Standing Firm to the End (Matthew Sermon 39 of 151)
November 17, 2002 | Andrew Davis
Persecution, Perseverance, Courage
Introduction: We Need to Persevere
We're looking this morning at one verse in particular. I felt convicted by the Lord to change my sermon this week, I'm going to be preaching the sermon that I had planned to preach after Friend Day, God willing. But this week, I felt that I wanted to concentrate on Verse 22. It's printed on the cover of your bulletin, and you can look at it there or in the text in your copy of Scripture, and Ralph just read it for us. But it says in the New International Version, "All men will hate you because of Me. But he who stands firm to the end will be saved." Now, one of my favorite stories, is a story of some freed slaves that became a fighting unit during the Civil War, and they were being trained and prepared as soldiers, but not many in the army really thought that they would ever fight. Didn't really think that they would ever see battle. And so there was a nonchalance to their preparation.
Yes, they got uniforms, yes they received rifles and ammunition. They received all the accoutrements that soldiers would receive, but there was really never a sense that they would actually be going into battle. And after they received their rifles, they were on the firing line and they were preparing and shooting those weapons, and it turned out that one of them had more skill than any of the others, and soon they gathered around to watch this one fire his weapon, and time and time again he hit the target. The colonel who was in charge of the unit had a different attitude than anyone else in the army, he was going to prepare these men for battle. And he'd already been through a number of battles, and had seen what it was all about. And when he came to the firing line, and saw the attitude with which these soldiers were carrying themselves, and specifically, the sergeant who should have been training them, he was appalled. This very gentleman came up to the soldier who was hitting the target time and time again, said, "You're a pretty good shot, aren't you? He said, "Yes sir, I am." And he said, "I want you to reload your weapon please." And back in those days, it was quite a procedure to load that weapon, took a while. But a good soldier could get off three shots in one minute. These men were not yet good soldiers. And so this man started loading his weapon, and this mild mannered colonel got near him and said, "Faster."
And so he got a little nervous because the tone of voice was so serious, and so he started to pick up the pace a little bit to tamp the thing down and get it ready, and he said, "Faster." And now he's really startled because this man had never spoken harshly before. And then he said, "Faster." And at this point he started to shake, and the colonel took out his side arm and fired it right near his ear yelling "Faster." And at that point, the man dropped his weapon and was totally paralyzed. And he said, "What do you think you're going to face and find in the battle field? What do you think is going to be like?" And then he turned to the drill instructor and said, "Prepare them properly sergeant." And he walked off. Now, I feel that I need to prepare us for what we are actually going to face according to Scripture.
We've been in kind of a Disney World's experience here as Christians in America. We've not really experienced the suffering and persecution, and opposition that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face around the world. And so when it comes, we're going to be very much like that soldier who can hit the target when there's no stress, and no suffering, and no struggle of battle, but when the real test comes, will drop the weapon and be paralyzed not ready to perform. What would it be like for each one of us if the government here were similar to the government, let's say in China where you could not meet, except that you were afraid you'd be arrested and lose everything for simply worshipping, would you still come? Would you still come to church?
Would you be willing to risk it all for Jesus Christ? And what if the choice were, your life or your faith? What then? What would you decide? If you could save your life by denying Christ, would you do it? Or would you persevere and stand firm to the end? And what does Jesus say concerning this matter? He says, "All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." It's an interesting verse when you think about it. In one sense it's a promise, in another sense a warning, isn't it? In one sense it's a dual promise with two edges to it. There's a promise that you'll be hated. Okay, that is a promise, you can see it. Look at the text, Verse 22, "All men will hate you because of Me." "Because of My name, because of your association with Me, you will be hated, you'll be rejected."
Who is He speaking to? Well, let's remember the context. It's Matthew Chapter 10, He's getting His apostles ready to go out from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel to people. What kind of reception will they receive? Will they be welcomed? Will there be parades and celebrations? No, not at all. There'll be persecution, there'll be opposition, and difficulty. Jesus is getting them ready by telling the truth. And he says, he gives them a promise, and says, "You will be hated by all on account of Me." Now, this doesn't mean every single solitary human being will hate the messengers of the Gospel, or else there would be no Christians.
