Category Archives: Bible Study

A Quick Exposition of 1 Peter 3:15 (Applicable to Today)

A while back, I was asked to do a quick exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 for a class I was taking in seminary. I then shared on this blog what I wrote at that time.

But even though what I wrote was geared more toward the idea of being a witness during persecution, there’s never been a better time for us to be able to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ.

My prayer is that the following words will embolden you and give you courage as you “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.”


1 Peter 3:15  – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Authorship

1 Peter 3:15 was written by the Apostle Peter and most likely addressed to Christians living in Rome (Babylon). There are, however, various arguments against the Petrine authorship of the letter, but none have been taken seriously by the Church. As a matter of fact, by “the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, the letter is explicitly identified as Peter’s.”[1]

General Context

The overall context of 1 Peter is one of persecution. In other words, Peter wrote this letter to Christians who were heavily burdened with “manifold temptations” and “trials” (1:6-7). Scholars differ on the exact date of the writing and to which time of persecution the letter was actually addressing, but persecution was evidently a common occurrence.

Immediate Context

The immediate context of verse 15 has it on the heels of an exhortation by Peter to live in such a way that shows love to the brethren (v. 8). Immediately following in verse 16, Peter writes that by living this way their “good conversation” will put to shame any false accusers or those who may speak evil of them. Therefore, the exhortation of verse 15 is part of an overall call to be witnesses to a hostile world who is watching and looking for any reason to find fault.

Words to Examine

There are several words within 1 Peter 3:15 that are worth examining in closer detail. By doing so, we will be able to obtain a richer and fuller understanding of the passage.

  • Sanctify. The word translated “sanctify” is the word hagiazō (ἁγιάζω), which means “to make holy …purify or consecrate; …venerate…sanctify.”[2]
  • Heart. The word translated “heart” is a word that could be understood to be the actual organ within the body that pumps blood, but kardia (Strong’s G2588) can also mean – and in this case does – the center of spiritual life.
  • Ready. Peter suggests that the Christian should “be ready always…” The idea here is that of being prepared for something. We read in Matthew 25:10 of those that were “ready” for the coming of the bridegroom. Their readiness involved preparation for a future event. When we attach the adverb “always” to “ready,” what we have then is a readiness that is always anticipating something that could happen at any time.
  • Give an answer. The Greek word translated “give an answer” is apologia (ἀπολογία), which is a verbal defense of something, or reasoned argument (G627). Paul used the same word in 1 Corinthians 9:2 when he said, “Mine answer (apologia) to them that do examine me is this…” The idea of the word has nothing to do with making an excuse for something, but to give a reason for it in defense of it.
  • Reason. The Greek word here is logos (G3056), which has to do with words, things said, ideas expressed, thoughts communicated. Jesus was called the Word (Logos) in John 1:1. He was described as the Wisdom of God expressed. The Bible is the Word of God, the inspired, written revelation by God of Himself to mankind.
  • Meekness. This word in Greek is praÿtēs (πραΰτης), which is defined as a mildness of disposition, or a sense of humility (G4240).
  • Fear. The Greek word translated “fear” is the word phobos (G5401), which carries with it the idea of dread, terror, or exceeding fear.

Expanded Translation

Taking into account the background and context of 1 Peter 3:15, including an examination of the words used in the text, the following expanded version of the verse would thereby seem appropriate:

1 Peter 3:15 KJV – But sanctify [set aside as holy and revered, set up higher than anything or anyone else] the Lord God in your hearts [your life, your essence, the seat of your emotions, your way of thinking]: and be ready always [make preparations beforehand; do the work in advance of the need; anticipate the issue and prepare accordingly] to give an answer [a well-though-out response, a reasoned reply, a logical defense] to every man that asketh you a reason [because some men want more than “I don’t knows”; they want to be convinced with language they can understand] of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear [because there are grave consequences for not being ready…1) the lost may remain in their lostness and reject Christ, and 2) the One who is Holy is judging your works].”

Conclusion and Application

As mentioned above, 1 Peter 3:15 was written to those who were enduring trials and tribulations, i.e., persecution. Today, even though we are not enduring the same kind of trials and tribulations, there are other more minor forms of persecution and tribulation we may encounter in the immediate future. Nevertheless, all trials and tribulations, regardless of the severity, should provide for us an opportunity to exhibit a “hope” that is in us and beg the reason why.

