<quote from Real Faith & Reason>
Since thinkers without Christ can’t have true premises, they always use assumptions, and, as a result, basing reason on assumptions seems normal to them. From their point of view, making up stuff and believing made-up stuff seems sane, and anything else seems crazy. On the other hand, those who know Christ desire to work on a higher level, and we want to witness based on God’s power rather than the weakness of worldviews. We know that only the power of the Creator God can renew the mind of the lost, and we see the promise of this power in the following Scripture:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not in wisdom of discourse, so that the cross of the Christ should not be emptied of its power. For the message [Greek: logos, literally: utterance] of the cross is foolishness to those indeed perishing, but to us being saved it is the power of God. For it has been written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; and the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those believing. Forasmuch as both Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek wisdom, we, however, preach [Greek: kerusso, literally: proclaim with gravity and authority] Christ having been crucified, a stumbling block indeed to the Jewish and foolishness to Gentiles, but those called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers, that not many were wise according to the flesh, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world that He might shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world that He might shame the strong; and the low-born of the world, and the things being despised, God also chose—the things not being—that He might annul the things being, so that all flesh may not boast before God. But out of Him, you are in Christ Jesus, who has been made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-30 Berean Study Bible)
Let’s look carefully into 1 Corinthians 1:17-30 that mentions two types of wisdom: (1) worldly wisdom, and (2) the wisdom from above. The wisdom from above is Christ Himself as we shall see, but the following section refers to worldly wisdom.
“not in wisdom of discourse, so that the cross of the Christ should not be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those indeed perishing, but to us being saved it is the power of God. For it has been written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; and the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:17b-20 Berean Literal Bible)
The next part speaks of God’s wisdom first, then worldly wisdom.
“For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God” (1 Corinthians 1:21a Berean Literal Bible)
God’s wisdom is the person of Christ as the 24th verse states:
“Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God:”
God states this same thought again in the 30th verse.
“It is because of Him [God], you are in Christ Jesus, Who [Christ Jesus] has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30 New International Version)
In other words, God has made Christ Jesus our wisdom, and our wisdom consists of righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. So Christ is our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. From this Scripture, we understand that Christ, and Christ alone, does righteousness. So anyone claiming to have righteousness that isn’t of Christ is presenting false righteousness, self-righteousness. Besides, Christ is the One Who purifies our minds (sanctification), and only He sets us free from the sinful nature, the bondage of the culture, and demonic influences (redemption). Therefore, there’s no true wisdom, righteousness, holiness, or freedom/redemption outside of Christ. However, God tells us to be alert because Satan will continually counterfeit all of these.
The Sabbath in the Law looked forward to the true Sabbath. It never fully realized the rest God had in mind for His people. The Book of Hebrews gives us better understanding for the true Sabbath.
“Since, then, it remains for some to enter His rest, and since those who formerly heard the good news did not enter because of their disobedience, God again designated a certain day as “Today,” when a long time later He spoke through David as was just stated: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:6-11 Berean Study Bible)
We can fulfill the Sabbath since, as God rested from His own work, we cease from our own work. In the New Covenant, everything begins with God leading: “faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by God’s rhema (utterance).” “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” God is real and leads us, and, when we listen to Him and submit to Him, His faith comes. His faith gives us access into His grace, which, in turn, does His works of righteousness through us. That fulfills the Sabbath.
We cease from our own works and fulfill the Sabbath, and we have true righteousness rather than self-righteousness only as He fulfills the Sabbath by doing His works through us. Therefore, whatever isn’t of faith is sin. And God’s purpose in this Christ-generated righteousness is to form Christ more fully within us as we die to the fleshly nature. The light of Christ and His righteousness purifies us from the darkness of the fleshly nature. In other words, God’s purpose is holiness. So we can’t self-generate holiness, but the Holy Spirit alone transfigures us. He doesn’t make us holy against our wills, but we willingly submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit in every thought, word, and deed. Those words that flow out from our mouths from the Holy Spirit are the proclamations that save those who believe. This has nothing to do with human skill or intellect. It’s a moving of the Holy Spirit through those who humble themselves before Him.
“God was pleased through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those believing.” (1 Corinthians 1:21b Berean Literal Bible)
We understand this “foolishness” in the context of “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” So, to those who walk in darkness, Christ appears to be foolishness, yet we know Him as God’s power and wisdom living within us.
