mean. We just want to say that we depend upon you, and we agree with the words of our Savior Jesus who said, "Without me you can do nothing."

And I know there are times when we think we can do a few things without you and we'd just pray you'd forgive us of that thought. You gave us life, we can't do anything without your power, without your strength. And certainly we can't change our futures or our present without your help. I know that you know the situation of every family, every single person, married person, in this room. You know what we struggle with and you love us through every moment of it. Help us, Lord, to grasp what your Holy Spirit is trying to get across to us in this passage at this time, in Jesus' name, amen.

So there was a pastor who was building something in his backyard, he was building a wooden trellis. And it was a trellis for a flowering vine to crawl up. So he's out there with his hammer and nails, and he noticed there's a neighbor boy watching in his yard. He had come in to watch him build his trellis. And he didn't know why he was there; he was uninvited. But he figured, you know, he would keep working and the little boy would go away eventually. Well, the more he kept working, the boy just kept staring at him and wouldn't go away.

Finally, the preacher put his hammer down and he said, "So, uh, uh, are you just trying to get, uh, some tips on gardening?" And the little boy said, "Nope. I'm waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer." [laughter] What does a preacher say when he hits his thumb with a hammer? It's a good question. Now, that brings up a point, and that is, the world is always watching us. The mic is always on. The camera is always rolling. People are trying to find out what we're really all about. Sometimes when I go to public places around here, I can feel the eyes on me. People would recognize me and go, "Oh, that's that preacher guy."

And I know, I could see it because I see them look and they'll whisper to each other. [whispers] [laughter] So what the deal is, is that: "Okay, I know he can preach, but how does he practice at a restaurant in public?" And that's Peter whole theme. Peter is saying you are being watched in your response to the government. You are being watched in your response to your boss. You are being watched in your response to your husband and your wife. So because you are being watched, be tenderhearted, loving, be compassionate, be nonretaliatory---all those attributes we talked about last week, because usually, normally, that's acceptable.

Those are traits and attributes that even the world will accept. But what about when they don't? What about when your holiness meets their hostility, your goodness meets their grievances? What happens when you do good and you're sweet and kind, but they marginalize you or even slander you? What do you then? What do you when God haters decide that just because you believe in God, you should experience some pain because of it? Then what do you do? Back in 1999, you may remember the story of a man by the name of Graham. That was his first name; his last name was Staines.

Graham Staines and his two boys, an eleven-year-old and a six-year-old, were killed in India by militant Hindus. They were burned to death. The story is that they were ministering at a camp, and Graham Staines was teaching at this camp out in the jungle. In the middle of the night, around midnight, actually, these militant Hindus came into the camp and disrupted things, and set on fire the jeep where Graham Staines was staying with his two children, spending the night for the next morning. They were burned to death. When the fire cooled, the body, the charred body of Graham Staines was shown with his arms clutching his two boys.

Reason? Why did that happen? One simple reason: they were Christians. That's all. They were there, they were doing good, they were loving the people, they were pouring their lives into them---but they were Christians, and they suffered because of it. So, in our text, our chapter, First Peter, chapter 3, beginning in verse 13, Peter offers two possibilities: number one, you do good and you're not hassled. You do good and they leave you alone, unharmed. Second possibility: you do good and you are harmed. Let's look at it.

Verse 13, "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.' But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

Five verses, four truths, four things you can expect when holiness meets hostility. And here's the first: normally, goodness is profitable. Normally, usually, typically doing good is a good thing and it's profitable. It'll work out for you. That's his thought in verse 13, but, you know, with every text there's a context, so I just need you to see how thoughts connect. Do you mind? Just look back at verse 10. Look what he says, "For 'he who would love life and see good days' "---I would raise my hand on that one. I want that. If he wants that, then "'let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit."

"'Let him turn away from evil and do good.' "You want to see good? Do good. And then in verse 13 the question: "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?" Now that is, that is a rhetorical question, meaning the question is asked, there's an implied answer that everybody knows. So let me restate it for you. Here's Peter writing to his audience and saying, "If you live the way I just described, if you're loving and humble and you are nonretaliatory and you are tenderhearted, you are all those things; who's going to bother you? Who's going to bother you if you live like that?"

Implied answer: nobody. You're going to get by unscathed. Normally, you will never suffer if you are a person who does good to other people and you are after benefiting others around you. Even the greatest opponents of the gospel are not going hinder people helping other people. They're going to leave you alone. That's what the question means. "Who will harm you if you become followers of what is good." Now, let me insert something here, because it brings up something I think is a crucial point to be noted. The history of Christianity is, in part, at least, the history of societies around the world being benefited by the goodness done in them by Christian believers who live in them.

