- From the Editor -
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
I want to talk to you about that little phrase where He says, “...be thou faithful unto death.”
If you look at the context, He said “Fear none of those things...” There are multitudes of people in America living in fear because they watch way too much television and read far too little Bible, so we are afraid of something we cannot see. A virus, a flu, a bug with a 99.9% survival rate.
The Bible tells us “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1) You say, “Well, what does that mean?” It means they are running from something that is not chasing them. It is their imagination and their fear that causes them to flee. The truth is that most people are not even in jeopardy of what they are worried about. Very few are in any serious danger, and they probably know who they are and should protect themselves, but there is no call for millions of people locking themselves in their houses, no call for shutting everything in society down, killing businesses and jobs and bankrupting the whole nation.
It is fear, and fear is not of God. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7) When he contrasts those three things to fear, it pretty well tells me if I am operating in fear I am operating in weakness and not power. If I am operating in fear I am operating in selfishness and self-preservation, not in love which is a giving thing. If I am operating in fear, I am not operating with a sound mind and making sane decisions. My thoughts are wrong, which is dangerous and leads to a lot of foolish things because I am thinking wrong, and as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. If I think wrong I am wrong; if I am wrong, doing right is a monumental task, because my thinking is the opposite of that.
We are told in this text, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer.” Notice He said, “...thou shalt suffer.” We live in a sin-cursed world. In a sin-cursed world, sometimes bad things happen to good people with no logical explanation as to why. I want to serve notice on you tonight, you shall suffer, but the good news is that this is not all there is. If you are a born-again Christian, a place called Heaven awaits you, and when you close your eyes in death you will open them on the other side and never suffer again for all of eternity.
I would strongly suggest to you that if you have never been born again and don’t know of a time and place that you trusted Christ, God said, “Behold now is the accepted time.” “Behold now is the day of salvation.” We are not guaranteed a midnight tonight or a tomorrow. Life is but a vapor; it appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away, and you and I need to be prepared now to meet God. Be prepared to die because none of us is sure if we have a tomorrow, but we are sure there is an eternity that awaits us, a conscious eternity either in Heaven if we trust Christ, or in Hell if we don’t. I can not understand why anybody with a little bit of common sense would willingly reject the gift of God when He purchased it with blood and offered it to me free -- it makes absolutely no sense to me, and this gift is worth more than all the wealth of the world. It makes no sense that we would turn that down. It would make you think that there is a devil or something, and it will make you think that he is manipulating people’s thinking so that they are not thinking straight and they make destructive decisions based on pride and fear, and not based on the gospel or the truth of the word of God.
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison...” Do you get the idea that the context here is talking about persecution? He goes on to say, “...that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” It sounds to me like you might become a martyr; so I am supposed to be faithful even if it costs my life. By the way, history is littered with those who were believers who gave their lives rather than deny their Lord, who believed what the Bible said with conviction, who departed this life in persecution and martyrdom, but in great victory. Savanarola, a preacher of the early church, was told by the Catholic hierarchy, “Thou are excluded from the church militant and the church triumphant.”
His reply was this: “From the church militant thou mayest exclude me, but from the church triumphant thou canst not.” He departed in victory.
God intended for his people to be faithful, and if I am to be faithful unto death, even if my faithfulness to Christ is what cost me my life, if I die of natural causes I am certainly to be faithful until I die. Faithful until I draw my last breath. I am to stay by the stuff and not wander off from the will of God.
The Bible talks in Proverbs about wandering from your place. Not being faithful, not being dependable. Now, to be faithful is to be full of faith. “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:” (Acts 6:5) The Bible tells us that Stephen was full of faith and of the Holy Ghost of God.
Full of faith first. Faith is based on the word of God. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) If I am going to be full of faith, I must be full of the word of God that produces faith. I am to be full of faith, and when I am full of faith, according to Romans 16:26, faith always obeys. “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” (Romans 16:26) That means if I am full of faith, I will be full of obedience, but I have to first be full of the word of God, and that is not accidental. That is by choice that I fill my mind and my heart with scripture. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)
He said I am to hide it in my heart. I am to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15) but faith is both dependent upon God and expectant from God. Remember this great verse in Hebrews 11:6? “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Without faith, it is impossible to please God. I wonder if a bunch of the people who claim to be saved even believe there is a God, or are you just talking into the air when you pray? I mean, does it ever dawn on you that there is a real living God who knows you personally, who loves you, who gave His Son to die for you, who has a plan for your life that is better than anything you could ever put together?
