No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: apologetics

To rebel or obey…that is the question.

To Rebel or to Obey…That is the question.

What can I say?  I, like many of you (at least according to the polls) do not like the fact that our government now controls most of the auto industry, health care, and student loans.  As I sat and watched (with disgust) as the house passed a bill that will effectively socialize health care, I wondered, what recourse we as Christians have against such a governmental move.  My question is, can Christians rebel against the government without sinning?

Most people (atheist’s, and Christians alike) will use Romans 13 to say that Christians have no right to rebel against government.  Romans 13:1-7 says this:

 1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV)


So what are we to take from this?  Paul’s point is very clear.  Submit to governing authorities, because God establishes authority.  IF YOU REBEL YOU ARE REBELLING AGAINST GOD!  Wait a second did I just read that?  Sure enough, there it is Romans 13:2.  How does this stack up against the rest of scripture though?  Even the most basic level of Bible knowledge will show that that the Bible has examples where God moved people to resist a government. 

Moses is the easiest example where the Bible shows how God can prompt us to resist a government.  

Exodus 1:15-21 shows us how midwives disobeyed Pharaoh when asked to kill every Jewish boy.

Daniel 3 shows three men (Shadrach, Meschach, and Aded – Nego) defy Nebuchadnezzar when asked to bow down before him as king.

Acts 5:29 shows Peter defying a Judge.

Daniel defies King Darius’ decree in Daniel 6:1-17.

The Bible does contain events which show that Godly men disobeyed authority.  If you read Romans 13 in conjecture with these stories there would appear to be a contradiction.  Either Paul got it wrong, or the people in these events got it wrong.  I have to admit, I was stuck at this point.  So which is it?

To begin my own evaluation you have to remember one simple point, God cannot contradict himself.  And, if you remember from my previous post (The Bible…Good Moral Stories?); every word in the Bible is true.  So based on that simple principle both Paul and the other events have to hold a singular valid point. 

The next point, what were the conditions that allowed these people to rebel?  I think Acts 5:29 and Daniel 3 hold the key.  In both examples the men involved with these events choose to obey God rather than obey men.  This involved knowingly disobeying the law of the land.  For Peter it was claiming that Christ was Lord, for the three men in Daniel it was not kneeling down before Nebuchadnezzar.  The other examples also support this notion.  The single message we can take from these events is that in all of them, the laws were in contradiction to God’s law, and God’s word. 

Let’s look at some other things that Paul said in general to help shed some light on our overall obligations as Christians.  II Corinthians 10:5 states “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This to me defines the very nature of the issue at hand.  Paul states that we will demolish EVERY pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  The knowledge of God is the Bible.  We will demolish anything that sets itself up against the Word of God.  How can we compare the events noted above, with II Corinthians 10:5?  Back to Romans 13…

What point is Paul trying to make?  To what specific point was he talking to? Re-reading Romans 13 I come to the conclusion that Paul was talking about general law, and paying taxes.  If the general law, for instance, is to stop when a policeman pulls you over, do not rebel.  If the general law is to pay taxes then pay your taxes.  This is the point, I believe, that Paul is trying to make in Romans 13.  How do I come to this conclusion?  Paul knows that God would not have us submit to laws that are contradictory to His law.  God has shown us, through His Word, that we are obligated to not obey laws that defy God (see above).  This successfully answers the question I posed at the beginning; can Christians rebel against the government without sinning? Would we be violating Biblical doctrine if we did rebel against the government?  The answer is:  IF a particular law CLEARLY contradicts GOD’S WORD WE ARE OBLIGATED TO DISOBEY THAT LAW. 

So what now?  If you have come to the same conclusion that I have the next viable question to ask is what do we do know?  II Corinthians 10 holds the answer to the question.  II Corinthians 10:2-5 (NIV) states:

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Paul is clear as to how we are to proceed.  We will not use the weapons of this world.  We as Christians must, MUST unite together and proceed in a way that is demonstrative of God’s love, and will.  We can defy ungodly laws, without violence.  So what does that mean?  Legal challenges, not obeying laws that contradict the Word of God and voting Godly Christians into office.  These are a few of the things we can do at this time.  But we must be united behind the mantle of Christ and hold firm.   

