The title for the lesson this morning as you've already seen is Are You Ready? And if you have your New Testaments with you, I would encourage you to open to 2nd Corinthians chapter 13 we're going to read verse 5 here in just a moment. This will be a jumping-off point, if you will, for the things we're going to talk about today. Paul is going to instruct each of us in something that we are supposed to do and we should do this regularly. We should do this probably daily but now that we are still in the first of a brand new year we should consider these things annually, looking ahead to the future.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5
We look at the first half of this verse quite often, the idea of examining ourselves. Now we as New Testament Christians understand the objective standard by which we're supposed to examine ourselves.
Are You Ready in the Different Aspects of Christianity?
I think we would all agree that we ought to examine ourselves by what we find in the New Testament, by what we find in the Word of God to see whether or not we measure up to the standard that God has set for His kingdom, His church, His disciples, those that say that they are followers of His. But in what ways? How are we to examine ourselves? What are we to examine in ourselves, and in what areas?
Well, I think one of these areas that we could examine ourselves in is by asking this question, are you ready? Am I ready as a Christian to do various things that a Christian is called on to do in the New Testament?
So that's what we're going to look at this morning. We're going to seek some answers to this question. Are you ready?
Are You Ready to Give an Answer or Defend the Truth?
First of all, are you ready to give an answer or are you ready to defend the truth?
This is where we most commonly go.
- 1 Peter 3:15
And we take that verse and we, we often teach it to our little children and we say that we should study the Word of God so that anytime anybody has a question about our faith, we can automatically give them an answer. So we pretty much leave it right there.
We look a few verses earlier, and the context in which we find verses 15, 16, and 17 also, is the idea of defending the faith inside of persecution. Peter is saying, don't be afraid to give an answer. Don't be afraid to defend the faith. The reason that it is your hope, is the faith. Don't be afraid to give that answer because you know persecution is going to follow. It's better for you to suffer as a Christian. It's better for you to suffer having given the defense of the gospel.
Now we don't need to defend the Word of God as in, as in protect it from being destroyed. Not at all. Kings, rulers, and tyrants from generations past, even till now would have loved to do nothing more than absolutely destroy the Bible off the face of the earth, but they can't do it.
No, we defend, we answer with the gospel. In so doing, we're defending the faith when we use the gospel to show others how to live a righteous life in the face of a crooked and perverse generation, we're defending the faith. When we give truthful answers. To questions. We're defending the faith.
"There is a special need for this readiness today as the religion of the Lord is being questioned as never before in this country." — Franklin Camp
And that was said many decades ago, but we could say the same thing today. Could we not? About those that are calling into question the word of God and the use of the Bible and whether or not there is a God. He wrote that in 1972, but it's one of those things that I'm convinced every generation is going to have to deal with the same thing.
You know, they're questioning the Word of God more now than ever before. At least it may feel that way. The answers are in the Bible. We just have to use it. We have to know where to look and we have to give the answers that are there.
We don't have to, we don't have to speak on behalf of the Bible. The Bible can speak for itself, but sometimes we just need to be the ones willing to read.
Are we ready to defend the truth when the truth needs to be defended?
Are You Ready to Preach the Gospel?
Are we ready to preach the gospel?
- Romans 1:15
Now, up until this time, Paul had been wanting to go to Rome.
He'd wanted to go to Rome but he hadn't been to Rome. He'd wanted to go to Rome and preach the gospel in Rome. He'd not had that opportunity as yet, but he says he's ready. Of course, we most commonly look at Romans chapter one and the next verse.
- Romans 1:16-17
Before Paul even gets into what it is he's going to preach, which is the gospel, he says he's ready to preach it. As I am.
- 1 Corinthians 1:21
It was not man's idea to stand up before a group of people and preach. If it was up to us, that's probably not how we would have done it. It was God's design for preaching to be the way that salvation is brought to mankind. And we have to have people that are ready to go out and to preach that word. It's one of those things that each generation has to be responsible for setting the next generation.
