Saturday, November 30, 2013

Discipleship and Revival 2 of 4

Part 2:

Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. 

When we become new creations in Christ Jesus, this text teaches that part of God's new creative work within us produces service. 

We do not work to become Christians, but work because Christ within is working through the life of the one He indwells.

I am afraid that many lackadaisical, lazy professors of religion have nothing. The evidence of salvation is sadly invisible.

What about it? 

Does God expect anything from overloaded (physically), undernourished (spiritually) twentieth century believers?

The truths I am about to present will not please lazy Christians who, like wheelbarrows, need to be pushed.

Neither will these arrows of God's Word be as pleasing platitudes to modern saints who run their lives like present-day cafeterias-self-service only. Nevertheless, all need to hear from God. All of us need a spiritual bath occasionally, so let's proceed to use the Word and get washed (see Ephesians 5:26).

In chapter one we considered in a broad way, or telescopically, the price Christ paid. Now let's look at it microscopically, or minutely. Then let's follow Christ.

Jesus paid the price of malicious slander. The Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils (Matthew 9:34).

Again, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils (Matthew 12:24).

He hath an unclean spirit (Mark 3:30).

Some say, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people (John 7:12).

The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil (John 7:20).

Imagine the audacity of the people as they hurled these vicious accusations at Christ:

The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true (John 8:13). Here they call the Saviour a bold-faced liar. It gets worse in John 8:41 where they say We be not born of fornication. [We are not a dirty, illegitimate child like you].

Still again, Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil (John 8:48). This was a racial slur because Samaritans were hated.

In John 10:20 they say, He hath a devil, and is mad. [He is demented and foams like a mad dog.]

I have but taken a few of the slanderous pronouncements made concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The people said that Jesus had a devil, and an unclean spirit; that He was a deceiver, a liar; that He was an illegitimate child, a mad dog. About whom were they speaking? God in the flesh!

Will those who truly follow in His steps receive the same kind of treatment? You had better believe it! In fact, I have never felt better about some of the mail I receive. Praise God, I am on Christ's side, and this is the way it should be.

Listen to the Saviour in John 15:18, 19, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

This same teaching is presented by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. [Then what-quit? NO!] Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12).

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:10, We are fools for Christ's sake. Verse 13: We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. Let's study the word "offscouring" for a moment.

When dishes are washed, the pots have "goop" on the bottom. One then takes a scouring pad and scrapes the "crud" free. The released "goop" is the offscouring. Ugh! Well, dear refined, highly polished Christian, this is the term the Holy Spirit uses to picture the Christian who is taking his stand for Christ in this wicked world. He is the "offscouring," the "goop," and "crud" off the bottom of the pan in the world's eyes.

Has this been true in your life? 

Why not? 

God wrote this verse and said it would be so if you lived the life.

  • Forget about your image. 
  • Let go, and let God have His wonderful way in your life.

First Peter 2:12 says, They [will] speak against you.

First Peter 3:14: If ye suffer for righteousness' sake happy are ye. Why? Because of the reward in the future.

Again, 1 Peter 4:14 declares, If ye be reproached [maligned and slandered] for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.

Now I want to show you the prime reason the average Christian is never slandered and hated. First, his testimony is nil or watered down. Jesus said in John 7:7, The world... me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Those who run around talking love, love, and more love usually are loved. But when one mentions sin, as Jesus did, and rebukes the iniquitous abominations of the hour, he becomes hated.

The Bible also teaches that godliness produces resentment among the unholy. Second Timothy 3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. This is why Cain slew Abel, his brother (see 1 John 3:12). This is why carnal Christians criticize spiritual men of God who preach holy living and keep the standards high.

You folks who look like the world, dress like the world, act like the world, talk like the world, run with the world, and live for the world will never be persecuted. You are living where they are. But it is wrong, and you will be the loser.