Secondly, you must believe that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. First, it comes with the dependency on Him, believing He is, and casting my care upon Him. Second, it has to do with expectation, believing that God rewards faith and keeps His promises. God grants us faith, God responds to faith.
You know, we are saved by grace through faith. We are supposed to walk by faith and live by faith and pray the prayer of faith according to James 5:15. Faith is always obedient, but faith is not accidental. It does not fall out of the sky. The word of God produces faith in me, and if I am going to be faithful for a lifetime, I need to fill my mind and heart with the word of God.
To be filled with faith, I must first be filled with the word of God. I wonder how much time you spend poring over that Book and memorizing, studying, living in it and consuming it spiritually? The conclusion, then, to be full of faith is to be full of dependency on God and expectation from God, which produces obedience.
The Bible tells us that faith can be seen. You can’t see the essence of faith, but you can certainly see the outcome and the product of faith that produces something. Webster defines faithful as ‘firm and adherent.’ He defines it ‘to be true and constant in your affection.’ He said it produces a loyalty. He defines it in a third case ‘to be trustworthy.’ Somebody that can be counted upon.
“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.” (Proverbs 25:19) He didn’t say a broken tooth on this end of the body or a foot out of joint on that end of the body, He said it is like a broken tooth and a foot out of joint. He said if you are counting on somebody that is unreliable, that is unfaithful, that is not dependable in your time of trouble, you are going to be hurting from head to toe.
I wonder who is counting on you? Confidence in an unfaithful man. They think you have a prayer life, but you don’t. They think you care and call their name out before God, but you don’t. They think you are living for God, but you are not. Hey, listen to me folks. Somebody is counting on you. You don’t have to be a preacher for somebody to be looking to you and depending on you.
Being faithful is a major part of the Christian life. It is key to the Christian life. The character of the faithful man is sketched out in the book of Proverbs. The first thing we learn in Proverbs 11:13 is that the faithful man is not a talebearer. “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (Proverbs 11:13) This is somebody that you can actually confide in and bare your heart to, and they will do you no harm with what they have been told. They don’t feel compelled to tell everyone. There are some people who, the only thing they don’t tell is what they don’t know, and then there are some people who even tell what they don’t know! He said the faithful man is not a talebearer.
“A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.” (Proverbs 13:17) A faithful man has a healing effect on everybody he comes in contact with, he leaves them better than he found them. Their condition is better because they cross paths with a faithful man. It said a wicked messenger falls in to mischief, but a faithful ambassador is health. The faithful man has a positive effect on those that he comes in contact with; they leave stronger, not weaker. They leave closer to God, not farther away. They leave encouraged, not discouraged. He is health to them in every sense; not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally they are built up and bolstered because they spent time with a faithful man.
The Bible tells us, “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.” (Proverbs 14:5) You know, he is faithful not only to God, but to truth. He is going to tell the truth even when it is painful to hear it. He is going to tell the truth when he doesn’t want to have to tell the truth. A faithful man will be loyal to truth and principle at all costs. You may not like what he says, but you can count on what he says.
Evangelist Jim Brown is in Heaven now, but he said this, and I took it as a great compliment. We were in a meeting together and Brother Brown and I had a conversation in which we disagreed. He was a little put out with me that I didn’t see things the same way he did. That night when he got up to preach, he said, “Brother Corle is not always right about everything. But he always does what he believes is the right thing.” Now, he was jabbing at me, but I took that as a tremendous compliment. Everybody is not going to agree with me all the time, and you have a right to be wrong if you want to. But the Bible says somebody that is faithful, they are going to be loyal to truth and principle, and they are not going to lie to you and tell you what you want to hear.
I am not just talking about preachers from the pulpit, I am talking about friends, too. The Bible talks about the wounds of a friend being a blessing more than the kisses of an enemy. You just kissed the Lord Jesus in betrayal, but you and I are to tell the truth and be faithful to the truth and tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. There are things they need to hear, and they are not always very receptive to them.
“As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.” (Proverbs 25:13) “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” (Matthew 23:10) I have one Master to please. I don’t have to please everybody. I have one to please, the Lord Jesus. This verse says if I am faithful, I will be refreshing to my Master, the One who sent me.
