27 June 2009

Be Not Ashamed for the Gospel

Do we realize that persecution among believers is at a record high around the world? Modern statistics of total Christian martyrs are estimated to total around 70 Million. What does it mean to suffer for the cost of the Gospel? Suffering is defined in the Bible this way: Bearing; undergoing pain, inconvenience or damage; permitting; allowing, "To put up with," "to tolerate". God has different purposes in permitting suffering to come upon us.

1. Its part of God’s plan

(1 Peter 4:19) Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

2. Some suffering is corrective it is intended to get us on the right path when we have gone astray.

Solomon refers to this kind of suffering in (Prov 3:11-12) My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom He loves, as a Father the son in whom He delights.

3. Suffering should be expected

(2 Timothy 3:12) Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

4. Some suffering is intended to awaken us to the needs and feelings of other people

(James 1:27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

5. Some is instructive, intended to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ, because we learn through the things that we suffer

(1Peter 1:6-7) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Suffering was neither corrective nor instructive. It was simply a suffering permitted by God so that the wonderful Gospel might be spread to others. Paul wrote in the Book of Philippians verse 12-13 “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” John MacArthur says “Freedom to proclaim the gospel is understandably cherished today by Christians in the so-called free world. But many, if not most, of the great expansions of the faith and spiritual revivals within the church have come during times of opposition and persecution”. Here are some other encouraging examples of the Gospel advancing through suffering

1. Thomas: Preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.

2. Luke: The evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece.

3. Andrew: Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew's Cross.

4. Barnabas:
Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about A.D. 73. And yet, notwithstanding all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the Church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered plenteously with the blood of saints.

5. John Bunyan:
A preacher who was popular and very powerful and so unacceptable to leader’s in the 17th Century Church of England, that he was jailed in order to silence him. Refusing to be silent, he began to preach in the jail courtyard. He not only had a large audience of prisoners, but also hundreds of citizens of Bedford and surrounding area would come to the prison daily and stand outside to hear him expound Scripture. He was then silenced verbally by being placed deep inside the jail and forbidden to preach at all. Yet in that silence, he spoke loudest of all and more people than he could have imagined. It was during that time that he wrote “The Pilgrim’s Progress” the great Christian classic that has ministered to Gospel to tens of millions throughout the World. For several centuries, it was the most widely read and translated book in the world after the Bible. Bunyan’s opponents were able to stop his preaching for a few years, but they were not able to stop his ministry. Instead they provided opportunity for it to be extended from deep within a jail in the small town of Bedford to the ends of the earth.

One thing we can learn from these men they always knew the Lord was with them same goes for you and me today. As Paul says (1Thess 2:2) But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. D.L. Moody says "If He laid down His life for us, is it not the least we can do to lay down ours for Him? If He bore the cross and died on it for me, ought I not to be willing to take it up for Him?" We must proclaim Christ always in every situation that He puts in front of you and me. Remember what Peter said in his epistle “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:16-17. Serve Him and proclaim the gospel no matter what might happen to you, and never forget to pray for our brothers and sisters who are faced with suffering each and every day around the globe. As Peter said be not ashamed for such a great salvation in Christ Jesus! To Him be the glory forever and ever.

No comments: