A Long Track Record
Salvation by grace, the principle of salvation by the grace of God alone, did not originate at the cross.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? Doing alright? I’m fine, thank you. Nice of you to ask. Doing great, praise the Lord. Hallelujah. No complaints to bring to the complaint desk of Heaven today. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassion fail not. “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Jeremiah said. Thank God for His mercy, and thank God for His faithfulness, and thank God for another day to live for Him, alright?
Well, you and I are looking at 1st Peter Chapter 3 and the passage that begins with verse 15, has broken down in terms of how to have an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. The first thing we pointed out was settle whether or not God is running things. Does He have His place in your heart as God. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. That means give Him His place as God in your heart. Is that true of you and of me? That’s the first question that has to be asked and answered, if you’re ever gonna have any effective witness, be ready to answer give… Ready always to give an answer. Second thing is realize that you have to be on the job, be ready always. You don’t have to barge into people’s lives, like a human bulldozer running rough shot over their sensibilities and discarding any last vestige of courtesy. You don’t have to be an accident going somewhere to happen, in the name of being a witness for your Lord. You don’t have to intrude in other words into other people’s space, but in every day’s interaction with other human beings, there are a countless opportunities for you to witness for your Lord, and share your faith in Christ.
And when God gives you that opportunity be ready. That’s what Peter is saying. Be ready, always. Other people will initiate the conversation. I remember Merv Roselle told about writing on an airplane, reading his Bible while the plane was flying, the man next to him, turned out it developed to be an agnostic, but Merv didn’t say a word, he was just reading his Bible and so the man looked at him and said, “Reading?” And Marv said, “Yup.” And the man said, “Bible?” And Marv said, “Yup,” and then there came a series of questions. Did he believe it and all of that. Before it was over Merv Russell told us that he had a chance to share his faith in the Lord Jesus and make plane to this as a professed diagnostic the way of salvation. “Every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” You see the secret it seems to me, is to be so transparently and effortlessly Christian, that people will ask about it. That’s what Peter is saying. “Every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” This is a hopeless old world. The last words of a great English statesman, was, “I see no hope.” It’s a hopeless world and because that is so, anyone who has what Peter calls a living hope, remember that early verse in chapter 1 of 1st Peter, it begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, because He’s alive we have hope for the future.
So anyone who has that living hope is not to say, an oddity but different and people wonder about it and ask about it. So the secret to an effective witness it seems to me, is to be so transparently and effortlessly and obviously Christian with the hope of eternity built in to every part of your life. That you will indeed stand out from the crowd, and people will wonder what’s up and why you are that different. Anything you can put on by way of enforced piety, like a garment is going to show up phony. Anything that you try to do in putting the best face on the matter or trying to appear spiritual only makes you look ridiculous. Don’t do it. Rather depend upon the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit of God to shine out through you and speak through you. Amen.
Well, this is all part of an effective witness and we’re doing a little review here and I hope you don’t mind it. Meekness, he said, “Give this answer with meekness.” That is to say meekness recognizes the worth and the value of the other person. Every person you ever meet will be better at something than you are. The appreciation of the other human being is part of the process of establishing rapport. If you feel that someone is looking down on you, as we say, and scorning you even in his mind, it’s pretty hard for you to trust him with anything, isn’t that true? Someone who is scornful of you and supercilious and looking down on you is not apt to be the object of your trust and confidence.
So you do have to establish rapport and that rapport is established by what Peter calls meekness. That is to say you appreciate the individual for what he is and for the talents and gifts that he does have and for the immense value he has as a God created human being. Then he uses the word fear, which we have paraphrased to mean, holy respect and all. Why? Because you are dealing with eternal matters and words that you say under the guidance of the Holy Spirit may actually make a difference in this person’s eternal condition. You do your witnessing, not trivially. We have trivialized much of our Christian experience, it seems to me. Even in many of our choruses, our little jingles and when there is opportunity to give some word about your Christian life, it turns out to be a string of well-rehearsed cliches that have little or no meaning. This is often the case. Don’t trivialize your statements about the Lord Jesus Christ. Do remember that when you are talking with anybody about the Lord Jesus, you are dealing with matters that are eternal, and a million years from now, you will recall that conversation. It’s an awesome thought and one that you and I need to enter into with holy and respectful and reverent footsteps.
Then said he, “Have a good conscience.” A clean conscience, where everything is right with God and you are as the old-timers used to say confessed and prayed up to date, is one of the qualifications that has to be taken care of, if you’re gonna have a good witness. It is impossible to share your faith in Christ while you yourself are fighting the will of God on something. Your guilt is going to short circuit anything, you may say about your savior. So get your heart right with God and then do your sharing of His blessed salvation with others. Another thing that makes for an effective witnesses knowing that you’re in the will of God. “It is better,” said He, “if the will of God be so.”Knowing that you’re in the will of God, knowing that you’re doing this minute the best you know how what he has told you to do, is a great strengthener of Christian witness and testimony.
Be sure you’re in God’s will. We took a few moments in discussing how to find out the will of God, and how to do it. Do you remember that? I trust it was of some value to you. And then Peter cites the example of our blessed Lord Jesus Himself, for Christ because He, because all of this leads up to the statement, because Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. The thrust then the entire thrust and motive in enduring anything is to bring the other person into right relationship with your Lord, so that you look at the circumstances in which you are living in any given situation you look at the circumstances, not as something that you have to get through with, merely yes, you have to go through it, but you look at the circumstances as something that God can use to bring somebody else closer to our blessed Lord. Because Jesus did the same thing, He went through with the cross to bring us. You and I go through with our much less onerous sufferings. Anything that you and I suffer can’t begin in any way to compare with what the Lord Jesus Christ bore for us on the cross.
But the parallel is there in the kind of experience that it is. You and I go through with whatever tests and sufferings we have not just to get through them, but to see that God uses them to bring other people into the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, there’s a difficult passage here, and I’m not gonna pretend to expound it because I don’t know the answer. He says Christ went and preached under the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing. The like figure where until even baptism, does also now save us, not the putting away, of the faithful, the flesh but the answer of a good conscience, toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is on the right hand of God, angels, of authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Over in chapter four, he has the same reference. For this was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged, according to men in the flesh but live according to God in the spirit. Now, as I say, I don’t pretend to understand all of this I do know, however, that it says the Lord Jesus, and this probably occurred during the days between His crucifixion and His resurrection. That is what most theologians say that it says, as a matter of fact, I dwell on the fact and not trying to explain it until I get to heaven, that the Lord Jesus Christ went and declared His redemptive work, the Gospel, Peter calls it.
He declared His redemptive work to people who were already lost. Now, why would He do that? Well, as I say, I don’t know all of the reasons for it. I do know this, that every case of salvation in the Old Testament was based on the grace of God. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, it says. Every recorded case of salvation, Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. The principle of salvation by the grace of God alone did not originate at the cross, this principle once extends all the way through the history of the human race in its dealings with the Holy God.
By Grace so you’re saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. So I know that the basis for any individual salvation, either in Old or New Testament, is God’s grace. I know that. And I also know that this passage says, “Jesus went and declared His redemptive work and His victory at the cross, to these people who are already lost.” Now why? It is seems to me that the statement of salvation by grace through faith was going to be made to them one last time so that the record is clear. However, I’m gonna ask him about it when I get to Heaven. Alright? Now don’t write to me and argue about it, because I don’t know enough to argue with you. But I do trust the truth of the Word of God. Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for a complete and wonderful salvation, and thank you for Jesus, our Lord in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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