It would be easy for me to stand in front of you and tell you what I think you should do in response to the passage of the health care bill.  You probably can tell from the opening paragraph where I stand.  Romans 13 is something that I have been praying about since the health care bill passed.  Atheists love to remind me of my obligation to submit to authority, especially when they are in authority.  It is important to understand that I don’t have all the answers and can only provide insight as to my own education when I study the Word of God.  The initial version of this post was much more harsh, and much more to the point.  I believe that through prayer the Holy Spirit softened my heart.  It is far too easy to fan the flames of discontent than it is to stoke the fire of reason.  Our first obligation must always be to God and his infallible Word.


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Why Apologize?!?! No Apologizing on… Apologizing!

Have you ever heard that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission? That may be true in some circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that asking for forgiveness is an easy thing to do. It can be very hard to apologize sometimes – especially when you don’t think you’re the one who’s most in the wrong!

 Surprisingly, the Bible doesn’t seem to say a whole lot about apologizing, at least not on the surface! You won’t be very successful in trying to do a word search for apologize in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that the concept is missing in God’s word… Let’s look at a couple of places where the Bible addresses this from a different angle.

 Jesus spoke about asking for forgiveness in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus talks about what we are to do when someone is angry with us… He says to “reconcile” with them right away. Notice in the passage that Jesus didn’t say who was at fault… He just started off saying that it was bad to be angry at someone and call them a fool… Then He said that if you remember that someone may be angry at you, go make it right! In context this tells us that we need to do what it takes to make things right with this person (including asking for forgiveness) not for our sake, but really for their sake!

 I can imagine some of you scratching your heads on that. Let me explain. Jesus said that it was dangerous for Christians to hold on to anger at someone.  He then told us to go reconcile with people who are angry at us. So, what He’s saying is to love others enough to do what you need to do in order to help remove that bad blood between you.

 One way to diffuse a situation is to admit your portion of the wrong and ask for forgiveness… Not just say “I’m sorry if I offended you”, but instead say, “I was wrong when I _______________. Will you please forgive me?” 

I know that it seems like splitting hairs, but saying “I’m sorry” usually doesn’t move the heart of the one we’ve offended, but taking responsibility by saying “I was wrong” often does.

I am convinced that this is at least partially what James 5:16 is telling us to do when it says, “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Taking responsibility for where we were wrong in a situation (even when the other person may have been MORE in the wrong) brings healing to a relationship… This is for the betterment of everyone involved.

What else is difficult about apologizing? It requires a HUGE amount of humility. What do we naturally want to do when someone is angry with us? Defend ourselves, of course. Especially if and when we think the other person is more in the wrong than we are… Really though, in the greater scheme of things, that doesn’t matter – The fact of the matter is that it always takes two or more people to make an argument and almost always the fault for the argument is at least partially shared. You may not have the greatest majority of the blame, but was there anything you did that contributed to the argument? Probably… So ask for forgiveness for your part without pointing out the obvious (the other person’s part) – take responsibility for taking the first step toward healing in the relationship. I think this is what God was getting at when He inspired Peter to write:

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12, ESV)

God’s saying that if we want to have a good life here on earth we need to do our best to live in harmony with others. We are to bless others – one way to do that is to diffuse their anger. But that’s not our natural reaction… Normally, when someone is upset with us we want to defend ourselves and fight back. But I Peter is saying that is absolutely the wrong course of action! Defending ourselves and our pride is counterproductive to what ought to be our primary concern: the greater good of all involved (including ourselves) – and that only comes through restoration! Consider the following related verses:

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11, ESV)

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21, ESV)

Scripture may not speak specifically and directly about apologizing or how to apologize, but it does have a great deal to say about humility and forgiveness. Perhaps this is because forgiving is even harder!  Regardless, I think that the passages above speak to all of this.

Because there is so much to say about forgiveness, we will deal with it more extensively in another post – too much to cover here without short changing apologies. What does need to be said about forgiveness here is: “when someone asks for forgiveness, give it – period.”

