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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Question on Explaining Hope *

Shylesh Reuben asks a question about explaining hope to people:

Q: "How can hope be explained to non-Christians in a span of a few minutes, in the context of the Gospel?"

A: Thanks for your question, Shylesh. It is a very pertinent question for every believer to ask especially if you have many non-Christian friends who are without hope. Let me answer by addressing two components of sharing hope which your question touches on: the method (explaining), and the time component (a few mins).

1 Peter 3:15 tells us as believers, “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.” Notice the places I have bolded: “To make a defense,” literally means to make an explanation. In the Greek it is the word “apologia” from where we get the word “apologetics.” The scenario here is that someone asks you to explain hope to them, exactly what you are asking how to do. But here’s the catch!
Before the explanation, there is something that must happen. First, before you and I explain hope to people, we must “sanctify Christ as Lord” in our hearts. In other words, it is experiencing a relationship with Christ that leads to a readiness to explain hope to people. Secondly, before you explain hope, you must be experiencing hope through this relationship with Christ. That is why he says not merely “explain hope,” but explain “the hope that is in you.” Notice that the hope is “in” us. We are experiencing it daily, through the trials, sorrows, and lows of life, not only when life is good. This experience of hope in us can only happen we when have an on-going relationship with Christ Himself, who gives us hope, who is very Hope Himself. All of this to say, Shylesh, that hope must be experienced first, before it is explained: experience first, then explanation! The method to explain, Shylesh, is for you to experience it, because watch what happens then.

Notice one last thing in the verse from 1 Peter 3:15. It is people who come to us and ask us for the reason for the hope within us. In other words, when people who are without hope see hope being experienced by you and me, they in their hopeless state, are so attracted to us who have hope, that they come and ask us for an explanation. That is when we have an open door to tell them the Gospel in the context of hope. All of this cannot always be done in a few minutes. In fact, it often takes a long time. It may take days, months or years for a hopeless person to come to you. But when they see you living the life of hope in Christ, be assured, God will bring them your way, and you can then tell them of the reason of the hope within you, namely that Christ died for our sins, defeated death, and gives us eternal life in heaven. Leave the time frame and the timing of the opportunity up to God, as you walk with Him.

Hope in the Christian is like a garden (not an oasis, but a garden) in a desert. People stop by this garden in the desert and ask the gardener how he is able to maintain the garden without water around. He replies, “I am not dependent on the rains or rivers or lakes. There is an aquifer here, deep underground, full of water. I siphon water from that aquifer, in this waterless region, and so maintain this garden. It is amazing indeed!” Hope in the Christian is like that underground aquifer, deep within us. It is living and powerful, always springing upward and outward in our lives, causing us to live even in the face of death, causing people to take notice in amazement and ask for an explanation.

Kenny Damara

* See previous post for more info about this Q&A

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