Mission statements are interesting things.
It seems that most companies have one. Some are more known than others. Some are clever. Others catchy. I’ve seen long ones and some that are only a few words. And there are a growing number of churches that are creating and adopting one in our generation.
I don’t remember ever having a mission statement in the churches in which I grew up. That does not mean that those churches did not have one. But if they did, it wasn’t obvious.
A few years ago our elders took a weekend retreat to focus our attention on reviewing our purpose and mission. Those were unforgettable hours of discussion, Bible study, and prayer.
The end result was a mission statement for Mission Road Bible Church.
Creating that statement for our church was an unexpected joy.
I have to admit having been suspicious of church mission statements before. I’m not exactly sure why, probably just intimidated by them. How can you possibly synthesize all you want your church to accomplish in a single statement? At the same time, as the saying goes, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
That weekend exercise was a very helpful process that ended up being way bigger than the final product. The discussions that landed us on our statement taught me some things about mission statements. Here are some things I learned.
First, you can’t say everything, but saying something is better than saying nothing. The process of trying to capture the goal and purpose of our church was a discussion that forced us to identify essentials, eliminate peripherals, and sharpen our focus.
Second, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We borrowed a phrase from another church’s statement.
Third, you should be open to tweaking and sharpening. We regularly review our mission statement as an elder team and ask if it needs to be clarified.
Fourth, you have to be ready to defend what is in the statement and what is not. We’ve discovered that we certainly say more about our church than is in our mission statement, but we could not say any less.
If you are a part of the leadership of your church, I hope you will take the joyful- though challenging- opportunity to develop and/or review a mission statement for your church.
One of the things I regularly do in the worship services of our church is to read it while it comes up on the screen in the front of our church. It is a great way to introduce what we are about to visitors as well as remind everyone what we are about.
Here is our mission statement at Mission Road Bible Church as it stands.
We exist to magnify God and spread a passion for His glory by making disciples and shepherding them to value Jesus Christ above all else, in every dimension of life, as regulated by the Word of God.
There have been many methods offered for preaching from the iPad. I have profited from what I’ve read about these processes and set-ups. But after experimenting with several, this is the method I have landed on.
First, I use PDF Expert as my app. I have used a couple others, but PDF Expert works best for me. All my sermon prep is done in Microsoft Word in a template I’ve set up for sermons. The size that works best for my eyes is to set the paper size in the template to 6.30 x 8.20 with the following margins:
.8 inches on top,
.3 inches on bottom,
.75 inches on left,
.5 inches on right.
I use a 15-point font (Helvetica). I’ve found that using a hanging indent for my paragraphs aides my eyes in seeing the paragraph separations and also allows me to mark the margins with symbols and notes.
After finishing my sermon notes in Word, I save the document to Dropbox as PDF (you will need a Dropbox account). Be careful, it is really easy to forget to save the document to Dropbox as a PDF.
Then I go to my iPad and open PDF Expert and sync. The rest of the preparation is done on my iPad. The first thing I do is to reverse the colors to “White-on-Black.” I have set up my Triple Click feature to reverse the colors so it is easy to do.
To set this up, go to:
Settings/General/Accessibility/Accessibility Shortcut/Invert Colors
This should enable the “triple-click” option for creating a negative effect. Just hit the home button three times quickly and the colors should invert.
Changing the background to black and the text to white cuts out glare from the lights and prevents the iPad causing my face to glow when speaking from it.
Then I mark up my notes with a stylus and the options in the app. I preach from the PDF Expert app.
Also, when preaching, I use airplane mode so that I don’t get any messages during the sermon and make sure the volume is always all the way down.
I’m sure there are other (perhaps better) ways to prepare sermon notes for the iPad. But this method has served me well for the past few years. Still, I’m always looking for ways to make it better. Let me know if you have any insights!
Today you turn 18. Hard to believe that that little 8lb-wiggle-worm we brought home from the hospital has become a 6’3” mound of man. Every glance at you is a reminder of the goodness of God to your mother and me.
Eighteen is a significant number. The world has now granted you the title of “adult.” But God measures your adulthood differently than the world around you. When King David’s time to die drew near, he called his son Solomon to his bedside and gave him a final admonition. He said, “Be strong and show yourself a man” (1 Kings 2:2). Interestingly, when Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burnt at the stake for their belief in the gospel (Oxford, October 16, 1555), these words were central. As they were being tied back-to-back to the stake, the elder Latimer encouraged his younger friend,
“Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out.”
