Reason for the Hope

The Message
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” – Romans 5.8-11 (NLT)

Here is the message. A simple explanation of God’s plan through Christ. If someone were to ask you what the Gospel is, this would be a sufficient reply. We have been made right with God through Christ’s sacrifice and are now counted as friends of God. Wow! When was the last time you became intimate friends with a one who was previously an enemy. Only God has the power to do so and will be friends to all who would choose to come to Him and believe in Christ for their salvation. So what are we to do in light of this? If you have already made this step to trust in Christ and God’s promise of salvation, what do you do now? Proclaim it! Tell the world. Make disciples. This task is third in three steps of living in a Gospel-centered, evangelistic, incarnational mentality. The first two are knowing the Word and loving the Word. Let’s take a look at all three.

Know the Word

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” – Joshua 1.8 (NLT)

God’s Word is one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Our duty is to know it. This is a daunting task for many, but it doesn’t require a degree. It starts with a copy of the Word, preferably a good study bible but even that’s not required. The purpose for having a good study bible is to have access to various notes, commentaries, charts, maps and more in order to understand and gain insight to the inspired Word of God. I recommend John MacArthur’s NASB or NKJV, The ESV Study Bible or the Reformation Study Bible. But if that’s not an option, picking up a bible, praying before you read and asking God to open your eyes to His truth through Scripture is best way to start knowing the Word. Pick a Psalm and read it over and over and maybe memorize it. Read one or two Proverbs a day and start over when you get through them all. Start with Genesis 1.1 and keep reading. Pick up a once a day reading plan. Whatever you choose, the calling is to get in there and know the Word. God also has gifted many men and women with the ability to write and comment on His word and this too are an invaluable resource. Whether these be through devotionals, commentaries, or various Christian living books, there are many ways be fed. Ultimately, God’s truth is revealed in Scripture and our calling is to know what Scripture says. Here’s a sample plan to get you in the Word on a daily and committed basis:

  • Pick one short epistle in the New Testament and commit to read through that once a day for a month
  • Read 3-5 Psalms a day before going to bed
  • Read one Proverb a day with the family or before you go to school/work
  • Commit to a Bible study through church or small group. If there are none, start one!
  • Download or purchase an audio bible or dramatized Scripture recording for listening to in the car
  • Do all the above!

However you choose to do so, the command remains the same. We are to continuously abide in the Word of God in order to gain truth, perspective and application to our daily lives, and ultimately share that truth with those around us.

Love the Word
I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word. How I delight in your commands! How I love them! I honor and love your commands. I meditate on your decrees.” – Psalm 119.14-16, 47-48 (NLT)

Knowing the Word is extremely important, but if you don’t love God’s Word then what’s the point?! An atheist can be a biblical scholar and know the Word inside and out, yet not truly love the Word as God’s inspired text to mankind. If you don’t love the Word, then more than likely you will not desire to share it’s truth with others around you. The distinguishing mark of a true believer is a love for God’s Word. If you don’t have a love for God’s Word, there might be a deeper issue. Love for God and His Word is a part of being a regenerated believer, and if that love is not present, there is a good chance that the work of salvation has not been accomplished in your life. Certainly there are times of spiritual dryness where your love of God’s Word is not what it should be, but is the basic desire to love and know God’s Word within you? If it is, then pray that God would rekindle the flame of love for His truth found solely in Scripture. If that basic desire is not present, I would ask that you pray for God to change your heart and reveal what is holding you back from truly being in love with His Word.

Be Ready to Proclaim It!

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” – 2 Timothy 4.2 (NLT)

And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” – 1 Peter 3.15b

Let’s say you know what God’s Word says and let’s also say that you love His Word and the truth found within. Now, are you ready to proclaim it? This is the calling set upon all of us who profess faith in Christ; tell others the Good News! Knowing and loving the Word should produce an outflow where you are prepared to share the Word with all those you know. It’s not always about handing out tracts and sitting down with every person you know to share the full plan of salvation (although those are worthy tasks), the initial focus should be to live a life where that outflow is present no matter what the situation. Paul tells Timothy to be prepared no matter what time it is. This means sharing with a friend who is going through a tough time about God’s love and providence. This means looking for ways to have a spiritual conversation with a family member who is a non-believer. This means living life simply ready to take any and every opportunity to share the truth of Christ when presented with that opportunity, no matter what that opportunity looks like. Maybe it’s a simple “I will pray for you” or maybe it’s an extended series of conversations that leads closer and closer to sharing the truth about Christ. The main point is that we are to live a God-glorifying life, ready to proclaim His name whenever the chance arises.

So What?
For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News-and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1.17-18 (NLT)

Proclaiming Christ need not look fancy, nor should it be focused on the self. To proclaim Christ is to do so unashamedly yet full of humility. It is vital to know the Word and it certainly is necessary to love the Word in which you proclaim. Undoubtedly, there will be those who look upon the message as foolish, yet our mission remains the same. It’s quite possible that we have listened for far too long to the voice that says “No, not this time” and have ignored the voice that quietly solicits “Take this chance, trust Me.”  While none can claim perfection in this area, all can claim responsibility. Take this chance today, this week, when you can and proclaim Christ. Get in the Word! Let our study of Romans be your daily meditation this semester and abide in this wonderful Word. I promise that God will be faithful to turn a dutiful study into a bountiful blessing of love for His Word. “Grant what thou commandest and then command what thou wilt,” says the great St. Augustine. I pray you will look up to God for this desire to fully form in your heart and daily life. Take care and have a great week in the Lord!

Striving alongside,

Coleman

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