Summary: How to be faithful in witnessing
1 Peter 3: A Ready Witness - 9/21/14
Turn with me this morning to the end of your bibles, to the book of 1 Peter. As you are turning there, let me ask you why you are here this morning. Why do we come to church? We come to worship, we come to gain encouragement, we come to learn. We come because that is the “Christian” thing to do. We come this morning as Christians. But what is a Christian?
Over the summer in Sunday School we talked about this idea of being a Christian. It is NOT the idea of saying a prayer and getting a spot in heaven. Rather Christians are disciples, followers, those who want to be just like Jesus in every way. What He says, we do. And when you look in the mirror, let me ask - is that what you want to be? Do you want to be a man or woman who follows the instructions of Jesus Christ?
If so, let me remind you of two passages - they record the last words of Jesus while he was here on earth. The first we call the great commission. It is what we are to be about as Christians. Jesus told his disciples shortly before He left them: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And then the very last thing Jesus says, right before He ascends up into heaven we find in Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Jesus said that if we are serious about being his followers, the thing that should concern us is not how nice of a church building we have, or what songs we sing on Sunday. The thing that should be our focus is being a witness - telling what we know to be true to others - so that they also will become a disciple, a follower of Jesus. So this morning, let me ask you: How good of a witness are you?
But let me say - this witness is NOT missions. We like to give an excuse - We give money to our missionaries - they are the witness! But that’s not the plan of Jesus. Jesus wants YOU to be His witness. Wherever you are, whatever you do, we are to look for ways to testify about what we have learned to be true.
So, having said that, let’s move on to the book of 1 Peter. In Acts 1, Jesus gave this call to his followers to be witnesses. And they said, That’s great - let’s pray that God sends someone else to go! And they all stayed at Jerusalem. So in Acts 8, God allowed great persecution to come on the church. And as a result, almost all the followers of Jesus, Christians, left Jerusalem and were scattered throughout the Middle East. Acts 8:1 says, On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
So, they didn’t want to leave their “comfort zones” - but once things became uncomfortable in Jerusalem, they left. That brings us to Peter. Paul has a ministry to the Gentiles, largely starting new churches in Turkey. But Peter has a ministry to the Jews. And this first letter he writes, as it says in 1 Peter 1:1 - To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. Peter is writing to these Jewish Christians who had been “scattered” in the dispersion because of persecution. And Peter is writing them a letter to remind them that even though they have faced difficult times, they still have HOPE!
He writes in 1:3 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.