When he said, “play the man,” he we referencing the final conversation between David and Solomon. The way Bishop Latimer used that phrase is much on my heart today for you.
The essence of David’s charge and Latimer’s reiteration point to this: manhood before God is defined by spiritual courage and faithfulness.
David goes on in the verse after this charge to say explicitly that fidelity to God’s Word is the way to activate manliness.
Luke, lots of people are going to tell you what it means to be a man. And there will be some good advice in those encouragements. But none will equal God’s definition of true manhood.
Paul told the men of Corinth to “act like men” (1 Corinthians 16:13). This has two fundamental meanings. Act like a man, not a boy. And act like a man, not a woman. Put these two together and you have the core of biblical manhood: maturity and masculinity.
My prayer is that you will continue to distinguish yourself in these two categories. Strive for maturity by increasing your knowledge and love of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). It’s time to “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11) and pursue the responsibilities of biblical manhood. Value Jesus above all else in every dimension of your life as regulated by your Bible.
Also, endeavor to hone your masculinity by learning how to be a godly example and leader to the women in your life. Since knowing you were coming into our lives, your Mom and I have prayed that there would be that special woman in your life one day who would recognize such spiritual masculinity and trust you to be her husband. You’re getting closer to that time. Be ready for her.
You and I are entering a new season in our relationship. Day by day you are growing as a brother in Christ to me. You’ll always be my baby boy, but now you are my spiritual sibling. Now, you are starting to lead me. I never knew this could be so sweet.
So happy birthday, Luke. You are indeed a man.
Assume more responsibility. Take calculated risks. Fight for purity. Love your Savior. Enjoy life. And don’t ever forget that your Dad can take you, or at least that he thinks so.
I love you son,
I have been greatly helped by the writings of J.C. Ryle. Last Sunday I quoted from his sermon Are You Ready?, which addresses beginning new year. Since several people asked about the sermon, so here it is…
I ask you a plain question at the beginning of a new year: Are you ready?
It is a solemn thing to part company with the old year. It is a still more solemn thing to begin a new one. It is like entering a dark passage: we know not what we may meet before the end. All before us is uncertain: we know not what a day may bring forth, much less what may happen in a year. Reader, are you ready?
Are you ready for sickness? You cannot expect to be always well. You have a body fearfully and wonderfully made: it is awful to think how many diseases may assail it.
“Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long!”
Pain and weakness are a hard trial. They can bow down the strong man and make him like a child. They can weary the temper and exhaust the patience, and make men cry in the morning, “Would God it were evening,” and in the evening, “Would God it were morning.” All this may come to pass this very year. Your reason may be shattered,-your senses may be weakened, your nerves may be unstrung: the very grasshopper may become a burden. Reader, if sickness comes upon you, are you ready?
Are you ready for affliction? “Man,” says the Scripture, “is born to sorrow.” This witness is true. Your property may be taken from you, your riches may make themselves wings and flee away, your friends may fail you, your children may disappoint you, your servants may deceive you; your character may be assailed, your conduct may be misrepresented: troubles, annoyances, vexations, anxieties, may surround you on every side, like a host of armed men; wave upon wave may burst over your head; you may feel worn and worried, and crushed to the dust. Reader, if affliction comes upon you, are you ready?
Are you ready for bereavements? No doubt there are those in the world that you love. There are those whose names are graven on your heart, and round whom your affections are entwined: there are those who are the light of your eyes, and the very sunshine of your existence. But they are all mortal: any one of them may die this year. Before the daisies blossom again, any one of them may be lying in the tomb. Your Rachel may be buried,-your Joseph may be taken from you,-your dearest idol may be broken: bitter tears and deep mourning may be your portion. Before December you may feel terribly alone. Reader, if bereavement comes upon you, are you ready?
Are you ready for death? It must come some day: it may come this year. You cannot live always. This very year may be your last. You have no freehold in this world,-you have not so much as a lease: you are nothing better than a tenant at God’s will. Your last sickness may come upon you, and give you notice to quit,-the doctor may visit you, and exhaust his skill over your case,-your friends may sit by your bedside, and look graver and graver every day: you may feel your own strength gradually wasting, and find something saying within, “I shall not come down from this bed, but die.” You may see the world slipping from beneath your feet, and all your schemes and plans suddenly stopped short. You may feel yourself drawing near to the coffin, and the grave, and the worm, and an unseen world, and eternity, and God. Reader, if death should come upon you, are you ready?
