Pattern for Perilous Times
The Gospel message is foolishness to this world, of course, and, incidentally, if the message be foolishness what can the messengers expect but to be called fools? But the time has come when the church cannot endure sound doctrine, not the liberals alone, but plenty of fundamentalists. Alexander Whyte spoke of those who “will be thankful to you for telling them the particular times when the Gospels were writ or for explaining the meaning of Euroclydon or anathema maranatha. They will be glad,” said he, “for such useless instruction. But if you touch upon such subjects as try the state and way of their lives, these religious people cannot bear to be thus instructed.”
In such a time what is the preacher to do? “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” He is to be a “gospelizer” and if the people won’t endure it, preach it anyway!
If we are to be faithful in such a time let us remember that there is a price to pay.
“Endure afflictions,” is Paul’s word to Timothy.
He was to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Paul knew from experience. He had suffered the loss of all things, had endured hardship and suffering.
It costs us nothing to be saved. Eternal life is the gift of God. It cost God aplenty. It cost our Saviour His life, but it is free to us. But if we are to be soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb, it will cost us everything we have and we shall be in for plenty of trouble.
There is a promise to plead.
God has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” and so precious is that word that it shows up in Genesis and Deuteronomy and Joshua and the Psalms and Isaiah and Hebrews. Our Lord has said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” If we pay the price, we can plead the promise.
There is a prize to possess.
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” We are to so run that we may obtain. I don’t want the booby prize when I get to heaven. There is for us the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and we are to let nothing take our crown. Discouragement can do it: Elijah almost lost his under a juniper. Success can do it: David almost lost his in a king’s palace.
Paul ran well, but he kept his body under subjection, lest, having preached to others, he himself should be a castaway. He ran with patience, looking unto Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. He won His prize! Let us consider Him, lest we be weary and faint in our minds. And considering Him, let us pay the price and plead the promise and possess the prize.