Witness

Hope in you!

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence 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 behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”   (1 Peter 3:13–17 ESV)

What happens when we think about the word evangelism?

There are three general reactions to it:

  1. It is something that you are gifted with, the gift of evangelism, and I don’t have that gift.
  2. We pay the minister to do our evangelism.
  3. I am excited; I have experience in leading someone to the Lord.

The first two ones are not Biblical; they are the enemy’s tactics to confuse and to bring contentment into the body of Christ.

According to this passage in 1st Peter, you don’t have to have the gift of evangelism to share your faith, to speak about the great Hope that lives in you.

According to this passage, there is no mention of any minister who is paid to evangelise. Whenever I think of these two reasons, I think we are grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit.

I believe that every one of you wants to know the Lord more, want to experience his presence and want to be biblical sound. I want to tell you that there is an amazing amount of growth when you and I share our faith and lead someone to Jesus.

The last reason that I gave you is a biblical one. It comes from someone who knows the heart of the Father. Someone who has experienced the love and deep conviction of the Holy Spirit and who has grown in the faith. Why do I say this? Because when we lead someone to Christ, we become convinced that the Gospel works, that salvation is real.

Look at these verses when we share the hope that is in us, we become Holy, and we honour Christ. If that is not growing and maturing in Christ, I don’t know what it is.

The Gospel is not just to be believed, but it is to be experienced and when we get the Gospel, it is enough to sustain us in our faith and devotion to Jesus.

What is the greatest enemy of sharing our Faith?

 I want to mention three, though there are many

  1. Fear: Fear of being rejected, fear of speaking to someone and not knowing that it will be well received or rejected. Fear of making a fool of yourself. The power of fear is that paralyses you, and it deflates courage
  2. Troubles: Suffering and persecution because of what we stand for. Suffering as a Christian can lead you to depend on the Lord if you are not careful to walk away from the Lord. Suffering can lead to a place of no Hope.
  3. Lack of confidence: “I am not gifted”; I am not a good speaker! I am not as confident as you are or as the minister. I want you to know that we are a call to obedience, and to obey is an act of the will based on faith facts. Confidence in yourself does not count. We need to be confident in the message of the Gospel.

Let me put this in perspective.

When Peter wrote these words, he knew that his readers were the scattered Christian community throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asian and Bithynia.

He wrote to a chosen people, a community that lived and suffered because of their faith—a community made of slaves, exiles, immigrants, and rejected people.

To this community, he wrote these verses.

  • This community, despite them being foreigners and sojourners, Peter speaks of them with great affection; he knew how much they love the Lord.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9 ESV)

  • Peter calls them to get ready:

“There, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that marvellous to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”(1 Peter 1:13 ESV)

  • Peter calls out who they are and why they should share the faith:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

  • Peter reminds them of the sacrifice of Christ, they great Shepherds and Overseer of their souls:

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:22–25 ESV)

  • Peter tells them that when they speak the Gospel and Serve, they are saying the voice of God, and they serve in the strength of the Lord:

Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”(1 Peter 4:11 ESV)

  • This is why he says

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled” (1 Peter 3:13–14 ESV)

These communities loved the Lord and were willing to pay any price as long as they declared the Good News, news of a fantastic exchange that takes place when we move from darkness into his marvellous light.

The reason for hope

Most of my ministry in North Belfast happened around Coffee Shops. I remember meeting a Christian leader, an elder in a church, and a vital position in a Christian organisation. He arranged to meet because I was interested in how his organisation could help us get one project started. As he began to talk, the Spirit of God began to show me things about his life and how hard the last year has been for him. He was struggling with a deep sense of hopelessness and depression. I gently said to him what the Lord was showing me, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes, then I prayed with him right there in that coffee shop as I finished praying, he looked around the coffee shop, and he said and asked me, Dario, why is this room so bright? I knew the presence of God was there, and then he said I feel so light, I feel much better. What did you do?

I told him that I believe the Bible in a literal way. I only prayed that the hope that is in us be manifested in his life and mine.

I told him that as Christians, we have the God of Hope living in us, and we can articulate our faith through prayer ask the Lord for boldness when we speak and pray.

But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

This is what Peter is saying to all of us this morning, the Hope is in us. It is the work of the Gospel in our hearts, and it is the transformative power of the Gospel in us.

I believe that we all have a story to tell; if you have encountered the Lord, you have this hope in you. This is how we honour Christ by sharing our faith.

