Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Why you Need not fear sharing your faith.


2 Timothy 1: 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

The Lord Jesus made it very clear that we, His disciples and followers, are not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He said Mark 8: 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? 37 What can a man give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Dr. Roland Q. Leavell in his book "Evangelism: Christ's Imperative Commission" wrote that fear is the number one reason for Christians not witnessing.

Black Bart was a professional thief whose very name struck ear as he terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line. From San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier. Between 1875 and 1883 he robbed 29 different stagecoach crews. Amazingly, Bart did it all without firing a shot. Because a hood hid his face, no victim ever saw his face. He never took a hostage and was never trailed by a sheriff. Instead, Black Bart used fear to paralyze his victims. His sinister presence was enough to overwhelm the toughest stagecoach guard.

One of Satan's chief weapons to keep us from standing up and speaking up for Christ is fear. We are afraid of letting people we work with know that we are Christians. We are afraid to talking to others about Jesus. No doubt the chief reason many never join the FAITH programme is fear.

Clarence Macartney said, "Regardless of what men's progression of faith may be, if they are under the dominion of fear, they are practical atheists."

We don't have to live as practical atheists or defeated believers. We have been given the resources to overcome our fear. Paul tells us that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

1. You have the Spirit of God

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

Paul is telling us that we have been given power to overcome whatever we fight and face In life, even our fears. This power is the power of the Holy Spirit.

You can face your fears. You can fight your fears. I John 4:4 tells us, "Greater is He that in you, than he that is in the world."

Do you know what God says more than anything else He says in the Bible? It is

"Fear not." More than anything else God says, He says we don't have to fear. More than 100 times God says "Fear not." Why? Because He has given us the Holy Spirit which enables us to overcomes our fears.

He is the Spirit of power.

Jesus said, "All power is given unto me..." and He gave us that power. He said “Go therefore and make disciples” If you know He has the power, you will go and make disciples! It is that simple!

He is the Spirit of love.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died.

Remember the song: “The power of your love!” Christ will give us an all-consuming love for others if we will allow Him to. He will fill us with His love and will help us to see others out of His eyes.

Christ's love can consume us and control our every move.

He is the Spirit of sound judgment.

8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

2. You have a Saviour

9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

That power can take sharp, censorious people with acid tongues and soften them and make them over into new persons. It can take a proud, pompous, self-righteous, self-sufficient professor, or whatever, and transform him into a gentle, easy to live with, wonderful person. It can take a Chuck Colson, who openly swore he would run over his own grandmother to achieve his purposes, and turn him into a caring, concerned man who has dedicated his life to helping people in prison. That is a miracle. That is the power of God, and it ought to keep us from being ashamed of our Christian faith.

With that, the apostle links this term: "He called us with a holy calling." That is speaking of sanctification, the process of reformation as well as regeneration, where our lives start to be transformed. Not only is regeneration a miracle and a demonstration of the power of God, but the continuing growth and transformation of an individual is an evidence of the power of God. That power causes us to turn away from hurt and shame and ugliness unto health and wholeness. (That is what the word holy means, "wholeness.")

Our world's greatest problem is sin, which separates us from God.  The cross was God's way of laying a bridge across that deep ditch.  According to the Scripture we're looking at today, the cross was the place where a great trade took place:  Christ offered himself in exchange for us.  He put himself in our place and took on the penalty we deserved for the ways we've rebelled against God.
In his 1908 book, The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus, John Baddeley described the fierce leader, Shamil, who led the Caucasian resistance against imperial Russia in the area that is now Chechnya.  Even as he led daring guerilla strikes against the Russians, he had to fight the spirit of defeatism among his own countrymen.  He once made a proclamation that whoever advocated any capitulation with the Russians would be beaten with a hundred heavy lashes.  Shortly after the severe edict, an offender was caught and brought before Shamil.  To the warlord's shock and grief, it was his own mother who had called for a treaty with the enemy.
He retreated into solitude for three days to decide what to do.  Due to the blatant disregard of his order and its potential impact on morale, he instructed that the penalty should be carried out.  After the fifth stroke ripped into his mother's back, however, he called a halt to the lashing.  Then something remarkable took place:  He stripped to the waist, knelt down by his mother, and took the remaining ninety-five strokes upon himself.
The story of Shamil's actions wound its way up the mountain passes, carried in astonished whispers from village to village.  Impressed by their leader's uncompromising justice and costly compassion, none of his tribesmen ever again mentioned negotiations with the enemy.  It's a story that resonates in the region to this day.
God did the same thing for us.  He bore the punishment himself, in the person of his own Son, "so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).  The cross became that place where God showed both his justice and his love.
When you bow in prayer for lost people, it should be with the hope and the expectation that those you know will come to the same conclusions about the cross that you have come to.  You need to know the right solution.