To be preachers leads us to kind of question what are our attitudes toward preachers. How do we view preachers in our society today? Do we view them as individuals who maybe believe that they're more holy than other people do because they spend more time in the word of God, at least publicly? Maybe we think that they're the ones who have all of the answers because they appear to spend more time in the word of God. Or maybe they've gone to some of those schools, and so, which they've studied intently to have those answers and to bring lessons for our consideration.
Maybe we look at them somewhat with contempt because they use the word of God as it is supposed to be used and shining a light into the way that we live our lives and we don't like that.
Each generation has a responsibility to make the next generation. Are we ready to preach the word of God?
Are You Ready to Distribute and Share?
Thirdly, are we ready to distribute? First Timothy chapter six.
- 1 Timothy 6:17
Paul warns here in verse 17 about the idea of trusting in uncertain riches. The idea there is a warning against materialism. We have this issue, especially in our society today, where we believe that the answer to the problems that we have lies within our ability to make our financial statements grow. If we can do that, then we can take care of our families. And if we can do that, then we can have time for the pleasures of this life and those things that are wholesome and not wrong to engage in. And if we can do that, then we can have peace and we can have happiness and we can have all of these things because we've made sure that we could afford to do all of these things. Paul says, don't trust in uncertain riches.
But we need to use the things, use the riches, that God has blessed us with to bless others. The joy of material blessings is found in using them for God's glory and man's good. Not trusting in them that we're always going to have them, but using the goods that we have to help others. Are we ready?
You could argue that an unwillingness to distribute is an indication that our religion is not from the heart. There's an adage, put your money where your mouth is. And normally this happens when somebody says, I can do this. And somebody says, well, I can do it better. And then they say, well, put your money where your mouth is, and let's see it. Can you really do what you say that you can do?
But when we talk about money, we should be willing to give to those who are in need. We should be willing to help those who may be in the moment are not able to help themselves. Maybe we should be doing that more. Maybe, and it is clear, I think, that this congregation does an excellent job of sharing and taking care of those that are around them. And that's to be commended. What other areas can we do that in? We should be looking for those areas. A lack of readiness to distribute is the same idea as covetousness.
- 2 Corinthians 9:1-5
It takes preparation, takes desire. It takes a certain amount of wanting to care for others in order to part with the things that we've worked for and to have for ourselves as far as finances go.
But we do that and we should do it out of love for one another. If the Corinthians had failed to give, they would have been guilty of covetousness. And the same could be true for us if we're unwilling to distribute just because we want to keep what we have.
Are You Ready to Engage in Every Good Work?
Are we ready unto every good work?
- Titus 3:1
Once again, the Franklin Camp would say, "Conversion from sin remolds the life and returns the heart for interest."
In every good work, we've made a choice, as New Testament Christians to be followers of His. One of the things that we can look back on in the New Testament is when we study the life of Christ, and we've done that relatively recently, and we can see that there was not a good work that Jesus shied away from. If there was an opportunity for Jesus to do good in a certain area, regardless of who was paying attention, regardless of who was watching, and regardless of who was going to be affected, Jesus was willing to do it.
He didn't do it to receive the praise for doing it. He didn't do it to receive the recognition that came, the accolades that would come, and the notoriety that would come from doing the good. He did it because it was good and did it because he was good. He is good. And we as disciples of his should be ready to do good works.
When we live outside the body of Christ, we live to ourselves, but once we become children of the almighty God, once we put on that discipleship, if you will, of Jesus Christ, we're not living unto ourselves anymore. We are like Paul said.
- Galatians 2:20
We should be looking for opportunities to do good in every scenario that we find ourselves in.
Are You Ready to Receive Instruction?
Repentance changes one's outlook and gives him a new set of values. At least it should. Are we ready to receive instruction?