What else needs to be said about forgiveness is that as difficult as it is to give, it is super hard for true forgiveness to happen without something initiating the process – 99.99999% of the time that something is a sincere apology.

So, let me challenge you today… give asking for forgiveness a shot, it may save a relationship or two.

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The Final Poser Test

He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

Probably the greatest characteristic of posers is their pride and arrogance. It is the driving force behind all the rest of their flaws… It is very difficult for a poser to change their stripes and thereby transform into a champion because their pride usually won’t let them. For a poser to get better at their particular interest they have to become teachable and change their actions. They have to humble themselves to allow someone to teach them the “little” disciplined tricks of the trade and then they have to follow through with diligent practice of those little things. Remember, God has told us “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Notice here that this says “Walk Humbly”? This implies that humility isn’t a onetime thing, but a consistent pattern of living – but what is the consistent pattern of humility?

Humility is a matter of reliance – James 4:6 An authentic champion, on the other hand, will realize that they do not have the market cornered on knowledge of the sport or activity. As a result, they rely upon the experience and knowledge of a coach, instructor or teacher to help them refine their craft. God Himself has offered to be our instructor… and has even already given us what we need to know. Remember, our passage starts off by saying “He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you…” James 4:6 tells us that He gives us the grace to be what He wants if we will be humble and rely on Him (and His grace).

Humility is a matter of submission – James 4:7 James goes on in that same chapter to explain that we should “Submit yourself, then, to God…” A poser might pretend to listen to a teacher, but the proof of their reliance upon someone is whether or not they obey what is taught. Are you reading, listening to, learning from and obeying God’s Word? Do you rely upon following God’s instructions as the best way to live life? Or do you think you know best how to live your life?

Being insistent on your own way is the biggest tell-tale sign that you’re a poser! In fact, you will never be able to be authentic in the first 2 requirements of God (to do right and love right) if your pride gets in the way. After serving during the rule of a wicked king, Ahaz, Micah had the privilege of seeing Judah’s king Hezekiah humble himself and follow after God! I have a feeling though, I am not the only one to consistently attend church while being a poser. Many of you may be the same way, even now. Just like it was for me and Micah’s audience, it is probably easy for you to KNOW what’s right and wrong, because you’ve heard it all your life – Instead, it’s hard to actually do what’s right with the right motives.

I hate to admit this to anyone but I have been a poser in my life – both as a “skater” and as a Christian. Much like God did here in Micah, I was directly confronted with my poser-ness. I went to speak to my youth pastor, Marty, between my sophomore and junior year in high-school and told him I was doubting my salvation because of bad attitudes and actions that had begun to creep into my life… You see, Marty could see what I was blind to. I FAILED the Poser test:

1. I wanted to maintain a “Christian” image to get complements and freedom, but I wasn’t being honest with Him or with myself. I secretly was evil when I could get away with it…

2. I had no clue how to love people with unselfish motives and

3. There was NO WAY I was going to humble myself, break-down, repent and live obediently – my pride wouldn’t let me (how would that look to everyone?!?!)!! Just like God did in Micah, Marty told me, “Kevin, you know what is true… and you know what you need to do… You just need to humble yourself and commit to doing it.” One of the greatest regrets in my life is that I didn’t listen to him at that time – I stayed the course, pridefully playing the church game.

It took 4 more years for me to quit being a spiritual poser. How much impact could I have had for God’s Kingdom had I just stepped out and refused to continue being a poser? I thought I knew best and needed to maintain a proper image so I wouldn’t be exposed as the faker I really was. However, my image wasn’t as pristine as I had thought… Maintaining my stubbornness hurt my witness, it hurt my relationships and it started me down a path that set me back in life. The Good news is that there was hope for me and there was hope for Judah – and that hope played out in both stories. The first step for me was to humble myself before God by admitting that I had been a poser. I then needed to commit to submitting to what God’s Word told me to do – To honestly do right and love right. That’s what happened in Micah’s day too!