Are you ready for the Second Coming of Christ? He will come again to this world one day. As surely as He came the first time, 1800 years ago, so surely will He come the second time. He will come to reward all His saints, who have believed in Him and confessed Him upon earth. He will come to punish all His enemies,-the careless, the ungodly, the impenitent, and the unbelieving. He will come very suddenly, at an hour when no man thinketh: as a thief in the night. He will come in terrible majesty, in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels. A flaming fire shall go before Him. The dead shall be raised,-the judgment shall be set,-the books shall be opened! Some shall be exalted into heaven: many, very many, shall be cast down to hell. The time for repentance shall be past. Many shall cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” but find the door of mercy closed forever. After this there will be no change. Reader, if Christ should come the second time this year, are you ready?
O reader, these are solemn questions! They ought to make you examine yourself. They ought to make you think. It would be a terrible thing to be taken by surprise. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But shall I leave you here? I will not do so. Shall I raise searchings of heart, and not set before you the way of life? I will not do so. Hear me for a few moments, while I try to show you the man that is ready.
He that is ready has a ready Saviour. He has Jesus ever ready to help him. He lives the life of faith in the Son of God. He has found out his own sinfulness, and fled to Christ for peace. He has committed his soul and all its concerns to Christ’s keeping. If he has bitter cups of affliction to drink, he knows they are mixed by the hand that was nailed to the cross for his sins. If he is called to die, he knows that the grave is the place where the Lord lay. If those whom he loves are taken away, he remembers that Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and a husband who never dies. If the Lord should come again, he knows that he has nothing to fear. The Judge of all will be that very Jesus who has washed his sins away. Happy is that man who can say, with Hezekiah, “The Lord was ready to save me” (Isaiah 38:20).
He that is ready has a ready heart. He has been born again, and renewed in the spirit of his mind. The Holy Ghost has shown him the true value of all here below, and taught him to set his affections on things above. The Holy Ghost has shown him his own deserts, and made him feel that he ought to be thankful for everything; and satisfied with any condition. If affliction comes upon him, his heart whispers, “There must be a needs be. I deserve correction. It is meant to teach me some useful lesson.” If bereavement comes upon him, his heart reminds him that the Lord gave and the Lord must take away, whenever He sees fit. If death draws near, his heart says, “My times are in Thy hand: as Thou wilt, when Thou wilt, and where Thou wilt.” If the Lord should come, his heart would cry, “This is the day I have long prayed for: the kingdom of God is come at last.” Blessed is he who has a ready heart.
He that is ready has a home ready for him in heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ has told him that He is gone “to prepare a place” for him. A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, awaits him. He is not yet come to his full inheritance: his best things are yet to come. He can bear sickness, for yet a little time he shall have a glorious body. He can bear losses and crosses, for his choicest treasures are far beyond the reach of harm. He can bear disappointments, for the springs of his greatest happiness can never be made dry. He can think calmly of death: it will open a door for him from the lower house to the upper chamber,-even the presence of the King. He is immortal till his work is done. He can look forward to the coming of the Lord without alarm. He knows that they who are ready will enter in with Him to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Happy is that man whose lodging is prepared for him in the kingdom of Christ.
Reader, do you know anything of the things I have just spoken of? Do you know anything of a ready Saviour, a ready heart, and a ready home in heaven? Examine yourself honestly. How does the matter stand?
Oh, be merciful to your own soul! Have compassion on that immortal part of you. Do not neglect its interest, for the sake of mere worldly objects. Business, pleasure, money, politics, will soon be done with forever. Do not refuse to consider the question I ask you,-ARE YOU READY? ARE YOU READY?
Reader, if you are not ready, I beseech you to make ready without delay. I tell you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all things are ready on God’s part for your salvation. The Father is ready to receive you,-the Lord Jesus is ready to wash your sins away,-the Spirit is ready to renew and sanctify you,-angels are ready to rejoice over you,-saints are ready to hold out the right hand to you. Oh, why not make ready this very year?