Romans 12:2 says, And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed In simple English, don't be fashioned like the world, but "about face." You women who wear tight blouses and sweaters to attract men will never be persecuted. Your little short skirts will bring the favor of the ungodly rather than mockery. You men with smutty mouths won't be considered religious fanatics. The world will love you; you sound like them. But, be not conformed to this world.

Christ paid the price of suffering. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

First Peter 3:18 states, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.

Hebrews 12:2: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. Were you under the impression that Calvary was an easy ordeal?

It was not! 

He endured-endured the cross.

In this day of easy-believism, are we to suffer as Christians? 

Are we to pay the price in winning lost souls to Jesus? 

Let's see.

Philippians 1:29: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. It is not enough just to believe. One becomes a Christian by believing, but discipleship produces suffering. Believing gets one into heaven, but discipleship presents one with heaven's best crowns to place at the feet of Jesus.

Yes, He suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps (see 1 Peter 2:21). His suffering was for sinners. Our suffering should be for the same reason. Think of this statement in the light of the millions of Christians who have never won a soul to Christ. Think of the shame that awaits their entrance into heaven (see 1 John 2:28).

Suffering is again discussed in Philippians 3:10: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death. All of us want a life filled with blessing, but few want to fellowship in His sufferings. 

Read again the listing of 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 wherein Paul enumerates his sufferings. Then bow before God and say "God forgive me for my greedy, grasping, selfish attitude. Forgive me for allowing the old nature to have full sway."

Christian, will you have any scars, like Paul, at the Judgment Seat? 

Many live luxuriously and complain about the hardship of being a Christian. Let's accept slander and suffering as the will of God and press on to greater service for the Lord.

Christ was slain. He gave His life for a sinful world. God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Jack, will you go so far as to state that a Christian should be willing to follow Christ, even to death, in winning souls? I suggest it because Jesus taught this truth. He said in Luke 9:23, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. We must go back to the first century to understand the implications within this statement. The cross was the means of capital punishment in Christ's day. It was an instrument of death. A convicted criminal had to drag his own cross to the place of his execution. When one passed by pulling or dragging a cross, it meant that he was going to be crucified, yea killed.

Jesus said that one should be willing to die daily, or bear the cross 24 hours per day in order to follow Him. I believe this same lesson is pictured in Revelation 2:10: Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. There is more in this verse than the thought of faithfulness to Christ as long as one has life. The context indicates that a horrendous time of persecution was to come. Some would be hanged; others murdered in tortuous ways for the name of Christ. When it came, faithfulness unto death was the means of earning the crown of life for the martyr. This happened in past history, and may soon be the experience of God's people in America. Christians in Russia, China, and other parts of the world have already suffered greatly. Were you next, would you have the spiritual stamina to stand for Christ? Even unto death?

Adoniram Judson went to India as a missionary. He was soon imprisoned because of his love for Christ and the souls of men. They bound him in a stench-filled dungeon. There he was alone with his God for months. Many were the hours of torture he experienced. Anne, his sweet wife, would often look into the place of his interment and with tears flowing down her cheeks cry out, "Hang on, sweetheart. I know it is difficult to bear, but God will give us the victory." Time passed, and the visits from Anne ceased. How Judson wondered as to the welfare of his family.

After a few years, he was released. He immediately went to the area where he and Anne had lived. As he arrived at the location, he saw a grimy, dirt-covered tot playing outside a tent. He did not realize it was his own little girl. He rushed into the tent and saw a bald woman lying on a bed. She was dying. Malnutrition had taken her hair and health. As he stood over the form of the one he had loved so dearly, his tears fell on her face. This revived his darling and she opened her eyes. She took his hand and said, 'Adoniram, be true to the Lord. Hang on, sweetheart. When I am gone, don't quit. Be faithful. Pay the price."

Today there are thousands of Christians and hundreds of gospel-preaching churches in India because the Judsons took up the cross daily and followed Jesus. What will you do with your life, Christian? Give it to the Lord now in prayer.