Example: the whole concept of the value of life, the whole concept of human rights is a biblical concept. Those are values that emerge from those with a Christian worldview, because we believe all men and women were created in the image of God. Women's rights, where did it come from? Not Gloria Steinem, not the women's liberation movement, or the different fronts or break-offs, it came from the Bible. Because when Paul and Peter and Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago, the culture around them did not respect women at all. In fact, in some cases I have seen letters from a Greek soldier written to his wife 2,000 years ago who said, "If you have a little boy, keep it. If it's a girl, throw it away."

A girl was owned by her father until she was passed off to a husband, and then she became the property of her husband. In that culture came the Bible that said, "There's neither male nor female, we are all one in Christ." That's a Christian worldview. Compassion for the sick, compassion for the poor, they come from Christians. The first hospitals were erected by Christians. The Red Cross was originally a Christian organization. The Salvation Army, a Christian organization. Cultures where missionaries infiltrate it has been shown over and over again that literacy goes up, they're more educated, they're more advanced, they're more compassionate.

The force behind eradicating slavery in England years ago was by a Christian statesman. Child labor laws were enacted by Christian men and women. And then even in our own country in the early 1800s when a French statesman by the name of Alexis de Tocqueville came to America, one thing that startled him is how many volunteers were helping people around them. And these were volunteers from organizations, associations that had been founded and were currently being run by Christians. He saw the impact in culture by Christianity. So, who's going to bother you if you live that way? Normally, typically, usually, nobody.

I think it's pretty safe to predict that probably most of you, if not all of you, will never be killed in this country in your lifetime because you believe in Jesus. That's probably not going to happen. You're probably not going to get beat up because you just simply say, "I love Jesus." Probably not going to happen. And if you're a good person and you follow these things that Peter outlined, that we described last week, that's just a good way to live. I mean, it's going keep you out of jail, it's going to bring peace with your neighbors, you're not going to get hassled, because you are seeking good, you are doing good.

And so, "Who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?" That's the first expectation: normally, goodness is profitable. But there's a second that follows quickly on the heels of that is, eventually, persecution is inevitable. Eventually, persecution is inevitable. Verse 14, "But," and the old King James says, "But [and] even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed." And then quoting Isaiah, chapter 8, " 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.' but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts," etcetera. So here's the deal: goodness is good, righteousness is right, but being good and righteousness will not make you immune from trouble.

Eventually, because you are the light of the world, and you shine your light into a dark world, there's going to be some problems. Jesus put it this way, "Men love their darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." And Paul made to Timothy a very, very important promise. He said, "All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall"---what? What will they suffer?---"persecution." "All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Eventually, persecution is inevitable. So here's the deal: the world will tolerate you, but not for long. Eventually, at some point, at some level the world will persecute you.

Why is that? Well, I've used this illustration on a number of times, but it's like if people are in a dark room, and their pupils are dilated, they're accustomed to the darkness, and you open the blinds and let the sunlight in, or you turn on a bright overhead, they're not happy to see you. They just want you gone from their presence. Turn off that light, it hurts them. And so it is with the gospel. So it is with those who do good. Did you know the Bible says Jesus "went about doing good"? Now, just think about that statement. Jesus Christ went about doing good. He healed sick people, that's good.

He raised dead people, that's good. Their families were really happy. Those are good things, but eventually the hostile world around him; what did they do to him? They killed him. They wanted to extinguish the light. So here's the principle: persecution is the result of obedience. Or I'll put it in a more memorable way: great persecution is the result of the Great Commission. You preach the gospel, not everybody's going to like it. Because everybody doesn't like it, there's going to be persecution at some level.

Because, you see, somewhere down the line you're going to be telling the world why you're so sweet and why you're so compassionate, and why you're so loving, and why you volunteer for things and help the sick. And they're going to ask you why. And when they say, "Hey, why do you do that?" You're not going to stand there and go, "Uh, I don't know." You're going to say, "I do that because I love Jesus Christ who is my Savior and died to set you free." When they hear that message, the fireworks begin. When they hear that message, the sparks will fly and the anger will be developed.

Jesus said these words in John 15, "If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. And they hated me without a cause. 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." So even when Christians are kind and wonderful and helpful and magnanimous, they still represent the gospel that is "narrow" and "exclusive." Because our gospel says that only those who trust in Jesus Christ will enjoy heaven forever, and those who reject Jesus Christ will be forever lost. You think that's a popular message? No way.

I got on e-mail from someone---I'm smiling when I say that---who claimed to be a Christian and said these words to me, "I don't understand why every religion thinks they have God's special attention. It appears to me that Christians are no better than Muslims." I pondered over that little e-mail, and I thought, "Well, you know, I gotta say I agree with him." Christians aren't any better than anyone else, but we are better off than everyone else. And we have a better message than anyone else.

Because our message says no matter who you are, no matter what you've done, no matter where you live, you can be set free from your sin and you can spend forever in heaven with God, guaranteed. There's no better message than that. [applause] So listen, here's the deal, and I say this sincerely: if there were 485 different ways to get to God, I would stand up here and preach all 485 ways. But the Book that I read and that you read, and you say you believe in, says there's one way. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me."