Reader, if you have reason to hope you are ready, I advise you to make sure. Walk more closely with God,-get nearer to Christ,-seek to exchange hope for assurance. Seek to feel the witness of the Spirit more closely and distinctly every year. Lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets you. Press towards the mark more earnestly. Fight a better fight, and war a better warfare every year you live. Pray more,-read more,-mortify self more,-love the brethren more. Oh that you may endeavour so to grow in grace every year, that your last things may be far more than your first, and the end of your Christian course far better than the beginning!
In high school I was taught that God’s Word was the means and motivation for fighting sin. The text that was often cited, and which I memorized, was Psalm 119:9, 11. Those two verses are some potent medicine for a sin sick soul.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
Pretty straightforward. Keeping and treasuring God’s word is the cure and prevention for sin. But I think the way I memorized these two verses (vv. 9 and 11, without 10), caused a wrong accent to be struck in my sanctification. Notice the end of verse 11… “That I might not sin against You.”
Sin is a personal affront to God. It is my cosmic rebellion against my Creator. But this offense is not mitigated simply by the cessation of sin. Here is where verse 10 is so important. The psalmist writes:
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
There it is. God’s Word is a means for seeking and knowing God. Personally.
When coming to God’s Word, it is so important for me to remember that it is the revelation of God Himself to me that is the priority. The avoidance of and repentance from sin is the result of seeking God with all my heart.
Repentance should grow from relationship.
This perspective makes me eager to meet God in His Word in my devotional exercises. It makes turning from sin make much more sense.
I’m praying that I can say to God with sincerity, “With all my heart I have sought You.”
Our oldest son, Luke, had a serious fall on his longboard Wednesday. Though he “usually” wears his helmet, he decided not to “just this time.”
He doesn’t remember the fall but a friend was behind him and said Luke hit some gravel and the board went forward and he went backwards. He hit the back of his head on the road resulting in a skull fracture with some light internal (brain) bleeding. He also lost a fair amount of skin on his knees, elbows, back, and hands.
Bottom line is that God was merciful to our son, AGAIN! This could have been a lot worse.
Should be in the hospital a couple of days for observation. He’s pretty sore and has a whopper of a headache.
Thank you to all who have prayed for him.
… And kids, wear your helmets.
Nine and a half years ago I was driving on the 210 Freeway in Los Angeles thinking about our upcoming weekend college retreat. I had just gotten off the phone with a fellow pastor to collegians who was super excited about his group joining us for our retreat. The retreat was going to be in Riverside at the convention center and we were crunching out details.
That drive would change a lot of things for me. That day the oh-too-familiar traffic would gave me some time to think. What if we expanded our retreat to something a bit bigger? Maybe a conference?
I took that idea back to our leadership team to talk about. From the very first discussion the concept was embraced and enhanced by the creative minds of John Martin and Jonathan Rourke. Here is the truth though. None of us had any idea what we were getting into or how it would mark our lives.
We kicked the idea around for a few weeks and decided to go for it. We needed a name and batted around some ideas. I was pushing the idea of calling it “Upsetting the World” from Acts 17 where Paul and his associates were accused of such. Let’s just say that Rourke and Martin rejected my proposal with merciless ribbing. [To work in our little trio you had to have pretty thick skin.]
We widened the circle to Dan Dumas and Daniel Gillespie to think through the concept. Dan was very helpful administratively and with hotel and convention center contracts. Daniel was helpful in many ways, but none more than the day he came into my office and said, “I’ve got the name for your conference.”
A little background.
Daniel knew of my love for Jonathan Edwards and we had had many discussions about Mr. Edwards and his theology. And working with college-agers, we had talked about the 70 Resolutions of Edwards, each of those commitments beginning with the simple word, “Resolved.”
Daniel sat down in the chair across from my desk and said, “It’s staring you in the face Rick! Call it Resolved.”
In that instant things came together. John Martin and Jon Rourke agreed that this was the name and rallying point of the conference. Resolved had begun.
So I wrote a little paragraph about the conference that has been on our website since the beginning. Here is what it says:
Resolved means what it sounds like: it’s a deliberate, committed disposition.
As a 19-year old in the mid-1700s, Jonathan Edwards became serious about the direction of his life. He began to understand the nature of God, and what he discovered was both delightful and disturbing. The more he investigated the infinite tributaries of God’s nature, the more he unearthed his own sinfulness. From then on, the weight of God’s glory became the gravity of his life. He was compelled to respond.
