I Peter 3:13-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
Suffering for Right and Wrong
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”
15 But sanctify the Lord God[b] in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
"Why be a Christian?" maybe you, as I, have been asked.
--"All religions, Moslem, Jew, Hindu, Buddha, they all are much the same, aren't they?"
--Or, "Why believe in Jesus? Why not just some God?"
--Or, "Which God?" So how would you answer these?
The Apostle Peter said, "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give a defense (answer) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope in you.
--It implies we ought to know our Bible, and Jesus.
--Peter knew both, for was with Jesus for three years.
--He told Jesus, "You are the Christ (Messiah), Son of the Living God" (Matthew 16:16). He was commended.
--Peter at Pentecost preached, and 3000 were converted.
--He was familiar with many religions of his day.
--Peter chose, as millions since, to follow Jesus.
For all religions are not the same. Nor all pills.
--Some are better than others. We need the right one.
--Yet we respect all religions. All free to believe!
--I have studied most religions of the world.,
--Take it from me, none compare with pure Christianity!
Any way one compares Christ to others, He is supreme.
--Take Jesus' "virgin birth" - no other leader has it.
--Take His sinless life - all others, as we, sinned.
--Take prophecies - Jesus fulfills them all ideally.
--Take His sacrificial cross - "freely gave Himself."
--Take Jesus' love - He prayed, "Father, forgive them."
--Take His resurrection - again no other to compare!
--Take the way He makes converts, by love, not swords.
--Take His life! Incomparable! Messages! Miracles!
I speak of Christianity as a whole - made of many different denominations - but with one Book, Lord, Savior!
--The Biblical Christianity Jesus brought, based on Judaism and the Old Testament He fulfills; and assured by His resurrection, appearances, and ascension.
--Jesus puts God inside us; all others, God is outside.
--It is "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).
--"If anyone be in Christ .. is a new creation."
--Jesus said, "I am the way, truth and life" (Jn. 14:6).
--I wanted God's best. For me, it is Jesus Christ!
Acts 4:12 tells us "None other" can save us, friend.
--Jesus left heaven "to dwell among us," to show us what God is like, and to save us for all eternity.
--I chose Christ because His life is most satisfying as well as the happiest, when we have His Holy Spirit.
--Best of all, we have all to gain, nothing to lose!
--But if we don't, we have all to lose, nothing to gain!
--May I elaborate, and share why I am a Christian?
I. I AM A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE I WANTED LIFE AT ITS BEST.
--I had wonderful Christian grandparents and parents.
--I observed what life was like in unsaved neighbors.
--In the depression we didn't have much growing up, of this world's goods - but we had lots of love and fun.
--I thank God for those golden years - grace at meals, Bible reading, prayers, and hugs and kisses to all.
--It was a happy life and home - because was Christian.
When I enlisted in the Navy, I thanked God for my home, and the examples, and teachings, we had. -I missed it!
--My grandfather Stafford was a preacher; baptized me.
--Parents' prayers were powerful and precious.
--I wanted that kind of home, and family after the war.
Born in a Christian home is good, but each must choose.
--I wanted life at its best, so I chose Jesus.
--Not that everything is perfect. But it is better.
--In our highest moments, we all want a better life.
--We all fail. We all need a personal Savior to help.
Augustine said, "God has made us restless till we find rest in Him." I found Jesus saves and satisfies.
--A young girl was interviewed for baptism, was asked, "Were you a sinner before accepting Jesus?" "0h yes," she said, "I used to run after sin, but now, I'm running from sin." That's Christianity! Live better!
II. I AM A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE I NEEDED FORGIVENESS.
--My friend, we all need forgiveness of God.
--Our sin and guilt, breaking God's commands, costs.
--Sin must be paid for - by us. Or Jesus, at Calvary.
--"All have sinned," the Bible says. We know it.
--We all need forgiveness. And power to win over sin!
--I've never met any yet who didn't need it.
--Let me tell you where to get it - at Jesus' feet!
Peter says to "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts."
--It means to regard God as God - holy, loving..
--To respect His authority. Revere the Trinity.
--To act in obedience to His will. His commands.
--To enjoy fellowship with the Almighty.
--As we do, we'll "be ready to give (and live) an answer or defense to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
--"Walking in the light as Christ is in the light."
Some may be thinking, I didn't have that growing up.
--Or, I don't have that now, in my life, and home.
--Maybe not. But my friend, wouldn't you like to?
You say, "Pastor, you don't know my past or problems.
--No, I may not. But I do know the Lord loves you.
--The Lord Jesus can "arise with healing" to bless. "Be born again" and change things for the better.
--Jesus can make any home, or life, Christian.
--Ever so enlloyable .. loving .. kind .. happy.
--Make any marriage more meaningful. Job satisfying.
--Any relationship amicable, by prayer and worship!
--Real, Biblical Christianity works wonders anywhere!
III. I AM A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE I NEED GOD'S HELP.
--I am grateful, forever, for help of others - so many who have cared, taught, and encouraged me.
--Even so, my friend, we need more than human help.
--People can only do so much, give so much time.
--We need the ever-willing and "present help of God."
No matter how intelligent and well-off, we need Jesus!
--His wisdom, strength, guidance, presence, to bless.
--It is folly to try to go through life without Him.
It is like a long hook and ladder engine in Philadelphia that rushed to a fire with but one driver.
--There was no tiller man at the rear, to steer!
--This ladder truck driver in haste omitted a tiller!
--But it never made it! It crashed cars and stores!
--Such a fine apparatus needs two drivers; front, rear.
--My friend, so does our life. Put the Lord first!
A lady in a hospital, dying, asked, "Doctor, do you believe in Jesus as your Savior." He wasn't sure.
--She told him, "I'm going to pray for you."
--The physician kept remembering her sweet testimony.
--Realized he needed this same Savior, as she knew.
--That he, a doctor, could use the Lord's help.
We all need divine help_ and guidance.
--God says, "If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5).
--To His own, "I will never leave you nor forsake."
--Ask Him! Get help defeating the devil.
--To make wise decisions. Choose the right friends.
--Right one in marriage. Or career. Or job.
--Then, God is needed in great crises of life.
--When we've said goodbye to the dearest on earth.
--We face tears. Troubles. We need the right God!
IV. I AM A CHRISTIAN TO BE SURE OF A HOME IN HEAVEN.
--So many world religions. All can not be right!
--Which is? Most godly? Most Biblical? Loving?
--Which demonstrates deity? More wisdom and grace?
--Which promises, "I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, you may be also" (John 14:1-6).
--Which has a Risen Savior, "Who ever lives"?
--The more you study it, Jesus comes out far better!
--He is in heaven! The Savior Who can take us there!
No church saves. Nor good works or joining any or all.
--Nor do lambs and rams. Or trying to keep the Law.
--My friend, it takes "The Lamb of God . . ." Jesus!
--He said, "I give them eternal life ..." (John 10:28).
--No other died for our sin, and arose, revealed to us.
--He is God's final word to man. He's coming again.
--He gives us assurance of eternal life, with Him!
--I want that, for myself, and you, and all the world!
How do we get it? "Acknowledge sin. Believe and receive Jesus as Savior. Confess and follow Him as Lord.
--Grow "in His grace and knowledge" day by day.
--Live obediently. Be baptized. Join a good church.
--Partake of communion, as often as possible.
--God's best will come to you in blessed assurance.
Welcome to our faith family! Why not be a Christian?
--No better decision can one make! No better time.
--Then live as Christ did!