LIFTing Christ By Separating Him

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 11:39 PM 0 comments

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 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; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17)

To honor Christ the Lord as holy (15a) is to literally separate Him. It is not the kind of separation that you do when you separate boys from girls, lanzones from rambutan, or freshmen from seniors. It is the kind of separation that you do to a gold bar when you have one. You don’t see diamonds rolling around streets. You separate them. You put these into vaults because they are extremely precious. Peter, therefore, exhorts us to magnify and LIFT Christ’s name and consider Him extremely precious in at least four practical ways.

Labor Goodness (13-14a, 16-17). Good behavior and good conscience flood these five verses explicitly in 4 verses and implicitly in one. Christians should abound in good deeds. The most loving, most forgiving, most kind, most patient, most gentle, most peaceable among men should be the Christians. There should be an observable excellence in us in all of the highest virtues and works. The world should be puzzled and ask how we do it and why can’t they outrun us in doing good. GOD will then be lifted up when the common ground by which all the good-doers stand shines: Christ.

Imply Fearlessness (14b). Verse 15 starts with a “but.” We use “but” to connect opposing points. We don’t say, “I am sick but I am weak,” but instead, “I am sick but I am strong.” The “fearing” in verse 14 is in contrast to the “honoring” in verse 15. The more we fear things, the less we glorify Christ. We fear because something that is so dear to us is threatened. We fear for our life. We fear for our family. We fear for our properties. We fear for our businesses. But when we start considering Christ to be so valuable, all our other valuables start to fade. The fading of these minor loves is also the fading of the fear for these loves. When a zealot points a gun to your head and threatens you, your family, and all that belongs to you because of your Christ but you stand fearless, Christ is lifted up.

Forge Readiness (15b). The world should not just be puzzled but answered about the puzzle. We are asked to forge readiness in address anything that pertains to our hope. When a Christian finds difficulty in answering questions, it is tempting to blame it to his head. However, I come to believe that inability to provide sufficient answers is more of a heart-issue than a head-issue, more of a passion-matter than an intellect-matter. We learn the most in subjects we love the most. Moreover, we defend most violently on matters we value most passionately. To be always ready to answer about Christ is to lift Christ because it shows how we value Christ.

Tender Meekness (15c). No one who will faithfully search the Scriptures will miss two essential points: (1) the greatness of GOD; and (2) the feebleness of man. And the more we meditate, the greater the expanse becomes between GOD and man when it comes to magnificence. Meekness and humility are unpreventable fruits of knowing GOD. Therefore, when GOD equips a saint the ability to answer, He graces him with humility. A Christian who answers with arrogance forgets the distance between him and the One whom he represents. Christ is lifted high when we answer in a way that acknowledges that our ambassadorship is an undeserved grace.

Thrown Scabbard: The great Apostle Peter has warned in the second chapter of his second epistle that false teachers will try to attack the church from within with what he calls damnable heresies. I take this to mean that even United Methodist pulpits and councils will be occupied by wolves. Will you give us some marks of "wolves in sheep’s' clothing" who may preach as Methodist ministers?

John Wesley: The first and great mark of one who corrupts the word of God, is, introducing into it human mixtures; either the errors of others, or the fancies of his own brain.

TS: Mixing the Bible with human inventions will require a lot of Scripture-twisting, will it not? How will a fraud preacher manage this?

JW: When the imposture was too bare-faced, and the text cited for it appeared too plainly either to make against it, or to be nothing to the purpose, then recourse has usually been had to a second method of corrupting it, by mixing it with false interpretations. And this is done, sometimes by repeating the words wrong; and sometimes by repeating them right, but putting a wrong sense upon them.

TS: Putting a wrong sense. That is -- giving a wrong interpretation to the verses.  What is a sure mark of an interpretation with a wrong sense?

JW: [It is] one that is either strained and unnatural, or foreign to the writer's intention in the place from whence they are taken; perhaps contrary either to his intention in that very place, or to what he says in some other part of his writings.

TS: A wrong interpretation does not fit in the surrounding verses, doesn't it?

JW: [Yes.] Any passage is easily perverted, by being recited singly, without any of the preceding or following verses. By this means it may often seem to have one sense, when it will be plain, by observing what goes before and what follows after, that it really has the direct contrary.

TS: Aside from taking verses out of context, what else do false teachers tend to do with the Word?

JW: [Another] sort of those who corrupt the Word of God are those who do so, not by adding to it, but taking from it; who take either of the spirit or substance of it away, while they study to prophesy only smooth things, and therefore palliate and colour what they preach, to reconcile it to the taste of the hearers.

TS: Oh, eliminating hard-to-swallow verses such as...

JW: Not one word must be said of the tribulation and anguish denounced against sinners in general; much less of the unquenchable fire.

TS: I have often heard it said that this is love. They just don't want their hearers to be terrorized or hurt. Is this love?

JW: [No.] They purpose to do good by the gospel of Christ; but it is to themselves, not to others. These are the methods of those corrupters of the word, who act in the sight of men, not of God.

TS: So, who then are the true loving and faithful ministers?

JW: [They know that] it is not their own word they preach, but the word of Him that sent them. They preach it genuine and unmixed. As they do not only profess, but really believe, that, "if any man add unto the word of God, He will add unto him all the plagues that are written in it."

TS: Purity of the Word with no additions! What else?

JW: In the next place, they are as cautious of taking from, as of adding to, the word they preach. They must publish, as proper occasions offer, all that is contained in the oracles of God; whether smooth or otherwise, it matters nothing, since it is unquestionably true, and useful too.

TS: Purity of the Word with no subtractions!

JW: [And also] They speak with plainness and boldness, and are not concerned to palliate their doctrine, to reconcile it to the tastes of men. They endeavour to set it always in a true light, whether it be a pleasing one or not. They will not, they dare not, soften a threatening, so as to prejudice its strength, neither represent sin in such mild colours as to impair its native blackness.

TS: A marriage of truth and passion, light and heat, logic on fire! We need more preachers of this frame in the 21st century, Sir Wesley. We praise Jesus for raising you as one in your own century.

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