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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

02-06-24 - IN THE NAME OF JESUS - 1 Peter 3:13-22

MESSAGE BY PASTOR ROB INRIG

FROM BETHANY BAPTIST IN RICHMOND, BC.



(After two weeks of being unable to post new messages for health reasons here I am again with the good news, continue with the book of 1 Peter by pastor Rob Inrig and pastor Daniel Park. Messages are so interesting with the teachings from Peter in how love is important between brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ our Lord)

(I encourage you to click the introduction's video)

Let's pray, If you are visiting the blog I invite you to pray with me, Father God hear our pray, we humble cry before as your word say "All things whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Mat: 21-22) we are asking healing for our beloved members of our family and also dear friends that are suffering with illness in their lives struggling and suffering under much pain, we are asking a miracle for each one of them, you know them by name ( Gaby, Vicky, Nancy, Tere, Stevie, Les, Miguel, Socrates, Kate) as your precious children, make their faith strong in you with a miracle in their lives oh Father God hear our pray, and also we pray for all people around the world that are suffering with devastation, hunger, pain and sorrow we ask beloved Father God to give them strengths in faith in you we now you love them so much oh Father God hear our pray, We ask in the name of Our Lord of Lords and King of Kings your beloved son Jesus Christ. AMEN!



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, (do not fear their intimidation) nor be troubled but in your hearts honor (reverence) 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, 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


Unless you are into things historical, the name Telemachus is probably not one you know.  In his youth, he was a pleasure-seeking young man, who, in time, grew tired of his empty life.  But upon encountering Christ, he entered the monastery, a changed man.  Some time later he traveled to Rome and arriving, found himself caught up in a large, excited crowd. He had no idea where they were going but where they were going, he was going.  Within moments he was in the Roman Coliseum where he watched as gladiators lined up below the emperor, and called out, “We, who are about to die, salute you”.  In that instant he knew he had stumbled into the gladiator games which he had thought to be legend but he now knew to be true.


Vows spoken, the gladiators began drawing blood. Telemachus was sickened by what he saw, his reaction very different from the blood thirst around him.  From his seat, he yelled out, In the Name of Jesus, stop! but no one heard, so without.


Surprised, the gladiators stopped and stared at the monk standing before them. “In the name of Jesus, stop!”  After a few moments, the crowd’s silence turned to laughter.  One of the gladiators, enjoying the spectacle, swung his sword at Telemachus, just missing him.  With that, others drew their swords, chasing him across arena, the crowd laughing, thinking it comic relief.

That was until they heard what he was yelling, For the love of Christ, stop!  With each passing moment his words grew louder, In the name of Jesus, stop!


Nowhere for him to go, the gladiators surged and when dust cleared, Telemachus lay dead, a sword protruding from his chest.  Now the crowd was silent and after what seemed an eternity, one man got up from his seat and left, then another Nowhere for him to go, the gladiators surged and when dust cleared, Telemachus lay dead, a sword protruding from his chest.  Now the crowd was silent and after what seemed an eternity, one man got up from his seat and left, then another and another until the coliseum emptied.


After a few minutes, the gladiators put their swords down and they too left the arena until all that remained was the lifeless body of the young monk. History claims that this was the last gladiator contest in the coliseum.  The memory of one man screaming to the crowd, changing the hearts and minds of the Romans.  


One man, standing up while others sat. One man, stepping out while others laughed. One man zealous for what was right and good, in a world deceived and accepting of all that was bad.


As Telemachus stepped into the streets of Rome that day, he had no idea what awaited.  He just knew that when confronted with what he saw, he needed to zealously step out and speak out for what was right and good.


Though his intervention is a more extreme example than what we will encounter, Telemachus’ actions very much in line with where God’s Word is directing us this morning: how as followers of Jesus we are to people who live differently – who choose to stand while others sit; who step out while other laugh.  Christ’s witnesses in the arena in which God has placed us – • Living out the good, •  Speaking out the good and • Bowing before the Author of all good.   


In :13, Peter makes clear what should characterize our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, is that we are to be a people who are Zealous for what is good. 


