Doubtless many will disagree with me, but I find cookie dough ice cream unappetizing. I’m aware that there are dozens of variations of flavors, but I find the gooey texture that simulates uncooked food to be unpleasant. While I’m sure some of you would sooner put chocolate syrup in my gas tank than be subjected to my cookie dough criticism, there is one thing we can all agree on—no one likes a half-baked plan.
Whether it’s a SWAT operation, an awards banquet or planting a church, “We’ll figure it out when we get there” is not a wise course of action. I’m fond of a saying a paramedic friend of mine uses. “Hope is not a good plan.” And that’s true for Christians. A failure to understand the gospel message is a plan to fail to share it. In Luke 12:11-12 where it says, “Do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” is a specific reference to being dragged into court for your faith. There are a number of examples in Acts where the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the words to speak, but even then they were recalling things that had been taught to them. The Holy Spirit was making use of their Old Testament upbringing and what they had been taught by Jesus. They were not only willing vessels, but they were also prepared vessels.
Are you prepared? Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe what you believe? If someone asked you, “What must I do to be saved?” do you have a concise and accurate answer? Are you stockpiling biblical knowledge that can be put to use by the Holy Spirit? For instance, do you make a habit of taking notes during sermons, committing verses to memory or talking thoughtfully to others about what you’re reading in the Bible? Stop for a moment and pray audibly (so you can hear yourself say it), “I commit to being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks me for a reason for the hope that is in me” (1 Pet. 3:15). Start that preparation today.
With that commitment in place, consider another principle. God uses people to expand His kingdom that are not “fully baked.” (Yes, this is where my analogy acknowledges the usefulness of cookie dough ice cream.) Recall some of the failures of the apostles before they received the Holy Spirit. There was infighting due to jealously, doubt over Jesus’ power and outright disbelief about what He promised would take place. Despite those circumstances, look at what Jesus did in the following verses.
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Lk. 9:1–2)
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. (Mk. 6:7)
Think about the order of events. The sending of the disciples predated what took place in Luke 24:44-45 where He said, “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” They were sent into the world to preach the good news, prior to receiving a better knowledge of the Scriptures.
Likewise, Priscilla and Aquilla pulled Apollos aside to “explain to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). However, Apollos was commended for his boldness in presenting the gospel to others. In other words, the Bible highlights the actions of a man that courageously shared what he knew of God, even when there was room for improvement.
This means that you can proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ the best way that you know how as you prepare to make a thoughtful defense for the hope that is in you. You need not wait until your biblical knowledge is “fully baked.” As you learn the way of God more accurately, don’t prevent others from enjoying the sweetness of the Good News you possess right now!