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The Separation is in the Preparation

by on July 30, 2014

But in your hearts revere 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

– 1 Peter 3.15-16

Back in January of 1972 I headed off to Grace Bible College mid-year to begin my studies and preparation for ministry. Having played basketball my Jr Hg and Sr Hg years I had let the coach know I would be trying out for the team. Since it was a small school and the team was not full I was guaranteed a spot, but unfortunately I had not played much since the closing of my previous High School season.

Sitting in chapel on my first Tuesday afternoon there I heard the coach announce that at that night’s game they were going to unveil their new ‘secret weapon’ and all of a sudden I panicked as I realized he was referring to me. Only I knew how much of a ‘secret weapon’ I was not, and in fact I was no threat at all.

I was totally unprepared to play but evidently he thought I had been working out and getting ready. The truth was evident when I fouled out in half of the playing time, fell down twice and scored a basket. I made sure I was prepared by week’s end for the next game.

Preparation is important in all areas of our lives and it is appropriate that Peter admonishes believers “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1Pet 3:15). Since this is literally a matter of eternal life and death, our preparation is essential to our faithfulness to this command. We prepare ourselves both with our understanding of God’s Word and how to effectively communicate it. This is why we must be careful to not draw such a sharp distinction between ‘practical’ and ‘doctrinal’ when we approach our study of God’s Word. In order to be practical (to practice) we must first know correctly what God has revealed in the Bible. We don’t need to pretend to know everything possible but we should know the essentials of the Gospel message and be able to clearly explain it so that when the Holy Spirit prompts a soul to listen we can speak for God.

Our preparation should also come in the manner of life we live, in the character traits we exhibit. Notice that Peter adds to the above thought “But do this with gentleness and respect”. If we have carefully prepared to share the good news of salvation, but do so with a critical and abrasive spirit it just may be that out character may ‘drown out’ our message. I know it is hard at times to remain gentile and respectful when our message is met with hostility and even hatred. Remember that Jesus and the Apostles cautioned that we should expect this and ultimately it is God who is responsible to change the hearts, not us. We are the mouthpiece. So let’s be sure to be prepared both with the content of the message and with the correct attitude so that people can see in us the genuine love of God for the lost sinner.

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