Maybe you have a hard time being consistently truthful with yourself and others. If this is true of you – you’re probably a poser! And even though you may think that you’re popular, accepted and liked because of your poser ways – you probably are not – Remember, no one likes a poser. But there is hope for you like there was hope for Judah and me. God wants us to be authentic in our relationships with Him and with others! But He also will help us in doing so if we will humbly follow Him!

If you think you may be a poser, then take the first step of humbling yourself so that you can walk with God in humble obedience to what He has already told you to do (in His word). He doesn’t care for your fake worship – no matter how emotional you look, how much “service” you do in His name, how often you go to church or youth activities or how well you sing. These things don’t matter at all if you’re heart is not right with Him. Humbly love Him… That is, continually trust Him that He knows what’s best and do what He asks. Doing that will help you to love Him more, do what’s right, be more honest and love and treat others better.

Will you do whatever it takes to become an authentic champion for Christ or will your poser pride hold you back? God has told you what is true, what is right, what is good and what He requires from you – Now it’s up to you to do it in His power and by His grace.

The Poser Test – Part 3

He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

Last time we spoke about the first part of the LORD’s demands in this verse – Do What’s Right. Now we trun our attention to the second demand: Show authentic love – Be faithful, kind and merciful

One of the reasons people don’t like posers is because of how they treat other people. If someone fails they brutally and relentlessly make fun of them in order to deflect negative attention away from themselves (to mask their own deficiencies). They are consistently mean, selfish, demeaning and rude. When they are nice to people it is only for what they could get out of them – accolades, a following, etc.

 Micah 6:8 tells us that God requires us “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” The Hebrew word that is translated here as “love faithfulness” is actually a very complex word with several layers of meaning, all of which capture how an authentic Christian will be with other people, and it is in stark contrast with the attitudes of posers. It has been translated as:

  • Love Faithfulness (HCSB)
  • Love Mercy (NIV and others)
  • Love being kind to others (NCV)
  • Love kindness (NASB)
  • Be compassionate and loyal in your love (Message)

 You should be able to see that this word carries with it the connotation of faithful love, kindness and mercy – Do you see how this is so different from the attitude of a poser?

 We’ve already seen examples during the Olympics of how an authentic champion is kind and merciful when someone fails, because they are not insecure (like a poser) – they will encourage others when they fail, because they remember their own failures and progress. They will look out for the best interest of the team (if it’s a team sport) or will be mindful of what is best for their sport.

Jesus summarizes this attitude in Matthew 22:39, when He said that equally important to loving God is to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Of course, we want people to be kind, loving and merciful to us, especially when we fail. We want people to love and support us, to treat us fairly (or better) and to be faithful to us.

 Do you treat people with a faithful and kind love that is full of mercy? Do you do this out of true love for them or only because you want what they can provide you? How would other people characterize your relationships with others – How would God?

Authentic Christians not only consistently do what’s right, and love and treat others right – they also rely on and obey God, which is our third part of the poser test. 

The Poser Test – Part 2 (Do What’s Right)

He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

In our last post we gave you the background of our main passage to show how this was a wake-up call from God… There are three things God demands in this passage… 3 poser tests. Today we are looking at the first demand: Act Justly (Do What’s Right).

Posers are notorious for exaggerating their abilities and for taking shortcuts to gain and maintain an appearance of excellence… but this is all style over substance… they want this because they want the benefits that come with actually being good at what they’re posing as without really putting in the work necessary to excel.

Later on in Micah 6 God points out that these posers were cutting corners, lying and mistreating people to get ahead:

11 Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? 12 Her rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. 

God wants us to refuse to be dishonest, to work hard and do what’s right at all times… It has been said that Champions do the little things the right way at all times, regardless of who is watching – This is why you won’t find many if any posers on your TV during the Olympics this year… they have been disciplined to act right and do the little things that make them among the best in their field. They do it for their country and for the “love of the game.”

Authentic Spiritual Champions are similar: Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 that the most important thing for an authentic God-follower was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” They are motivated to do right because of our love for God.