“Few are they who by faith touch Him; multitudes are they who throng about Him.” (Augustine)
The translators rendered the word “preaching” from the Greek word “kerugma.” Kerugma means “a proclamation.” This proclamation isn’t theology, excitement, or entertainment. Rather, “we preach Christ crucified.” Stating it literally, we proclaim Christ crucified; we don’t proclaim a message about Christ crucified. Proclaiming Christ is different from stating a proclamation about Christ. One imparts Christ, the Almighty Creator God, from one person to another, while the other gives a speech about theological concepts. It’s one thing to know that we ought to be listening to Christ’s voice, but it’s quite another to actually listen to Christ and yield ourselves to Christ continually throughout every part of our lives.
If we proclaim Christ, the living Christ makes Himself visible through the words spoken, and the proclamation is in the Spirit of prophecy. This preaching is power.
“For the preaching . . . is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 King James Bible)
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles [mouthpiece] of God;” (1 Peter 4:11a King James Bible)
So when we yield to His Spirit, He saturates our words with His Spirit. When we tell of our experiences with Christ and give our testimonies about how He leads, teaches, corrects, or delivers us, we are speaking the living Christ, the Logos, the Utterance. For every word we say, we allow His Holy Spirit to speak His words through us by His Power. In this way, we’re not distracted by our human will and learning. Instead, we speak the living Christ rather than speaking our own words because we aren’t authorized to speak our own words. Only by yielding to the Holy Spirit can we proclaim Christ, and we yield in the moment. Then, when we yield to the Holy Spirit, our words reveal Christ.
At the same time, a person who hears this proclamation is hearing God speak through us, so this person isn’t hearing us. Instead, this person is hearing God’s powerful rhema or utterance, and faith comes by this form of hearing. Since these are God’s utterances as He speaks through us, those words have power, the same power that created and now sustains the universe.
What we’ve just learned from the first chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians will be helpful for understanding Peter’s command to the Church:
“But sanctify [Literally: purify] the Lord God in your hearts [your inner being]: and be ready always to give an answer [Greek: apologia, literally: rational response] to every man who asks you a reason [Greek: logos. Note: Christ is the logos/utterance] of the hope that is in you [your inner being] with meekness [Literally: a gentle spirit] and fear [Literally: reverence or terror].” (1 Peter 3:15 King James Version)
We’ll begin by confessing that we Christians have taken the word “apologia” out of context at times in the past. We’ve used the word to justify human debate tactics and to justify unsound human logic without true premises. Sometimes, we’ve used this word as an excuse for unholy witnessing that doesn’t have the goal of bringing anyone to Christ. For example, there’s a form of witnessing that, if stated plainly, would say, “I’m better than you,” or it might say, “I’m smarter than you,” and that’s not what God meant in 1 Peter 3:15.
In the exact opposite mindset, we don’t bother trying to analyze who’s better, smarter, or more spiritually mature since we have no basis for measurement of those things. We don’t even think about who’s going to rule in the kingdom, but we just want to be faithful in what God has given us to do right now. Truly, we want God to remove this fleshly veil so the glory of Christ shines through us to those around us.
Now we go back to the start of the scriptural command to find that it begins with sanctification. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” To sanctify is to purify. As God tells us to purify the Lord God in our innermost beings, we realize that it’s a command and also a promise, but how do we fulfill this command and promise? If we’re going to purify Christ in our innermost minds, God has a process for this purification as we might expect. It’s by grace, which is through faith. And we’ve already looked into that, but we need to apply it here.
The righteousness of Christ leads to this holiness. This holiness is sanctification or purification. (Romans 6:9) Righteousness is a gift from God that comes by grace through faith as we yield our minds and the members of our bodies to His grace, as we yield ourselves to Him. In broad terms, God leads, we acknowledge and yield, faith comes and gives access to grace, and we allow God’s grace to do His works through us moment by moment. Of course, the Holy Spirit won’t force us to do His will if we oppose Him, but rather, it all depends on us willingly staying in His presence yielded to His will.
The main point is that purification of Christ in us is the first step in giving an answer to everyone who asks us for a reason of the hope in us. Therefore, without yielding to His Spirit in submission, we can’t fulfill this command and promise of Scripture. And we only receive true authority in the spiritual realm as we submit to God’s authority. Therefore, as we yield ourselves to God, He does His works through us. He transforms our minds to be like His mind, which builds Christ and kills the fleshly nature, and He delegates His authority to us in the moment as we submit in the moment.