Wouldn’t you like to be a blessing to God? The Psalmist said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” (Psalm 103:1) That is not our prayer. Our prayer is “Bless my soul, O LORD, with all that is within thee.” We are not too interested in being a blessing. We are interested in experiencing one, but the Bible says that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive, and after the Lord Jesus died for me, it would be a wonderful thing if I was a blessing to my Master.
He said, “As the cold of snow in the time of harvest...” I have put up thousands of bales of hay and forked tons of manure when it was packed in the stalls a foot and a half deep. You know what I am talking about. You jump on the pitchfork, pull it back, and you hear the suctioning, then it lets loose and flies up sticking to your forehead. I did that in the heat of summer most of my summer vacations. Growing up I worked for three different farmers, and there were a lot of times in the middle of July I would have welcomed a snowstorm. It would have been refreshing, and felt mighty good when I was covered in hayseed and sweat, in the barn with no breeze throwing bales of hay, 70 lb square bales. God says in this text that we can be a source of refreshing, not only to the people that we come in contact with, but we can be refreshing and a blessing to our Master, our God. Somewhere along the line, maybe we ought to want to be a blessing to God. He is certainly worthy of one. Faithfulness is a major issue if that is to be a reality.
“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6) 1. He is not a self promoter. 2. Faithful men are rare. They are not a dime a dozen. “What are you getting at preacher?” “Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” (Hebrews 3:2)
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” (II Timothy 4:6) Paul likened himself to an Old Testament sacrifice that was placed on the altar, and he knew that the sacrifice must die. There was finality to this. He said, “I am looking in the face of death. I am not saying that I am ready but I think death is way down the road. I am looking it in the eye. I am scheduled for public execution in hours or days at the most. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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.” (II Timothy 4:6-8) He didn’t say, “I have won every battle.” He said, “I have been faithful to the fight.”
I hear guys say, “Well you know there is no use standing for that conviction anymore. People won’t respond to it. You can’t build a church with standards anymore and teach separation, they won’t have it. It’s no use fighting that battle.” Really? I read the last chapter, and I found out how it is going to turn out. I am supposed to keep on fighting, keep on standing for truth.
Listen to me folks. If 25 men break into your home and they intend to rape and kill your wife, should you say, “Well, I can’t defeat them so I guess I will let them have her?” Oh no! I am going to kill as many as I can. They are going to have to kill me. Are you listening?
Just because I can’t win a certain battle doesn’t mean I shouldn’t fight. I am not saying we can’t win, but even if that were true, it doesn’t matter. I am supposed to keep fighting for what is right and keep fighting against what is wrong and sinful and not get used to it.
By the way, if you are any kind of an American patriot, you better be upset about what is going on with our liberties right now because we have a Constitutional crisis that is far greater than any danger of a virus. Don’t get comfortable with this ‘new normal’ they promote. Our illustrious governor said that green is the new normal and that is as far as it ever goes from now on. He wants you to wear a mask for the rest of your life and tell you how far apart you must be, how many people can be in a room. The last time I checked, for free people, it is their responsibility to protect themselves and not some tyrant’s job to govern them to the point that they have no liberty. If you are afraid, protect yourself. I won’t mock you. I think your fear is probably not warranted, but that is your choice, and I respect your choice.
But when it comes to liberty I don’t need somebody to lead me around by the hand like a two-year-old child. I don’t need somebody to tell me how I am supposed to be dressed and how far away I can be. You ought to be fighting that, and you better get to the polls in November. I don’t know if there has ever been a more important election in my lifetime than the one we are facing, because liberty is so fragile at this moment. If the wrong crowd gets the reins for a month you will never see liberty again. Get everybody you can to the polls, get there yourself, take a stand and be vocal! I don’t care whether these liberals like me or not. I don’t much like them either. I love them for Jesus’ sake, but I am not required to like them. I am required to love them and give them the gospel, but most of them are Christ rejectors, half of them are perverts.
Be thou faithful! Faithful to the fight! There are some things worth fighting for. There are some things we are dying for. We just had Memorial Day to remember those who were fallen. You know why they went and fought and died even when they knew the jeopardy? Our Founding Fathers were willing to give their lives for one more day of liberty, and it appears that we are willing to give our liberty for one more day of life, even when it is not truly in jeopardy. Somebody better wake up and smell the coffee before it is too late. We are going to miss our window of opportunity.
