A Call to Speak: How Dare we NOT speak out?
Proverbs 24:11-12 commands us to: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering towards slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards you life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?” Although this verse is not expressly speaking about sharing the gospel or boldly talking about our faith, I believe that it still applies and the truth is still the same. We have a responsibility to speak and we will be held accountable. We have been graced with the news of life! Knowing the truth, can we keep silent and abandon our brothers and sisters to death?
“On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men, But God, who tests our hearts.” (I Thessalonians 2:4)
What is it that keeps us from speaking out? In the end, I believe it comes down to this: we fear men more than we fear God. Unlike Paul (the author of I Thessalonians), we are trying to please men, rather than the God who tests our hearts.
Now, in America, we do not face severe persecution for our faith. We have no threats of imprisonment hanging over our heads nor have we witnessed the beatings or executions of close friends or family members. The greatest trial that most of us will face for our faith is an occasional snub or insult now and then, perhaps the end of a friendship, or a job opportunity lost. And yet, we do not speak. We are afraid. Why?
“Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have My law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.” (Isaiah 51:7-8)
“Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.” We should not fear men, nor should we fear death. Instead, Jesus tells us who we should fear in Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
And as Christians, we have a “blessed assurance” of salvation, and life, and help in times of trial. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:22)
“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
At the end of the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus, after telling His followers to preach the good news of life to all nations, also gives them this wonderful promise. “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Christ is with us always! Can we be afraid of men when the One who defeated death is by our side?
And yet, we do not speak. Why?
Paul writes in Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” Can we, in all honesty, say as much? If we did, would our actions verify our words or identify us as liars?
When we, in fear, remain silent when our Lord’s name is mocked, we are acting as though we are ashamed of our Lord. When we, in order to avoid being different, do not speak up and acknowledge Christ, we act as though we are ashamed of our Savior.
And Jesus Christ himself said, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)
And also in Luke 12:8-9, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.”
“It comes down to this: I am more afraid of being “ashamed” before men, than standing ashamed before the Creator of the world… I am more afraid of what men will say, than what my Lord will say. I am more afraid of being shunned by men, then shunning the Risen Lord.”
~ An anonymous prayer journal entry
Are we more afraid of being “ashamed” before men, then standing ashamed before our Lord in heaven? Are we more afraid of what men will say to us, than what our Lord will say? Are we more afraid of being shunned by men, then shunning the One who died in our place? Who do we want to please more, God or men?
Now, I know that if I was asked those questions, I would throw my shoulders back, tilt my head proudly, and stoutly proclaim “Of course not!” and “Of course I want to please God more than men!” But when it comes down to it, what do my actions prove? What does my behavior say?
Everyone has heard the old saying “Actions speak louder than words”. It is very true. We are known by our actions, rather than by what we say. The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” In context with the rest of the chapter, the word “talk” refers to empty arrogant boasting. In other words, Paul is telling us: do not simply say it; prove what you say by your deeds.
I am a master of excuses. I can always find a “good” reason to remain silent. “But Lord, I do not know enough!” “I am not skilled with words.” (I borrowed that one from Moses). “I have no time now, I’m in a hurry.” “Next time, I’ll speak next time!”
But, the Scriptures tells us to make the most of every opportunity. Ephesians 5:15-16 warns us to “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” And Paul repeats his urging in Colossians 4:5 “Be very wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
Paul also wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 2:11-13 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”
And again, we are warned against disowning Christ in Matthew 10:32-33 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”
Now, while we many not literally disown or deny Christ by our words, what do our actions say? Do we disown Christ by our actions? Do we disown Him by remaining silent, by failing to speak?
Brothers and sisters, it should not be this way! Our attitude should be like that of Peter and John, who, when standing before the Sanhedrin, boldly refused to keep silent and said “…Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 & Acts 5:29) “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”
“Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13) Like Paul, we must be ready to shunned, abandoned, persecuted, and even ready to die, for the name of our Lord.