And when you say that and that is so narrow and so exclusive, this is going to happen. But notice, you gotta notice this, there's a qualifying phrase. Notice it doesn't say, "But even if you should suffer." It doesn't say that. It says, "If you should suffer for"---what?---"righteousness' sake." Ah, that's a whole different category now. If you suffer for righteousness' sake, or as it says in verse 17, "suffer for doing good." You see, Jesus never said, "Blessed are the persecuted," he said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake." It's no great blessing to get beat up. It's no great blessing for people to yell at you.

You don't walk home after being hassled and go, "What a great day, everybody yelled at me. And I got beat up." [laughter] You're just a weirdo if you think that way. [laughter] It's like the cannibal who was staring at the missionary and made the missionary really queasy and uneasy. And he said to the cannibal, "Why are you looking so intently at me?" And the cannibal grinned and said, "I'm the food inspector." [laughter] There's no blessing in being eaten. It all depends what you're being eaten for. Is it for righteousness' sake? Because, you see, you could invite persecution on yourself by being an obnoxious person.

I was going out of Popejoy Hall one night, it's the performing arts center here, and as I was going out after a play and the whole crowd was going out, there was some guy standing on a wall. I think he had a Bible and his hands raised up, and he was yelling at us, yelling angrily, his furrowed brow, and "Aaaarg!" And he was telling us the good news, "You're all going to hell." [laughter] I'm thinking, "Uh, so what's the bad news?" And I was watching people as they were watching him. I was looking at the looks on their faces. Nobody had the look on their face like, "H'm, this is interesting and compelling, tell me more."

They were like, "Get away from this bad man quickly, quickly, quickly." It was a complete turnoff to them. Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." I don't know why some Christians think they need to be as wise as doves and harmless as a snake. I believe the Lord is looking for sharpshooters, not grenade launchers, somebody who's going to be very careful and aim very specifically when they speak to unbeliever's truth, rather than just throwing it out there and seeing what happens. But even if you do, you do good and you share truth, and you might suffer for righteousness' sake, notice it says, "You are blessed."

It means honored. God is honoring you to be in a position when you're experiencing what Jesus experienced. You're honored, you're blessed. Then he quotes Isaiah 8, which says, "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." Now, let me just give you a quick little background on that. In Isaiah, chapter 8, King Ahaz of Judah felt threatened because the king of the north in Israel had a coalition with the king of Syria. And they both threatened to come down and pounce on him. And he's getting all bent out of shape and nervous.

And so Isaiah the prophet comes to him and says, "Don't worry about it. Don't be alarmed. Don't be frightened. The Lord's going to take care of this. Don't be troubled by their threats." So Peter's lifting that up and applying that here. You are blessed if that happens. It might not happen, it probably won't happen, if it does happen, you're blessed. We had a guy on staff several years ago. He was a part-timer. And he was walking home after work here to his home which is nearby, and over his ears he had a set of headphones. I mean, they covered his ears. Now, the headphones weren't plugged into a listening device. He didn't have one.

He was just using, get this, the headphones to keep his ears warm. I don't know, he found an old pair of headphones, he had them on, he's walking home. Well, three guys see him thinking that he's listen to some listening device like an iPod. And they go up and they demand that he turn over to them his listening device. He goes, "I don't have one. It's not plugged into anything. It's just to keep my ears warm." But he saw this as a divine opportunity. He said, "Do you guys know Jesus Christ?" They looked at him like he was living on the moon. [laughter] And the ringleader said, "Don't tell us about that stuff!" And then he said, "I have a gun." Colby said, "Uh, okay, whatever."

But he kept talking to them about the Lord, and the guy said, "I'm not afraid to use this gun." And our staff member said, "Uh, okay. I just want you to know I'm not afraid to die for Jesus Christ if it comes to that. And by the way, why are you so afraid whenever I mention the name Jesus Christ?" Those three guys beat him up and broke his jaw and it had to be surgically wired for it to function again. But he got up from being beat up and he went home singing. He didn't even have anything to listen to, right? He just singing, rejoicing that he is blessed, honored, that he was persecuted, not for weirdness' sake, not for obnoxiousness' sake, but for righteousness' sake. He felt honored by God.

Well, there's a third thing, and that is, practically, reasons are beneficial. So, normally, goodness is profitable. But, eventually, persecution is inevitable. So that means, practically speaking, having reasons is beneficial. Look what it says, verse 15, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts," this is really the heart of the passage, "and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." In other words, people are going to come along and ask you why you believe the stuff you do. When they ask you that, and they're wanting reasons to figure you out or why you are a person of faith, have those reasons ready to share.

