Why Are We Silent? 8/13/06
At an old seminary, there was a custom that the president could call on any student on any day for that morning’s chapel sermon. One young man was petrified, and each day he dreaded going to chapel for fear he would be called upon. Sure enough, one day the president rose, looked over the audience, pointed directly at him and said, “young man, you are to preach our sermon today.”
The student rose, but as he ascended the platform he was a nervous wreck. Looking over the congregation, he couldn’t speak. His mouth was dry, his knees were knocking together, his hands were shaking, his mind was reeling, and he felt he had a biscuit stuck in his throat. Finally he stammered, “How many of you know what I am going to say today?”
Nobody raised a hand. “Then neither do I,” he said, and sat down.
The next day as the students filed into chapel, the president again pointed to the young man, giving him a second time. But again, the young man was gripped with stage fright, his hands and knees shaking. With a tremor in his voice, he finally stammered, “How many of you know what I am going to say today?”
This time everyone raised their hand. “Then if you already know, I don’t need to tell you,” the young man said and promptly sat down.
The president of the seminary was angry, but he decided to give the young man one last chance. The next day, he again called on the student, and this time the student was even more nervous than before.
His mouth was thick and dry, and he felt he was going to faint. At last he muttered, “How many of you know what I am going to say today?”
This time, half the students raised their hands and the other half didn’t. “Then those of you who know,” he said, “please tell those of you who don’t!”
That is what a missionary is. Those of us who know telling those who don’t.
1. What Keeps Us Silent?
a. Fear—Phobias can paralyze us to the point that we are unable to speak. When Peter followed Jesus after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter could have spoken up for Jesus, could have shouted Jesus’ innocence. But Peter did not—he largely kept quiet and watched. And when he was confronted, Peter denied even knowing the man. Peter was afraid and it kept him from acknowledging his Lord. Likely he was afraid for his own life, or being charged with a crime, after all, John 18:26 tells us that a relative of the man who’s ear Peter cut off recognized him. Fear or rejection, fear of persecution, fear of injury or harm, fear of saying the wrong thing can keep us from saying anything at all.
Embarrassment can also keep us quiet. We’re embarrassed about being known as a Christian. It means we might not be invited to certain events or parties, we may not be a part of the “in” crowd. Paul had an idea of what Jesus felt.
2TI 1:15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
2TI 4:16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them
The reason they may have deserted Paul was because of his arrest and imprisonment. Their shame at associating with a criminal.
2TI 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.
Paul later commends Onesiphorus for refreshing him and not being “ashamed of [his] chains.”
Jesus stands for certain things that may not be popular that make us stand out from the culture, and when we claim Him as our Lord and Savior we are categorized as one of “those religious nuts”. Embarrassment can keep us quiet, but something to consider is whether Jesus would be too embarrassed to acknowledge knowing you or embarrassed of some of the things you have done or said? I would say yes, but He stands with me anyway!
We all have family that we wish we weren’t related to, but Hebrews 2:11 lets us know that in spite of our sinfulness, Jesus calls us family.
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."
Embarrassment should never keep us quiet because our sin doesn’t keep Him from acknowledging us. Instead we should be unashamed like Paul in
2 Timothy 1:11-12—“11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Romans 1:16:--“ I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:”
Are you too embarrassed to share your faith with your friends, neighbors, coworkers.
b. Doubt or Confusion—“I won’t believe”—Thomas wouldn’t have much to share so long as he doubted. Until his heart and mind saw the Lord and knew that Jesus was raised from the dead, Thomas had nothing to share with the world. He had no conviction, no passion, nothing that would draw people to
Do you still have doubts about your faith, so much so that it keeps you silent? Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen and believed.
Hebrews 11:1-- Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see
If you have doubts, if you’re confused,
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
MK 9:30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
James 1:5—“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
c. Some people are silent using the excuse—“I don’t Have the gift of evangelism”—That is the epitome of confusion and it’s wrong—there is no spiritual gift of evangelism— You may not be called to the office of an Evangelist—but you are called to evangelize. Sharing the good news is expected of all of us.
d. You share the Good News in everything you say, in everything you do—you either give a good impression or a negative one. You often witness without opening your mouth, but if you don’t open your mouth, they don’t have a chance of understanding their need for salvation and the only way to get it. Does doubt or confusion give you an excuse to keep you quiet?
e. Sin—can keep you quiet. The guilt and shame we carry around with us acts like a zipper on the lips. Sin attempts to keep you quiet whether your life is full of sin or if there is only one. It screams out your hypocrisy, it focuses on your unworthiness. Sin can keep you quiet.