But for posers, it’s all about them… they will do anything to maintain their image – the illusion that they are great – because they want praise and attention and privileges… the sad thing is that they are normally only fooling themselves.

There are no short cuts to spiritual excellence and you cannot fool God. You may be able to fake out other people for a while, but usually not for long.

Does your spiritual life reflect a commitment to authentically doing what is right at all times (regardless of whether you get attention or recognition for doing it)? Or do you just play church so people – especially your parents – will think you’re a “good Christian kid” and therefore give you lots of complements/affirmation and possibly more freedom and trust (so you can ultimately do what you want)?

Authentic Christians not only consistently do what’s right, because of love for God, but they also treat others right. This is the second part of the poser test…which we will explore next time.

The Poser Test – Part 1

He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

When I was a teenager, I was into a wide variety of interests and sub-cultures – I phased in and out of some and I tried to maintain a presence/image in some of them simultaneously… I was a nerd, a choir geek, I was into sports, gaming, speech and debate… oh, yeah – Church… lots of stuff. But one of the groups I was part of for a while was I was a “skater” (skate-boarder). Now, every culture has their own words that originate with them, but often bleed into popular use. The skating culture developed a term that was quickly hijacked by other groups (and I think it is still in some use today) – The term?… Poser.

Basically, a poser is a person who dresses and talks and somewhat acts like a skater, but lacked the skill, fearlessness, drive and dedication of an authentic skater… Like I said, this came to be used by other groups, particularly by other sports… There were poser football players, baseball players, soccer placers, debaters… Pretty much there were posers in every group – you may know them now as “fakers”.

No one wanted to be labeled a poser, because no one liked posers – No One! Posers were more about image than excellence; they were unteachable, unhelpful, arrogant, mean and rude. They would cut you down every chance they got just to make themselves look and feel better. You didn’t want to have anything to do with posers… posers were bad news. The good thing about posers is that everyone can usually spot them from a mile away – everyone, that is, except themselves… Most are so full of themselves that they don’t see that they are posers – and it usually takes a big wake-up call to help them see the light.

In the passage we are looking at today this is exactly what God is doing through the prophet Micah – giving a straightforward and harsh wakeup call to a bunch of spiritual posers. Here’s what He says: “He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

In looking at this wakeup call, I want us to see that God wants us to be authentic in our relationships with Him and other people. I want us to compare His demands in the wakeup call to our own lives – Let’s use these demands as a sort of “poser test” to discover if we are being posers ourselves. If we are posers, then we need to start taking steps to change that!

Some Background: Our passage today is from the Old Testament book of Micah. Micah ministered during a very difficult time… Judah and Israel had gone through a time of relative peace and prosperity, but those “good times” were beginning to erode. People were quick to take advantage of one another (cf. Micah 2:1-2). In addition to this, many of their political and “spiritual” leaders were corrupt… (cf. Micah 3:1-2, 9-11) In spite of the fact that people were mistreating each other, people were going around and saying that everything was okay because they had the temple – and properly executed the rituals God had set up in the Law…

However, it’s evident from their need to defend the status quo in this last phrase that their prosperity and security had begun to evaporate. The problem was they didn’t really love God and they didn’t really love others. God was just some voodoo like security and people were only to be used to gain something – and they would use any means necessary to get what they wanted. In essence, they only loved themselves.

The whole nation was full of spiritual posers! This frustrated God so much that he called them out in a courtroom/prosecution case style! The people responded in typical poser fashion – Denial and excuses… they basically said “What would you have us to do?” “We’re doing our best!”

Then God speaks through the prophet and fires back, “get real”, he said: He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, HCSB)

Does this sound familiar to our situation now? This was a country that had been prosperous but was now going through political and economic uncertainty. People were spiritually apathetic – Worship of God was only a cultural/traditional thing as people were more concerned for their own advancement and wellbeing.

God makes it abundantly clear here and elsewhere (e.g. Psalm 51:16-17, Jeremiah 7:22-26 and Matthew 23:23) He doesn’t care about ritual worship and how well you do it if your heart and your life don’t reflect it… He’s basically saying: “Get real… You know what I want you to do… do it and quit being a poser. Here are the 3 things that will let me know if you’re for real.”

