To Live Is Christ – Fearless Faith

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

  • Philippians 1:27-30

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  • Matthew 5:10-12

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

  • Isaiah 53:5-6 (NKJV)

For to me, to live is Christand to die is gain.

  • Philippians 1:21

“Fearless faith results from holding on to Christ as our treasure. Gospel courage comes from gospel preciousness. If we truly believed that our reward in heaven far surpasses all the comfort and convenience and collections of the world, we, too, would be willing to consider them all as loss.
“Paul encourages those in the Philippian church to remember the gospel that saved them, the gospel that brought them all together and made them family, the gospel that secures them second by second for the glorification of eternity so that they will hold all else loosely and ultimately fear nothing.
“The Wealthy businesswoman, the fortune-telling slave girl, the duty-bound jailer—-they all found a greater thing, a more beautiful thing, a more glorious thing than what they’d been holding on to before. Liberated by Jesus and totally secured, they could lose all confidence in the flesh and find unassailable courage in their redeemer.”

  • Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

I wrote about two weeks ago about one of Satan’s deceptions.  Satan wants us to believe that Christians never suffer because of Isaiah 53:5.  Yes, Satan quotes Scripture.  But this passage talks about how Jesus would (since it was written by Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born) pay the penalty for our sins.  That is the ultimate penalty, the second death.  It has nothing to do with no suffering now.

The Philippians passage above speaks of preparing ourselves.  Suffering will come.

I have read, and had conversations, on the topic of “Can there be a Christian that never suffers?”  You know, until that moment that they die in their sleep, peacefully.  Usually the result is that the consensus is that it might vaguely be possible, but most people doubt it.

Suffering ranges from angry words and people who do not like you anymore to torture and death.  That is a wide range of things.  Can we eliminate getting sick in that all, Christians and non-believers alike, get sick?

But Paul is exhorting us to be brave, courageous.  I heard a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient say once, and I have never found the quote online, that heroes are not as brave as you might think.  In fact, they are so scared that they run in the wrong direction.  With that definition of bravery, maybe more Christians can agree with what the Apostle Paul is saying.

But why is Paul saying it?

I think it is the part about how they will be destroyed, and we will be saved.  In the first century church, Christians were being thrown to the lions.  They stood bravely until they died.  And I wonder how many Romans in the bleachers were touched by the Holy Spirit.  Could they have said, “Their faith is so strong that they were not afraid.  I want to check out their God for myself.”

God does not demand that we all die a martyr’s death.

I have written about being ready to go to the university in my class A uniform, while still in ROTC.  Since the stores in town were open, this was probably when I was going to the university for a ball game, since I was the commander of the color guard, presenting the American flag for the national anthem.  My mother’s mother wanted me to go to the five-and-dime to get something for her.  I think it was to show the people in town my snazzy green uniform.  As I walked up a side street where I had parked, an old lady spit in my face and called me a baby killer.  I said nothing.  I wiped away the spit.  I finished my grandmother’s errand.  I dropped off the purchase at her house and then went to the university.

That was nothing compared to the hippies who would defecate onto the soldier standing guard during a protest demonstration.  And, yes, despite arguments to the contrary, those things happened, and some of those hippies may be among the cancel culture of today, cancelling anyone that brings out the film to prove that it happened.

But are we willing to have those things happen to us because we are Christians?  And then say something like, “God loves you and so do I.”

The consensus today among many bloggers and preachers is that the average Christian is soft.

There was an old joke, or story since it is not funny, a few years ago.  It went viral on the internet and I will probably butcher it enough here to claim this is my version.

Once upon a time, there was a group of gunmen who charged into a church, all wearing ski masks.  They fired their weapons into the air.  Dust and bits of the ceiling fell onto the people in the pews.  The leader asked if there were any Christians in the congregation.  Most of the people in the pews had already slipped out the side doors.  After the question was asked, most of the elders and deacons hung their heads and worked their way to the exit slowly.  The leader of the gunman repeated his question.  Finally, after several moments of silence, except for people crawling toward the exits on their hands and knees, an old man stood.  Then another.  Then an old lady.  With a few people, very few, still in the pews, the gunmen removed their ski masks.  The leader of the gunman said, “Preacher, we got rid of the hypocrites for you.  You can go back to preaching.”

C. S. Lewis wrote that your faith in something is not really a faith at all until it becomes a matter of life or death.  Is your faith that strong?  Or would you be among those crawling to get out of the church?

Lord, guide me.  Faith in You is a matter of life or death.  Without You, we would be lost and destined for eternal damnation.  Thank You for sending Your Son to save us.  In Thy Name I pray.  Amen

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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