Jesus warned us, His followers, in John 15:18-21 that the world would hate us and persecute us. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
And again in Luke 21:17-19 “All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”
Paul exhorts all Christians in I Corinthians 16:13 to “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
Brothers and sisters, stand firm in the faith; be strong! Speak out and do not be afraid any longer! Do not stand ashamed before our Lord in heaven, because you were afraid of men on earth. Consider these questions today: Who do you fear? Who do you wish to please most? Are you ashamed of Christ? What do your actions say?
~ A Servant of the King
A Call to Arms: No Surrender!
And nail it to the mast.
No surrender; no compromise!
We’re fighting to the last!“
Raising the banner of Christ is risky; it involves a certain element of danger. By raising Christ’s banner over our lives, we identify ourselves as a target for enemy attacks. Indeed the Bible warns us that “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12)
But we will “…nail it to the mast…“
This phrase stems from the age of sailing ships and magnificent nautical battles on the high seas. Often times, ship captains, before going into a battle against difficult odds, would remove the flag from the halyard and nail it to the top of the mast. This action served a double purpose: it served as a visible sign to the crew that surrender was not an option. There was no hope of life save by victory. This encouraged every man to fight with all his might and main. Each man knew that he had nothing to gain by cowardice and everything to lose!
We should have this same attitude with the banner of Christ flying over our lives. We must make a firm decision to nail the flag to the mast, to refuse surrender. In our case, we have nothing to gain by surrender, because we have assurance that our final victory is sure! Our Captain has already triumphed over our foe (Colossians 2:15), and though the battle continues today, our enemy’s doom is certain. “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelations 20:10)
“No surrender; no compromise!“
What is meant by “surrender“? In what ways do we, as Christians, surrender? Our lives are secured in Christ. Having been saved by Him, we are held firmly in His hands, and no one can snatch us away from Him (see John 10:28-30). How then can we surrender to the enemy?
This phrase is referring to small daily surrenders, to anytime we do not live worthy of the calling we have received. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:2, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Every time we give into temptation, every time we allow fear – fear of others, of being different, of men – keep us from living as Christ lived, then we have surrendered. We have lowered the flag of Christ, and in its stead raised the white flag of surrender. When we allow the things of this world to interfere; when we remove our eyes from Christ and become distracted by everything around us, when we no longer seek God, then we relax our weapons and abandon them on the ground. And again, we will have surrendered.
An excerpt from the prayer journal of one who recognized a tendency towards this surrender in her own life:
“Lord, so often I find it easier to rely on You for strength, to seek You and study Your word, when I’m in the midst of a trial or when life is difficult. I know that I cannot make it on my own and so turn to You for help. But when life is smooth and everything seems to be going well, then, it is easy to forget entirely about the battle. I am still caught up in the midst of it, but it is harder to see. My strength seems sufficient – surely I can manage on my own! Then the distractions set in – they are not all bad, but the way they pull and shove me this way or that, takes my eyes off of You and eternity, and refocuses my gaze on the now and the temporal. I find myself spending less and less time in Your word, less time with You, my Savior, the Creator of the Universe! How is it that I am too busy for Thee, my Lord! A strange complacency sets in and I begin to make excuses. “Surely I am not as bad as others.” “I will not be harmed by missing another day in God’s word” – oh pride! – “There are so many other things to do…” And caught up in the business of my schedule and my pleasure, I forget the battle and abandon my weapons.
“Then I awake one day and hear Your voice calling my name. I look up to see the white flag of surrender flying over my head, and my weapons discarded on the ground. Lord, help me to tear down that flag and rend it to pieces, that I may never fly it again. Let me raise instead the banner of Christ, and fly it over my life! Keep my eyes fixed on You, Lord, and never let me forget the blood that You shed for me! Keep me ever leaning and relying on You, and never let me become proud or complacent! Keep me from being distracted by pleasures, but instead let me find my true joy in loving and glorifying You!”