I want to unpack this a bit.  The word zeal is defined as “great energy in pursuit of a cause”.  Certainly, that captures the idea but I think Peter actually wants to ramp up our understanding by his use of the word zealous.  The Zealots were those who rose up against the Roman occupiers as well as against the Jewish leaders who were seen as compromisers in their efforts to seek peace.  As the Zealots saw it, these leaders were motivated by their own self-interest.  And the Zealots were having none of it.  The Talmud describes the Zealots as the Biryonim meaning, "boorish", "wild", or "ruffians".  People who didn’t just go along, people who would aggressively step out into action.  I’m not suggesting that our methodology or intent should be the same as theirs but in these descriptors you get the idea of where Peter is going when he says, Be zealous for what is good.  Zealous - without restraint.  Ambushing with the unpredictable – without compromise.  

Zealously living for what is good.  THAT, Peter is saying, is what people should say when they see us.  That we aren’t just people who ARE good but people who are ‘recklessly good’.  Who go after the good, who promote the good, who do the good.  People so reckless in being the good that we, as Christ followers, bring value to where we are.  Change agents who consciously and intentionally live out good as we do life – that the waitress we speak to is valued in the interactions we have with her.  That the store clerk experiences time with us as far more than an exchange of money for merchandise.  That our boss is enriched because we are on the payroll.


Being practical, that means the priority of our interactions are – genuine connection, interest and curiosity: calling the other by name, acknowledging how hard some of what he/she experiences must be.


Not formulaic throwaways or just passing ‘hello’s’ but being fully present with the other – understanding that you are in that place not to be served but to serve.  God empowered.  God placed.  God appointed.


And as a sidebar – ‘being good’ doesn’t mean quickly getting past casual interest and curiosity to deliver a message.  Prov 13:18 says, “The one who speaks before listening, it is a folly and a shame to him.”  Just listen and love.  Just deliver the good, allowing the Holy Spirit in His time and in His way, to open hearts where they see a compelling hope in you that attracts. 


Without question, Christians do not have a corner on the market on being good.  In truth, some who aren’t God’s people carry it off far better than us.  But Peter seems to be saying that living the good in the power of Christ – in attitude, in heart, in action is different.


That’s what we’ve been considering the last number of weeks - living out the good as we relate to authority – giving no place to cynicism and demeaning critique; living out the good in the marketplace – not just clocking in and clocking out; living out the good in our homes – faith on display.


Peter’s point? 1) a good life FOR THE SAKE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS manifests God’s presence.  In 2 Cor 5:21 Paul captures it, In Him we might become the righteousness of God. We’re it!  God’s witness. His Ambassadors.


God made known by lives that are qualitatively different – not “returning insult for insult, evil for evil. Rather bringing and speaking blessing” – adding value with compassion and peace.  And the outcome of that is - God is present here.   Simply put Peter says,


2)  A good life is hard to take offense to; a good life is hard to harm.  How do you attack something that brings good?   Not easy to do.   However, as we will address in a few minutes, understand, our good life lived for Christ does not come with guarantees of warm hugs and friendly embrace.  Troubles may come because Peter wants us to know that we may suffer for lives that stand apart.  Which brings me to my 2nd point.  That we are to be people who are:


SPEAKING OUT THE GOOD


- This flying in the face of a British survey reported this week that ‘nearly 40% of Christians prefer not to tell people about their faith’.  But Peter tells us when we allow the Holy Spirit to live out His good in us and take that into the places He calls us, there will be curiosity - most often, quietly observed, and on occasion, curiosity openly asked. That’s why Peter says, Always be ready to give reason for the hope that is within you. In other words, when opportunity presents, be ready to tell your story - when God held you together when life was ripping you apart. Your story of hope when in the fog of grief, Jesus carrying you through. Your story of hope of being held when your job was terminated, your relationship fell apart, your application was denied.  Not some ‘Pollyanna’ denial of pain but clinging to the One who held you in your pain.  


Stories of living hope how you came to faith and what Jesus has been doing in your life. Stories we are to tell with gentleness and respect - not a Scripture versus science debate or an argument to win someone to Christ.  But your story, both told outside and inside the family of faith.  If Bethany is like all churches, few know how you came to Jesus and that’s a shame because you have no idea how God may want to use your story in the life of another.  


Here’s the thing, your story isn’t powerful only if it’s written in the spectacular, of drug addiction or a life too far gone. It just has to be your story – what God’s done in you. It could be a childhood embrace of what you saw and heard and knew it to be real.  Don’t you think the person whose life is in ruins would give everything to know a life like that?  Where God could bring peace and meaning into their lives so their children wouldn’t have to live the life that was theirs?  


