Each One Reach One (1 Peter 3:8-17) 5 Keys's To Share Your Faith
I have a question, “Do you know what month this is?” It is Mission Month. Jeff is at Converge sharing a message he shared here last week. I am sharing the message I shared there this week. The theme for mission month is Each One Reach One, Each One Raise One, Each One Start One, and Each One Send One. This series challenges us as a body to share our faith, raise up leaders, start churches, and send out missionaries. We are so excited about this focus on missions. Through the years our people have sensed the Holy Spirit lead them to step out in faith in radical ways.
In some cases, it was to give more than they ever had towards missions. In other cases, our people have felt called themselves to move and serve the Lord in distant lands or leave to help plant churches. Today, we adults heard from Frank and Cathy Grumbir about supporting missions. Next week you will hear from Jeff about his trip to Central Asia. Because of the sensitive nature of what he will share, we won’t record his talk, but let me challenge you to join us at 10:00 AM. It would encourage Jeff, and I think it would encourage you as well.
EACH ONE REACHING ONE
Today, I want to share a message about Each One Reaching One.
Have a look at this picture.
This is a picture of the Mall of America. On August 25th of last year, a pastor from L.A. named Ramin Parsa was visiting this mall that boasts 40,000 million visitors a year with a friend and his son. They were strolling through the mall when two Somali women approached them. They asked him if he was Muslim. He said he used to be but was converted to Christianity over 13 years ago. The women asked him to explain. He shared how he converted to Christianity in Iran, survived a stabbing by a Muslim, escaped to Turkey, and in 2008 gained admission to the United States as a refugee since then he has become a citizen. They began to ask more questions, and a third woman overheard. She left and went and complained to a security guard that Pastor Ramin was harassing them about religion. The security guard came back with her and told Pastor Ramin he couldn’t solicit in the Mall. Pastor Ramin said he was merely answering questions during a private conversation and he wasn’t soliciting. Pastor Ramin left to get a coffee with his friends.
COFFEE & SECURITY
After they got their coffee, three security guards stopped them including the one they just talked to. According to the police report, the Mall security said they heard he was talking about religion to a family in Starbucks.
The guards asked him to leave, and he refused stating he was not soliciting or doing anything wrong. They had just got there 10 minutes before the guard first showed up. Two more guards came. The guards were arguing the Mall was private property, and he was trespassing. The Mall security escorted Pastor Ramin’s friends out of the Mall. They took Pastor Ramin’s coffee and brought him downstairs and handcuffed him to a chair till police arrived over three hours later. He said one guard went so far as to say, “You can’t talk religion here. We arrest pastors.” They refused to give him his coffee, water when asked, or food. They took his phone and wouldn’t let him call anyone. He asked to use the restroom, and they only allowed him just before the police arrived. He was charged with a misdemeanor for trespassing. He posted bail at 2:00 AM Sunday morning for $78 so he could preach at a church which was the reason he flew to Minneapolis in the first place two days before.
The case was scheduled to go to trial this week, but in the last month, the city dropped the charge.
Now, I believe in property rights. Property owners have rights; I think there is merit to being able to ask guests to leave your property if they are harassing people. However, if everything is as it appears, the city isn’t charging him of trespassing and witnesses support the Pastor’s claim, the treatment of Pastor Ramin was fueled more by angst towards his Christianity, overzealous security, and impulsive bias, than him harassing others in a matter of minutes. If he was having a private conversation and someone passed by was offended, and he was arrested for that, what could happen to any of us? How are we to reach anyone for Christ?
After events like Sri Lanka on Easter and what has happened in China and Nigeria and North Korea this last year and two weeks ago in Burkina Faso, we find persecution all over. However, persecution is not new. Two thousand years ago Paul wrote, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).
Rome had Paul’s head cut off for sharing his faith. They crucified Jesus. You and I will likely suffer some trials for our faith in this life.
The Apostle Peter understood this. He taught a church under pressure on how to live out their faith and share it regardless of consequences. In the text for the morning shares five considerations that help each of us reach people for Christ no matter the cost.