- Ecclesiastes 5:1
You know, in the New Testament, we have examples of certain groups of people that were more ready, it seemed like, to receive the Word of God than some others.
- Acts 17:11
- Acts 2:41
We need to be ready to receive instruction. Now, I'm sure that I'm not the only one who doesn't necessarily like being told what to do. There might be some other people here who are like that, but that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to receive instruction. We as New Testament Christians need to be willing to receive instruction. We've proven that we can receive instruction. Because we've been obedient to God's call for obedience, our readiness to receive instruction must not end once we enter the kingdom.
However, there are those who, through their example, at least in the way that they live, would have us understand that we've learned what we need to learn to get into the kingdom and we don't have to learn anymore once we're children of God, because our salvation has been secure. I would argue that that's not the case at all. Once we've entered into the kingdom, we've only begun the idea of learning and receiving instruction from the Word of God, because up until then we weren't ready. And there are still various times when we may not all be on the same page when it comes to certain aspects of the word of God.
And that's okay. Our faith finds us in different places along this journey. We need to be mindful of that when we're not only receiving instruction but giving instruction as well, that we come to the Word of God from different walks of life, in different areas, in different portions of faith.
- 2 Peter 1:5
We could go on and read the rest of the Christian graces going down through verse eight. But the idea is this, with the same diligence, with the same desire that we had to get out of the world and become a child of God to enter into his kingdom to have the hope of eternal life, salvation through the name of Jesus.
- Acts 4:12
We need to have that diligence to add these things to our faith, knowledge being one of those. The more knowledge that we can add, the better we're going to be able to serve our fellow Christians and those who are out in the world. And we're going to be better servants of Jesus because of the knowledge that we have. If we're willing to receive it.
Are You Ready for Christ to Come?
And finally, are we ready for Christ to come? "Therefore, be also ready. For in such an hour as you think not, the son of man cometh," (Matthew 24:44).
- Acts 1:7-10
Jesus had led his apostles out here for His ascension. And they had a conversation in the opening verses of chapter one. There was still some misunderstanding on behalf of the apostles.
Are we living our lives as if we're actually prepared for Jesus to return? Or do we live our lives as everybody else lives their lives just one day at a time? Because that's all that we can see in front of our faces is one day at a time.
- 2 Peter 3:10-12
The idea is Peter is asking, don't you know, you ought to be living in a certain way, in a certain state of preparedness for the return of Jesus? Don't you know, that's how you ought to be living? The question is, are we living that way? You know, see the event of Jesus's return is a fact that is going to happen.
Well, we have numerous passages in the New Testament that talk about the second coming of Jesus. And it's going to be a reality. The moment is unknown.
- Matthew 24:36
The reality is it's going to happen. The moment is unknown. Therefore it is necessary that we stay ready. Are you ready?
You know, we spend an awful lot of time getting ready, do we not? We're getting ready to do this, and we're getting ready to do this. And we're always waiting for somebody else to get ready, right? Especially when it comes to leaving the house. We're getting ready constantly. But do we ever get there?
Are we ever ready in this life? We need to be ready is one of these days and one of these moments. Time is going to end. Jesus will return and there will be no more preparation. There will be no more time to ask ourselves, am I ready to be the servant that God wants me to be?
- Matthew 22:4
All things are ready. Come unto me. Maybe you're here this morning, a member of the body of Christ, but you've examined yourself and you're not ready to move past where you are in this phase of your Christian walk. Maybe you're not ready to grow. Sometimes growth can be scary. That's one thing that we need to consider. We need to in our daily lives as Christians, be ready to grow.
Maybe you're one who's not a member of the body of Christ at all. There's going to come a time when your ability to choose to follow after Jesus is going to end. It'll either end in your physical death or it'll end in His second coming, one or the other. But when that time comes, it's going to be too late to make the right decision. It would be better to make the decision to follow after Jesus now while you have the opportunity.
If we can assist you in any way, please contact us, we would be thrilled to discuss how you can be ready.