It's not that, it's just that you should expect opposition from any one of a number of sources. It could come from the lowest to the highest in society. Don't be shocked when it's your own mother or your own father. Don't be shocked when it's your best friend that you grew up with. Don't be shocked if it's a king, and don't be shocked if it's a servant or slave. "Don't be shocked because you'll be hated by all on account of Me." So that's the promise, that's the one side of the promise. But then He makes another promise, doesn't He? Look at the second half, "But he who stands firm to the end will be saved." That is a promise. Saved from what? Well, certainly, not saved from physical death, because He already said that they would be betrayed to death. So it's not going to be salvation from physical death, what then? Will save from hell, save from condemnation, save from damnation on that great final Judgment Day. So this is a wonderful promise, because anyone who can speak to me a word of promise that I will not have to go to hell, I want to listen to that. How much more if it's the Judge of all the earth, Jesus Himself, who sits on the throne and will judge every single solitary human being, including all of you who listen to me today, and the preacher too. All of us will stand before Him because He is the Judge of all the earth.
And if He tells me that there is a way of salvation, I want to know what that way is. But apparently, the way is not what we thought it was, okay, we thought it was one thing, but it actually ends up being very different. Jesus said, "You know the way to the place where I'm going." Does that not imply a journey? Does that not imply a traveling? Does that not imply that we're going to be moving from point A to point B, we're going to be journeying, we're going to be traveling?
Well, what is that way like? It's a way of suffering, a way of distress, a way of persecution and opposition, a way of trial and testing. That is God's way of salvation, and there is no other. But if you persevere in that, if you stand firm in that way to the end, you will be saved. You'll have eternal life, you need not fear for your sins, but you will most certainly be saved. So you can see it's a promise, it's a promise of persecution and opposition, but it's also a promise of life for those who stand firm. In what sense is it a warning? Well, do you not see the implicit warning? What if you don't stand firm to the end? What then? Well then, the clear indication is you will not be saved. And so this is a very serious text, and it bears our attention doesn't it?
The Heroic Account of John Hooper
During the time of the English Reformation, the reformation went back and forth. For a while it would advance, for a while it would retreat. It depended on who was sitting on the throne. At one point, Queen Mary took the throne, she was known as Bloody Mary, and martyred almost 300 English reformers. One of them was John Hooper. John Hooper was Bishop of Gloucester, and he was burned at the stake, February 9, 1555. All he had done was preach the Word of God. So the question comes to me, would you preach if you knew that you were going to get arrested and burned at the stake? Would you be faithful to the Scriptures? That's a serious question. Well, John Hooper was faithful to the Scriptures. He was arrested, and the night before he died, a friend came to see him, Sir Anthony Kingston. This is a man that he had led to Christ. He had led a dissolute, sexually immoral life, and John Hooper told him the truth, and said, "You're on your way to hell, and you must repent, and you must trust." Well, at first, this man was very offended, but you realize the kind of courage it would take to tell the truth to somebody who have been knighted by the king. And so he told him the truth, "Sir Anthony Kingston, you're on your way to hell." And he repented and trusted Christ.
Well now, the night before Hooper was going to die, Kingston visits him, and pleads with him to save his own life. He said, "Please, think of all the good things you could do. Think of all the other souls there are that you could save just by reaching out with the Gospel. If you could just somehow find a way to get past this, think of all the good service that would come." But there was no way, the Queen had ensured that there was no way. The only way he could save his life was by renouncing his doctrine which to him was tantamount to renouncing Christ Himself. He could not stand up and say the things he had taught plainly from Scripture were heresy, and so he had no choice. And this is what Sir Anthony said to him, he said, "Life is sweet and death is bitter." To which Hooper replied, "Yes, it is true, life is sweet and death is bitter, but eternal life is sweeter and eternal death more bitter." Now, was he wrong to say that what was standing before him was the fate of his own soul? Was he wrong to see it that way? I don't think so, because Jesus said, "He who stands firm to the end will be saved."
