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News for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sunday School Lesson � Bible Studies for Life
Aug. 3: Ready Faith
By Gene Nelson
pastor, Russellville Baptist, Russellville


Focal Passage: I Peter 13:13-16; 4:1-2

The word “suffer” is used today in many different settings. We will say we have to “suffer” through a day at work. Some men may say they have to “suffer” through going shopping with their wives. The term is even used in jest when we say we are “suffering for the Lord” on a missions trip to Hawaii! In general, we understand there is no real danger associated with these events. However, the word used in the text of today’s lesson is quite the opposite. It means “to experience a sensation or impression, usually painful.” That presents a whole new realm to the Christian life. The call to a ready faith is a call to endure hardship and even pain. It is a reminder that this life is not just the “sweet by and by, pie in the sky” experience. A ready faith is a faith willing to take whatever this world brings for the glory of representing Jesus Christ!

Peter speaks of a boldness that is to be present with this ready faith. A boldness to suffer for the right reasons (“… for righteousness’ sake”), with the right reaction (“… be happy”), and with the right resolve (“... do not be afraid”). It is this kind of boldness that Peter displayed when he “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). A ready faith may sound crazy to the world, and may seem fanatical for unbelievers, but it proudly wears the label of a Jesus Freak! It is the doubts and curiosity of unbelievers which present Christians the golden opportunity to proclaim the gospel of truth.

One thing that seems to be a consistent mark in the lives of the early church was a readiness with the gospel. Now, I am sure there were New Testament believers who, like many today, did not share their faith in fear of persecution. So for them, and for many today, Peter urges believers to be constantly prepared to defend the faith that is set in the heart. The hope of Christ is what separates the heart of a believer from the heart of an unbeliever. This hope must be presented with confidence. Christians are called in II Timothy 2:15 to “Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Often believers are hesitant to share the gospel of Christ in fear of not saying the right words or afraid they may say the wrong thing. Sometimes Christians think they have to be biblical scholars and have a firm grasp of doctrinal issues before being a defender of the faith. The truth is that the best defense of the gospel comes when a changed life simply shares what Christ has done for them. The world may not accept the Bible, they may argue doctrine, but the testimony of a life changed by Jesus Christ cannot be disputed!

When a life lived in ready faith is bold and confident, it must be prepared. Peter says to “arm yourselves.” This is warfare, and so Peter calls us not to just put on the light armor, but to be fully prepared because a ready faith is on the front lines of the conflict. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor, so that when Satan’s attacks come, the ready faith of the believer is able to stand!

I think John Phillips says it best when it comes to living a ready faith; “We are in enemy territory. We cannot expect to get through it unscathed, but we can get through it victoriously.”

— Nelson is pastor of Russellville Baptist Church, Russellville.

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