Is Christ’s Gospel Full Of Abundant Life Or Not?

“Since a saint’s gloom reflects unkindness on God Himself, how can we recommend His satisfying love if it does not satisfy us? The world thinks the Christian life is depressing anyway, a dry meal where very little wine of joy is tasted. Why will you confirm their deception, Christian? Why should they have your example as evidence against Jesus and His Word, which promises peace and joy to everyone who comes to this table?

“God forbid that your behavior, which should hold forth ‘the word of life’ and demonstrate the reality of it in the eyes of the world, ever disagree or throw doubt on His Word (Philippians 2:16). …

“When unbelievers see Christians sad as they hold the cup of salvation in their hands, they suspect that the wine is not so good as preachers say it is. … Christian, do not give unbelievers reason to imagine, by seeing you limping through the race, that they must forfeit happiness if they become Christians and spend the rest of their lives in a house of mourning, with a team of losers.

“Is Christ’s Gospel full of abundant life or not?” —William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor (emphasis mine)

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The Christian’s Secret Weapon

Over the past couple of weeks, people have been rattled by both real and imagined catastrophic events. We experienced a fabulous astronomical sight in a full solar eclipse, wept for our fellow citizens in Texas and Florida as hurricanes battered their businesses and homes, and then dealt with doomsayers who predicted the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Peter spent a lot of time right next to Jesus, soaking up His teaching and observing how Jesus lived. One thing Peter never saw in Jesus was panic.

So it’s not unexpected that Peter would write to followers of Jesus: Don’t fear what the world fears (1 Peter 3:14). Instead, Peter counsels his friends to keep their focus on Jesus.

Don’t run around in fear, but instead in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Some other translations say things like…

    • …revere Christ as Lord
    • …acknowledge Him as Lord
    • …worship Christ as Lord of your life
    • …keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ (see 1 Peter 3:15)

In other words: let Jesus Christ be your focal point.

When you live this way—focused on the eternal Jesus and not the temporary shakings on earth—Earthlings are bound to notice that there is something different about you. So Peter tells us to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.

Hope—not wishful thinking, but a rock-solid, joyful, confident expectation!

This hope is the Christian’s secret weapon!

This hope is unshakable during difficult times. This hope is unshakable on death’s doorstep. This hope is unshakable when the end of the world is predicted.

The Christian who has a personal experience of the hope that Jesus brings is never at the mercy of the happenings in the world nor the arguments from non-Christians.

But Peter cautions us to never use this hope as a club. He tells us to make sure we never use hope as a means of feeling superior to others. Instead we are to speak to others about our hope gently, respectfully, and with a clear conscience.

So here’s my question to you, fellow Christian: Can those around you see your hope? When they’re fearful and running for cover, do they see you right alongside them, or do they see you standing firm in hope as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Your hope is a powerful persuader for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

How “Alien” Is Your Christianity?

Peter pulls no punches as he calls Christians for what they are (or perhaps what they really should be): aliens … strangers … peculiar people.

But how can that be, especially in the United States of America? Survey after survey says that upwards of 95% of Americans claim to believe in God, and fully 8-out-of-10 of every American call themselves a Christian.

You only need to take a look at our schools, our government, or our entertainment to see how “alien” biblical values are with current cultural trends. I think all of us have experienced that when we try to live by a biblical standard, people roll their eyes at us (at best) or maybe outright mock us. Perhaps the term “aliens” is not so much for what we say we believe, but how we live what we believe.

That’s why Peter calls us peculiar (1 Peter 2:9). This word means a people so focused on what God wants, that they don’t have time to worry about what the world wants. Peculiar people are so focused on “Your kingdom come and Your will be done” that they don’t pay attention to “keeping up with the times.”

Peter says that the inevitable outcomes of this peculiar lifestyle are accusations of wrong doing, unjust treatment, insults, and slander, just to name a few (see 1 Peter 2:12, 19, 21-23; 3:16).

When we are treated this way, Peter tells Christians about their alien response:

  • Love one another deeply
  • Live good lives doing good deeds
  • Do not retaliate with insults or threats
  • Live in such a hope-filled way that others can’t help to ask you about it (see 1:22; 2:12, 23; 3:15)

So… how “alien” is your Christianity? Are you doing so many good things that it catches the attention of others? Are you responding to mistreatment in a Christ-honoring manner? Do you speak with others gently and respectfully? Is your life so full of hope in your eternal home in Heaven that people can’t help but ask you for the reason for the hope you have?

Don’t worry about being popular; be peculiar. Be so alien to this world’s values that you compel others to encounter Jesus Christ as you have! 

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at how citizens of Heaven are supposed to live while visiting Earth.

10 Quotes From “Live Dead Life”

Joy Hawthorne is a 16-year-old living with her parents in a radically Islamic Middle East country. Live Dead Life is her personal journal that she is sharing with other students in the same setting, but I find her words compelling, challenging, and encouraging for readers of all ages! Check out my full book review of Live Dead Life by clicking here.

“I step outside my door and follow Jesus where He leads. I seek to keep my feet on the path with Jesus, knowing a great adventure awaits.”

“To go through my day for Jesus, I need to spend time with Him. I can only give for Jesus what I received from Him. That is why I need time with Him daily.”

“I discovered that it’s easier to walk with Jesus all day when I think of Him as a friend I live with and not a duty I spend time with.” 