In the next 3 post we will look at each one of these tests/proofs individually to see how our lines up with our own lives.

No Shame + No Fear = No Apologizing, Part 3

Apologetics NOT Apologizing

So what does all of this mean?  We have no shame to share the gospel, we have no fear of what will happen when we share the gospel…so…what do we do now?  For the answer to this question we go to 1 Peter 3:14-16.

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 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.(1 Peter 3:14-16, NIV)

Here Peter reasserts why it is important to not be afraid.  That even if you suffer, the Lord is with you.  Peter asks to not be afraid of what the enemy fears.  Here, in this context, he is saying to not be afraid to suffer or to fear the threats of those who WILL rise up against you, but look to the Lord.  Peter goes on to ask all of us to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks. 

How do you prepare for a business meeting?  How do you prepare for a test?  Do you study?    Being prepared doesn’t mean that you go to church every Sunday and then do nothing for the rest of the week.  Being prepared means having your nose in the Bible constantly.  Being prepared is clothing yourself in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17), including the word of God.  Being prepared is expanding your knowledge so that you can be effective and productive while serving Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8). 

In the middle of v. 15, Peter tells us to be prepared to give a defense or answer to everyone who asks.  Here is where “Apologetics” comes in. Apologetics is not what it sounds like.  It is NOT apologizing; it IS defending your faith.  The Greek word that is translated “to give an answer” above and “give a defense” in other translations is “apologia”- thus the term “apologetics”.

1 Peter 3:15 is the result of having no fear and no shame because of your great love for Jesus and his word.  You should have no fear or shame because YOU have to be prepared to give a defense of the Lord to anyone who asks.  First, notice that the only qualifier attached to this statement is a defense to EVERYONE who asks.  There is no qualifier that would allow you to skip your answer because of your location, or because of WHO “everyone” happens to consist of. 

Next, Peter tells you how to defend and provide the answer.  Peter tells us that we need to answer everyone with gentleness and respect.  So provide an answer, but do so respectfully.  Why should we do so respectfully?    Peter makes the point explicit.  We make our defense so that we can keep a clear conscience.  That way if the people we are answering speak against us THEY will be ashamed of themselves. 

The point here is that they are armed and set against you.  WHY give them any more ammunition?  If you act like an idiot when professing the faith, how much do you want to bet that within 5 minutes after your answer they are telling a friend “What a real Christian, he/she was mean spirited, and disrespectful”.  How’s that faith working out for you?  The point: don’t be over zealous, and stay within the spirit when you give your answer (Colossians 4:6). Have you ever heard the phrase “He/She’s trying to hard”? That is what we’re trying to avoid here.

Have you been in a conversation where someone makes you feel guilty for believing what you do? Almost to the point where you want to apologize for professing your faith?  NO APOLOGIZING.  Folks, all of us have to understand that we have one mission in life, to Glorify God.  This can be done any number of ways, but it cannot be done if you feel guilty or if you feel a need to apologize to someone for what you believe. 

Be respectful when sharing your faith, be knowledgeable when you share your faith, but do not be ashamed or apologize for what you believe in.  What do you have to apologize for?!?!  If you have trusted in Jesus, you have been granted the greatest gift of all of humanity (a relationship with the God of the Universe).  Rejoice and be happy.  Don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed, SHARE YOUR FAITH, DEFEND YOUR FAITH.  It is not enough to CALL yourself a Christian – BE one!  James 2:14-26 calls on us to do more than have faith.  Christ calls on us to put his words to practice, not just to read them (Matthew 7:26).  We should all be motivated to SERVE the Lord (Colossians 3:23, 2 Corinthians 5:10).

If we were to look at No shame + No fear = No Apologizing from as a Biblical formula it would look like this:  Romans 1:14-16 + 2 Timothy 1:7-9 = 1 Peter 3:15-16.  If you have shame it will alter the formula and ultimately the outcome. If you have fear it will alter the formula.   The absence of both shame and fear have to exist in order to get the answer of 1 Peter 3:15-16.  To borrow a phrase from the 9/11 tragedy: “Let’s Roll!” Let’s get to it without shame, without fear – with NO APOLOGIZING!

