Summary: The importance of making the Gospel message as simple and clear as possible.
Five Truths You Dare Not Ignore
1 Pet 3:15-18
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,
Pastor Tim and his wife had just finished a day of sailing and were about to leave the dock area when they got involved in a conversation with another couple that had also been sailing. After a pleasant exchange they were invited to join this couple aboard their boat for a party. They accepted and got into their little dingy and went on over to the other craft. They had a nice time and when one of their new friends asked what Tim did for a living, he didn’t even seem taken aback by the fact that Tim was a minister.
Well, after a while Pastor Tim and his wife decided to leave. As they were climbing into their dingy, this same man asked Tim, “Say, I’ve always wanted to ask a Christian something. How is it that one becomes a Christian? Could you take a few moments to tell all of us?”
It was right at this point that Tim thought of I Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope you possess.”
Tell me, what would you have said?
I know that at least part of giving an answer is to make it as clear and simple as possible. In seminary I was taught that when you are declaring God’s truth, you must strive for one thing above all others: CLARITY! Keep your message simple enough for anyone to understand.
Let me share some actual quotes taken from insurance-accident forms. These are the actual words of people who tried to summarize their encounters with trouble.
“Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.”
“I thought my window was down, but I found it was up when I put my hand through it.”
“A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”
“In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.”
“My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.”
“To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.”
“I told the police that I was not injured, but removing my hat, I found I had a skull fracture.”
“I was thrown from my car when it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.”
“The guy was all over the road; I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”
All kidding aside, we need to be careful as believers that we do not send out a confusing message—that those who hear our message are not confused.
Illus.: Seminar speaker at IWU. When I left, I looked at my note pad. It only had about four words on it. I asked myself, “What was his point? What exactly did he say?”
It is good discipline for preachers to occasionally share their sermon thoughts with someone to check for clarification. I make use of my wife for this purpose.
The Christian message is simple—straight-forward, and easy to grasp. God does not want us to be confused about His love and plan for us. Let me share it with you in five simple statements.
1. Life Is Short.
James 4:14: “Life is like a vapor.”
I Chronicles 29:15: “Life is like a shadow.”
Job 7:6: “Life is like a swift messenger.”
In other words, life is uncertain, fragile—here today, gone tomorrow!
Psalm 139 tells us that our days on this planet are determined by God while we are still in our mother’s womb. Only He knows how long we will live—two weeks, two years, 40 years, 80 years.
A minister was visiting one of his members in the hospital on Saturday. The patient was sitting up in a chair. He said to his pastor, “I’ve not felt this good in a long time. In fact, the doctor is going to release me tomorrow.” But he never left the hospital. He died that very night. Life is short!