No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Heaven

Erkle-like Witnessing moments: “Did I do that?!”

Hey, Robert and I have intermittantly been encouraging everyone to share their faith… Greg Stier has put together a pretty good list of ways we DON’T advocate (Check it out):
What kind of awkward witnessing moments have you had?

Retraction… JESUS LIVES!

As dawn broke that morning the shroud of sorrow that had covered them for the past days seemed strangely different. But why should it? Today His body would be prepared with spices by some of the women who had followed Him.

They were still afraid… still hiding, and yet there was something in the periphery of their minds, something just buzzing in and out between their subconscious and coherent thought that would not let them go. Though He had been laid in a guarded tomb, something within them would not let them bury this and just move on.

What had He said before that just wouldn’t come fully to mind? Had He told them this would happen?

Suddenly, Mary burst in the door shouting hysterically: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

What else could go wrong?!?! Two of them bolted for the place where He was laid. Sure enough, He was not there – Neither were the Roman guards that had been stationed there. Strangely though, the burial clothes rested on the table where his body had been… the cloth that had covered His face was folded neatly aside, but the rest were not unwrapped, instead they were vacated as though the body had disintegrated or vaporized! How could any of this be?

They left bewildered… trying harder than ever to remember His instructions to them. There was nothing left to do but return to their hiding place – hole up, grieve and pray.

Mary interrupted the silent tears again exuberantly, almost incoherently exclaiming something about seeing Him in the garden after they had left. They rationalized that she must have been mistaken and in denial… So they locked the doors and hid… and trembled… and wondered…

That night as darkness fell the anxiety increased in this little group who were huddled behind their locked doors. Suddenly, a voice they never had dreamed in their slimmest of hopes they would hear again pierced the silence and startled them out of their stupor. It said, “Peace be with you!”

PEACE?!?! How could there be peace? He was gone and now they were delusional… because some had seen Him die, the rest had minimally seen the guarded grave – He was Dead, there was no doubt about it… And yet, here He was… Right before them – What in Heaven’s name was going on?

Their hearts nearly stopped from joy and shock when He showed them His scars. It was Him and He was ALIVE!!! It all made sense now… He HAD told them He had to die, but He had also hinted that death would not be the end of the story – He had promised that He would never leave them… Actually, He said that He would never, never, never , Never, NEVER leave them or turn them away!

So, now that He was back and had proved His ultimate power and authority, certainly He would begin the conquest now. But He said that He would not now – not in the way they had expected anyway… But really, had He EVER done things the way they expected?

He instead told them they were to take His message of peace, hope and love to everyone on earth! They could be confident that because of what He had done in dying for them  – in dying for the world He had fulfilled all their previous hopes and dreams and had flung open the lanes of fellowship between God and man… And He had validated and sealed the sacrifice by rising from the dead…

No one would retract the story of His death… why should they? He really had died.

Because He was Alive, they now understood… Not only was He the Son of God – He IS God and He always will be! And now He has gone to prepare an eternal home for all who place all their trust in Him…

Now they fully understood this: there was no way to remain silent – there was no reason to hide. Nothing, not even death had power over Him, so it had no power over them! The revolution HAD begun, but it was not a violent uprising – Instead, they began to shout out to all who would give an ear – a continual outpouring of grace, peace, love and hope…

And the refrain has echoed from the hearts and lips of His children throughout the years ever since: “HE IS RISEN – HE IS RISEN INDEED!” Hope Reigns eternal…

All because Jesus is King and He… is… with us!

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.

So, What’s the Point?

We started this blog as an avenue to talk about how the truth about God and His Word ought to affect our lives. One of the most important aspects about God (if not THE most important) is that He is relational – that is He desires to have loving relationships with people. However, another VERY important aspect of God is that He is Holy – that is He hates evil (which all of us practice more often than we’d ever admit). These two seemingly incompatible aspects of God’s character presented a problem that called for a radical solution… Let’s examine the problem and the solution by looking quickly at just one verse, Romans 6:23.

For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This verse is rich with meaning – it’s full of bad news and good news. Let’s start with the bad:

Notice the first 3 key words in this passage: Wages, Sin and Death. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Wages” as: “Payment for services to a worker…” It is something that is earned or deserved. Random House defines “sin” as: “any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.” This is anything we do that is “reprehensible” rebellion against God (and this almost always “regrettably” hurts other people). When the Bible speaks of “Death” it always represents some sort of separation – when the body dies it is separated from the soul – this is what we commonly think of as death, but the Bible also speaks of a greater death… spiritual death (which is separation from God).

So to sum up the first phrase, what we EARN & what we DESERVE for the evil we do is to be eternally separated from the God who loves us and created us.

Scripture tells us elsewhere that if we physically die without our sin problem being fixed by God, we will remain separated from Him in a very real and scary place called Hell (e.g. 2 Peter 2:4-10). This is obviously VERY bad news, because we are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and there is nothing we can do to fix that on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9) – the “wage” was earned and God is so true to His word that He HAS to pay up!

Surprisingly to some, Jesus spoke about this place more than He spoke about Heaven! I think this is because God is relational and He doesn’t want us to have to experience being separated from Him (and all the bad that goes along with that separation).

This is where the good news comes in. This is signaled by the “BUT” in the middle of the verse. It’s like God is saying… “You deserve some really bad news, however, I’ve got some GREAT news for you”… That Good News is found in the next phrase “the gift of God is eternal life”… Let’s break it down like the last phrase.

We all know what a “Gift” is. It is something given to and received by us that was neither bought nor earned. In this case the giver of the Gift (the one who initiated the giving) is none other than God Himself. 

The gift is eternal life. If death = separation then life = fellowship/connection. In other words, we have the opportunity to be in relationship with God… not only temporarily, but (in the words of the kids from Sandlot) “FOR-EV-ER!” Did you catch that? This is saying that God has stepped in to solve our sin problem!!!

All that is left to explain is the question of “how?” The Answer: Jesus… specifically a relationship with Jesus Christ and by accepting what He (Jesus) did for us on the cross… Remember, God had to pay out the wage for sin… death – Jesus took upon himself that death verdict for all people who would accept that gift – for all time!

Just like any gift, we cannot merely understand that the gift is for us, we have to receive it. Romans 10:9-11 sheds a little light on how we are to do this.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Ann Coulter recently said “It [Christianity] is the best deal in the universe… God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you’re in. Your sins are washed away from you… because of the cross… Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world…” The simplicity of the Good News I just explained is the “easy” aspect of Christianity. The hard part will be the subject of other forthcoming blogs… But for now let’s just worry about the “easy” aspect.

To get in on the “easy” aspect here’s the questions that need to be answered for each of us:

  1. Have you ever done wrong in your life? In other words, are you a sinner?
  2. Do you want forgiveness for your sins?
  3. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and then rose from the dead?
  4. Are you willing to surrender your heart to Jesus (as LORD – as seen above at the end of Romans 6:23)?
  5. Have you ever, or are you ready right now to accept God’s gift of eternal life by inviting Jesus into your life (Rev. 3:20)?

So, what IS the point?  It’s all about what each of us will do in light of God’s offer of eternal life.  If you have not trusted Jesus as your only hope for eternal life, I pray you will consider taking God up on His offer. If you already have trusted in Jesus, will you please consider talking to someone else about this? It really is the main point of life.

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

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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