No Shame + No Fear = No Apologizing, Part 2

No shame + No Fear = No Apologizing.  In the previous blog we focused on the shame that some of us may feel when presented with opportunity to preach the Gospel.  We looked specifically at Romans 1:14-16 as the foundation for this principle.  In this blog we are going to build onto the formula by taking a look a fear in preaching the gospel. While at face value shame and fear can look the same as you will see they are distinctly different.

So now that you are convinced that you are not to be ashamed, what if you become afraid? The truth is that there is no shortage of God’s word about what to do with fear (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 23 are but a few examples).  These verses serve as a foundation for every Christian that you have nothing to be afraid of or to be anxious about because God will always be with you.  In the context of this blog though, let’s focus on 2 Timothy 1:7-9.

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:7-9, NIV)

Once again I see your eyes burning a hole in this passage focusing on the word ashamed.  Why is this passage part of no fear instead of no shame?  Context.  Paul is writing this letter to Timothy as a prisoner.  Why is Paul a prisoner?  Focus on the word timidity.  The translation above is the NIV translation.  The King James Version uses the word fear.  Lets look  at v. 7 with the word fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)

Now back to the question, Why is Paul a prisoner?  Because he showed no fear in speaking the truth even though he knew, more than likely, that the consequences of the truth would be prison.  Once again Paul is leading by example.  In these verses he is calling on Timothy to show the spirit of power that God had given him (v. 7).  In this context Paul is imploring Timothy to not be afraid to testify about the Lord, or to treat him like the embarrassing uncle described in our last post, but to join him in a place of no fear.  What Paul so elegantly points to at the end of verse 8 and verse 9 is that our suffering is not because of anything that we have done, but is to glorify God through His purpose, and to demonstrate His grace.

Let’s be clear about one thing, if you show no fear in testifying about God and the sacrifice of Christ, there is a high probability that you will suffer.  Paul invites Timothy to suffer with him as though it is a birthday party! How amazing is this verse?  When you read 2 Timothy 1:7-9 in conjunction with Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23 the full picture begins to unfold.  There is no doubt that Paul loved to preach the gospel (Romans 1:14) because of the impact that it had on his own life.  He had no fear of preaching the gospel because of the foundation that had been laid. That foundation is, God will not abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23).  As a result, Paul was more than willing to suffer for Christ because he KNEW that his suffering was for the glory of the God who loved him so much.

These actions may seem a little surreal, and actually demonstrate the amount of FAITH that Paul had in God.  Paul had actually relinquished total control to God.  Paul was walking in faith.  This made him righteous – this made him dangerously fearless.   Paul didn’t just talk about faith, he didn’t just read about it, and he didn’t just preach about it, HE LIVED BY IT.

The difference between shame and fear is the message delivered.  Shame will force you to water down a message and make it palatable to an audience (often to the point the truth is lost).  Fear will force you to not deliver the message at all.  When you have no shame, and no fear you have a straight forward message of truth, regardless of the consequences.  Do not doubt for one second that we, even in today’s society, can act the same way Paul did.  God has promised us that we will be okay – not comfortable – not necessarily even happy – but we will have joy and a peace that cannot be explained away.  What do you believe, your own emotions or an everlasting God?

No Shame + No Fear = No Apologizing

When I began this post I thought that this would be a really good first post to the No Apologizing blog.  Now that I have completed this, it is nearly four pages long.  This will be a three part series.  Each part will focus on a part of the No shame + No fear = No Apologizing.  Hopefully this will be a good way to keep you coming back for at least a week…