At our current state of immaturity, we may become discouraged since we know that we fall short of His glory and often walk or slip out of His will. However, we trust God instead of trusting ourselves, and we look for the ongoing teaching, correcting, and purifying that comes from the Holy Spirit as He is actively involved in our daily lives. We remember His promise:
“Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 American King James Version)
So God tells us to sanctify (purify) the Lord God in our hearts. “Hearts,” as the word appears here, doesn’t refer to the physical organ that pumps blood through our bodies, but rather, it speaks of our innermost beings. “For out of the heart are the issues of life.”
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify [purify] you completely, and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 Berean Study Bible)
The word that’s translated as “soul,” here is also translated “heart,” “mind,” or “life” in other verses. And Paul was in travail as the Holy Spirit was forming Christ in the hearts of the Galatians. (Galatians 4:19) Scripture speaks of Christ in us, which is the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) But each of us also has a fallen, carnal, brute-beast mind that causes us to make mistakes and draws us into temptation. That means there’s need for purification, but what are we purifying? As the Scripture says, we purify the Lord God in our hearts, but isn’t He pure already? Of course He’s pure. However, we aren’t pure because each of us has an impure sinful nature, and God is serious about overcoming our sinful natures.
He’s our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and freedom from sin. We purify Him in our hearts, and purification gives clarity and discernment. Purification defines the line between God’s revelation and the flesh’s lying illusions. In essence, purification removes the fleshly sarx carnal nature. Purification is the removal of the fleshly veil.
If we’re going to obey 1 Peter 3:15, we must “purify the Lord God in our hearts,” but purification is a progressive process. Through Scripture, God speaks of purification in 1 Peter 1:7, “so that the authenticity of your faith–more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation [apokalupsis, which means the removal of the veil] of Jesus Christ.” And since God’s will goes against our sinful nature, it’s like fire refining the gold—some refinements and purifications requiring more heat than others. Gold is symbolic of deity, which is Christ in us. This refining fire removes the veil that hides Christ in us.
We can look into this purification and this clarity of vision using an analogy. If we fill a clear water glass with dirt, we can’t see through the glass. But if we start adding clear water, the water begins to wash the dirt out of the glass, and soon, instead of pure dirt, we have muddy water. However, we still can’t see through the muddy water. Though it’s true that some light comes through, there’s no clarity of vision. The point is that we can eventually remove all the mud by adding water. On the other hand, if we add mud instead of water, we make progress backward away from clarity.
So the command is this: “Sanctify the Lord God in your heart.” “Purify the Lord God in your innermost mind.” Since this sanctification is the first step to following the command of 1 Peter 3:15, we can’t truly fulfill this command without purifying the Lord God in our innermost minds to some extent. And since purification is a progressive process, we can expect to find ever-greater clarity as we continue to submit ourselves to the flowing water of the Holy Spirit.
Moving on, according to 1 Peter 3:15, God tells us to give “an answer to every person who asks us for a reason of the hope in us.” And we already know the word that’s translated as “answer” is the Greek word “apologia,” which means “a reasoned response” or “a verbal defense.” But what is equally important is the word that’s translated as “reason” from the Greek word “logos.” Since we looked at “logos” earlier, we remember that “logos” literally means “utterance,” but a key point is that “logos” is also used to refer to Christ. “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.” (John 1:1)
Therefore, this word is referring to Christ, Christ in us, the hope of glory. He’s the One we’re purifying in our hearts. Logos is also the Greek word from which we get the word “logic.” So when we speak, God asks us to speak the Living Word, the Logos. Only when Christ speaks through us can we give a reasoned response with sound logic. God commands us to speak as His oracles, but this speaking requires submission to the Holy Spirit. We submit to every God-set authority in humility and deep respect. And we need this submission if we’re going to sanctify the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts. As we yield, the Holy Spirit progressively removes the impure fleshly veil that hides Christ in our innermost minds. When we allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us, He removes this veil, and He reveals Christ to some extent.
So, God asks us always to be ready to give a rational response to every person who asks for the Logos Who lives within us. He asks us to be ready to give a rational response to anyone who asks us a Logos of the hope in us. But what about this hope? Contrary to popular opinion, God’s hope doesn’t have the same meaning as ungodly “hope.” Instead, God’s hope is real hope. God’s hope doesn’t say, “I hope so.” Instead, real hope is a vision from God of coming reality. This vision comes from Christ in us, the hope of glory. And since God’s hope has vision, and that vision is certain, we see God’s vision by hope.