3. You have life over death 10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

When Paul wrote his last letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, he was in the Mamertine prison in Rome and was awaiting his own death. As you read that second letter to Timothy you can see that he was quite aware that it was drawing close. He felt that he probably would not get out alive, and he didn't. But in the letter he speaks of the appearing of Jesus Christ our Savior who, [he says,] abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. {2 Tim 1:10b RSV}

Some folks because of the garishness of death have rewritten nursery rhymes like this rewrite:

Three kind mice, three kind mice, They all ran after the farmer's wife,

Who cut them some cheese with a carving knife. Did you ever hear such a tale in your life, as three kind mice?

"Death is muffled in illusions." Dostoevski, the well-known Russian writer, who once faced a firing squad and was delivered at the last possible moment, said: The certainty of inescapable death, and the uncertainty of what is to follow are the most dreadful anguish in the world.

There he placed his finger on the cause of our fear of death: "the uncertainty of what is to follow."

We know not what, or where. And it is this unknown factor that makes us most afraid.

But you have something to share with others because you have faced the fear of death and defeated it.

Hebrews 2: 14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, He also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

The word translated “destroyed” in II Timothy 1:10 means to render powerless. When Jesus rose from the dead, he broke the power of death forever.

This is done in two ways.

First, he removes the fear of judgment by the forgiveness of sin. There is nothing more fundamental to Christianity than that. In the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God was doing something that we men do not fully understand but which nevertheless God declares to be true. He was accomplishing the solution of the basic problem of human evil, which dogs us everywhere we go, the best as well as the worst, the righteous and respectable as well as the evil and the outcast. God solved this basic problem in the cross of Christ. He laid our sins upon him.

I don't know how it happened. I don't know anyone else who fully understands it. It is one of those great mysteries which God declares and which the mind of man cannot fathom or follow. But God has done it, and in Christ men are forgiven.

Secondly, The second thing Jesus does is to promise us life with him. He said, "Because I live, you too shall live," {cf, John 14:19b}. He demonstrated his ability to fulfill that promise by rising from the dead himself. To me that is a most impressive fact. It is what convinces me that I can trust what Jesus says. One day death itself will die. Until then death has taken on new meaning for the Christian. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26). Death for the Christian is a temporary interruption, a passing from one stage of life to another. That is what Paul meant when he declared that to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

How did he destroy death? He could only conquer death by entering the realm of death, yanking the keys from the hands of the devil, unlocking the door, and marching out on Easter Sunday triumphant over the grave.

He died like we die. He was really dead, actually dead, completely dead. He wasn’t partly dead or mostly dead. He was as dead as any person could be. And from that state of death God raised him back to life. He himself walked into that dark valley alone. He faced cold death and looked into its awful face. He stared down death, broke its power, and walked away victorious.

One day death will die! O God, let that day come soon!

Deep in our hearts we wonder what will happen when our time comes to cross the Great Divide. How will it be with us when we have to go through the valley of the shadow of death? Will we be afraid? Will our faith stand the test?

"O death, where is your sting. O grave, where is your victory?" {cf, 1 Cor 15:55}

The Bible tells us that the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). Consider that picture for a moment. How do you take the sting out of a bee? By taking the sting yourself. Then the bee can hurt you no more. Christ took the venom of death. Death stung him and killed him. But death could not keep him dead. He took all the venom of death so there is none left for his people to fear. Death for us is no longer a curse but a blessing. The New Testament calls it “sleep” because when you sleep, you plan to wake up later.