And so it was the next day, when they brought Hooper to the stake. First of all, he said to all the sheriffs, he said, "I notice all the weapons you brought." He spent the whole night in prayer, he was ready. He said, "You didn't need to come with all the weapons, I would have walked gladly at this point, this was the way of God for me." And when they said, "We'll bind you to the stake." He said, "It's not necessary," but they bound him anyway. And then at that moment, they brought him a box, and inside the box was, they told him, I don't know if it was really there, but they told him, inside the box was a signed pardon from Queen Mary herself if he would simply renounce his teachings. But sometimes it's trickery, you renounce and then you get burned anyway. But this is what his response was, he said, "If you love my soul, take it away. If you love my soul take that box away." Now, why so serious? Could he not somehow just find a way to compromise and still retain his hold on Christ? Answer, no.
And if you think what I'm saying isn't true, read it into the Book of Revelation. There will come a day when you'll be offered perhaps, if you're alive at that time, the mark of the beast, will you take it or not? It says that anyone who receives the mark of the beast burns forever in hell. And so basically it's the cost of martyrdom for salvation at that point. Now, there's all kinds of theological implication, will the rapture come? I'm not getting into that, I'm just saying, at that moment, the mark of the base will be presented, and in order to buy or sell, take part in society, you have to decide what you will do. Are you ready, are you prepared?
There's a long and glorious history of martyrs in the church. And the thing that's so sweet, is if you're a Christian, these are your brothers and sisters. It's like you're in a noble, royal family of people who have stood firm for Christ. And if you're a genuine child of God this morning, you will too. Not one of them thought they could do it. You learned in Galatians this morning, many of you anyway, in our Sunday School, that if you are a child of God, you will have a supernatural birth, just like Isaac was born supernaturally. If you have that supernatural birth, you will survive anything that comes your way, you have received eternal life. Absolutely, you will survive. But those tests will come, and just as there is a long and glorious history of martyrs for Christ, there's a long and inglorious history of apostates too.
People who walked with Christ for a while, people who claimed to be Christians for a while, but they didn't stick with it, did they? You may even know some, wouldn't call them apostates, but that's what they are, they fell away, they stand away from Christ now. They do not claim to be Christians though they once made that claim. What happened? What is the issue there? And so, we're facing the catastrophe of falling away from Christ, we want to deal with that and try to understand it. We want to see the crisis in the text that brings it on, and that is earthly abuse and persecution. And we want to see the cure, and what is the cure? A living, daily faith. Walking with Jesus today, because today is all we ever have. If today you hear His voice, don't harden your hearts, Follow today. And so that's the sermon.
The Catastrophe: Falling Away from Christ
Let's look first at the catastrophe of falling away from Christ. What is this issue of a temporary Christian? Is there such a thing as a temporary Christian? Well, the Puritan start so. They called such a person, a Gospel hypocrite. A Gospel hypocrite is somebody who hears the word, responds to it in some way, make some outward profession of faith, but there's no genuine transformation, they've never really come to a saving faith in Christ. J.I. Packer said this about gospel hypocrites, "They are persons who have been told that they are Christians eternally secure, because they believe that Christ died for them, when their hearts are actually unchanged and they have no personal commitment to Christ at all." Now, the typical issue here is that there are earthly benefits for being a Christian. There are certain earthly things that come to you as a result of being a Christian. Such as what? Well, in earlier times, there was a king who offered a silver piece and a white robe to anybody who would convert. What a revival that day? Thousands coming to Christ. Well, I don't know, maybe some of them genuinely heard and believed the message that was preached if in fact the Gospel was preached that day. But if anyone tries to change the Gospel, Paul said in Galatians 1, may he be eternally condemned. So I don't know if the true Gospel was actually preached that day, but if it was, there's fruits. But I wonder about those "silver piece-linen Christians".