So how do you do that? Well, first of all, it says, "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." Here's a better translation, I believe the most accurate: "Set apart Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart." In other words, before you go out and face the world every day, you make sure that you are inwardly in the right spot, that Jesus is your Lord, you're loyal to him, that you love him, you affirm our commitment to him, know that you believe in him, you belong to him, you're beloved by him. You better have that firmly in grasp before you meet the unbelieving world. Jesus is my Lord. Chuck Colson has written a lot of great books.

But he wrote a book where he reminds us that 2,000 years ago in the early church if a Christian were to stand up in a public arena and cry out in public, "Jesus Christ is God!" he would have had no problem at all. No one would have batted an eye, because the Greeks and the Romans were polytheistic. They believed in many gods. "Okay, you believe Jesus is God. He's one of many gods. Cool, whatever." But if a Christian would have stood up in public and said, "Jesus Christ is Lord above all and there is no other," he would endanger his life. Because now he's saying Caesar is not my Lord, there's somebody higher than him.

Caesar took the name "Lord," and to proclaim that exclusiveness like this would place his life in jeopardy. So here's the deal: it has to start inwardly in your heart before you can take it outwardly to your world. The only way you can stand publicly is because you kneel privately. Daniel stood before Nebuchadnezzar with great boldness. You know why he could do that? Because in chapter 1 it says, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself." It all must begin there. You sanctify Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart. Then, "Always"---and always, I looked it up; you know what it means? Always. [laughter]

"Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." So get this, the word "defense" here, you want to give a defense, is the Greek word apologia. We get our word apology from it. So doesn't that sound weird? "Always be ready to give an apology to everybody who asks you a reason for the hope." You might say, "You know, I'm really good at that. I'm really good at telling people 'I'm sorry I'm a Christian.' "That's not what it means. Peter isn't saying, "Now, from now on when you meet an unbeliever, you say, 'I'm so sorry if I offend you because I'm a Christian.' "That's not what that means.

We get the term apologetics also from that same word. And it means to have a defense or offer explanations or give good reasons for. Apologia, apology, apologetic was what lawyers used to do in giving a formal proclamation in defense of one of their clients. It means to stand in a courtroom and give good and compelling reasons on behalf of your client. That's what it means. And you know why he chose this word? I think I know why. Because we live in a world where we are always in the courtroom. You are never out of the courtroom. This world is a living courtroom.

And every day where you live and where you work, and people who know you, we're always on trial. People are always deciding at any given moment: "Am I going believe in Jesus; am I going to reject Jesus?" They're wrestling with issues of faith, and that will largely be determined by what we say and by how we live. This is what I've discovered: unbelievers have really good questions. Christians ought to have really good answers. You might know what you believe, my question is: do you know why you believe what you believe?

Here's my story: I was raised in a religious home, let's just put it that way. I was not a Christian till I was eighteen, but I was raised in a religious home. I always thought I was a Christian. When I was eighteen years old it was legit. I was saved. It was repentance and faith, and I came alive. And for six months I got into the Bible and it was so exciting. And then something happened to me---it was called college. I went to college and everything that I had been taught for six months to believe in was challenged in my face, overturned, argued against.

My very first day of school in my integrated zoology class the professor said, "Show of hands; how many here in the classroom are foolish enough to believe in Jesus Christ?" Well, I raised my hand. I didn't know if it was a trick question or not. I noticed one girl put her hand up, and then when he said "foolish," she went like this. She didn't want to be embarrassed. So I was, like, completely outnumbered. I didn't know you could ask that in a college classroom, and slam Christianity, but apparently you could do just about anything in a college classroom.

He went on the rest of time to talk about how stupid those with that worldview were. A few months later I was in my anatomy class, and then my radium physics class, and I was taught that believing what I believed was a myth, a feel-good myth. And I walked home so confused and so challenged with my head in my hands, I said, "I don't want to believe a myth. If this is just a myth, I'm not going to believe this any longer. I'm not going to go to church to feel good once a week and then, and then that's it." So I started studying, and researching.

I discovered something really great. I discovered that not only do unbelievers have great questions, there are great answers for those great questions. There's really good ones. So I studied and researched and was equipped, and I started looking for unbelievers. I wanted to find---I wanted to find the deepest, most intellectual pagan doctor or professor and say, "Dude, let's have a chat about this. I've discovered some really cool stuff I'd like to talk to you about." And you know what I've discovered also? The Bible always encourages Christians to think, to use their heads.

Never once does the Bible say, "When you come to church, please check thy brains at the door. And come in and have a mystical experience, then put on your normal hat and go back to the real world"---never. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength," that you can apply objective reason and logic and you can be ready. And it's fun. One author said, "Any Christian who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith will be insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers. In some cases that insecurity can undermine their own assurance of salvation. The world's attacks can overwhelm them."

