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BULLETIN

ILS GRADUATION SUNDAY BOOKLET

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Easter 6, 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 17, 2020
Acts 17:16-31, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

 

Who, what, where, when, why, and how?  These are good questions to ask when you are trying to learn about something. They are questions I was taught when studying for my major at college in Northwest Indiana.  Today I want to use these questions to examine a passage from our Epistle reading 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;[1]

Who?  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, is writing… 1 Peter 1:1 (ESV) 1 …To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,[2] These are areas in modern day Turkey. Now, because, as we learn in 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,[3]  we know the who is not just dispersed Christians 2,000 years ago, the who is also you and me.

What?  The Greek word for defense is apologian.  An apology. I need to be ready to make an apology.  You need to be ready to make an apology.  When I work with premarital couples we talk about how important it is to say those two words that can be so hard to say, “I’m sorry.”  People are pretty proud by nature and it doesn’t come easy to admit you are wrong, but it is so important.  When husband and wife argue and there is tension between them each should go to the other, give them a hug, and say, “I’m sorry,” even if it is just, “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”  You need to be ready to make an apology.

But that is not the kind of apology that our text is talking about this morning.  The word apology also means a defense, or justification for your position.  1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;[4]  Apologian.  From this word we also get the word apologetics which is the practice of defending the truth of Christianity.  One of the confessional writings that Lutheran pastors pledge faithfulness to is the “Apology of the Augsburg Confession,” which is the defense of the Augsburg Confession which presented by the Lutheran Princes to Emperor Charles V in Augsburg, Germany.

Always be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in you.  Peter is giving us a powerful instruction.  Stay ready.  Know what it is that you believe and why you believe it and be ready to give a defense; an apology.

Where?  The where could be anywhere.  We think about certain places where sharing the Good News seems more likely, but often the opportunities come up in unexpected places.

When?  Be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have.  The when is when someone asks you.

When you are able to maintain the joy of salvation even in the midst of a global pandemic, people will notice.  When you grieve the loss of a loved one, but not like those who have no hope, people will notice.  When you forgive others who do not deserve forgiveness, people will notice, and they may ask you.  Why? What is the secret to your joy and peace and hope?  Be prepared to give a defense of your hope when someone asks.

Why? Because you know Christ is Lord. Because you know, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  How do you know that Jesus has risen from the dead?  You have eyewitness testimony.  You have eyewitness testimony from Matthew, Mark, John, and Peter.  Luke records the eyewitness testimony of those who were there.  You have the written testimony from people who were there and saw Jesus crucified, buried and then raised from the dead.  These men spent the rest of their lives telling people the Good News because they knew it was true even when it cost them their lives.

You make a defense of your faith because you have a good conscience knowing your sins have been forgiven.  You give the reason for your hope because Jesus is the way and He is the only way and all people need Jesus.  You want all people to hear the Good News of forgiveness of sins and believe it.

How?  How do you give the defense; the apology for your hope in Christ?  Peter gives clear instruction.  1 Peter 3:16 (ESV) 16 … do it with gentleness and respect.”  I think we can all do with the reminder to be gentle and respectful even with people with whom we disagree.

I am reminded of a travelling preacher who visits Miami University ever once in a while and yells at students passing by about all the evil they are involved in, including wearing short pants, and how they are destined for hell.  That is not gentleness and respect.  When someone asks you for the reason for your hope it is a tender, vulnerable moment.  They are reaching out to you.  This is not a moment to be flippant or rude or snarky. It is a moment for gentleness and respect.  It is a time to share that your hope comes from the gift of faith through the Holy Spirit. It is a time to share that you are a sinner who does not deserve mercy and grace and God gives you mercy and grace anyway through Jesus.  It is time to share that Jesus loves you so much that He took responsibility for your sins and sacrificed Himself on the cross as the payment for your sins.

            You give reason for the hope that you have not as one who is a better person, but as a fellow sinner needing forgiveness.  You are not up on some Christian pedestal looking down on the others who are beneath you.  You are a sinner who needs forgiveness as much as the person with whom you are sharing the reason for your hope.  Your hope is in nothing from you; your hope is entirely in Jesus.

You give the reason for the hope that you have with a good conscience.  A good conscience meaning that you know that you are right with God.  You received a good conscience in your baptism into Christ.  1 Peter 3:21 (ESV) 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,[5]  This is a difficult thing to get your head around. How can you be right with God? You are a sinner.  You struggle with sin.  You sin daily in thought, word and deed.  And yet you have a good conscience.  You know you are right with God.  Not from what you have done, but what Jesus has done for you.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have been credited to you.  You are, at the same time, a sinner deserving death and hell, and a saint destined for eternal life in heaven.  Even though you are guilty, you have been declared not guilty.  This is the amazing Good News.

You give reason for the hope that you have not as one who is a better person, but as a fellow sinner needing forgiveness.  You are not up on some Christian pedestal looking down on the others who are beneath you.  You are a sinner who needs forgiveness as much as the person with whom you are sharing the reason for your hope.  Your hope is in nothing from you; your hope is entirely in Jesus.

You give reason for the hope that you have by declaring the truth that Jesus rose from the dead.  At the end of our reading from Acts we see Paul do this as he speaks to the Greeks in Athens.  Acts 17:29-31 (ESV) 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”[6]

Who, what, where, when, why, how?  Good questions for a reporter and also good questions when examining a Bible verse. You have hope because you have Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  1 Peter 3:15 (ESV15 [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;[7]

You know the reason.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! Amen

 

 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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