Paul said, “I have been faithful to the fight and faithful to the faith.” ‘The faith’ is that body of truth that is essential in Christianity, and folks I am going to fight for standards even if nobody has them. I am going to fight for the King James Bible if everybody uses an NIV. I am going to fight liberalism if everybody goes liberal. I ain’t doing anything I am doing because the crowd is doing it! I’ve got a Book, and I believe it with all my heart!
By the way, we’ve got a Constitution, too. You hear me, if you are not careful, they are going to lull you to sleep like a frog in warm water. You throw him in boiling water and he will leap out. You put him in lukewarm water and slowly heat it, and he won’t notice the change until it’s already too late. Everybody says, “Well all these new requirements aren’t that bad. Just a little bit of inconvenience.” No, it is an infringement of our liberty. Liberty requires personal responsibility, which welfare people don’t understand. They think the government is a cow to be milked instead of a watchdog to protect our liberty and our borders.
I don’t want their milk or their money! Leave me alone! I don’t want your vaccinations. I don’t want your tests. Just let me alone out in the boondocks! I don’t want somebody policing every move I make and putting chips in me so they can monitor everywhere I go and what my body functions are doing. I don’t want all my personal history and information available to anybody and everybody who can get their hands on the right kind of scanner to read it.
Paul was faithful to the fight and to the faith. Then he said, “I have finished my course. I have been faithful to the finish.” Listen, a lot of people start out well, but then finish poorly. People change, sometimes dramatically, and it is not for the good. We are all supposed to grow in grace, which changes us, and makes us more like Christ. That is not the kind of change that I’m talking about.
Paul said, “I have been faithful to the finish.” He said, “I have run my course.” He didn’t change courses or get off course. He didn’t run somebody else’s course. He didn’t turn back. He just stayed at it and finished. Paul could tell us, “My course has been an obstacle course. I have been shipwrecked twice, beaten with rods thrice. I have been among false brethren. At Lystra they stoned me to death, and God miraculously raised me up” He said, “I have been faithful to the finish.”
What an epitaph. Faithful to the fight. Faithful to the faith. Faithful to the finish. Let everybody else change and quit and compromise. I don’t care what they do. If I lose every friend I have and every meeting I have for standing on the Bible, I will continue to stand on the Bible and preach on the street corner. I am not compromising what I believe to get a meeting, to keep a meeting, to appease anybody, and certainly not to appease some corrupt politician. They don’t even know what gender they are! How can you guide or govern anybody else when you don’t even know what you are much less where you are and why you are? Those that look shocked have been programmed by the public-school system to the point they have normalized this perversion. It is an abomination.
“Boy you are radical.” This isn’t the first power grab I have seen. In 1982, I was in a revival meeting in Louisville, Nebraska. The pastor had called me and said, “Brother Corle, we have a Christian school and they told me we have to take a license.” He said, “I am not going to take a license, so they arrested me. Do you still want to come?” I asked him if he still wanted me to come, and he said he did.
I said, “I will be there.” I started preaching revival on Wednesday, and it was scheduled to go through the second Sunday. Everyday I would go have coffee with Brother Siliven at the jail, talk with him, go visiting and preach that night.
On Friday afternoon the police informed us that before Monday they were going to padlock the door of the church so they couldn’t have school in the building. We set up a phone bank in the church and called preachers all over America. By Sunday night hundreds had arrived, and we decided to have an all night prayer meeting. They cannot padlock a building with people in it, since it is a fire hazard. I said, “We are not leaving.”
About 3 o’clock in the morning on Monday, three or four car loads of policemen pulled up out there and came inside. I was over here to the left between the pews, on my knees praying. I had my arms underneath, and when they said, “Sir, you are going to have to leave”, I just kept on praying. They tugged on me, and I kept on praying. I said, “I hate to tell you this fellas when you walk you are on Holy ground now, and this is not your jurisdiction and there are no criminals here.”
Well, they started tugging on me so I got ahold of the bottom of the pew. It took four of them to drag me out of there, and they finally stood me upright here. One of them got on each arm, and I backed them up to the Lord’s supper table. Finally, two more came and picked up my legs.
“Well, I don’t think you ought to do that.” Then don’t ever fight for anything you believe in. Just roll over and play dead, Fido. Finally they picked me up and carried me out. When they got a few of us outside, another preacher and I said, “We need to break that door off so they can’t lock it.” We slammed that door back as hard as we could and couldn’t break it off, but that did inflame them a little bit.
There was over a hundred of us in there, and they couldn’t arrest that many people. All they could do was remove us one by one from the building and padlock it. By the way, we did file a class action suit against the sheriff, against the judge who wrote the order, and against the state attorney. We never really got to pursue it because within less than a year all three of them died. You can do what you want, but there is a God in Heaven that does not like people tampering with His church. It is time that you and I quit caving into it. I am supposed to be faithful to Him.
The next day Lester Roloff flew in. He climbed up on chairs, and said, “Boys, I have never been as low as I am today. White says if he gets elected governor, he is closing down the Roloff homes.” He said, “Nobody is ever closing those homes down again, not over my dead body.” Election day was November 4th. I was driving down the road after I had left that meeting in Nebraska, and heading to Arkansas. I was near Kansas City with a storm raging, and the radio was crackling because we were trying to hear if there were tornado warnings. I heard a newscaster say that Lester Roloff had crashed his plane that day. He and the Honeybee Quartet were killed in the crash. By the way, that evil governor got elected in Texas, and I truly believe the Lord took Brother Roloff home to keep him from dealing with him, because he was determined, ‘This is not happening on my watch. We lost a bunch of young people the last time they put them back out on the streets, and they are not destroying lives like that again. They have no right.’
While we get comfortable with all the change little by little by little, one of these days you will turn around and discover you have no liberty to worship according to the Bible and no First Amendment rights. Everything you say will be a hate crime. Let me tell you something, in a free country, there’s a right maybe you didn’t know about. You also have a right to be offended. There are a lot of things that people say and do that are offensive to me, but I do not want to take everybody’s liberty away, just so I won’t be offended. I’m much more concerned that we protect Constitutional liberty.
Faithfulness, not production, is the key to the Christian life. He said, “Be thou faithful unto death.” He didn’t say, “Be thou faithful unto discouragement....” He didn’t say, “Be thou faithful unto defeat. Be thou faithful unto persecution. Be thou faithful until some corrupt politician tells you that you are not allowed to be faithful.”
Be thou faithful unto death, and God said, “I will give thee a crown of life.” The Lord promised us something. You know, faithfulness is the key to stewardship, not production. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2) Now, please don’t misunderstand me, there is no conflict between faithfulness and production. In fact, God promises if we will be faithful, we will see the fruit. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9) To faint is to give up consciousness.
You know, if I hit you in the head with a ball bat, you didn’t faint. I knocked you out. But if you cut yourself and feel pain and give up consciousness to keep from dealing with an undesirable circumstance, you fainted. God said, “And let us not be weary in well doing.” You might become weary in well doing, but don’t stop doing well. Why? “For in due season...” In due time, you are guaranteed to reap the results, IF you faint not. Don’t give up. You have got to keep pressing on.
“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1) Will you find it in 15 minutes? No, He said, “After many days.” You don’t sow and reap in the same day. You have to sow, and God has to do what you can’t do before you are going to reap. And remember this: It doesn’t matter how much seed you have in the barn; what matters is how much seed you have in the field. If God is going to do anything, it will be done with what you have planted, the labor and prayer that you have invested.
God is determined to use us, and that ought to thrill our hearts. I tell young preachers to hang in there and be faithful based on this principle in Leviticus 19. “And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal. And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:23-25) I tell them, “Don’t budge until the fifth year.” I think that it is true in building a church. I think it’s true in a business. In anything in life, if you don’t give it five years, you are never going to see the fruit of your early labor. You’ve got to stay with it. I am not implying that you quit after five years. But if you intend to see what your it produces, you have to stay with it and give it that five-year period.
Adoniram Judson went to Burma as a missionary, and when he arrived in Burma, he could not find a professing Christian anywhere in the country. Adoniram Judson translated the Bible into Burmese. He labored for six years facing great difficulty before he even had his first convert. Six years without a single convert! He stayed there another 32 years, 38 years all together. A short time after Adoniram Judson’s death, there was a census in Burma. Remember there was nobody who professed Christianity when he got there; 40 years later there were 210,000 people who claimed they were Christians. Their biggest holiday in Burma became Adoniram Judson Day, celebrating the missionary who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them!