When I say reach a person, I am talking more of impacting people for Christ than changing a person spiritually, God alone can change people. We sow and plant, but we can’t make something grow, only God can. You can share a word You can invite a person to an event. You can pray for a person. God changes the heart.
I have Valer Pascanu to read for us in Romanian. I want to familiarize our ears to what is normal to 20 Million people nearly 5,000 miles away. In Romania, 94% are not protestant. A number of you have been to Romania. Pastor Jeff helped plant a church in Romania when he spent a year there with his family. I got this update from Pastor Ioan whom we support with our mission giving: He asks you to pray for “strength the connection with the church in Sibiu, after Vasile died and more open doors for [the] Gospel.”
Valer is reading 1 Peter 3:8-17. He will read a verse, and I will read the English verse. Would you stand with me in honor of God’s Word?
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 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.
Thank you let’s pray.
God, we need you desperately. You are good. Help your Word come alive to us. Change us. Motivate us to share the good news with those around and not be afraid. We want to reach one, two, three, so many with your good news, for you are good. Your love endures forever. Great is your faithfulness. Be with us now as we hear your Word and help us to advance your mission for your glory. AMEN. (SHC - You May Be seated).,
Imagine what it would be like to experience persecution. What would it be like to be going to the church in Burkina Faso, where news reports this week said, “A dozen gunmen on motorcycles stormed the courtyard of the Sirgadji church after worship, fatally shooting its longtime pastor as well as five other congregants after demanding they convert to Islam?” How would you feel about getting up in the morning, getting your kids ready, rushing to church if you knew someone might attack? What if you were in a community where talking about your faith might cost you your job, family, and freedom? We think it is hard to get to church when we have had a late night or it is Daylight savings time, add a little persecution in our county and see what happens to church attendance and open expression of faith. I venture to guess the numbers and churches would shrink and so would cultural Christianity. What do you think?
In verses 8 through 17 Peter gives us ample advice to help us in our endeavor to share our faith with our neighbors in spite of dangers.
Here is an outline for our time. I want to talk about five things to consider.
Peter wants to encourage the church under pressure they can, and should share their faith regardless of the consequences. He wrote in verses 13 and 14,
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,
He is saying our fears are not necessary.
Jesus said something similar.
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:28-31).
You are valued. You are blessed. God cares. You don’t have to fear some rogue security guard or highly sensitive person being offended when talking about your faith. Jesus says God cares for you. He knows. He won’t let your enemies destroy your soul. You are valuable brothers and sisters.
Who doesn’t like how Paul talks about persecution and God’s love in Romans 8? He wrote,
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ...37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As Christians, God knows your trials. He gave His Son for you. He justifies you. He elects you. He intercedes for you. He loves you. He loves all of you who put your faith in Him and Him alone. Do you?
Then why are we afraid of how people respond? Why do I hesitate, and equivocate? Why fear?
LifeWay Research just came out with a study of 2,500 protestants and found that 55% didn’t share their faith in the last five months, 55%. Why? I think in part because of fear and our lack of faith in what the scriptures say.
I am convicted by what Peter says in chapter 3.
“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled”
I am troubled, and I am afraid far too frequently.
- I am afraid of how people will react.
- I am afraid of how a conversation will affect my relationships.
- I am afraid people won’t like me.
Those fears Peter says are empty compared to the blessing of God. When I give in to those fears, I don’t functionally believe 1 Peter 3:8-17, Matthew 10:28-32, and Romans 8:31-39. If I believed that God loved me so much that nothing could separate me from Him if I believed my neighbor could experience God in that way, wouldn’t I want to share it? I am far too fearful.
When was the last time you shared? Are you afraid and troubled? The word for trouble in verse 14 in one translation “Trouble” is translated “Intimidated”. Don’t be intimidated by those who oppose your faith. Proverbs 29:25 teaches, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Don’t fear. Sure you could be harassed and excluded and even hurt in some countries, but then what? You will go to a better place, and they can’t hurt you there. You are safe in God.
