Paul said, “Stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong” (1Cor 16:13).
One of the phrases in last week’s sermon was, “The theological tool shed of church leadership today is empty;” a sad but true phrase. How can we stand, how can we have courage, how can we be strong in a world set against God when we don’t have the necessary tools?
The Bible is filled with fine examples of men and women standing straight for God: Daniel wouldn’t compromise his faithful eating and drinking habits. His three friends wouldn’t bow down before an idol. Joseph ran away from temptation. Stephen spoke up for Jesus, and it cost him his life. Peter and John went to jail for continuing to tell others about Jesus. Esther risked her life when she sought the king’s audience in behalf of her people.
If you want to be the one who is standing straight in a godless world, then it is going to take some work on your part to acquire the necessary tools to make the stand.
Once a person states their position on sin their corresponding doctrine of salvation is already known. Below are some examples of what I mean. The letter P stands for a person’s position on sin, and the letter D stands for their corresponding doctrine.
P: Religion is a crutch
D: I can do it myself
P: You can’t tell me what to do
D: God can’t tell me what to do
P: I’m a good person
D: My works out do my sin
P: God is love
D: God will not judge me
P: Christ was a good teacher
D: Knowledge will save me
P: God wants me to be happy
D: If I’m happy I’m saved
Some people are willing to bet their eternity on the above.
Think about it,
The first eighteen verses of John’s Gospel were sung by 1st century Christians as a hymn. The hymn acts as an overture to his message by summarizing his book very well: Chapters 1-12: The light shines in the darkness; Chapter 13-20: The darkness has not overcome it.
Between the lines of the hymn John the Dipper (literal translation) is introduced. His job was that of a herald. A herald’s job was to precede the king and announce the king’s coming. His duties included making sure the roads were straight, the pot holes repaired, the hills lowered, and the valleys raised so the king’s arrival was made easier. The herald also was to only give the king’s message and not his own version of the message.
Today, the work of the herald is not done, for the king still needs to come and shine his light into the darkness of many lives. The Christian is now the herald for this day; we are to announce the king’s coming, making his arrival easier, and only giving the king’s message.
There’s no I in herald,
We are already into a new year, and I suppose that each of us greet this event with questions, with hope, and a few resolutions. Three uncertainties, perhaps distractions at best, for we do not know what the answers will be to our questions, or that our hopes will be met, and our resolutions will be determined by our fortitude. As we greet the New Year is this the best we can do?
This debate was stirred within me on Tuesday when I stood at the crossroads of the New Year and read this: “You shall not go out with haste… for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isa 52:12). Isaiah brought forth the three realms of our life: yesterday, today and tomorrow; some good things to think about on New Years day.
What does this passage mean for the Christian? It means the resurrected Christ before us, forgiveness behind us [the cross], which gives us confidence in today. A good way to live 2014 don’t you think?
Certain in the New Year,