Part 1 of Psalm 119 covers the first 7 verses of this great chapter.
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:1-2
There is a saying that has been around in the church for many years. It goes something like this – “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.”
I think the point of this adage is that as believers in Jesus Christ we are called to be a part of the rhythm of life, living and ministering in our communities for the benefit of all people. Leading a cloistered life is antithetical to the biblical mandate to be salt and light.
As with many other things this principle can be carried too far though. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian believers reminded them that life on earth would be followed by life with God in eternity. The bodies we now have, what Paul refers to as our earthly tents, will one day pass away and we will receive new bodies, “a building” perfected by God for all eternity.
A larger point is missed however, when we think that being salt and light and being heavenly minded are mutually exclusive. Consider for example the Apostle Paul’s great exhortation to the believers in Rome in chapter 8 of his letter to that congregation. There we find Paul exhorting the believers to live a spirit-filled life in the here and now always keeping eternity in view.
This truth is exemplified in statements such as “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” What are these “all things” Paul describes? They include most importantly the truth that we will all receive redeemed, glorified bodies for all eternity. The Bible says that believers are to wait “eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
When we view life from this perspective it makes sense to be constantly heavenly-minded as a reminder that this life does not define who we are or who we will become. God has already declared us righteous, holy, and redeemed.
Brothers and sisters – that is a transforming truth.
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15
This verse from Peter’s first epistle is often cited as a basis for the work and ministry of apologetics. Rightly understood, we are exhorted by the apostle to be prepared at a moment’s notice to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. This assumes a number of things.
First, that we recognize that all disciples of Jesus are expected to share the news of God’s forgiveness through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the thinking of many Christians, evangelism is not limited to those believers with the spiritual gift of evangelism.
The second thing this verse assumes is that we have taken the time to memorize Scripture and especially relevant passages that speak of the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ upon Calvary’s cross. Chances are you don’t carry a Bible with you 24/7, so having Scripture memorized will enable you to always be ready.
Third, the exhortation assumes that we have taken the time to understand the thinking that characterizes the days in which we live. Would you know how to respond to someone who says “Well, this gospel of Jesus stuff works for you but it doesn’t do anything for me.”? What would you say to someone who says, “Christianity is nothing more than a crutch for the weak-minded.”?
Finally, Peter’s admonition in this verse to make a defense or presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, instructs us to view the apologetic task as one that is done with gentleness and reverence. This is one aspect of the apologetic mandate often overlooked. We will never win anyone to Christ through argumentation or heated exchange. Only when we have prepared ourselves for the harsh reality that many will ignore and even attempt to shut us up, will we be mentally and emotionally prepared to love them anyway.
The basis for the apologetic task is the gospel itself. When we have made Christ the priority of our lives – Peter says “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” – we will seek opportunities to share Christ and we will be ready when opportunities find us.
Brothers and sisters, that is a transforming truth.