Therefore, as Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:15), we should study as those who are to be examined, so when the time comes when we are asked to “give an account,” we will not be ashamed (1 Peter 3:16), but offer our actions AND our testimony as reasons for our faith.


[1] The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2003, Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville. Page 22

[2] The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. (G37)

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Do You Have the Heart of the Renewed or Unrenewed?

Do you ever wonder how to tell if you have been born again, saved, or renewed by the Holy Spirit?

Well, I found the lists below in a John MacArthur study Bible a while back, and I thought I would share them with you.

Do a self-assessment (2 Cor. 13:5), if you’re concerned. If you’re NOT concerned, yet you fit more in the bottom half of the list, I’m concerned for you! It might be good for you to check out the tab “Eternal Life” at the top of this blog. Seriously!

Again, this is not original on my part, but I thought it was worth sharing. If nothing else it can shine some light on areas needing improvement.

Heart, Character of the Renewed

Prepared to seek God. 2 Chr 19:3; Ezra 7:10; Ps 10:17

Fixed on God. Ps 57:7

Joyful in God. 1 Sam 2:1

Perfect with God. Ps 101:2

Upright. Ps 97:11

Clean. Ps 73:1

Pure. Matt. 5:8

Tender. 1 Sam 24:5

Single and sincere. Acts 2:46; Heb 10:22

Honest and good. Luke 8:15

Broken, contrite. Ps. 34:18; 51:17

Obedient. Ps 119:112; Rom 6:17

Filled with the law of God. Jer. 32:40

Meditative. Ps 4:4

Circumcised. Rom 2:29

Void of fear. Ps 27:3

Desirous of God. Ps 84:2

Enlarged. Ps 119:32; 2 Cor 6:11

Faithful to God. Neh 9:8

Confident in God. Ps 112:7

Sympathizing. Jer 4:19; Lam 3:51

Prayerful. 1 Sam 1:13; Ps 27:8

Inclined to obedience. Ps 119:112

Wholly devoted to God. Ps 9:1; 119:10,69,145

Zealous. 2 Chr 17:6; Jer 20:9

Wise. Prov 10:8; 14:33; 23:15

A treasury of good. Matt 12:35

Heart, Character of the Unrenewed

Hateful to God. Prov 6:16, 18; 11:20

Full of evil. Ecc 9:3

Full of evil imaginations. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Prov 6:18

Full of evil thoughts. Jer 4:14

Fully set to do evil. Ecc 8:11

Desperately wicked. Jer 17:9

Far from God. Is 29:13; matt 15:8

Not perfect with God. I Kings 15:3; Acts 8:21; Prov 6:18

Not prepared to seek God. 2 Chron 12:14

A treasury of evil. Matt 12:35; Mark 7:21

Darkened. Rom 1:21

Prone to error. Ps 95:10

Prone to depart from God. Deut 29:18; Jer 17:5

Impenitent. Rom 2:5

Unbelieving. Heb 3:12

Blind. Eph 4:18

Uncircumcised. Lev 26:41; Acts 7:51

Of little worth.  Prov 10:20

Deceitful. Jer 17:9

Deceived. Is 44:20; James 1:26

Divided. Hos 10:2

Double. 1 Chr 12:33; Ps 12:2

Hard. Mark 10:5; Rom 2:5

Haughty. Prov 18:12; Jer 48:29

Influenced by the devil. John 13:2

Carnal. Rom 8:7

Covetous. Jer 22:17; 2 Pet 2:14

Despiteful. Ezek 25:15

Ensnaring. Eccl 7:26

Foolish. Prov 12:23; 22:15

Deceitful. Prov 17:20

Fretful against the Lord. Prov 19:3

Idolatrous. Ezek 14:3,4

Mad. Eccl 9:3

Mischievious. Ps 28:3; 140:2

Proud. Ps 101:4; Prov 6:14

Stiff. Ezek 2:4

Stony. Ezek 11:19; 36:26

Arrogant. Isa 10:12

Stubborn. Isa 46:12

Elated by sensual indulgence. Hos 13:3

Elated by prosperity. 2 Chr 26:16; Dan 5:20

Studies destruction. Prov 24:2

Often judiciously stupefied. Is 6:10; Acts 28:26,27

Often judiciously hardened. Ex 4:21; Joshua 11:20


John MacArthur Study Bible, © 1997

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Were the Democrats Better Than Jesus and Paul?: A Look At the State of the Union Sit-Fest

Politics

You know what they say, don’t you? “A pastor should avoid politics at all costs.” Or, maybe it’s, “Never talk about politics from the pulpit…or online…or at the dinner table…or with a friend…”

The reason is because I am called to minister to people of all political persuasions. It’s foolish to alienate potentially half the people I address by offending them with an opposing political view, ESPECIALLY if that political opinion has nothing to do with the Bible, particularly the Gospel.

But what am I to do when something happens in the political realm and Scripture has something to say? Do I remain silent? Do I avoid even the least offense? Do I say, “That’s only for you people to discuss on your own, not in church, and not with me”?

What if the Bible offers advice that could radically change the negative atmosphere of politics and actually bring our nation’s leaders closer together for the sake of our nation?

Well, it does!

Broken Legs

If you had the opportunity to watch President Trump’s third State of the Union Address (the one where Nancy Pelosi ripped up the paper she fumbled with for an hour), what you saw was a sad, sad sight: nearly all the Democrats had broken legs. It’s true! Hardly any of them could stand up for anything, even news that the state of the Union was great!

Oh, the Republicans in the room were quick to leap to their feet when they heard African-American unemployment was at an all-time low, but the party of 90% of blacks remained in their seats! You KNOW that had to be painful! Broken legs, I tell you.

And what about that time it was announced that we are no longer dependent on foreign oil (the thing that nearly crippled us back in the 1970’s)? What about the news that manufacturing jobs had increased (along with factories coming back to America)? What about the news of lowered prescription drug prices and fairer trade deals with China? For each one of these bits of great news, the Democrats remained in their seats, groaning from the pain in their broken legs, unable to stand and celebrate the common good of our country.

But was it broken legs? Or, was it nothing more than hurt feelings, bitterness, anger, hatred, and spite? What if they were thinking that any good news is bad news as long as Trump is still the President? What if they were unwilling to celebrate anything, or anybody (even a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman that got promoted to General), if it meant admitting Trump was responsible? Their broken legs (or angry feelings) were more important than the people who sent them to Washington.

Jesus and Paul

But I would like to direct your attention to a couple of different instances where both the followers of Jesus and the friends of the Apostle Paul found themselves in a similar situation as the poor, crippled Democrats.

In one case, John came to Jesus upset that there was “one casting out devils” in His name (Mark 9:38-40; Luke 9:49-50). He told Jesus [paraphrased], “We told him to ‘Stop it!” because he wasn’t part of our group.” How did Jesus reply?

Forbid [him] not: for he that is not against us is for us. – Luke 9:50

Then later, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul confirmed that there were some people preaching Jesus, but with selfish motives. Did he protest? Did he let his broken legs keep him in his seat? Not hardly!

It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. – Philippians 1:15-18 NLT

Do the Democrats think they are better than Jesus and Paul?

The Common Good

Who are these people that go to Washington, D.C.? Are they not servants of the people who sent them there? Do they represent political parties alone, or do they each take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, the place where ALL Americans live, regardless their party affiliation?

Jesus and Paul understood that there were people out there who didn’t belong to their inner circles, some of which even had impure motives for what they were doing. Yet, both Jesus and Paul rejoiced that good was being done, nevertheless. People were being freed from demons in the name of Jesus, and people were getting saved after hearing the gospel preached by jealous, self-serving preachers.

Why is it, then, that the Democrats sat like they had broken legs when news of the common good was rampant? Why is it that they could not rejoice at an improved economy, decreased poverty, or lower drug prices that ease the burden of sick people in every political party?

The Answer?

I really don’t have an official answer; I can’t see inside their hearts. However, we could rephrase the question and ask John and the concerned Christians in Philippi why they had problems with people doing the right thing?

Maybe John thought: “Hey! That guy with the orange hair is casting out demons in Jesus’ name!

Maybe the Philippians said: “Dear Paul, there’s a guy over there who said bad things about you, even called you names, and he’s telling people about Christ!

All we know for sure is that both John and the Philippians were wrong for not clapping their hands, as both Jesus and Paul made clear.

Therefore, if the nation as a whole, both the just and the unjust, felt the rain of prosperity as the result of an orange-headed, egotistic outsider, not celebrating the common good makes the Democrats who refused to stand appear petty, childish, and motivated by something other than the people’s best interests.