The writer of that passage recognized that it is only by Christ’s strength, not our own, that we will be able to fight on and not surrender. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.“
“We’re fighting to the last!”
The words of Paul in Philippians 1:27 echo and resound across the field, like the passionate exhortation of a commanding officer to his men before the battle. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Worthy of the banner flying overhead; worthy of the calling we have received.
In Hebrews 12:4, we are encouraged to fight to the last: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Do not give up easily; fight until the very last drop of your blood is spilled, but do not surrender! I Corinthians 16:13 exhorts us, saying “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
And yet, as we were reminded in the passage above, we do not fight alone, or on our own strength. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” And again in Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Paul realized that when he was weak and relying on Christ for strength, then he was strong. The same is true of us. When we realize that we cannot do it on our own, that even our greatest strength is too weak (I Corinthians 1:25), when we turn to Christ and rely upon His great strength, trusting in Him to help us, then we are strong!
I Corinthians 15:57-58 states “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm! Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
It is all the easier to stand firm when we remember the great assurance which we have: that God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Our ultimate victory is certain. Our enemy’s defeat is inevitable! So, why should we be afraid? Stand firm, then, my dear brothers and sisters, let nothing move you; give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord!”
~ A Servant of the King
“To the praise of His glory.”
A Call to Arms: We are at war!
An orange glow lights the horizon. Deep rumbling thunder echoes on the air; it is not natural thunder warning of a coming storm, but the relentless booming of enormous guns. Explosions rocket into the air, bursts of bright orange in the blackness and smoke. Men duck and dodge, racing for cover from the deadly hail. In the midst of the chaos, a man sits alone, contentedly sipping a cup of tea and completely oblivious to the horror and destruction surrounding him. He neither hears the shriek of the shells hurtling past, nor feels the impact as they shatter against the ground, nor sees the deadly conflict waged around him.
Too often I feel that we are like that man. Content in our pleasures, we are completely oblivious to the fact that, as Christians, we are in the midst of a war. Can you imagine telling the average American “Christian” family sitting comfortably around their breakfast table on Sunday that we are in the midst of a deadly conflict? What would be their response?
There are only two sides in this conflict, and all of mankind is divided between the two. On the one side is Christ, and His eternal Kingdom, and upon the other, the devil. The Bible makes it very clear that there is no middle ground, no neutrality towards Christ. A man is either sided with Christ, or against Him. Jesus says in Luke 11:23 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”
Both the age old conflict of good against evil and the image of light versus darkness, which are depicted in so many novels and movies, have their origin in this war. In Colossians 1:13-14, it is written “For he has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Formerly we were on the enemy’s side (Rom 5:8-10); we lived in the kingdom of darkness and dwelt under the shadow of death. But Christ rescued us from darkness through His blood and we became a part of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of light and life. Isaiah 9:2 states that “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Our citizenship is now in heaven, and our first allegiance is to Christ. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 3:20)
Paul exhorts us in 2 Timothy 2:4 to “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” A little earlier, Paul also wrote “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:21)
We are soldiers, soldiers of Christ. And as any soldier must arm himself and prepare himself for battle, Christians also must prepare for war. Peter wrote in I Peter 1:13 “Therefore, prepare your minds for actions; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Prepare your minds for action; to me, those words bring to mind the image of a soldier buckling on his armor, checking his sword in its sheath, and strapping his shield to his arm, readying himself for the battle.
The passage continues in verses 14-16 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” This passage from I Peter, serves as a reminder to us that we do not wage war as the world does, our weapons are different and so are our enemies. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, it is written “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Our commander, our captain, is Christ. Soldiers fighting in wars on earth have no clue how the conflict will ultimately end. They do not know whether they will be victorious or defeated. But it is different in our case. We know that the final victory has already been won! It was won by our captain, Christ, when He died on the cross, paying the punishment for sins, and then rose again, triumphing over sin and death. It is written in Colossians 2:14 that “having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
But though the victory is won, the battle is not over. We are soldiers on active duty, we are at the front! Since we are at the front we must be prepared for battle, we must be alert and at our posts, ready to take and obey commands!
I Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
This verse serves as a reminder that our enemy is active, and we must be active as well. But too often, we fail. We go AWOL – absent without leave, we fall asleep at our posts! Too often we behave as “luke-warm” Christians. We are ineffective, apathetic, and stagnant, we accomplish nothing. Too often, we are completely useless to the Kingdom of God.
Revelations 3:15-16 speaks of such “luke-warm” Christians. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are luke-warm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Romans 12:11 tells us to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.”
Instead of being “luke-warm” we must be “on-fire” for Christ. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be on-fire for Christ? It means that we are passionate for Christ; we are totally sold out to Him, ready to give up our very lives for Him. And that is what He has called us to do. We are no longer masters of our own lives.
I Corinthians 6:19b-20a writes that “…you are not your own; you were bought at a price…”
Paul while addressing the elders of Ephesus said these words. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
Let us not love our lives so much as to shrink from death for the sake of Christ. Revelations 12:11 “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
“Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13)
Now granted, in America (at least at the present moment) we do not face intense persecution for being Christians. It is highly unlikely that any of us will face death or even imprisonment for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, we must be willing to die to ourselves, every day. To remember that we have been bought at a price, that we are no longer our own. Daily, we must die to ourselves; die to our plans, our wishes, and our will. Instead of following ourselves, we must follow Christ.
In Matthew 16:24-27 it is written, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Of what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward every person according to what he has done.”
To follow Christ, we must deny our self and follow Him. He must have first place in our lives. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)
However, our enemy, Satan, does not want us to be on-fire for Christ. As soon as we show signs of bursting in flame, he is waiting there with a 500 gallon fire truck to try to put us out. But whether the hose is filled with trials or distractions, whether our enemy should try to overwhelm us in a flood of difficulties or attempt to smother us with the things of this world, Christ has promised that He can give us strength to carry on and burn all the brighter!
John Bunyan, in his well known allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, describes it in these words:
“Then I saw in my dream that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the fire burn higher and hotter.
Then said Christian, “What means this?”
The Interpreter answered, “This fire is the work of grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it; to extinguish and put out, is the Devil; but in that thou seest the fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that.” So he had him about to the back-side of the wall, where he saw a man with a vessel of oil in his hand, of the which he did also continually cast (but secretly) into the fire.
Then said Christian, “What is the meaning of this?”
The Interpreter answered, “This is Christ, who continually, with the oil of His grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart; by the means of which, notwithstanding what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove gracious still.””
The Bible states in I Corinthians 10:13, that “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
And Peter says in 2 Peter 2:9b, “…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials…”
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So, be on-fire for Christ! Do not be apathetic, luke-warm, useless Christians. Be ready for battle, soldiers! Our enemy is active; we cannot fall asleep at our posts. Instead, let us be alert and ready to die to ourselves, our desires, and our plans, to follow our Lord!
“If [you] would come after me, [you] must deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Where do you stand? Are you alert and at your post? Are you prepared for action? Are you ready to die for your Lord?
“To the praise of His glory!”
I decided to create this blog to serve several purposes:
First: To serve as an outlet for my thoughts. I love writing and I created this blog to be a place where I can record all I have been thinking about but have not before taken the time to set down on paper in an organized or legible manner.
Secondly: To serve as a call to arms. As followers of the One True King, we are in a war whether we realize it or not. I do not claim to be a great Theologian or a Bible scholar, but I will simply write about those things which the Lord has impressed upon my heart or which have stood out to me as I read the Scriptures. I want this blog to serve as a reminder to others, and to myself, that though the final victory has been won, the battle is not yet over!
And thirdly: As a place to share with others the things I enjoy and to write about topics I love and feel strongly about – whether they be serious or lighthearted, lovely or sad, or simply fun!
Above all, my desire is that this blog would be honoring to the Lord and would bring glory to His name.
~ A servant of the King
“To the praise of His glory!”