Listen – there is a right place for apologetics and learning how to share our faith whether it’s the 4 Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosion, or CS Lewis’ ‘Lunatic, Liar or God’ but those can be ignored or pushed away like a sidewalk tract.  What can’t be put away is your story of the ‘hope that is within you.’   That story you know. 

Wasn’t it the blind man’s story that left the priests without an answer? “Whether a sinner or not, I do not know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" Jn 9:25  How do you argue with that?  Dismiss – perhaps.  Ridicule – sure.  But ignore?  Pretty hard to do.  


So, with your story in mind and Peter’s encouragement to be zealously good, let me suggest a few ways for you to think about how God may have equipped you to be His story on display.


Like my brother’s neighbour, a man skilled at fixing things who every day, opens his garage door and invites anyone in the neighbourhood who needs something fixed to drop in to work and talk. If a pipe breaks at someone’s house – he, not the plumber, is first call.  If a kid’s toy needs medical attention, he’s the go to.  A sawdust covered ambassador for Christ.  Or the man who gave sermon tapes every week to an ESL student who became a Christian as she learned the language of her new country?


Or the man who loves fly fishing who gets gym time to show whoever wants to learn how to cast, then with his newfound Christian and non-Christian fishing buddies, heads off for a weekend of camping and fishing on the Chehalis.  


Or the church out in the neighbouring community – offering to trim trees, pull weeds, fix a broken fence, clear gutters.  No agenda.  No promotional cards left.  Just doing good.   


Turning skills and hobbies into witness – inviting, connecting, relating.  God’s church scattered doing ministry, far removed from a sermon and a song most will never hear.  • Being the good, • Speaking the good, and made powerful and alive by:


BOWING BEFORE THE AUTHOR OF ALL GOOD


Peter doesn’t gloss over the fact that there are those who may attack us for our good.  There may be times when we will suffer.  But what he is quick to emphasize is that we make sure that our suffering is for the right reasons.


If we suffer because our behaviour is insufferable – it’s on us.  If we wave placards and engage in loud ‘shout outs’ – it’s on us.  If we attack, insult and condemn – it’s on us, if we convey self-righteous, ‘better than’s’ – it’s on us.  But if our suffering is for good, for Christ’s sake, that suffering is on Him – “if God wills”.  For now it may mean:


Suffering as a student where you are excluded and mocked because you follow a different Master.  Suffering as a business person who’s been  denied promotion after promotion because your faith doesn’t fit the compromises within the corporate culture.  Suffering as an employee because your discussions aren’t about your latest sexual conquest or your last drunken binge.  Suffering as an unfilled, ‘want to be adoptive parent’ because government agencies don’t approve of what they see as your ‘intolerant’, narrow minded faith.


And yes, it is possible that our suffering may involve things more extreme, more sinister, like Christ followers in China, Nigeria, India, and a host of other countries experience.   Suffering for holding true to faith and suffering for doing good.


Bible teacher Christine Caine reflected on the incredible faith she recently witnessed of 500 leaders of the Chinese underground church.  Discussing their need of leadership, these leaders said, We don't understand anything about Western leadership methods.  All we know how to do to is pray, all we know how to do is believe God. That's how we had revival in China when we're not allowed to carry the Word of God. The only leadership training we give our people is, we teach them how to witness to their executioner on their way to their execution.


Lived Out faith.  Tough Faith.


But Peter notes that our suffering for Christ’s sake does not go unnoticed or unrewarded.  He actually says if we suffer for the right reasons we are blessed  μακάριος - heavenly honored 1 Pet 3:14.  Peter returns to this later in 1 Pet 4:14, If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you – God does not leave you alone and in the Beatitudes, Jesus makes clear, Your reward in heaven is great!  Matt 5:12.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. 1 Pet 3:14  NASB renders this, do not fear their intimidation. In other words, our good might result in heat- significant heat and while those words may be easy to hear or read, when suffering is real - nothing easy about it.


How is this possible?   Peter makes clear - the only way we can walk through times of persecution and suffering is this - In your hearts REVERE Christ as Lord :15.  

  

Literally Peter says, Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts ready always to make a case for the faith that is within you.  ESV – honor – hold up as sacred.  The point is - let the Christ life be so real in us - that our reverence for Christ is the alternative to fear.  That is to say – we live in Him, we stand in Him.  That the Lord Christ is the One before whom we bow.  