By hope, we see the vision of our unique identities in Christ, and we see the vision of how our identities fit into the body of Christ. We identify with the Christ, the Spiritual Man within us rather than identifying with our fleshly selves. He is the ministry within each of us, and we see Him as if looking into a mirror. We see how we’ll fulfill this vision if we’re faithful as we individually fit into the body of Christ as particular members. We discern the gifts, ministries, offices, and orders of the body of Christ by this vision, so the hope in us is Christ formed in us, in our innermost minds. And we never forget that we’re all going through this transformation together as one body of Christ. Each member discerns Christ in the others, and we assemble ourselves into God’s order for the body. Obviously, He’ll form His body according to the pattern of Scripture. And He’ll form His body by the Holy Spirit working through the individual members as they assemble themselves in unity and order.
Therefore, God’s hope is solid reality. It has substance. However, if we think that “hope” is something we make-up, just a concept or fabrication, we commit an anti-concreteness fallacy. Anti-concreteness treats reality as if it were made-up stuff. Christ isn’t a concept, but rather, He’s the Reality, and He’s the Truth. In the same way, God’s hope isn’t a concept either, but rather, it’s Reality and Truth.
When compared, God’s utterance in 1 Peter 3:15 confirms and elaborates on what God says through 1 Corinthians 1:17-25. In these cases, He commands us to have a reasonable response, but not human reasoning without divine revelation since we’ve already discovered that human reason without divine revelation can’t be rational. It can’t be sound because if we reason without divine revelation, we’ll be irrational.
We already know why. It’s because we need a true premise to reason rationally, and we can only have a true premise by revelation. If we try to reason without revelation, we root our reasoning in made-up stuff, and basing statements on made-up stuff isn’t rational. Therefore, if we let God guide our thoughts and communications, He’ll make our reasoning sane, but without God, there’s no sanity.
When we purify the Lord God in our hearts, people notice the holiness. People notice when we’re keeping pace with the Holy Spirit. They sense the presence of the Holy One of Israel living in our beings. And since the Almighty Creator God lives in us, we can sense His presence and hear His voice. Even ungodly thinkers can sense a difference in us regardless of whether they understand that they’re seeing Christ in our lives. Of course, those who know Christ also sense His presence in us as they discern the body of Christ. When someone asks us about the Christ in us, we respond to the question with a proclamation from God’s throne. In other words, we respond to the question with an utterance from God, and this reasoned response comes out of the Lord God in our innermost minds (hearts). This reasoned response is an utterance from God. This utterance is the essence of Christ. It has the same authority and power that created the universe. But now He speaks to reveal the Word of Life to another soul.
“to every man who asks you a reason”
Since Christ dwells in us, if we allow Jesus to be visible, someone is more likely to ask about Him. But some Christians are afraid to identify with Christ. Perhaps they fear peer pressure, ostracism, or lost prestige. Perhaps they grew weary of the veiled threats of termination, veiled threats of denied tenure, and shabby treatment. Maybe they want the money and prestige that comes to those who go with the flow, or it’s possible they just want to fit into the world as everyone else does. Though we can dream up many potential reasons, Christ doesn’t approve if we deny Him or fail to give Him all the glory and praise.
“if we endure, we will also reign together with Him; if we will deny Him, He also will deny us;” (2 Timothy 2:12 Berean Literal Bible)
“And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:17 Berean Literal Bible)
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12 Berean Study Bible)
In summary, while witness to unbelievers and believers can degenerate into a battle of worldviews, true witness is the testimony of Jesus Christ. In fact, true witness is a prophetic proclamation that makes Jesus Christ visible because true witness is God speaking through us and imparting something of Himself through us. The testimony of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of prophecy. However, keep in mind that all the prophets suffered persecution.
Louie Giglio suggests that we can stay out of the he-said-she-said arguments when we witness to others. He says that we can do this by telling people about how Jesus is changing our lives. We can tell about the struggles we have had and how God has been there comforting us and helping us through the situation. We can tell about how His life and light is coming into our lives. (https://youtu.be/xUEf-ci3WPY)
The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. You can’t say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Spirit of God. When you merely speak about what God is doing in your life right now, you speak by the Spirit of the living God.
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