Peter is dealing with a culture that is opposed to Christianity yet questions them about their hope. We have a society that is quite free but often doesn’t care what our hope is in., However, with what Peter says next in verse 15 even the apathetic culture may begin to question our motives. Let’s move to what Peter gets to next: Honor. This brings me to my second point: HONOR
- We need to not FEAR
- We need to instead HONOR
Peter goes on,
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy
How? How do we honor Christ the Lord? Peter says as Holy. What does “as Holy” mean? I think it is giving God the recognition He deserves. That includes verbally. However, it also involves our actions too. Are we living under the control of what other people think and say, or by what God says and thinks of us? We want God to get all the praise and glory He deserves. He deserves it all. We are to recognize that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah and spotless, pure Master. We are to honor him in all we do.
HONOR HIM IN ALL
Corinthians teaches, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Eat for the glory of God. Drink for the glory of God. He is the one who designs our foods, colors, textures, and tastes. He made it. He made the physics and chemistry that makes baking amazing. Glorify God in your eating and drinking and baking and making and whatever you do. Peter writes in a sense instead of living under the thumb or hammer of man, live to honor Christ the Lord. What does it look like? I think it means we take God’s words and commands seriously. Peter gives us several ways to honor Christ the Lord as holy in verses 8 and 9. Look there.
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless...
- a tender heart,
- and a humble mind.
- And blessing
If you want to treat Christ as the Lord as holy, obey Him. Pursue living in such a way that embraces pursuing unity in our diversity as a body because Christ has paid the ultimate sacrifice bringing us together. He has broken down the dividing walls between cultures and gender and classes. We are all valued by the precious blood of Christ. Pursue sympathy and love and tenderness and humility, with one another because God has humbled himself to the point of death, in tenderness and love He gave himself for us. How then can we not care for others? We may not like personalities, agree with each other’s politics and practices, but we can still be loving, sympathetic, humble, and tender to each other. Finally, Peter says bless. Whom are we to bless? It is those who do evil and revile us. It is our enemies.
Listen to Jesus’s word on blessing. Jesus said,
44 ... I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
Love your enemies, bless them. I think the gospel will sing when we do this. Your enemies may then ask why? Which is what I think Peter understands and why he wrote what he wrote next.
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;
How do we reach a person for Christ? I think it means moving from fear, which is natural, and moving towards honoring Christ which is radical. That radical love for your enemy leads people to ask why are we the way we are. Peter says the potential interrogation we face is a reason for us to be prepared to talk about our hope. If we want to reach one person for Christ, let’s pursue preparation.
Are you prepared? Are you ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you? How would you respond if someone were to ask you what is the gospel?
DEFINING THE GOSPEL
The gospel is basic and complex. 1 Corinthians 15:3 tells us in a nutshell: “Christ died for our sins.” Paul says it is of utmost importance. Jesus is the once for all atoning sacrifice. That is the gospel in a nutshell. I think sometimes our excuse for not sharing the hope that is within us is we don’t think we have enough training. We have not read enough. We don’t know enough. We are not ready or prepared. Have you felt that way?
Friends, no one is asking you right now to make a defense. So you have time. You can prepare. How? There are lots of ways.
HOW DO I PREPARE
I would recommend four.
- Practice. Find a friend and practice sharing your faith them. It could be awkward, but it is helpful.
- Talk. Share what God is teaching you, how he has blessed you, what you are thankful for, and what his Word is saying.
- Read books about sharing your faith and Christian biographies, and especially the Bible. (Here are a few of my favorites: Tell the Truth by Will Metzger, Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman, and Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman). I would add another book I just finished. The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. It is an excellent book that helps you turn hospitality into evangelism. She shares her failures and victories. It is wonderful.
- Pray God helps you reach specifically one person for Christ this year by name.
I think sometimes we can get all worked about not being prepared and forget the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus pulled his disciples aside one day, including Peter, to prepare them for the persecution to come. They surely had fears. He said to them,
11 “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”(Luke 12:11-12)
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are not alone. The Holy Spirit is in you, and he will help you answer the tough questions. He will call to mind what you need to know when you need to know it. He will give you the words to say. Don’t worry.
God has this. Even if He lets you feel like you a bumbling fool, He is good and in control and has this. We need to be faithful and be ready and answer when asked.