So he sat down with a quill and paper and wrote out a series of commitments. These were simple statements, conclusions, and commitments forged in the immensity of God and the trauma of His holiness. All of them began with the same word—”Resolved”.
The Resolved conference is a call for a new generation to live with the same resolve.
So we started praying and planning. Those early prayer times were precious. We had no idea what God was going to do. Well, He did exceeding abundantly beyond all we asked or thought (Eph 3:20-21).
It was wistful to bring the conference to a close this year. Yeah, I cried. And for a brief moment, Jonathan Rourke and I hugged and swayed to the closing song before realizing it and creating some quick distance between us! But in the end I’m so glad to be sitting at my desk in my church office as I write this. It was a fun year.
Austin Duncan provided excellent leadership this year and Mark Zhakevich lent his administrative gifts in significant ways.
All of us believe what we said over and over each year. Resolved is a weekend. It’s a great weekend, but only one weekend a year. But the church is our ever-present, joyful burden.
What about the future? We don’t know except to say that we are all concentrating our ministries with a single focus right now. And that is good.
I am so thankful to God for the eight years of Resolved. It has served as a ruler by which I can measure my love for Christ. My family can reverence our growth by it as well. It has been a part of my sons’ lives for half or more of their lives. They were 5, 7, and 9 when it began. Now they are 12, 14, and 16.
I am so thankful to John MacArthur and Grace Community Church for allowing us to start and maintain Resolved. John’s preaching was an anchor from the very beginning. Someday the folks who came to Resolved will tell their grandchildren about hearing John MacArthur at the conference. To God be the glory.
Steve Lawson too was with us from the start. His unceasing support of the conference in general and me personally will long encourage my soul. His preaching was thunderous and penetrating. He kept us fueled to look to God. To God be the glory.
C.J. Mahaney was not well known in our circles when he came to the conference. He so graciously accepted our invitation to speak that first year and none of us were ready for what God had for us. His sermon on Christ’s agony in Gethsemane that first year rocked us and in a real sense defined the trajectory of Resolved. I’ve listened to that one sermon more than any other sermon. Most of it is committed to memory. His ability to apply the Scriptures and gospel truth can only be attributed to God’s gifting. No one makes me laugh and cry, worship and repent, pray and praise more than C.J. To God be the glory.
Al Mohler joined us three years ago and immediately fit as a fixture in the speaker lineup. He has an uncanny knack to provide both high-altitude theological perspective and on-the-ground application when he preaches. The way he says things makes me think about familiar spiritual realities in fresh ways. To hear him in person is a privilege few will ever forget.
This last year we heard from Jonathan Rourke for the first time as a preacher. He has served us so well in previous years as a quick-witted, caring shepherd as the conference M.C. But it was clear from his exposition that he is doing what God has called him to do in preaching weekly in his own pulpit. The San Diego area is privileged to have such an expositor in its shadow. To God be the glory.
Austin Duncan joined the lineup this year as both host and speaker. I’ve known Austin for eight years. His exposition of Acts 4 and 5 will certainly find its way into my long-term memory. His opportunities at Grace Community Church and at The Master’s Seminary will begin to surface what so many of us have seen behind the scenes for a long time. I see no ceiling on his potential for the gospel. To God be the glory.
And then there is Enfield and my friends John and Lisa Martin. Anyone who has been to Resolved can confirm that without them, Resolved is a very different conference. John’s leadership, musical skills, work ethic, and love for Christ have served us well. Enfield’s worship leading has been the thread that wove the conference into one piece. And this year they recorded the music sets for a live album to be released later in the summer.
So what’s next?
For the next year all of us on the Resolved team are taking a break from conferencing. We truly believe what was preached at the final conference. Our local churches are where our hearts are and they need our best efforts and constant attention. I’m a pastor, not a conference director.
However, I have seen and experienced the benefits of a conference like Resolved and cannot rule out anything for the future. For now though, I want to concentrate on Mission Road Bible Church.
To God be the glory.
*** You can find all the conference messages here.
*** You can find all the photos here.
This is an odd week for me. I have a variety of emotions competing for the way I feel.
Friday through Monday will mark the final Resolved Conference. It has been a great run for past 7 years, a highlight of my year.