But notice he says don't just be ready to give an answer, but you should be ready to give an answer---notice what it says---"with meekness and fear." You know what that means? Gentleness and respect. My problem: I studied and I was ready for unbelievers, and I wanted to win the argument. I won a lot of arguments and lost a lot of people. The goal is not winning the argument; the goal is saving the soul. That's where gentleness and respect come in. That's where you listen to them, you spend time with them, you are concerned about the details of their spiritual journey and what they wrestle with.

It's not like, "Oh, dude, don't even finish the question---I know the answer." [laughter] You listen to them. And it's not going to take just one time, it's going to take perhaps several times to meet with that person and give them good answers. Well, let's look at the fourth and we'll close it off. Verse 16, "Having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed." Here's the fourth principle: inwardly, conscience is indispensable. There is no greater personal possession than a clear conscience, a "good conscience" as he says here.

You know what your conscience is? It's that divinely implanted mechanism whereby you are either feeling accused or excused, convicted or affirmed. At salvation your conscience is cleansed. That's why you feel so good. Your conscience, all the accumulation of guilt and shame is forgiven. Hebrews, chapter 9, "The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, cleanses your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" But once that happens we have to carefully guard our conscience and win the war with sin on the inside.

That's what keeps your conscience clear. There's no greater way to live. Paul the apostle stood up in Acts 23, and he said, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." And Peter's point is a clear conscience will help you face a hostile world. As you're criticized by other people, your conscience is clear. They might accuse you of all sorts of things, but you have a clear conscience, therefore you are bold. Several years ago it was a very difficult time in my own ministry. I was, during that time, not without my share of critics.

And I remember somebody coming up to me during that time and he said, "Boy, this has gotta really keep you up at night." I said, "No, actually, on the contrary. I go to bed every night and I sleep like a baby." He said, "How is that possible? This would keep me up every night." I said, "I sleep well because I know the truth. I have a clear conscience." There's no greater gift than having been there and you know what you know. You know what happened. You know what the truth is and you have a clear conscience. And the point Peter is making is even when you're slandered, you are bold because of your clear conscience before God.

So, I opened up talking to you about that missionary in India that was burned with his two sons, as tragic as that was, a few years ago. Let me conclude with that. Let me come full circle. His wife Gladys survived. His daughter Esther survived. They moved from the West as missionaries to India. Now they're bereft of father, husband. She wrote a letter that was published in every newspaper in India. That's over a billion people could read it, over a billion people. This is what she said: "I have only one message for the people of India. I am not bitter, neither am I angry."

"But I have a great desire, that every citizen of this country establish their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who gave his life for their sin. Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ's love." Then she said, "I'm not leaving this country and going back home. I'm staying here. God called me here. I'm going to raise my daughter in your country." So now the world could see what a Christian says when his thumb gets hit by a hammer, big time. "That's how they respond, with love and forgiveness and grace?" But she saw that as "This is my opportunity to tell a billion people that Jesus loves them and died for them."

When holiness meets hostility, a pure conscience. Let's pray. Our Father, thank you for Peter's straightforward and very simple words to those of us who follow Jesus Christ. We know that we live in a country very different from the Roman Empire, a country that historically has been sympathetic to the message of the gospel. We know those doors are closing fast, but probably in our lifetime we're not going to get killed because we say we're believers in Jesus. If we do good, it's a good way to live. If we seek to benefit people, those are good things.

But eventually because we open our mouths and tell them why and what we believe in, that's going to incur wrath. I pray that we would be ready for it by beginning inwardly and having a purpose of heart, setting Jesus Christ apart as the sole object of our love and loyalty, and then facing a hostile world with good answers for their good questions, objective, reasoned answers for their queries and inquiries. Lord, I pray that we will be able to do it, having been cleansed in our conscience from dead works and living a pure life before you---not perfect, not perfect, but forgiven.

Lord, I pray for anybody who might be sitting here whose conscience is burdening them because it should burden them. They feel guilty because they are guilty. That shame and that guilt that is produced by the sin that all of us have has never been dealt with. They try to cover it up by good works. They try to cover it up by their education. They try to cover it up by even going to church and being a religious person. But they can't seem to get free from that guilt. Purify their consciences as they give their lives to Jesus.

With our heads bowed, anybody here who hasn't given their lives to Jesus Christ really---I was eighteen years old, I lived my whole life going to church. I didn't know Jesus till that moment. Something became real to me. If you want that reality, if you've never given your life to Christ or if you've wandered, either way, would you just raise your hand up quickly, just raise it up. Say, "Here I am. Here's my hand. Pray for me as you close this service." I'd love to pray for you. I need to know who I'm praying for. God bless you, sir; right in the middle, and toward the back; and to my right, toward the back.

