Here I Stand!

July 23, 2018

 Here I Stand! 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Corinthians 13:16; Ephesians 6:10-14

 

The Good ole days: How would you like to go back in time one-hundred years? My parents would have gone to church in a horse and buggy. Even when I was child, my mom cooked on a big, cast iron, wood burning stove, and we heated our house with a warm-morning stove in the living room with vents in the ceiling to heat the upstairs…but we never felt any of that heat upstairs, in fact many cold winter mornings we found frost on the window sill. We chopped wood and carried water from a well. We bathed once a week in a metal tub in the kitchen, and walked about fifty yards to the little house behind the house (We had four rooms and a path!) One room school houses, dirt roads, it all seems so primitive now. Our society has come a long way! And for much of this modern technology we are very glad, I for one, would not like to go back!

I know we don't want to live in the past, but when the Bible was in the heart of the people, things were different. It would be good to get back to the old paths, the ancient landmarks.

 

Proverbs 22:28, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.”

 

The importance of the landmark in Bible times can be traced back to the time when God set the boundaries for the children of Israel as they entered into the promised land. But I want to apply this verse to the change from the “good ole days” when nearly everyone knew there was a God. And there were boundaries of integrity, honesty and morality.

 

These days I feel like an antique, I guess, since I’m an octogenarian I am an antique. But in this day of "Marketing the Church," "Postmodernism," "Neopaganism," a watered down Gospel to meet the "felt needs" of people, with the "Willow Creek" model, the "Saddleback" model, the "Emerging Church" model, I just don't seem to fit this new paradigm. When will this modern culture learn that the best model is the "Jesus" model. Matthew 16:18: "On this Rock (speaking of Himself) I will build My church…" The truth is, if we just get out of the way He will build His church!

 

2 Thessalonians 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast (continue, establish, persevere, stand firm) and hold the traditions (precepts, teachings) which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

 

Philippians 4:1, "Stand fast in the Lord."

 

1 Corinthians 16:13, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."

 

Here I Stand! Always remember, those who stand for nothing, will fall for anything!

 

On April 17th, 1521 at about 4:00 pm, Martin Luther appeared before Emperor Charles the Fifth, and all the representatives of Rome. He thought he was coming to a debate, not realizing the verdict was already in. He would not be allowed to speak, except to answer two questions. The Archbishop gestured to a table in the middle of the impressive assembly, which was piled high with books. He told Martin Luther he had been called to the Diet of Worms to answer two questions: 1. Had he written these books? 2. Was there any part of them he would now choose to recant? Martin Luther spoke in a voice that could scarcely be heard, "The books are all mine–I have written more." But then, as he considered the second question, "This touches God and His Word. This effects the salvation of souls. I beg you, give me time." And so he was given one day. Back in his quarters Luther wrote, "So long as Christ is merciful, I will not recant a single jot or tittle." He was not admitted to the assembly the next day until nightfall. He stood in the candle-lit hall. After realizing again there was no room for debate, he made this statement, "Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds and reasoning–my conscience is captive to the Word of God–that I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me, Amen."

 

The major drive of many religious groups and churches today is unity, they do nothing to offend. They try not to make church uncomfortable for attenders. One lady said, "The church we visited played secular music as people came in." When they spoke to the pastor about it he said, "We don't want them to feel uncomfortable." That was a “seeker-friendly” church. Many say, "Don't say anything about another's religion." "Don't be so dogmatic about what you believe." One young couple asked me not to say anything negative about a certain cult that was prevalent in our city. They didn't want their children to feel they were any different from their friends who were part of the cult. It would not surprise me to hear that those children are now a part of that cult.

 

Now I believe strongly in a biblically based unity and a kind, caring and concerned pulpit, but not at the expense of Truth! Why? Truth is far more important than unity! The great Apostle Paul was a champion of unity:

 

He admonished the believers at Corinth to be careful, because they were divided four ways, "I follow Paul, Apollos, Peter, Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:4).

He wrote the great texts about unity, "Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind" (Philippians 2:2). The New Testament is a book of unity! We are admonished to believe the same things, love the same things, be of one mind, of one accord. Most religionists have a morbid fear of controversy. The church lacks discernment, mainly because it is too cowardly to stand against error.

 

It has never been popular to stand for Truth!

 

•For Truth's sake Martin Luther said, "Here I stand."

•For Truth's sake Wesley was pushed from pillar to post.

•For Truth's sake, Spurgeon fell ill and died. Even his own brother had fallen prey to the "Downgrade Controversy" (Very similar to the “Church growth” movement).

•For Truth's sake Jonathon Edwards, Missionary to the Indians, died young.

•For Truth's sake, Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna was burned at the stake.

•For Truth's sake martyrs through the ages have suffered indescribable torment.