What sins are keeping you quiet? I remember hearing a commercial with a very important tag line—“to talk to your kids about their problems, first you need to get over yours.” It’s the same thing here. Your sins, your guilt, your hypocrisy will keep you quiet.
f. Lastly, Satan—he knows all this stuff about us, he knows which excuse we listen to most and which we can ignore. He is the roaring lion prowling around searching for someone to devour. One of the things he wants to devour is our voice. Satan uses fear and wants us to be afraid—afraid to share our faith, afraid to obey the call of God.
g. Satan creates doubt and confusion in our hearts and minds to render us mute. He Tempts us to sin so we will be focused on things other than God. He convinces us we’re not really forgiven and lies to us so that we will not open our mouths to the awesome love and forgiveness of God.
h. These things keep us silent. But we must not allow any of these things to keep us silent.
i. Instead we must Ask for the opportunity
j. Continually Look for the opportunity—“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile”
2. Know What You Want to Say
a. Unbelievers Need to Hear Certain Things—An unbeliever needs to hear something different than a believer. 1 Peter 3:15—“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Always be prepared to give an answer—you need to know what you want to say.
b. Preparation means that you are getting something ready before it is needed in the moment. They don’t need to hear so much about the weather, aches and pains or politics—it’s OK to talk about those things, especially if they are building relationships with the goal of sharing the Gospel, but Unbelievers need to hear about your hope.
They need to hear about your testimony, your expectation and surety of forgiveness and eternity.
The passion with which you share gives an indication of how important your hope really is. It says something about what your hope is built on. What is your hope built on? Hopefully, nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
c. If you are prepared to share with unbelievers—knowing what questions to ask, what analogies are effective, to direct someone’s thoughts to the grace of God, then you won’t be as likely to be silent. If you know what you want to say about your hope because you are prepared to do so—you won’t be silent. And you will share your hope with Gentleness & Respect, not being baited into arguments, you won’t be disrespectful or condescending b/c you’re not just winging it.
Just like you need a plan for unbelievers, you must also have a different plan for believers. Believers and Unbelievers are at different stages in their life.
d. Believers Need to Hear Certain Things—look at—2 Tim. 4:2— be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.” Be once again we are called to be Prepared to have something to say—have a plan.
In Season and Out of Season— is not like Deer or Turkey season when you only have a few weeks out of the year to legally do it. It means that we are to never let a day go by that you are not ready to open your mouth with the important things of our faith. Our lives and our words are to be seasoned with Salt
e. When you speak—not if—you must make sure you are speaking with the right heart. You must have great patience—you must do so with careful and reasoned instruction—“Just do it” doesn’t help—“What’s your problem?” doesn’t convey the patience needed. Don’t speak out of maliciousness, or an “I told you so” attitude.
Be prepared to—Correct a misunderstanding of God, Rebuke each other without superior or judgmental motives, behavior that is contrary to the Word or God or does not glorify God. In the loving “I want the best for you” kind of way, We often learn best by our mistakes, but if no one is there to tell us we’re wrong, we will continue in our error.
f. Encourage each other to greater lives of faith— Believers need to know what is right, they need to know the right way to live, they need encouragement. And the tone and heart with which you do so will sometimes be more important than the words you share. Your hope, really God’s hope is to see the believer grow in their faith.
Knowing what you believe and why you believe it is important and vital but even more than that is a burning love not for a set of doctrines or beliefs, but for the Person that inspires those beliefs. You know your hope only because you know the One who inspires your hope. And if you are passionately pursuing your Savior, you can’t help but tell people about Him. No amount of fear or embarrassment will be able to keep you quiet. Matthew 10:27—“27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”
God helps us not to be silent!
According to Joshua 1:9—“Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” God gives us courage because He is with us.
When we don’t know what to say—Luke 12:11-12— "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." This promises that the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say often by giving us power and words to know the Bible better than you ever have, or insight into what a certain person needs to hear. We just have to trust Him.
Plus, you will never know your faith as well as when you are sharing it. The more you share, the more you become familiar with it, the more it becomes yours—Paul knew this and taught it in Philemon 1:6—“ I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
Why are we silent? We have a God who loves us so much that He was willing to die for us. He spoke in our behalf; Jesus was not ashamed to be called our brother. He was not silent but shouted out His love from the Cross. He is not silent in calling to you right now—He is speaking to you.