Anyone else? Raise that hand up. Right up here to my right; and again to my right, toward the back; yes, ma'am, in the middle. Anyone else? Raise it up. Toward the back on my left. Father, for these hands, for these lives, for these men and women I pray simply that you would do a deep and abiding work of change within them as they turn from the past and give you their future. I pray, Lord, that they would be washed free from the stain of guilt that would plague their consciences. Set them free, bring them peace, change completely, and then use them for your glory to reach the world where they live, in Jesus' name, amen.

For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.

Additional Messages in this Series

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9/1/2013
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A Pebble, a Boulder & a Solid Foundation
1 Peter 1:1
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Peter is the most famous of the apostles, even though he only wrote two short epistles in the New Testament. But of all the early followers of Christ, Peter is perhaps the most relatable to us since he demonstrates all the weaknesses and failures we see in ourselves. But Peter's personal life and his writings become a composite model of "strength through trust." Any weak, wobbly, failure-ridden person can become Rock Solid through Christ.
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9/8/2013
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The Underpinnings of a Rock-Solid Life
1 Peter 1:2
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Peter skillfully lays the foundational basis for the Christian life to his readers in a single verse. We've been picked by God, placed in His family, and promised future benefits. For anyone who has ever struggled with a weak faith, these truths can be transforming. In this introduction to Peter's letter, let's unpack the meaning of these encouraging realities.
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9/15/2013
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Stepping Stones of the New Birth
1 Peter 1:3-5
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"Born again" wasn't a term invented by the popular press or religious fundamentalists. It was something Jesus told Nicodemus must happen for anyone to enter heaven (see John 3:3). Peter certainly heard that term from Jesus and speaks of it here (as well as in 1 Peter 1:23). It's a term synonymous with being saved and having eternal life. What does this new birth provide? In a word—solidity! Coming to Christ brings hope, inheritance, and power.
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9/22/2013
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Why We Hate Trials (And Why We Love Them)
1 Peter 1:6-7
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If the trials of life could only exist by popular demand, we would have voted them away long ago. People, by and large, hate suffering of any kind. Here in the Western world, we have made it our aim to mitigate against any form of it by a multitude of distractions and experiences. There is even a theology that seeks to say God never wants us to suffer—ever. Let's look at five reasons why we hate (and love) trials, and consider how they can be used to make us better people.
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9/29/2013
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Rock Solid Relationship or Relationship on the Rocks?
1 Peter 1:8-9
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Why do we insist that having a relationship with God is not the same as being a religious person? How is a relationship with Him even possible, since He is GOD and thus is unique from all other creatures? Today, the answer to that will be made simple as we consider the simplest components of any relationship, including a relationship with God.
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10/6/2013
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Our Bedrock Salvation
1 Peter 1:10-12
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God has always planned on saving you. You were never an afterthought or a last-minute consideration. Not only have you been chosen before time began (1 Peter 1:2), but throughout the ages your salvation has been expected and planned for. The spokesmen of the Old Testament wrote about Jesus’ coming and the new covenant of grace, which you are now a part of. All this makes our salvation more secure than ever, built on the bedrock of His promises.
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10/20/2013
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How to Walk in the Dark
1 Peter 1:13-18
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Holiness is an uncomfortable subject for most believers. We have no problem assigning holiness to God as we sing, “You Are Holy, Oh Lord!” But our minds get muddled when we think of our own holiness because we don’t want to appear holier than thou. So what does it mean to be holy? And how can we live holy lives around unholy people? In short, how can we be “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) while walking in a dark world?
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11/3/2013
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Where You Fit in God's Plan
1 Peter 1:18-21
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God's plan always involves people, and you are one of those people. God's plan includes you. Just think of it. God had you in mind when He put His plan together for the whole world. So where do you fit in that plan? When did this plan have its beginning? How much did this plan cost, and what is your part in it? Today we make that discovery by noting five vital truths:
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11/10/2013
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Rock Solid Love
1 Peter 1:22-2:3
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Peter's love for his Friend and Lord, Jesus Christ, was at one time on shaky ground when he denied that he even knew Jesus. His love would even get questioned by Christ later on (John 21:15-17). But now Peter knows that love for Christ and love for His people is all part of the same package. A relationship with God includes an affection for God's people. Four components of a rock-solid love are given by the very man who learned what true love is.
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11/17/2013
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Got Milk?
1 Peter 2:1-3
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Babies need milk to survive and to thrive. And newborn babies need and crave it a lot. So too, those who have been spiritually born-again need spiritual milk so that they can grow and be mature. As believers grow, they will begin to enjoy more solid spiritual food. But here Peter is addressing our appetites?those things we desire and crave. He gives us a three-part instruction that will curb and train our appetites in such a way that maximum growth will be achieved.
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11/24/2013
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This Old House
1 Peter 2:4-10
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God has been building His "house" since He first made the world. This is not a physical home nor a temple of worship as much as an assembly of peoples whom He has gathered to Himself. The stones He chooses are human beings in relationship to Christ, the cornerstone foundation. Let's consider God's site-plan for this construction project today.