In early New England, if you weren't a member of the church, you couldn't vote in civic elections, you were not in effect, a member of the society. So you had to be a church member to be a full member of that community. Were there earthly benefits of that? Absolutely, there were benefits. Or in the Bible belt, maybe in the 1950s, perhaps if you weren't at First Baptist Church in whatever town, you weren't socially connected well, you see. You couldn't get those advantages. Anybody goes to that church. And so, there are earthly advantages and benefits that come from being in that particular church. Well, what when those things are stripped away? What when you lose the linen robe and the silver coin is taken away? What if your very life is threatened if you hold on to Christ, what then? There are other earthly benefits, sense of peace of mind, joy of fellowship, a full social calendar, in some cases, freedom from certain besetting sins, not from sin itself mind you, but certain besetting sins like alcoholism and other things, there's a certain amount of freedom that comes from that. Purpose in life, sense of the future, hope for the future, and all of these things. But when those benefits are stripped away, the joy in the Christian life is gone, and then the faith is severely tested to see if it's genuine or not.
Now, are there examples of these types of people from Scripture? Yes, there are. Jesus in Matthew 10 is speaking to the 12 apostles. 12 men heard him. 12 of them selected out to go and preach the Gospel. Did they go preach the Gospel? Most certainly, they did, they went and preached the kingdom, all 12 of them did. They saw great things happen, they saw demons being driven out. One of them was Judas Iscariot. Judas is a prime example of somebody who can fool anybody and everybody, but when the time comes, it's over. Judas, he's a very interesting guy. Jesus gave him charge of the money bag, remember? And so he's in charge of the money. And John gives us an insight into that whole process, he was secretly helping himself to it all along. Isn't that fascinating? You would say, then why in the world did Jesus give him charge of the money bag? Don't think it was because he was trying to urge him up to a higher standard, not at all, He knew very well that He had chosen the 12, and one of them was a devil. He had to do something to keep Judas interested. He had to do something to keep him tracking with the others, because the spiritual realities were not sufficient. And so he had the money bag. But I'll tell you what, when Mary broke a year's worth of wages and perfume on Jesus' feet, and Jesus defended her, that's it. In the accounts, in all the accounts that's when he went and sold Jesus, because the game's up.
If we're going to be pouring money out in the ground like that, I don't want any part of it. So he sold Jesus for 30-piece of silver, Judas Iscariot. What about Demas? 2 Timothy 4:10, it says, "Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica." What was in Thessalonica that was worth Demas' soul, I wonder that. The scripture doesn't tell us, but there must have been something very attractive in Thessalonica. Pre-deserted Paul having loved this world. And then in John 6, clearest example perhaps, of a mass defection, huge groups of people followed Jesus everywhere He went, what a show it was, it was better than PT Barnum, everywhere He went, He would do miracles, and things would happen, it would be exciting, and huge crowds there were all the time. Plus, there was physical benefits of healings, all kinds of things. And so there was a huge entourage. Jesus dealt with that one day, in John 6, it was the day after he fed the 5000. He said, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." That's the Gospel. Well, then He gets into the doctrine of the Gospel. He speaks very seriously, He said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." This is the Gospel. Well, they didn't understand this, "I am the bread of life." What do you mean you're the bread of life? He said, I'll make it even clearer for you. Jesus said that unless you eat his flesh and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Shocking words, winnowing words folks. Many people, many of his disciples, look at John 6:66 some time, not right now, but from this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. No longer followed Him. He turned to the 12, he said, "You don't want to leave too do you?" And Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Jesus responds, "Have I not chosen you, the 12, and one of you is the devil."
And so, there are examples from Scripture of this. You also know examples from your own life, don't you? Sadly of people that seem to be doing so very well in their Christian lives and now where are they? They're not doing well. There are also warning passages, look at Matthew 13, just turn over a page or two to Matthew 13, in the Parable of the Sower.