Maybe they need to hate President Trump less and love our country more.

NOTE: If you don’t like what I just wrote, simply print it off and rip it in two.

Image result for pelosi rips

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Fear In the Christmas Story

Christmas Sermons

You may have never considered it, but it’s a challenge to come up with Christmas sermons year after year without being too repetitive. Sure, one could simply preach through Luke 2 every year, but a little creativity can go a long way.

This year I will preach a few sermons I have preached in other places, but they will be new to the folk here at Bethlehem Baptist. Here are the notes to one that I preached this past Sunday.

To Fear, Or Not to Fear

Did you know there are actually some honest-to-goodness phobias related to Christmas? Here are just a few.

  • Selaphobia – the fear of flashing Christmas lights.
  • Ghabhphobia – the fear of presents or gifts.
  • Krikophobia – the fear of church services.
  • Cyssanophobia – the fear of kissing under the mistletoe.
  • Festivalisophobia – a phobia of the whole Christmas thing.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be any wonder that we can find several places in the Bible where angels told people to “fear not.” Folks back in Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago probably didn’t have a fear of kissing under the mistletoe, but they had every reason to be frightened by talking beings clothed in bright light telling them about babies in mangers, virgin births, and wedding plans.

The story of Christ’s birth is associated with great joy, but it was also full of great initial fear. At least one person in the story (King Herod) never got over his phobias and paranoia, but he never heard an angel tell him “fear not,” either.

Below are my notes/outline from which I will deliver this morning’s sermon at South Soddy Baptist Church. When you have a moment, read the Scriptures I reference. See for yourself what the Spirit has to say.

“Fear In the Christmas Story”

1. Luke 1:12  Zacharias (a faithful, praying priest) was “troubled” (G5015, tarasso), and “fear”(5401, phobos) fell upon him.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not…thy prayer is heard.”

2. Luke 1:29  Mary (a confused young girl) was “troubled” (1298, diatarasso)

The angel said, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”

3. Matthew 1:20  The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph (hurt and scared) in a dream and said, “fear (phobeo) not to take Mary thy wife…”

4. Luke 1:65  “Fear (phobos) came on all that dwelt around” Zacharias and Elisabeth when Zacharias’ “mouth was opened…his tongue was loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”

5. Luke 2:9  The shepherds were “sore afraid” (phobeo phobos megas) …see also Daniel 10:7-8 and Revelation 1:17.

The angel said, “Fear (phobeo) not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

6. Matthew 2:3  Herod, because the wise men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews,” was “troubled” (taraso), and all Jerusalem with him.

7. What should we take away from this today?

  1. True holiness will expose humanity’s sinfulness.
  2. Godly fear will be answered with peace, result in obedience, and respond with praise.
  3. The fear of Christmas will manifest itself in hate, a lack of peace and joy, and no hope.
  4. If you trust in Jesus, He promises the peace of Christmas year-round. John 14:27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Boston Psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Ruskin (an agnostic) said: “[Some atheists are] not unlike the bully who pushes other people down in order to make himself feel better. There are atheists who have a very uncomfortable belief about [their non-belief] they feel the need to push other people down. There is an emotional confusion among some atheists that drives them to promote their product on others [to make them feel better about themselves]. – From an interview on Bill O’Reilly, 12/2/14

 

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How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God

A Christmas Sermon Outline

Have you ever been given a gift, or seen one under the Christmas tree, that needed no card or tag informing you who sent it? Maybe the meticulous wrapping was a clue to who the wrapper was.

I know Christmas is still a few days away, but some of you might need something to preach or teach between now and then. Therefore, please accept as my gift of an outline I prepared, “How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God.”

Please, feel free to use it 🙂

“How We Know Jesus Was a Gift from God”

I.  Because of When THIS Gift Was Given

·   Galatians 4:4 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…”

II.  Because of How THIS Gift Was Wrapped

·   Luke 2:12 “And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

·   Philippians 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”

·   Hebrews 4:15 KJV – “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”

III.  Because THIS Gift Was Truly Free

·   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…”

·   Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace…it is a GIFT of God, NOT of works…”

·   Romans 3:24 “Being justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

IV.  Because THIS Gift Was Exactly What We Needed

A.  To Bring Us Life – Luke 2:11 “Unto you is born, in the city of David, a SAVIOR…”

B.  To Bring Us Joy – Lamentations 3:22-23 “His mercies are new every morning”

V.  Because of the Love that Went Into It.

·   1 John 4:9 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”

VI.  Conclusion:

A.  Accept the Gift of Jesus

B.  Give Thanks! – 2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for this unspeakable Gift!”

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Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Doing a Q&A

Inside Bethlehem Baptist Church (built on the congregation’s Centennial in 1890)

This past Sunday evening I did something I never thought I’d do: I did a question and answer service (Q&A) with my congregation at Bethlehem Baptist.