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12/8/2013
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Maximum Impact
1 Peter 2:11-12
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How can Christ-followers make the most meaningful impact on the unbelieving world? That was in Peter's mind when he wrote this letter to scattered believers facing hostility from their neighbors. Four principles that transcend time stand out here; these will encourage us and empower us as we seek to influence our world for Christ and leave a lasting impression.
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1/12/2014
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The World's Hardest Activity
1 Peter 2:13-17
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Some people are just gifted at music or naturally talented with their hands. Others find that sports come easy, while others can perform math functions with total ease. But there is something that practically everyone finds difficult and that is submission. To abdicate our will to that of another, even for the sake of order and peace, is extremely tough. But there are higher goals and loftier purposes for believers to live submissive lives.
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1/19/2014
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Take This Job and Love It
1 Peter 2:18-21
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I want to make you a promise today: If you can learn and master the four principles in our text, your job will never be the same. The tedium, tension, and labor will give way to a higher motive that will bring authentic joy and deep satisfaction. As Peter addresses slaves in the ancient Roman world, let?s apply it to a much more modern and humane situation?your place of employment.
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1/26/2014
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You Remind Me of Someone!
1 Peter 2:21-25
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Whom do you remind people of? At work or in society at large, is it evident that you are a Christ-follower? Jesus is always our supreme example for how to live a godly life in an ungodly world. Peter told us that we should submit to government as well as to management, and now he tells us why we should—because Jesus did and He's the one we follow.
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2/2/2014
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The Irresistible Beauty of a Tender Heart
1 Peter 3:1-6
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The most attractive people in the world are those who display depth of character and pleasant personalities. Solomon insisted that “[outward] beauty is passing” (Proverbs 31:30). As Peter speaks to a common issue in the early church (Christian wives married to unbelieving husbands), he also gives us three marks of a tenderhearted woman: in her actions, attitudes, and admiration.
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2/9/2014
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The Four-Sided Fortress of a Husband's Love
1 Peter 3:7
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If life is to be rock solid, then family relationships—especially marriage—must be rock solid. No wonder Peter speaks to husbands after addressing wives. In his directive toward submission, he addresses citizens (and not government officials); he addresses servants (and not their masters). But when it comes to the home, he addresses both wives and husbands. Let's consider how a husband's love can make a woman feel firmly secure.
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2/16/2014
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How to Attract Flies
1 Peter 3:8-12
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The old saying "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar" fits perfectly with Peter's letter. He's been telling Christians how to live in plain view of the unbelieving world. Now he goes into the church and tells us how to treat each other. It's his hope that an exhibition of real, Christian love will provide a base of satisfying fellowship for us and attract unbelievers. But how?
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3/2/2014
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A Reason for Every "Ouch!"
1 Peter 3:18-22
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Perhaps the most common word in our language is the tiny word, "Ouch!" Every day, it's repeatedly expressed in variant forms around the world. It's a word that conveys pain and suffering. Peter’s audience knew all about suffering, but they didn't always know how it could actually be used for anything good. Christ's own sufferings provide the best example of both the power and usefulness of suffering.
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3/9/2014
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The Invisible War
1 Peter 3:18-22
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In every war, strategy plays a role. Each side plans and makes movements in accordance to what it learns about the other side’s tactics. If information is leaked, a counteroffensive can be launched. This can be seen in the grand and most profound war of the universe: The Invisible War. In this battle, Satan and his minions wage war against God, His angels, and His people. We’ll consider it by looking again at one of the most enigmatic texts in the New Testament. Let’s unravel it.
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3/16/2014
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Should I Get Soaking Wet?
1 Peter 3:20-21
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So what's the deal with baptism? Why do Christians practice it? What does it have to do with my relationship to God? Peter raised the issue of baptism in this letter, but he tied it into what happened during the time of Noah and the great flood. What on earth could one have to do with the other? Let's unravel these verses and then relate them to our current understanding of Christian baptism. Does this really save a person?
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3/23/2014
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Just Counting Time or Making Time Count?
1 Peter 4:1-6
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There is a certain amount of time allotted to us all, and we all decide how we are going to spend it. But none of us knows exactly how much of it we have left. So a huge question for all of us is: What will you do with the time you have left? Some never face that issue honestly, thinking that they'll always have plenty of time. Today, let's consider four solid principles that will make the time you have left really count.
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5/4/2014
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Living Like There's No Tomorrow
1 Peter 4:7-11
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People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. But Scripture declares there will be an end. For some, their world could end this week or this year when death pays them a visit. But with whatever time we have left, we should live with a sense of imminence and anticipation that God's kingdom is around the corner. What elements can make our lives stronger as we await the end of the age?
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5/11/2014
