Last week we considered some of the motivations for sharing the good news of God’s love. This week, we’ll talk about getting ready to get out the gospel.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
The context for today’s Scripture reading is suffering. If you read the rest of the chapter, you’ll see that Peter is talking to people who are being persecuted for their faith – for being Christians. But even in this context, he tells them how to share their faith.
Sanctify the Lord
Sometimes I’ve preached this passages as if it began with “be ready always,” but it doesn’t. It begins with “sanctify the Lord.” You and I aren’t ready to tell others about Christ until we sanctify Him in our own hearts. Until we set Him apart in our minds, make Him separate and holy from everyone else, we’re not going to be the witnesses we ought to be. I think this has several implications.
First, we probably won’t share the gospel if we don’t recognize God’s authority. Our King has commanded us to tell the good news. We need to acknowledge His authority, and obey His command.
Next, when you realize that there is no other hope of salvation, no other way to Heaven, but Christ, you’ll be compelled to tell others. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Joh 14:6)
Finally, when we set the Lord apart in our hearts, we’ll get more excited about telling others. In effect, we’re say, “There’s no one like You!” When you feel that way about Him, you’ll have a hard time not telling others about Him.
Be Ready Always
God commands us to be ready to give an answer. I think Peter was talking about mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation.
Spiritually, it makes a lot of sense to be a Christian yourself before you try to share the good news with others. (I have heard, though, of people who got saved by hearing God’s Word from someone who was not saved. Obviously, it was the power of God’s Word that made the difference.) But it is hard to have enthusiasm for telling others about something you’re not sharing in yourself. Also, you need to be right with God to have God’s power. Not “having a good conscience,” makes it hard to share the gospel. “Why would they listen to me,” you ask yourself, “when they see how I live?” It’s a fair question, but may I suggest that you stop doing wrong instead of not sharing the gospel.
Emotionally, we’ve got to be prepared for the potential consequences of sharing the gospel. We’ve got to accept the fact that some folks we tell about Jesus are going to reject Him. In the process, they might reject us, too. (Don’t you think it’s sad they we are more upset about people rejecting us than about them rejecting Christ?) We’ve got to come to grips with the fact that sharing the gospel might lead to persecution. We’ve got to count the cost and be ready to pay the price. That’s easier to do when you remember the price Christ paid for you.
Mentally, we should do our best to be prepared to present the good news clearly and accurately. What is the gospel? (See our study of the same title.) What do people people need to know, believe, and do to be saved? It’s also a good idea to consider some of the common questions that may come up and how you’ll respond to them.
Meekness and Fear
When you do give people an answer, you’re supposed to do it with “meekness and fear.” When you’re right and you know it, it’s easy to be abrasive. Our witness, though, should be gentle. We must speak the truth in love. No one gets bullied into getting saved. The fear we’re supposed to have is not fear of the people we are sharing the gospel with, but fear for them. What will become of them if we don’t share the gospel with them? We are also to fear the Lord and obey His command to share the gospel (2Co 5:11)
What About You?
- Are you ready to share the good news? If a neighbor knocked on your door right now and asked you to share the gospel with them, could you do it?
- If you’re not ready to share the gospel, why not? What do you need to do to get ready, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? Will you do it?