But 6 years without a single convert! The key to faithfulness is to fill your heart and mind with the word of God. Be filled with the word of God so you can be filled with faith, and when you are filled with faith, you can stay by the stuff, be faithful, and keep doing what you are supposed to.
Faithfulness will always be tested. The greater the opportunity the greater the opposition. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12) I am well aware of the context but let me give you a principle. When iniquity is abounding, Christians oftentimes get discouraged and give up hope. They throw their hands in the air and say, “What’s the use?” If you’re not careful, they will wear you out. Preacher, if you are not careful, all this sin in society and disappointment among people will wear you out; because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Have you noticed II Timothy 3 looks like the newspaper headlines today? “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (II Timothy 3-5)
You can just fill in the blank with any topic of sin and separation. “Well, you don’t have to do that to be saved,” they say. Nobody said you did. We didn’t say you had to do it to get saved, we just believe salvation is real, and if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The change is the product of salvation and not the source. It is the outcome, not what produced salvation, but salvation produced the change. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
But he said iniquity is abounding. We’ve got these crazy people burning cities down. Now listen to me folks, I am in favor of truly lawful and peaceful protest, and Christians probably need to do a little bit more of it, but I am talking about peaceful protest not crime. I am talking about what the Constitution provides us with to assemble peaceably and redress grievances with the government and let them know we disagree. Christians never seem to do that. We show up and there are ten of us, and these crazies show up with thousands and burn cities down, and to appease the crazy people, they will give them anything they want to keep them from destroying society, while Christians sit here like a bunch of mice. I am not suggesting that we do what they are doing. I am suggesting that we exercise our constitutional liberty, band together, and stand up against this tyranny.
But we are all too busy, aren’t we? The crowd that is burning cities down, many of them are drawing a check for being there. He said, “The love of many would wax cold.” When your love waxes cold, your obedience fails. Where did I get that? “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) When iniquity abounds and it discourages my heart, I feel defeated and hopeless and feel like nothing can be done. Can I remind you that our God is the God of the impossible? I don’t care how hopeless it looks, when God is involved in it, nothing is impossible. Nothing! We need to believe that. We need to conduct ourselves like we believe that is true.
Years ago Brother Hyles and I were preaching in a Revival Fires Conference together, and I had been living on probably four hours of sleep for months. I’ll be honest with you; I was looking at what was going on in our country and I was pretty discouraged. I said to him, “Doc, it seems like the harder I work, the worse it gets.”
He flashed his black eyes at me and smiled and said, “Well, just think how bad it would be if you weren’t working so hard.” What he was telling me was, even when it is going the wrong direction, don’t be so misguided as to think that you are making no difference by doing right and proclaiming the Word of God. If I can’t turn the ship, I am at least slowing the corruption. It would be worse if I didn’t fight. It will be worse if you don’t fight for what you stand for and what you believe in. I am not just talking politics, I am just for liberty.
Political campaigns call me, and sometimes I get frustrated with them. I tell them that the two things I care about are 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, and you will probably turn around six months after you get elected and betray me. I voted for you based on those things because you said you were for them, then, you turn around and write a bill or co-sponsor a bill that is against everything I believe. It is like going to vote and your choices are the rattlesnakes or the skunks. I will vote for the skunks because they are not venomous. They make it where you can hardly bear the smell, but the rattlesnakes are poison.
The upcoming election is no doubt the most important of our lifetime, and we had better go to the polls and take a stand for what we believe in. Our country and our freedoms are in great jeopardy if we fail to do that.
Faithfulness will always be tested to determine just what it takes to stop you. The greatest test of your character is what it takes to stop you. The greater the door of opportunity, the more adversaries you will face. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” (I Corinthians 16:9)
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12) There is a principle here that is always true. The closer you get to victory, the hotter the battle rages, and when you are more discouraged than you have ever been, you may be on the doorstep of the greatest victory of your life. Press on! Be faithful! Keep on keeping on!
One thing I have noticed is that the harder I work, the luckier I get. Did you ever notice that? You say, “Well, you are just lucky.” Yeah, you get lucky by working at 2 o’clock in the morning while everybody else is sleeping. You get lucky when you are up before everybody and go to bed after everybody, and when you kill time you work it to death. That is how you get lucky. Somebody needs to learn that old, dirty four-letter word again, W-O-R-K! Work!