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The Dos and Don'ts of Suffering
1 Peter 4:12-19
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Pain and suffering dominate our world. To some, that poses an insurmountable roadblock to faith in a good and loving God. How can a loving God let such unlovely things happen all around the globe every day for millennia? Not only is this a deal breaker for unbelievers, but it presents a quandary for believers who want to make sense out of everything in life. The apostle Peter weighed in on these issues in a very personal way to his fellow Christians.
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5/18/2014
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Profile of a Good Shepherd
1 Peter 5:1-4
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"The church needs leaders who serve and servants who lead." So said one notable pastor. Peter doesn't address just the suffering flock of believers in this letter; he also has encouragement for the leaders of the flock—the pastors. What are the characteristics of a shepherd who serves among God's flock? What are his responsibilities, and how can a church flourish under such leadership? Here, Peter places himself and fellow shepherds under the microscope.
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5/25/2014
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The Upright Walk of a Bowed-Down Man
1 Peter 5:5-7
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One website I came across recently stated that "the more in control you are of your life, the more assured and confident you'll become." The same website warned readers to not trust others. That is, unfortunately, the by-product of our proud world. But walking among others means we sometimes need to bend low in humility for the sake of solidarity and unity. Peter's words on this are timeless.
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6/1/2014
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Lion Alert!
1 Peter 5:8-9
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Just think what would happen if a lion from our local zoo escaped and was wandering around the park, looking for a fresh kill. Can you imagine the pandemonium that would erupt if such a misfortune occurred? Imagine no more! Our Enemy is far more dangerous and formidable and is on the prowl to destroy the spiritual lives of the residents of planet Earth, especially those who belong to Christ. Let's consider the battle and the potential outcome.
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6/29/2014
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A Rock-Solid Finish
1 Peter 5:10-14
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Peter ended his letter with a few nuggets of distilled truth. In just a couple of verses, he concentrated everything he had already said. To his suffering audience, Peter offered assurance of God’s perfect plan that began when they trusted in Christ and wouldn’t end until they were firmly secure in the glories of heaven. Though pain is part of the process of perfection, the finish line is worth it!
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10/12/2014
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Building a Forever Faith
2 Peter 1:1-11
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To build a home or a commercial building requires having the right people and the right materials in place. There is a critical path for the work to follow. And there are blueprints and building codes for the builders to follow. It's the same when it comes to building a spiritual life. As Peter began his second letter, he spoke to the need of spiritual growth. To build a "forever faith," Peter shared four important principles to build successfully.
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10/19/2014
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How to Live and Die Well
2 Peter 1:12-15
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Peter lived his life knowing the brevity of it. Here, he wrote as an older man in his seventies. Realizing there was more road behind him than ahead of him, he gave a model for us. Essentially we have here an excellent example of how to live well and how to die well. Let's answer the question How can I live and die well? by considering four keys passed along by Peter himself.
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10/26/2014
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Is It True? How Can I Know?
2 Peter 1:16-21
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Truth is a slippery word. Definitions get assigned to it that are contradictory, purely individual, and without any validation. Peter wanted his readers to know things. He was giving them truth that was both personally familiar and prophetically verifiable. How can we today know that what we believe in and hope for is actually true?
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11/2/2014
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Watch Out for Fakes!
2 Peter 2:1-14
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Counterfeiting has become a multibillion-dollar industry that extends all around the world. Fake jewelry, fake purses, fake paintings, and, yes, even fake medicines are sold as if they’re the genuine articles, when they are cheap (though amazingly real-looking) imitations. It’s the same when it comes to truth. What makes a false teacher of false teaching? Peter gave three recommendations in dealing with such counterfeits.
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11/9/2014
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Caution: Ruts Ahead!
2 Peter 2:15-22
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The quality, comfort, and success of a journey depend largely on the conditions of the road, the company you keep, and the destination you’re heading for. False teachers and their devotees guarantee a perilous voyage and a bad finish! Today we are challenged to live cautiously as we make progress in our journey of faith and to watch out for ruts.
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11/16/2014
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Look, Jesus Is Coming!
2 Peter 3:1-10
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The second coming of Jesus Christ will be the greatest day in humankind’s history. The promise of His return to rule the world He created has been what believers have longed for the last 2,000 years. Jesus’ return will be the solution to every social, moral, political, and spiritual issue and problem. But what do other people (besides Christian believers) think about such a notion? And, as we wait for His return, what should we look for, and where ought we to be looking?
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11/23/2014
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Breaking Up Camp and Moving On
2 Peter 3:10-18
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We have studied both letters of Peter and have seen how anyone whose life would otherwise be weak, wobbly, and failure ridden can become Rock Solid through Christ. This is vital since life in this world is dynamic, shifting, and transitory. This world is passing; its glory is fading. Thus, anyone who places all their energy and hope in this life alone will be disappointed. Today, as we end our series, we consider where we are eventually headed and how to arrive safely.
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There are 35 additional messages in this series.