You could begin this blog by saying in a day and age when it is becoming less popular to be a Christian than it has in the past…  This simply is not the case.  Sure, the society we once knew has evaporated before our very eyes.  An American culture that used to welcome and embrace Christianity has now begun the process of turning its back on Christ.  These actions, while alarming, are not unique to our time or culture.  What is unique to our time and culture is the ability to reach so many people with so little effort. 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Is there any doubt that the enemy is on the move, utilizing technology in a way that favors him.  Temptations, deceit, distortions, and half truths are all freely available online.  The enemy will use these tools to turn people away from Christ and bend them to where they convince others to turn away from Christ.  Satan’s goal for technology; convince non believers that there is any number of ways to heaven, that God simply doesn’t exist, and to get believers to commit evil.  It really is that simple.  So how does God use this for good?  The same technology that is available for Satan (Blogs, Vlogs, Facebook, Youtube, GodTube, etc…) is available for Christians hoping to make a difference.  It is incumbent for us to utilize this technology in order to make an impact.

No Shame

Are you embarrassed to tell others about the good news of Christ?   Are you afraid that you may get laughed at, talked down to, or mocked?  Do you treat Christ like your embarrassing but rich Uncle?  You know, you pretend not to know him when you can avoid it, but when you need something, he is on speed dial number 1.  If you have faced this situation before, then chances are that you have experienced some sort of shame in expressing what you feel about Christ. 

I can see some of you right now staring at your computer saying there is a time and place for everything. If given an opportunity to give defense of the Lord will you back down and say nothing, or will you rise to the occasion?

 The first part of our little equation is to have no shame of the gospel of Christ.  Paul speaks to this point specifically in Romans 1:14-16.

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.  16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… (Romans 1:14-16, NIV)

In v. 14 we see that Paul is obligated to preach the gospel to everyone.  Why is Paul obligated?  Because Paul has firsthand knowledge of God’s grace and mercy (1 Corinth. 15:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:12-14).  As a result of the transformation Paul experiences, he is EAGER to preach the gospel (v.15). At the beginning of v. 16, Paul boldly states that he is not ashamed.  Again, why is Paul not ashamed?  The next statement is explicit.  Paul is not ashamed because it is the POWER of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (1 Corinth 1:23-24).   You almost get the sense that Paul is almost incredulous, and has to state that he is not ashamed.  The power of God for the salvation speaks simply of the cleansing of our sins from the sacrifice of Christ.  Paul’s rationale, why should I be ashamed of the Gospel?  It only brings everlasting life and salvation through Christ!  Paul goes on in v. 17 to make it more explicit.  Paul says that inside of the gospel a righteousness is revealed. How is it revealed?  THROUGH FAITH! (Romans 3:21-26).

As Christians we should feel the same obligation that Paul feels in v. 14.  Consider 2 Corinthians 5.  While this entire chapter is LOADED with reasons why we should feel obligated to preach the gospel lets focus on verse 14.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (2 Corinthians 5:14, NIV)

This single verse speaks volumes about why WE should feel obligated to preach the gospel.  Christ died for our sins. He wiped the slate clean. HE stood before the judge and took our punishment. As a result HE has given us ever lasting life.  If that isn’t worth talking about then I don’t know what is.  When put into the context of verses 11 – 13 we can begin to understand the importance preaching.  Paul points out that because we, as believers, have an intimate understanding of God (and ultimately judgment) we will try to persuade others.  He acknowledges that we aren’t preaching to reaffirm our faith (talking for the sake of hearing ourselves talk), but to give God an opportunity to be happy with us, by answering those who put other things above God.  In reading this verse I am struck by two descriptions.  First ministering to people who will label us as being out of our minds   (v. 13).  Second, a description of ministering to those who place other things above God in their heart (end of v. 12).  It is interesting that Paul does not designate between nonbelievers, and believers in this passage.  Which makes sense. I have been called crazy by believers and nonbelievers.  I have seen both believers, and nonbelievers place other things above God in their hearts.  I am one of them.

We have experienced the same grace and mercy that Paul experienced.  Notice in the entire section of Romans there is not a single clarification as to when it is a good or bad time to preach the Gospel. If you believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins you must be ALWAYS PREPARED to give a defense of the Lord (1 Peter 3:15).  No excuses.  None are built into the Bible and excuses are, just that – EXCUSES.  We must stop allowing our fear and our culture to drive God out of our lives.

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