by John Meador
Preaching must equip people to better live in a confused world. What we do on Sunday must help them on Monday through Saturday as they engage a lost, uninformed community with the claims of Christ.
One of the great ways to equip people through preaching is by "making a statement" that they can remember and repeat. By that, I refer to preaching a passage of Scripture that pointedly addresses the questions our world asking about Christianity, and helping your people make a relevant re-statement of that truth. With that, they are better able to give answers that make a difference. They are equipped to share their faith.
Some time ago, I polled the people in the church I was serving by asking the question, "Why do you believe Jesus is the Messiah?" The answers disturbed me! "Just because He is!" said one. Another replied, "That's the way I've always believed." Another one answered, "I've just learned to believe it even though I don't understand it." While we want people to believe, we also want them to know WHY they believe. We have a reasonable faith-one that can be verified and established.
In 1 Peter 1:10-12, the apostle makes a comprehensive statement about why the Christian community of that day believed Jesus Christ was the Messiah. It was written to people who were persecuted for their beliefs by both Romans and others who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. As you read that passage, you'll realize it is a powerful defense for believing in Christ, but you'll also note that the language is too complex to seem to be an answer to give others about our hope in Christ!
That's where the preacher comes in. By repeatedly reading and dissecting this passage, you begin to see a powerful statement emerging-one that you are able to articulate to your people and equip them to share with others.
After beginning my message from this passage with a video clip of interviews where people shared why they believed Jesus was the Messiah, I offered another answer that was more biblically based: "I believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah because authentic prophecies of divine origin were recorded centuries in advance through recognized prophets who predicted in precise detail the birth, sufferings and glories of the Messiah, and these were supernaturally fulfilled in Jesus Christ."
Now tell me honestly, wouldn't you rather your people give this answer as the reason for the hope that lies within them? Of course you would, but it is not just giving the answer for them to parrot, but preaching it in such a way to help them see that the simple statement above is taken directly from the Scriptures.
The points of my message were actually the phrases of this statement, laid alongside the portions of the verses and the explanations.
Here is how it unfolded: "I believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah because authentic prophecies of divine origin were recorded centuries in advance through recognized prophets " This statement is taken from " the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries " (v. 10). It elaborates and gives background to what question Peter is answering. I took time to explain the role and impact of the prophets, so that people might realize the supernatural elements of Old Testament prophecy.
"...Who predicted in precise detail the birth, sufferings and glories of the Messiah " This next part of the statement corresponds to verse 11, and in it I showed the actual prophecies regarding the Messiah. " seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating..." (v. 11).
" And these were supernaturally fulfilled in Jesus Christ." The last line of the statement, and my last point of the message, shows how the prophecies were fulfilled and concludes that the preaching of the gospel by Peter is based on this fulfillment: "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you " (v. 12).
I must tell you there was a sense of excitement as I led thousands of people to repeat this statement with me as it was shared in the message. I asked them to repeat it entirely twice at the end of the message and they left that day with a stronger ability to defend their faith in Jesus Christ. A statement was made that had potential to make a difference in their lives, and in the way they shared their faith. They were equipped, at least in one area of their lives, by the preaching of God's Word.
John Meador is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas.