R.C. Sproul

A Ready Defense: Lifestyle Apologetics?

D Fence 2In 1 Peter 3:15 the Apostle Peter writes,

“but in your hearts honor 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 . . . .”

This  verse is often used as a proof text of sorts for the biblical practice of what is known as apologetics.  Apologetics can be briefly defined as the “reasoned defense of the Christian religion” (Classical Apologetics, R.C. Sproul, John Gertsner, and Arthur Lindsley, p.13).  It is a reasoned or rational defense – that is, making a case for the logical coherence, rationality or reasonableness of the Christian faith.

Notice where Peter tells us to start – by honoring Christ the Lord as holy in our hearts. What does that mean? It means that we resolve to put Jesus Christ first in our hearts, to give Him preeminence above all other things in our thoughts and affections. And Peter specifically instructs us to set Jesus apart in our hearts as the Lord. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) translates this verse helpfully as “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts . . . .” We are not just to sanctify Christ in our hearts or set Him apart in general, but to set Him apart in our hearts “as Lord.”

In other words, we need to set our hearts firmly on the truth that our faithful Savior Jesus Christ is Lord, that He (and only He!) is even now ruling all things at the right hand of God the Father. Why is that so important to our witness or apologetic toward unbelievers? The key, as usual, is found in the context of the verse. In v.13-14 (the verses immediately before v.15) Peter writes,

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,”

The context of the whole passage is suffering for the name of Christ. We are not to be afraid of our enemies, the enemies of the name of Christ. We are not to allow suffering for His name to cause us to fear or be troubled. Sounds like a pretty tall order, doesn’t it? So what is the solution? What is the Christian’s antidote to the fear of man? It is the fear of the Lord! Many commentators believe that in v.15 Peter is actually quoting or alluding to Isaiah 8:12-13, which says,

“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

The context and main point are more or less the same here, aren’t they? At times it may seem like the whole unbelieving world is out to get us. But when we fear that there is a “conspiracy” against us, we are thinking that our enemies are actually in charge, causing all things to work together against us, for our harm. But who is actually in control of all things? The Lord! The “LORD of hosts” (v.13) is the One we are to “honor as holy.” He is the One who should be our only fear and dread.

The fear of the Lord is the antidote to the fear of man. And when we set Jesus apart as Lord in our hearts, we will rest secure in the knowledge that He alone controls our destiny, and not a hair can fall from our heads apart from His will (Matthew 10:30). It is the Lord who makes all things (even our suffering for His name) to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). And that is where a truly biblical apologetic must start. A ready defense of the faith must always start with sanctifying Christ as Lord in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15).

We may not all be called to or gifted for making an intellectual or philosophical defense of the Christian faith against skeptics, atheists, and idolaters, but we are all called to make the kind of ready defense that the Apostle Peter primarily has in view here – setting apart Christ in our hearts as Lord, obeying Him even when it leads to suffering, and being willing to tell others that the Lord Jesus Christ is the reason for the hope that is within us, even in the face of suffering or persecution.

Quite Possibly the Greatest Book Recommendation of All Time

GFY

Keith Mathison has written a very helpful book about the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (OK, it was actually published w-a-y back in 2002, but whatever – I’m reading it now.)

In it he details both John Calvin’s doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as well as developments in Reformed views on the subject in the centuries that followed Calvin’s day. The opening chapter of the book (“John Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper”) by itself is worth the purchase price.  The chapters that follow are very good as well.

The foreword is written by R.C. Sproul. There he states that this book “represents the best and most comprehensive treatment of the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper I have ever seen” (p.x). He also calls the book a “must read” (p.xi). That should be enough to persuade just about anyone to read it for themselves, right?

But in case that is not enough to make you want to pick up a copy, he adds a rather interesting personal aside:

When I read it for the first time (and D.V. not the last time), I said to Keith Mathison, “You may die now.” Keith gave me a puzzled look as he was not ready to sing the Nunc Dimittis. I explained that if he made no other contribution to the church for the rest of his life, he has already provided a legacy for future generations by writing this book. (p.x-xi)

“You may die now.” That just might be the greatest (as well as the strangest) book recommendation of all time. If you are a pastor or a seminary student preparing for future ministry, this volume belongs on your shelf. It is also well worth your time if you are simply a believer & church member who wants to better understand the outward and ordinary means of grace that you partake of in the Lord’s Supper.

So what are you waiting for?  You can order a copy here: Given For You

The Most Important Organization in the World

RYM

Ever take a look at your life and wish that you could be involved in something big? Something really important? That you  have helped to make a real difference?  Ronald Reagan once said,

Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The Marines don’t have that problem.

The Marines might not have that problem, but neither does anyone who is a member of the Christian church – no matter how small, unimpressive, or insignificant that church may be when viewed by the world’s standards.

People often speak of “megachurches” (usually meaning that they are very, very large), as if they are somehow much more important than those much smaller churches (micro-churches?). But here’s the thing – every true Christian church (which is defined simply as a church where the Scriptures are truly taught/the gospel is truly preached, the sacraments  of baptism & the Lord’s Supper are rightly administered, and church discipline is faithfully exercised) is a mega-church.  Why? Because that is where you will really find the Lord Jesus Christ at work. The church is what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself promised to build and defend. That is where Jesus truly changes lives, families, communities, and the world.

In his book, Renewing Your Mind (which is all about the Apostles’ Creed), R.C. Sproul writes,

The church is the most important organization in the world. It is the target of every demonic, hostile attack in the universe. Jesus personally guaranteed that the gates of hell will never prevail against the church. He made no guarantee that the gates of hell would not be unleashed against it, however. (p.184)

Do you want to be a part of something big? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and are a member of a local church, then you already are a part of something big!  You are a part of the most important organization in the world! Yes, even that small, unimpressive, all-too-ordinary one down the street.

So join in the worship, work, and witness of the family of God! It doesn’t get any bigger than that!

R.C. Sproul on “the very heart of the gospel” – Double Imputation!

The Reformed Reader

Are We Together?: A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism (Hardcover)At the heart of historic, confessional Reformed teaching and preaching is the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone.  An essential part of justification sola fide is the truth of imputation.  R. C. Sproul’s words on this doctrine are outstanding and edifying.

“If any word was at the center of the firestorm of the Reformation controversy and remains central to the debate even in our day, it is imputation.  …We cannot really understand what the Reformation was about without understanding the central importance of this concept.”

“…If any statement summarizes and capture the essence of the Reformation view, it is Luther’s famous Latin formula ‘simul justus et peccator.’  ‘Simil’ is the word from which we get the English ‘simultaneous;’ it means ‘at the same time.’  ‘Justus’ is the Latin word for ‘just’ or ‘righteous.’  ‘Et’ simply means ‘and.’  ‘Peccator’ means ‘sinner.’  So, with this formula, – ‘at the same time…

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