For some of you, the reason you are not ready is you may never have believed this. The hope is not in you yet. Don’t let today go by without acknowledging your need for a savior. You need him. Trust in Him. Turn from sin, and if you truly do that, you will be forgiven and saved and have a hope in you.
That brings me to two qualifications for our giving a reason. Gentleness. He writes,
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,
We are to be gentle in our defense.
Peter says an essential quality of our sharing should be gentleness. Are you gentle? The fruit of the Spirit includes gentleness. Would those around you describe you as gentle? We want to be gentle people. Gentle is the same word for meek and humble throughout the Bible. Sometimes people in Christ’s name are anything but. Instead, they are rude, contentious, argumentative, mean, harsh, unkind, impatient, arrogant, self-righteous, and proud. That is not okay.
How can we defend our faith gently? That is a great question. Leo Modica is going to an apologetics class this summer for adult Sunday school. The word for apologetics comes from the word used here to give a defense or reason. Our hope is such a class is to give us answers and approaches that are gentle. We don’t want to use the class to bolster points to beat someone up. That is not the intent. We can’t strongarm people into the kingdom. It doesn’t work. I think the late singer and songwriter Kieth Green said, “if you can convince a person to be a Christian the devil can unconvinced them.” Our job is not to convince people but to gently give an answer for the hope that is within us. (Repeat) That means don’t stress about the results. Don’t fight to get the last word in. Don’t debate. Don’t push or force your agenda. Waiting for another opportunity is okay. Be patient.
The final point Peter makes in verse 15 is to add to gentleness Respect.
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.
Let’s reach our neighbors, co-workers, and friends with respect. How is that different than gentleness. They are quite similar. The word for respect is the same word used in 1:17 for fear. It is conducting ourselves in a way with each other that respects God. Does our speech honor God and respect the person before me? I think context helps us see what Peter is getting at.
...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.
Let’s reread verse 17 again. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. Being offensive and disrespectful and being confronted for that is getting what one deserves. Respectful and gentle behavior is good behavior and being slandered for that is better than suffering for doing evil.
We should strive to be the most respectful and humble people on the planet, and if we suffer for that, it is to our enemies shame. Jesus modeled for us a response to persecution. He left heaven to take on the form of a servant. He became nothing to give his life for rebels like you and me (Philippians 2). He allowed people to slander him, arrest him, beat him, and kill him. He did that because he loves you. That is not a normal response to evil. The gospel shines brightly when we love our enemies and pray for them instead of attack back. Invariably some may ask why are you responding and reacting and acting the way you are acting. None of us have done this Christian life perfectly. Peter writes these reminders because we tend to stray from the path to be fearful and forgetful, unprepared, harsh and rude.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN
What might happen if during the next year as we apply Peter’s words? What would happen if we kill the fear of what others might think? What would happen if we seek to honor Jesus with our mouths and lives? What would happen if we prepared faithfully to share our hope in gentle and respectful ways? I think we would do our part to each reach one for Christ. Friends between our two campus there are nearly 97,000 people who live around us. Statistically, tens of thousands of them are not affiliated with any church or religion. They need Jesus. Our neighbors need Jesus, our families need Jesus, our classmates need Jesus, and our co-workers need Jesus.
FEAR Rather let’s pursue
HONOR Christ the Lord as Holy
FEAR Rather let’s pursue
HONOR Christ the Lord as Holy
Who is one person you might reach by God’s grace? Let me challenge you to write down a name. Pray for that person over the coming months, some of you already have been for years. Ask God to open the door to share with this person a reason for the hope that is in you in gentle and respectful ways. In the coming days. Peter gives us a wonderful reminder of our motivation a chapter before this. Friends, I am an American citizen. Most of us are. But that citizenship is only temporary. Peter points to our permanent status in chapter 2 verses 9-10.
9 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 marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We have received amazing mercy at the cross. Let us then proclaim the excellencies as we have the opportunity with gentleness and respect, honoring the Lord and not living in fear.
Let’s pray as the worship team comes up here.
Dear God, we need you. Help us know who you put in our lives to reach. Give us a heart for you and prepare us to be bold. Take away our fears and fill us with faith. We love you. AMEN.