I don't know how to explain it except by what is involved in this story of Jesus. Death is no longer fearsome for the believer. Death in Christ means to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. "To depart and be with Christ," Paul says, "is far better," {cf, Phil 1:23}. He has taken away the sting of death and removed its fear and terror. So death becomes but an incident, a moment of transition from this life to the next, and then the experience of joy and blessing beyond expression.

Each of us has an appointment with Death sooner or later.

Will you face Death as someone who is forgiven? Will you face death as someone who has conquered death?

Have you put your trust in the One who holds the keys of life and death? Revelation 1:17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Death has been destroyed. When Jesus rose from the dead, he left the door to the tomb wide open. That means we won’t have to fight our way out of the grave when he calls us to wake up. He left the door open 2000 years ago. That is God’s guarantee that even though we die, we won’t stay dead forever.

I have here a letter which was written by a young soldier about to die. During World War II he was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis and was sentenced to be executed. Writing from his prison in Hamburg on the day of his execution, this is what he said to his parents:

When this letter comes to your hands I shall no longer be among the living. The thing that has

occupied our thoughts constantly for many months, never leaving them free, is now about to

happen. If you ask me what state I am in I can only answer: I am, first, in a joyous mood and,

second, filled with a great anticipation.

As regards the first feeling, today means the end of all suffering and all earthly sorrow for me.

"God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes." What consolation, what marvelous strength

emanates from faith in Christ who has preceded us in death. Everything that till now I have done,

struggled for, and accomplished, has at bottom been directed to this one goal, whose barrier I

shall penetrate today. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man

the things which God has prepared for them that love him."

For me, believing will become seeing; hope will become possession, and I shall forever share in

Him who is love. Should I not, then, be filled with anticipation? What is it all going to be like? The

things that up to this time I have been permitted to preach about, I shall now see. There will be no

more secrets nor tormenting puzzles. Today is the great day on which I return to the home of my

Father. How could I fail to be excited and full of anticipation? Then I shall see once more all those

who have been near and dear to me here on earth.

And so, until we meet again above, in the presence of the Father of light.

Your joyful, Herman.

Forgiven! Confidence in the face of death! Do you know it to be true for you? If you do, then you will be excited to share it with those who do not know it to be true for them yet. Oh what grief death brings! Did you not grieve this week for so many who lost their lives in the horrible inferno? Did you not weep as you realised these were your fellow Australians who suffered such loss? There will be funerals this week. Many, many funerals. Wouldn’t you like people to know that death doesn’t have to be the victor in anyone’s life anymore?

Then go tell them! They need to know! They need to have a joy that will take them through the valley of the shadow of death and into the Lord’s presence in heaven! And only you can tell them!

4. You have a job

11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,

The person with a commission doesn’t need permission.

5. You have an assurance

12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

What He saves He keeps!

This is a Confident Assurance

Many texts teaching the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice for his people. "I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand." "...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Heb. 10:14). Toplady put this confidence in the work of our shepherd this way.

If ever it should come to pass, That sheep of Christ might fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas! Would fall a thousand times a day.

But, his point is, the shepherd knows his sheep and is willing to leave those 99 who are in safety to rescue even one who has wandered away and has put himself in some danger. "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me." "I shall lose not one of those the Father has given me, but raise them up at the last day."

This Is A Christ-Centred Assurance

"For I know whom I have believed . . ." (v. 12a)

it is faith in a person. That person is Jesus Christ.

What the Church desperately needs today is to be thoroughly introduced to Christ. We need to know Him intimately. We need to put our faith, not merely in doctrines about Him, but in Him. As we trust Him by faith, then we will come to know Him by experience. And the more we experience Him, the more we will trust Him.

Be mindful of Jesus and Me! My pardon He suffer'd to buy;

And what he procur'd on the tree, For me He demands in the sky.

The reason why many people doubt His word is because they have not come to know HIM personally. I had one minister friend who told me that he was once a liberal. He said he used to doubt God’s Word. But then an interesting thing happened — he surrendered to Christ. That was also Billy Graham’s testimony. He said that since that time, he had never had any problem with the Bible, God’s Word. We believe God’s Word because we believe God.

This is a Committed Assurance

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