Jesus talks about a man who goes out to sow seed and as he's sowing the seed, some falls on the path, and the birds come and eat it up and some falls on the rocky soil, springs up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun comes up, the plants are scorched, because they have no root, they wither and die, and then some seed falls among the thorns, which grow up and choke the plants and some seed falls on good soil where it produces a crop, a 160 30 times what was sown. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Well, the disciples didn't know what it meant, and so they went to Jesus and talked to him about the parable. Now, look what He says specifically about the seed sown on rocky soil. Look at Matthew 13:20, "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places, of the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy, but since he has no root he last only a short time, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word he quickly falls away." Now, if you tell me that there's no possibility of falling away, then what is he is talking about here, what is this?
What Are They Falling Away From?
What I'm asking deeper is, "From what are they, falling?" That's what I'm asking. What are they falling away from? Are they falling away from that sovereign electing love of God that holds his own to the end? No, absolutely not, it's impossible. Then what are they falling away from? Their profession? Their outward statements of Christianity, they're falling away from it. Look at verse 20 again, it says they listen to the word and at once receive it… What? With joy. Do you realize how far that joy, that joy, will carry a person? A long way. A long way in the pseudo-Christian life. We're going to talk more about that in a minute. This is a warning passage, is it not? Turn over to Hebrews Chapter 6. Hebrews 6.
Hebrews is a severe warning epistle. Any of you who know anything about the book of Hebrews know how serious the warnings are in the Book of Hebrews. What is going on, what is happening? Well I'll tell you what's happening. What's happening is that these were Jewish people who had heard the gospel and had had a variety of responses. Many of them had professed faith in Christ. They had said that they were Christians, but then the heat of persecution was turned up. They started to lose their homes and businesses. Some of them started to get thrown in jail. It started to get very difficult to be a Christian. And at that particular moment, some of them started to slide back. To fall back, fall away, stop claiming to be Christian. And so the Book of Hebrews is written and so he's talking about that and look at 6:4 and following. He says, "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case-- things that accompany salvation."
That is so important to me. It's the key to the entire text. But yet there is a genuine phenomenon being described in these verses. You can taste, you can experience, you can come, you can be part, and yet fall away from all of that. And then, a few chapters over Hebrews 10:26 and following.
"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' and again, 'The Lord will judge his people.' It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."
That is the title of my sermon folks. You need to persevere in the Christian life. It's not those who start but those who finish. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. "For in just a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay but my righteous one to live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed but of those who believe and are saved." Do you see this? We can't shrink back and be saved. Did Hooper see it right that day? Yes, he did. I can't turn away from Christ just like Polycarp said. "87 years I've served Him and He's never done me any wrong. How can I turn my back on Him?" Can't do it And if you're a genuine Christian, today, you won't be able to do it either. Doesn't matter what circumstance God puts you in. He will sustain you, and you know why? Because the thing that's new, that new creation existence. You didn't put it there anyway. He put it there and He will sustain it no matter what fiery trials, He brings you through. He will sustain it.
Common Problem: Period of Christian Behavior, Emotion Followed by Apostasy
There are other warning passages, but I'm going to pass on. The common problem here, is a period of Christian behavior, followed by apostasy. Emotion, followed by apostasy. The rocky soil, guy receives the Word with joy. He loves it, he thinks it's wonderful. The Hebrews 6 guy goes to all the services, sees the healings, experiences all that the Holy Spirit's doing. He's there. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 talks about people who went through, like the Israelites, the baptism and the Lord's supper, and all of the experiences, but their bodies are scattered throughout the desert. That's the Old Testament analogy is saying, that if you think you stand, take heed lest you fall. 1 Corinthians 10, another warning passage. Many of them. 2 Peter 2, if you receive the Word and then turn your back it'd be better if you'd never heard it than to receive the sacred command and turn your back on it. A view the proverb is true, "The dog returns to its vomit, and the sow that is wash goes back to her wallowing in the mud." The fact is, many warning passages, and a brief experience, a period of time, and then they turn away.
Now what happens? Well, these people have received some kind of inkling of the word, their consciences are pricked, they feel guilty for their sin, they begin to turn to Jesus a little bit, they have what William Perkins called, "Temporary faith." You say, "That doesn't make any sense."