Gospel, the same Gospel that Peter believed, it is the Gospel that was true to the brothers and sisters in Peter’s time as it is today!

The Reason for the Heart

But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

How do we honour Christ as Holy?

I met Jessica, my good and extraordinary sister in Christ. When I met her, she was in debt and very suicidal. I remember going to her home and inviting her to a talk that we did at a coffee shop on different themes and that week was “What would Jesus say about suicide?

She came with a friend, and because it was not a church, she felt much more at ease. She later told me that she thought not good enough to attend church for many years, that only good people go to church with their Sunday best! She was pregnant as a teenager, and life has been difficult.

After the talk, I presented the Gospel and invited those present to respond to the abundant life that Jesus promises us when we believe in him and repent of our sins. It was a straightforward message: Jesus, the giver of life, is ready to give us his life in exchange.

This is the message of Peter, and this is who we Glorify Christ in our hearts!

When the message of the Gospel reaches our hearts, we become God’s sons and daughters, his Holy Spirit comes to live in us, and in the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we are being transformed from Glory to Glory.

Why? Because of Gospel, the Hope that is in us is Glorious.

“And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–6 ESV)

The Gospel was veiled to Jess, the god of this age had blinded her, then she heard the Gospel, and the light of the glory of God in Jesus Christ began to shine in her heart; it shone so brightly that it moved away from the darkness. So that the face of Jesus, the Glory of Jesus, could settle forever in her heart. Jess that day believed, and I know she has a relationship with Jesus.

Isn’t this what Peter said to this community?

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

We honour Christ in our hearts when Gospel shines in our hearts and when we give a reason for the hope in us to a hurting world.

How do we share the Gospel?

The reason for the sensitivity

“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. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”(1 Peter 3:15–17 ESV)

The world has changed, and we are changing with the world.

There was a point in history that to share our Christian views were acceptable, now it is not the case, especially with current themes such as Gender. We are no longer at the cutting age, but we have been marginalised, and we are called irrelevant, that the message of the Gospel is no longer welcomed.

So, how do we share our faith, the reason that is in us, the Gospel?

Peter has two words to say to us Gentleness and Respect.

The reason of our hope, the reason of the heart, the new apologetics must be with gentleness and respect. A more literal translation would say with gentleness and reverence. The word reverence is the same one as the word fear, which is interesting.

Still, this time is not the fear of suffering or persecution but of reverence to the Gospel, which is the Glory of Jesus, the image of God.

I know a man who was happy to argue with anyone who would come with a Bible and try to persuade him to become a follower of Jesus. So many people tried but with no results. He was against the church and some of the church practices. What was worse was that he could argue biblically, yes, using the Bible and Bible verses to make his point. So, to try to share the Gospel with gentleness or even respect was difficult. But he became friends with some Christians. Though he was, these people were more committed to their faith. He became friends with them because they played football.

One weekend, when he was at his parent’s home, he decided to go to the evening service. The minister spoke God’s word with conviction. He was gentle and very respectful of his audience. Yet, this man resisted with all he had and walked away knowing that now he was being pursued by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

He came back to the same church and evening service, and unusually the minister again gave an invitation to respond to the message and this time, he stood up and all he experienced with fire all around him. The fire that burned and purified him and the fire that gave him power. It was a simple, humble presentation of the Gospel. His life completely changed. He joined the church, was on fire and began to lead other people to the Lord. He became a youth leader having a youth homegroup of about 20 kids in his family home. The Lord called him to be a missionary, and now he is a minister in the presbyterian church in Ireland.

This happened to me, and it can happen to you and to all with whom we share the Gospel.

We don’t have any excuses. We live in a broken world that never before has allowed us to have access and networks that we need to take advantage of for the proclamation of the Gospel.

Tony Merida speaks about “Network evangelism has several advantages. He recognises the sovereignty of God in network evangelism. He says that It fosters the belief that every person in our sphere of life matters, and it helps us remember that God has us living in this time and place in history, surrounded by particular image-bearers that he has sovereignly put in our path (Acts 17 v 26-27).” (from “Love Your Church: 8 Great Things About Being a Church Member” by Tony Merida)

Blog Morning @First

darioleal View All →

Dario is a husband, father, pastor and passionate pursuer of Jesus and His Kingdom. He is a Pastor, loyal friend, and walks the walk when it comes to being a carrier of God’s presence. He expects things to happen when he prays for people. He loves having fun and eating olives (preferably at the same time).

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