Look, I’m no Ravi Zacharias, so going into an hour’s worth of questions without any idea what was going to be asked was a little nerve wracking. Granted, I had prepared a cheat sheet with some verses that would apply to some of the more common questions I figured they might ask, but they could have asked anything, and I could have looked really ignorant.

Fortunately (at least for me) only four questions were addressed in the entire hour! Actually, four were asked, but only three got answered. The fourth one required me going home and getting on the computer, then following up with a phone call to the lady who asked the question.

So what were the four questions? I’m glad you asked!

I will paraphrase them for you:

  1. Based on Luke 23:43 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, why did Jesus say that the thief on the cross would be with Him in paradise the same day, yet we read of the “dead in Christ” rising? Did Jesus make a special exception for the thief on the cross, or was there something else at play? Do we immediately go to heaven when we die, or something else?
  2. Is it wrong or a sin for a Christian to get tattoos?
  3. What should the Church’s response be to the issue of suicide?
  4. What is a “busybody” and where to we find it – if that word exists – in the Bible?

Now, if you would like to hear my answers to these questions, well, I didn’t record the service. And if you would like for me to tell you right here and now what my answers were, you’re out of luck…I don’t want to write that much right now! All I will say is that what started out as a Q&A turned into a sweet time of fellowship and sharing.

But here’s the thing…people have questions and they deserve answers.

Zig Ziglar used to say that people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care. Sure, I could have been blindsided by a question for which I did not have a good answer, but I cared enough to put myself in that position for their sake. If they don’t know I care, it doesn’t matter how much I know.

But what if I didn’t know the answer? Was I afraid of that? Honestly, I told my congregation up front that I might not have a good answer for some of their questions, but if that happened I promised I would do my best to find an answer and get back with them.

Funny thing, the only question that stumped me was the one about where to find “busybody” in the Bible! That, for the record, is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13; and 1 Peter 4:15.

What did I learn from this adventure? First, I knew more than I thought I did. Second, cheat sheets help. And third, the people loved it so much they want to do it again!

So, we will!

Next time they’ll probably ask about Cain’s wife and predestination 🙂

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What All Scripture Can Do

In preparation for an upcoming sermon from Jeremiah 38, I went back to the following verse for focus and direction:

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching, instruction), for reproof (a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested, conviction), for correction (a straightening up again), for instruction in righteousness (how to live right before God). [emphasis mine]

Whenever you are stumped, whenever you find yourself wondering “what is this passage telling me?”, understand that God does not lie, and ALL Scripture, properly exegeted, should be able to offer the following 4 things:

1. Doctrine. Simply put, there is something teachable from every passage of Scripture, even though sometimes the lesson might be difficult to determine.

2. Reproof. On what do you base your convictions? The Bible is what you use as the standard against which all things are tested. It is also what you fall back on when “proof” is what you need.

3. Correction. Too often the Bible is used as a tool with which to beat people over the head. As a “recovering legalist,” you might imagine that is not what I’m about. No, the word correction in this verse is a word that means “restoration to an upright or a right state; correction, improvement” (Strong’s). Some verses may be good for use as a “rod of correction,” but not all. However, ALL Scripture is profitable for instruction in putting someone upright. In other words, there is hope in every passage. 

4. Instruction in Righteousness. Jeremiah 38 is a tragic story, but there are strong lessons to learn. There are lessons of bravery and compassion; lessons of hope in the midst of the most dire circumstances; and most of all, the lesson that we should listen to and obey God rather than rebel against His commands. Instruction in righteousness means, if nothing else, that all Scripture can teach us how to live right with God in a world that hates Him.

Whether you are preparing a sermon or just doing your daily Bible reading, use 2 Timothy 3:16 as a guide to help you understand what God is saying. With the help of the Holy Spirit learn, develop strong conviction, be encouraged and directed, and find guidance for the path ahead.

Sufficient is His Word.

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