Sure it does. There's demonic faith isn't there? It says, "I believe that there's one God and I shutter." There is dead faith. There may also be temporary faith, so they are responding to some spiritual realities but it's not saving faith. It's not a gift of God. And so they turn back. Zeal for a little while and, this is the really scary thing folks, there is no amount of Christian experience or time given in scripture for the seed in the rocky places. There's no time frame given. None at all. You could go on receiving the Word with joy for a long time. It's when the testing comes that we find out what it really is.
We find out what it really is. You might say to me, "Pastor. I thought you told us in Romans 8, 'Once saved, always saved.' I thought you told us in John 6, 'This is the will of him who sent me that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will, is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life and I will raise them up at the last day.'" John 10. "No one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who's given them to me is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand, I and my Father are one." Security of salvation. Yes but were you ever in the Father's hand? Were you ever there? And now we're getting to the issue of assurance. How can I know that I'm in the Father's hand? How can I know? And let me tell you something, assurance is not given to willful sinners.
People who consistently, day-after-day, turn their backs on Christ, listened to what I said now. Assurance isn't given to them. God doesn't assure those kind of people. What does he do to those kind of people? He warns them. Turn away from sin, turn back to Christ, follow in the way, and why? Because there is a journey to be traveled, there is a way to be traveled. And so He's not going to give assurance to people who are willfully walking away from God's way of salvation. There is no assurance for that kind of life. But what is it that produces this test? Well, it is suffering, it is earthly suffering. Do you realize that there is a time orientation of salvation? There's past salvation, present salvation, and future salvation. Past salvation, Ephesians 2, verse 8, "For by grace we have been saved through faith." Okay, that's past. We can look back and say, "I was saved that day." Alright, what about present salvation? Well, I hope for all of you that that's going on right now, because, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to we who are being saved," What do you think, "Are being saved," means? In the process of being saved. If you don't like that verse, how about Philippians chapter 2, verse 13, 12-13. It says that, "We should work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Why? Because it's God who sent us to will and to do, according to His good purpose. So we are called on to be being saved daily.
Maybe, you walked in here this morning with a sin habit that you're hiding from people. God knows. Do you realize the damage that sin habit can do to your soul? This message stands like the drill instructor and says, "Cut it out. Turn away from it. Let it go." Why damage your soul? And so we are being saved and in the future we will be saved. Will be saved. That's what our verse says, verse 22, "He who stands firm to the end," What? "Will be saved." Be saved from what? Well, same thing from Romans 5:9. What is Romans 5:9 say? "Since we have been justified through faith, how much more will we be saved from God's wrath through Him?" There is a day of God’s wrath coming. Do you want to be saved from it. Then walk with Christ. If today, not seven years ago, "If today you hear His voice, do not harden your heart." Track with Him. Follow Him. "My sheep hear my voice… I give them eternal life." "They track with me, they walk with me, day after day." I have no idea where I'm at in my outline, I really don't know. But I'm going to go right to the end here.
The Cure: Daily Faith
What is the cure? Well, there's so many things I could say, but I'm going to give you six quickly.
Fear: Fearing God More than Man
First of all, the cure for back sliding, turning away from Christ, first of all, is fear. I know you don't like that word, and you give me Romans 8, and say, "We're not a slave again to fear," but yet there is that fear and trembling with which we work out our salvation. Fear sin, fear of the world, the flesh, and the devil not that they will conquer you, but they can do unbelievable damage to you. But above all, fear God. Look at verse 28. "Do not fear those who kill the body and after that can do nothing to you. I'll tell you the one to fear, fear Him who after you have died has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you fear Him." Why do we care so much what people think? Did you invite your friend to friend day? Did you do it? Are you afraid what they might think? Can I ask you to be more afraid what God will think if you don't? Fear Him, not them. Besides what you might be an instrument in His hand to lead him to Christ. So fear him.
Understanding: There’s Nowhere Else to Go
Secondly, understand you have nowhere else to go. I want to give you a scenario. Let's say you were one of the eight souls on Noah's Ark. Halfway through your voyage, how's it going? Well, it's been dark, cold, rainy, the food is utterly miserable, and the work, you don't want to hear the kind of stuff we've been doing for these animals. Day after day, I have to do this. That's it. That is it. I've had it. I'm getting off.
Really, where're you going to go? Where're you going to go? There's no lifeboat on the Ark, no dingy and certainly no place to row to. Where're you going to go? The Ark represents salvation. Hooper knew it. I can't get off the Ark. It doesn't matter what happens to my body. I've got nowhere else to go. And if I turn my back on Christ, there's no other salvation, there's no other place to go. So I'm going to stay on the ark, no matter how much work I have to do, because this is the place of salvation. There is no other.
Warfare: Killing Sin, Advancing the Kingdom
Thirdly, warfare twofold. You have to put sin to death today. You have to put it to death. You have to kill it. Imagine if you would, that you're a soldier in a war, and you're up on a hill, and the enemy keeps coming at night, and it's end four straight nights now that they've come and command keeps radio-ing in saying, "You're going to be relieved very soon," But they don't come, and as the sun starts go down, you say, "I'm going to face another battle to night All night long, I have to fight. That is it. I'm not going to do it. I'm going to take the day off, the night off. I'm going to get myself a good night sleep, and in the morning I'll feel a little bit better and then if there's still some fighting be done, I'll get up and I'll fight." Well tonight you will die tonight you will die. Tonight you'll die. And I think we don't take soul matters spiritual matters, that seriously. Satan comes the devil on temptation comes and we think God's going to clean it up and the grace, and yes, all that, but yet God calls on you to fight, and if you do not by the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will go to hell. You will die forever because that is the lifestyle of a Christian. A genuine Christian puts sin to death. Does that mean that they're sinless and perfect? No, not at all. Not one person in this room is sinless and perfect. But we put sin to death, daily by the power of the Spirit.
We fight to advance the Kingdom of God. Do you see the little cards in your bulletin? Where are they? Here's one. Friend day. Josh told me that a 1000 of these have been printed up. Okay. A thousand. One is in your bulletin, there are others at the door. He would like there to be none left at the end of Sunday morning worship. But I don't really think it's that important what Josh thinks as much as I love the brother, it's what God thinks. I think God thinks we should hand these out. God thinks that we should reach out with the Gospel and not just friend day because, that's going to come and go. In a daily ongoing sense, we're going to share the gospel and you know what that's going to buy us? "All men will hate you because of me." It's going to bring persecution, but, "Be faithful to death and you'll receive the crown of life."
Expectation: Expecting Earthly Hardship
Fourthly, expectation. Can I ask you, what do you expect out of your life here in America? Do you expect ease and comfort? Are you ready for what's coming? Are you ready? Expect differently? Now, next time I preach, I'm going to be talking about how an eternal world view, eternal vision, casts out fear. We're going to talk about that next time, but what do you expect?
Discipline: Living to Please God
Fifthly, discipline. Daily disciplines, weekly disciplines. What daily disciplines? Prayer, Bible reading, putting sin to death, confessing sin when you stumble and fall. Daily disciplines, don't neglect them. Weekly disciplines. Being here for worship. You can't do without it, I can't do without it. We must be here week after week, to encourage one another in the faith. And then finally, if you find that today you are in a backslidden state, you feel like you're not close to Christ, you don't know whether you're Christian. If you find that you're an unbeliever and there's no doubt about it, all of us have the same remedy.
Faith: Daily Looking Unto Christ Alone
Look to Jesus, look to Christ, look to Him for you backslidden folks look to him again. For you, unbelieving folks up to this point, look to him anew, but look to Christ. Hebrews 12:2-3, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…" and He will finish it. "The author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning at shame and sat down at the right hand of God." Jesus dead on the cross is your salvation. Jesus risen from the grave, He is your power. Look again to Him. Close with me in prayer.