“It takes a lot of practice to intentionally involve Jesus in all part of my day, and I often forget, but I keep trying. And maybe that’s what Jesus wants—not perfection in a moment but persistence over time.”

“To reflect the image of God to the world, I have to know what He looks like and sounds like, right? I can’t do that without spending time with Him, and so it’s through my abiding time that I see Jesus and know Him and hear His voice. As I spend time with Him, I get a picture of Him to reflect to others. Jesus in me naturally flows out of me. Abiding affects everything and everyone around me.”

“I didn’t pick this place, but I can decide how I am going to live here.”

“All I have to do is look around. I might not be perfect, but I can follow Jesus and be there for others. I can be their first Christian friend. I can live with them. I can share my heart and the Gospel with them. All I have to do is say, ‘Yes.’ Yes to whatever Jesus has for me and wherever He wants to take me, whether I feel ready or not.”

“As God gives me life, He doesn’t give it so I can keep it for myself. God gives it so I can give it back. This is my chance to express the love that He shows to me, back to Him. I have one life to spend, and one death to give, so what happens when I stop trying to steal the gift He has given and instead offer it back? What happens when I let go of my plan and follow His, no matter how inconvenient? Choosing to live dead points me in that direction, to constantly turn things over to Jesus.”

“Jesus is too good to keep to myself. He’s worth telling the whole world. He’s worth sharing with my unreached neighbors.”

“When I cry out to Jesus, God delights to give an answer, and the answer is Himself—His heart in us. Then when I cry out for more, the answer is again Himself! When I cry for a broken world, hurt people, evil things, a deep wound, or gaping holes in hearts, God delights to be the answer to my prayers. He is the answer. I was never meant to be the answer to a lost, broken world. I am just meant to be in the place God calls me to be, to be able to tell the lost that He hears, that He hasn’t forgotten, that He knows.”

More quotes from this amazing book are coming soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I would highly encourage all Christians to download a free copy of Joy Hawthorne’s book (the download link is in my book review).

Thursdays With Oswald—Spiritual Honor

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Spiritual Honor

     “I am a debtor to Greeks and to Barbarians” (Romans 1:14). Do I feel this sense of indebtedness to Christ Paul felt with regard to every unsaved soul I meet, every unsaved nation? Is it a point of spiritual honor with me that I do not hoard blessings for myself? The point of spiritual honor in my life as a saint is the realization that I am a debtor to every man on the face of the earth because of the Redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ.” …

     Am I doing anything to enable Jesus Christ to bring His Redemption into actual manifestation in other lives? I can do it only if the Holy Spirit has wrought in me this sense of spiritual honor. When I realize what Jesus Christ has done for me, then I am a debtor to every human being until they know Him too.” …

     Is it my conviction among men that every man can be presented “perfect in Christ Jesus”? Or do I allow men’s sins and wrongs so to obliterate the power of the Redemption that I sink under them?

From So Send I You

Some powerful questions for every Christian to honestly answer:

  • Does my salvation mean enough to me that I am burning with passion for others to know this salvation too?
  • Am I hoarding God’s blessings, or am I passing them on?
  • What am I doing to make sure everyone knows about Jesus?
  • Do I write some people off as “unsavable,” or do I believe Jesus can reach every single person?
  • Am I living like I really believe that?

Islam Booklets (book review)

Last week I reviewed a book calling Christians to pray for Muslims to come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayer must be our first priority. But often times prayer will open the door for us to speak and act in love to share our faith with our Muslim friends.

I recently read a quarter of booklets that I would highly recommend to you—

  • The Shadow Of The Crescent 
  • What Christians Need To Know About Muslims
  • Sharing Your Faith With Muslims
  • Questions Muslims Ask

These booklets will help you understand the mindset of Muslims, learn more about the questions Muslims ask of Christians, some thoughtful ways to answer those questions, and the lifestyle that will be the most appealing for Muslims to open their hearts to Christians.

In one of the booklets, Ron Peck says, “It is our prayer that this knowledge [in these booklets] will encourage true believers in Jesus to reach out in love and share the life-changing gospel of Christ with Muslims God has brought to our shores. We also pray it will challenge Christ’s followers to take a stand against the missionary efforts of Islamic governments overseas as they endeavor to Islamize our nation.”

Given the fact that about 15 percent of all U.S. immigrants each year are followers of Islam, and that most statisticians agree that in the United States there are about 25,000 converts to Islam every year, now is the optimal time for Christians to be prepared to share their faith in Jesus with their Muslim neighbors.

Poetry Saturday—A Good Confession

For years I have borne about hell in my breast;
When I thought of my God it was nothing but gloom;
Day brought me no pleasure, night gave me no rest,
There was still the grim shadow of horrible doom.

It seemed as if nothing less likely could be
Than that light should break in on a dungeon so deep;
To create a new world were less hard than to free
The slave from his bondage, the soul from its sleep.

But the Word had gone forth, and said, Let there be light,
And it flashed through my soul like a sharp passing smart;
One look to my Savior, and all that dark night,
Like a dream scarce remembered, was gone from my heart.

I cried out for mercy, and fell on my knees,
And confessed, while my heart with keen sorrow was wrung;
’Twas the labor of minutes, and years of disease
Fell as fast from my soul as the words from my tongue. —Frederick William Faber
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