If you have been to a conference, you understand. Hearing thousands of voices singing to and about our Savior, hearing preachers and preaching that make time stand still and eternity seem so close, interactions with the best of friends and closest comrades in the gospel… These have been weekends that have been like the marks on a ruler in my life. I can measure my own growth and that of my wife and sons by the Resolved Conference.
This weekend will mark the culmination of the conference. It makes sense too. The theme is the church and we have made every effort to use these weekends to point people back to their local churches.
I have been asked dozens of times in recent days how I feel about this being the last conference. The answer is that I am both overjoyed and a bit wistful. The joy comes from the experiences that Resolved has given me. The sadness is that we are closing up shop. But the balancing of both of those is that the church will continue to do every day and every week what Resolved tried to do one weekend a year.
The question should not be, “Why can’t we continue the Resolved conference?” The question should be, “How can I participate in my local body better?” Our prayer is that these weekend offerings have served as catapults for involvement in the local church. Conferences come and go. But Jesus promised to build His church.
Yes, I’ll miss the conference. But that sadness can’t compare to the joy of being involved in my local church. I like Resolved. I love the church.
We hope to see you at the culmination of the Resolved Conference. But more than that, we hope you are involved in your church.
Every year I am excited to see what books Dr. Mohler recommends for pastors to read in that calendar year. In the March/April edition of Preaching magazine, he provided the following list. I’ve included links if you are interested in grabbing one or more.
Ten Books Every Pastor Should Read in 2012
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction Alan Jacobs (Oxford University Press: Oxford)
The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way Michael Horton (Zondervan: Grand Rapids)
Reading Scripture with the Reformers Timothy George (IVP Academic: Downers Grove)
The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been…and Where We’re Going George Friedman (Doubleday: New York)
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other Sherry Turkle (Basic Books: New York)
The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion Rodney Stark (Harper One: New York)
Christian Apologetics: Past and Present, Vol. 2 William Edgar & K. Scott Oliphant (Crossway: Wheaton)
A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New G.K. Beale (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids)
Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Gregg R. Allison (Zondervan: Grand Rapids)
Lost in Translation: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood Christian Smith, Kari Christofferson, Hilary Davidson, Patricia Snell Herzog (Oxford University Press: Oxford)
One of the most interesting fields of theological study is apologetics. The term comes from the Greek word (apologia) that means to give a verbal defense. The use of this word in 1 Peter 3:15 has become the foundation for apologetics:
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense [give an apologetic] to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence
Syllogizing proofs, organizing arguments, answering philosophical objections, solving apparent theological and biblical discrepancies, these are the concerns of modern apologetics. Every believer ought to be grateful for the hard work that theologians have done in the area of Christian apologetics. I surely am. I love studying apologetics.
But giving a defense for our faith can be intimidating. Most of us have experienced the panicked “uh-oh” moment when we don’t know how to answer a question about our faith. These times work for our good when they force us back to the Bible to discover those answers and generate solid defenses.
But a closer look at Peter’s admonition is interesting. The defense/apologetic called for in 1 Peter 3:15 is not a philosophical, logical, or even theological defense, actually it is a personal one.
Peter says we are to be ready to make a defense for the hope that is within us. I think he is pointing to the power of a personal testimony.
The Apostle Paul was greatest theologian to ever argue the case of Christianity. If anyone could ever prove the point, paint the picture, argue the case about the veracity of the Christian faith, it was Paul. Yet it is remarkable that when he had to give his defense of Christianity before the Jewish leaders and establishment in Jerusalem (Acts 22) and before the Roman representative, King Agrippa at Caesarea Maritima (Acts 26), he defaulted to giving his testimony. When Paul’s life was on the line for his faith, his defense was to tell the work of Christ in his life. His defense was found on the road to Damascus, not in the Encyclopedia of Apologetics.
Every believer has a testimony. Some are dramatic and include radical and seismic shifts in lifestyle and thinking. Others are the sweet story of growing up in a Christian home with gospel truth ever-present from infancy. No matter the personal history, every Christian should be able to tell of the work of God in the heart to bring the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
So what’s the point?
Don’t ever underestimate the power of your testimony. Don’t ever shy away from telling the story of God’s grace in your life. Don’t ever tire of hearing of the work of the gospel in the lives of other believers. And don’t ever shy away from “being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.”