Faithfulness is motivated by the work, not by the outcome. Can I tell you that there is not always lots of success or lots of results? There is not always lots of fruit, but there is always lots of work. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10) There may be those who are smarter than you and more talented than you, but you have got the same number of hours in every day that they’ve got. It is not all about talent. It is usually about hard work. Work gets it done when talent and ability doesn’t.
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:57-58) He didn’t say always abounding in success, always abounding in proof or results.
He said, “...always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Please listen to me, even when my labor does not produce the desired outcome, my labor is never, ever, ever in vain in the Lord. It is never a waste of time. If I am motivated by the fruit, I will spend half my life or more discouraged. If I am motivated by work, I will never run out of work. As a matter of fact, I am one of those guys that creates work! I drive everybody around me crazy. I have got more work than 20 people can do, but there are things that need to be done and I need to be motivated by the work.
You know, the cause is bigger than life. You remember when Eliab, David’s brother, rebuked him in I Samuel 17:22 and David in verse 23 asked his brother this question. “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” The cause is that there is something bigger in life. There is something worth dying for. Is this just about survival and I am going to live another day and that’s it? I am just going to make it, or is this about making a difference, about proclaiming the Gospel message, about why I am an ambassador in this world? Whether the length of my life is long or short is not the biggest issue. I have a purpose. There is a cause. There is something bigger than life.
Jesus, Himself, said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4) Can I tell you that the night is coming. The night of death, the night of poor health, and the night of the Rapture when we are taken out of here and our last opportunity to do anything in this world is gone. Don’t get on the other side in eternity and say, “Oh, would God I had!” “I wish I had done more for Christ.” You can get there and say, “Boy, thank God I did.”
‘By and by when I look on His face, I’ll wish I had given Him more! More, so much more, more of my life than I ever gave before.’ You will wish that, too. On our best day, I mean, we short-change God after what He did for us and the great price He paid for our redemption. At our best! God help us.
You say, “Well, I have problems.” What do you think about old Ezekiel? “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” (Ezekiel 24:18) You think he didn’t obey with a broken heart? You think he was apathetic and it didn’t bother him that his wife died? He said, “But the fact that I have a broken heart doesn’t eliminate my responsibility. I did it with a broken heart because I am commanded to do some things for the cause that’s bigger than me and my life.” There are some things I need to do whether times are good or bad. Whether the money is plentiful or lean, there are some things I must do, if I do it with a broken heart or a happy heart.
“My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” (Job 27:6) At this point in the story, Job has lost virtually everything. He lost his wealth, he lost his 10 children, he lost his health, lost the support of his wife, lost his friends, and that happened to him in the first two chapters. Twenty-seven chapters later, we find that Job is still in the same pathetic state, suffering. He still does not know why trouble came. It came in the will of God. Nothing has improved yet. No explanation has arrived. In verse 6, he said, “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” Job said, “I have absolutely nothing in my life to encourage me to do right, but I am going to go ahead and do right anyway. I am not going to do right because it solves my problems. I am going to do right because it is right.”
Did you ever hear somebody do right and then say, “Well, what is the use? It didn’t help.” So, you only did right to solve your problem? What is the use in doing right? Because it is right! Because it pleases and glorifies the Lord. That is the use, whether it solves my problems or creates me problems, right is always right. Job said, “Even if it never improves, I am just going to do right. If I never find out why it happened, I am just going to do right so long as I live, even if I have never have anything to encourage me.”
You think about the Apostle Paul. Paul didn’t get worked up about how long he would live or how he would die. In I Timothy 1:19-20, some of his brethren had made shipwreck of their faith. They went off course and crashed and burned spiritually. They departed from the fight, and he kept on going. In Philippians 4:2 he had two women in the church that were fussing and feuding with each other. That is not encouraging, but he pressed on. In II Timothy 4:10 he was heart-broken over being forsaken by Demas, who loved the world and departed from his place serving shoulder to shoulder in the Gospel ministry with Paul. Paul had many instances that I’m sure brought discouragement, disappointment, and difficulty, yet he kept on and stayed faithful until his dying hour. He could enter into Heaven, still saying, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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.” (II Timothy 4:6-8)
I wonder if history will be able to say the same about you and me?