The simple truth is this – we are called to so much more than believing in Jesus as Saviour.  Jesus is LORD beside whom there is no other.  He doesn’t stand alongside other priorities, other interests, other pursuits.  Nor does He stand alongside other beliefs – He is not one among many.  He is not a life enhancer, a life guide, or a life interest.  He is LORD.  


If North American Christianity has failed in its presentation of the gospel, it is here where we have allowed our faith to be presented as something that majors on being made new without being very clear that His ‘made new’ demands that we ‘live new’.  HIS LORDSHIP IS NOT AN OPTION ADDED TO THE ORIGINAL AGREEMENT.


Without this proclamation and embrace of His Lordship, is it any wonder so many young people become disillusioned about their faith?  Is it any wonder why Christian presence is so absent or insipid in the marketplace?  Is it any wonder why so many have their faith shipwrecked by a university prof or a challenging colleague?  Because without Lordship, we are powerless to stand when persecution comes.

Bowing to Christ’s Lordship is not something Jesus gives as an ‘optional’ – something to be entertained IF our life falls neatly into place, IF blessing comes or IF all questions are answered. Lordship that is conditional on the fulfillment of my ‘IF’s’ is not Lordship at all.  It’s my lordship not His.    


Because here’s the thing about Lordship - there will come times when we are called to believe when we won’t understand; times when we are asked to follow, destinations unknown.


But Lordship is a ‘Yes’ that obeys when we say ‘No!’ to a relationship we know to be wrong.  It’s a Yes that says ‘No!’ to a deal that violates what we know to be right.  It’s saying ‘Yes’ to the areas we’ve kept God away, excluding Him from our plans, our pursuits, our wallets and trusting our futures to Him.  


Our Yes, bowing to the Author of all good, a life worth living for.  It’s a ‘life worth living for’ that enabled Billy Graham to decide he would live ‘all in’ after experiencing a crisis of faith in his early 30’s.  The crisis came when his friend and preaching colleague, Charles Templeton, came to believe the Bible couldn’t be trusted and so rejected his faith.  In turn, he attacked and confused Graham causing him to ask, “Did he really believe the Bible from which he was preaching?”


During this time, Graham reluctantly accepted a speaking invitation at a Christian retreat center. While there, he dug into the Bible, where he kept seeing the phrase, Thus sayeth the Lord.  


One night, he went into the woods, set his Bible on a stump and cried out: “ God there are many things in this book I don’t understand…  There are many seeming contradictions that don’t seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.”  And then, Graham fell to his knees and said, “Father, I am going to accept this as your Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”


Graham wrote that as he stood up, he felt the presence and power of God and when he spoke the next day, 400 made a commitment to Christ. Henrietta Mears who had invited Graham to come remarked that he, “preached with authority” that she hadn’t seen before from him.  


Lordship – despite the unanswered; despite the unknown; despite the un-guaranteed.


Here’s the point for you and me.  Jesus is either Lord or He’s Someone you’ve asked into your life but who has not been given the center place in your life.  To be clear, can you ask Jesus to be your Saviour and not allow Him to be Lord?  I believe you can BUT this is far removed from what God wants for us.  It’s little different than what Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, declared when asked about his priorities, I believe in God, my family and McDonald’s. Then he added, When I get to the office, I reverse the order.   


In other words, God’s place is ‘situational’ depending on what else captures my attention.  


At its root, the hard ground we’ve covered the past number of weeks is all about the Lordship of Christ.  It’s a lordship lived out where we do life – in our marriages, in our workplace, in our relationships.  Lived out in the places where our minds are tempted to go.  Lived out in screen time with the temptation no one else sees, the explicit and forbidden and the affairs of thought.   


Chuck Colson noted that in the early church, if a person cried out in the public arena, “Jesus is God! no one was offended because the Romans and Greeks believed in many gods.  But a Christian who shouted, Jesus is Lord was put his life at risk because Caesar claimed the title of Lord. Christians’ unwillingness to declare this was central to why Christians faced persecution.   


They understood what we often do not, that despite the price, following Jesus is everything.


Telemachus understood that as he stepped into an arena that would claim his life.  Your question and mine this morning is this, are you and I willing to step into the arena which He has uniquely placed us with our story of God’s life changing hope – to :


Live out and Speak out as we Bow  to the Author of all good - Jesus the LORD.

 







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