•For Truth's sake, New Guinea Missionary Stan Dale took over one-hundred arrows into his body.

•For Truth's sake, Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries suffered death at the hands of the ones they were trying to help.

•For Truth's sake James, the Lord's brother was thrown from the temple and stoned, John was exiled, Peter crucified, Stephen stoned, and Paul beheaded.

 

Unity is a wonderful blessing, but not at the expense of Truth. Every minister who dispenses God's Truth must be passionate in standing for the Truth. We who preach God's Truth must be serious about the handling of that Truth. Our goal in life must be, with God being our helper and judge, we will, through every means possible and with all of our effort always try to tell people what God says! We all have preferences as to style, but no one has a choice as to what is to be preached! Our messages may be expository, textual, or topical, but always the Word of God, verse by verse, by chapter by chapter, book by book, principle by principle, but we are in good company listen to the Apostle Paul: "Necessity is laid upon me, yes woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). "One who does not need to be ashamed…who correctly explains the Word of Truth" [2 Timothy 2:15 NLT].

 

“Followers of Jesus Christ, and especially pastors and church leaders, have a responsibility to speak the truth of Scripture, calling sin what it is, and acknowledging that it has always reigned in the hearts of the human race. It is not any worse today than it was ‘in the beginning.’ Christians are called to shun acceptance of sin in all forms, not because we are perfect people but as a testimony to the transformation God brings about in a life surrendered to Him; washed clean by the blood of Christ and clothed in His righteousness. We must be people of endurance in the face of criticism or any form of persecution. If we do not exhibit godly courage to stand strong in the faith, we cannot overcome Satan’s seducing spirit that grips the world. The Bible says: ‘Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared…If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.’” (1 Timothy 4:1-2, 6) –Billy Graham

 

“God's Word, the Bible, is Truth. It doesn't just contain truth. It is truth. And because it is truth from the mind and heart of an God, it is the kind of truth that sets people free. John 8:32, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’

 

“In our current era, the surrounding culture is exerting pressure as never before upon evangelicalism to change and compromise its message – to adapt its theology to accommodate the ebb and flow of what is popular and to the opinion that has consensus. I've seen tweeted way too many times lately that Christians ‘are on the wrong side of history’ on certain social issues.” –Rick Warren

 

The true believer is committed to Jesus Christ, but not only to Him, but to engage the evil forces of the world. It seems that many Christians look for the path of least resistance, and too many live in comfort zones which do not demand sacrifice or a commitment to stand up and wrestle with the powers of darkness. The fight is ours and cannot be delegated, or pushed off on others, it is ours alone!

 

“Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb,

And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried through the skies on flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas.

 

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?”

–Isaac watts

 

Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:3, “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The life of the Christian is not one of delicate softness.  It is one of stern conflict and intense struggle against “Evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT). 

 

When I was on staff with Promise Keeper’s Men’s Ministry, our founder and CEO, Coach Bill McCartney brought me “The "U.S. Army Ranger's Creed,” and asked me if I could write a  “Christian Soldier's Creed.” Here’s what I wrote:

 

Acknowledging that a Christian soldier is commissioned to be a militant, a fighter, and aggressive warrior in the attack on the "gates of hell," I must also accept the fact that as a Christian Soldier, my Commander in Chief expects me to engage the enemy on my knees, with a shout of victory. The battle belongs to the Lord.

 

Never shall I fail my brothers and sisters! I will always keep myself mentally alert, morally straight, and spiritually strong. I will shoulder more than my share of responsibility  in every battle, whatever that may be.

 

Gallantly I will show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My Christian demeanor, my readiness for battle and the care of my equipment, the full armor of God, shall be an example for others to follow.

 

Energetically I will meet Your enemies on my knees, Lord. My assigned post shall be the prayer closet. I shall conquer on that field of battle, for I am continually training and will fight with all my might, remembering, "Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world." Surrender if not a Christian word!

 

I will never leave a wounded brother or sister to fall into the hands of the enemy, and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my fellow warriors in Christ or my Commander in Chief.

 

Readily I will display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Christian objective and complete my mission, even if I am the lone survivor, knowing that my Commander will never leave me nor forsake me.

 

Untiringly I will defend the cause of my Commander, on my knees, at my post, knowing that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 

A Final Word: “Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of Gods armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-13 NLT). “Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in time of evil, so that after that battle you will still be standing strong. Stand your ground…” (2 Corinthians 10:3,4 NLT). We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods. We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the devil's strongholds.

 

In Ephesians 6:13, Paul says “having done all, to stand.” He also writes, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). How do we conquer? Through God’s great strength! “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). How do we accomplish that? “Strength” in Greek is endunamoo, translated, “to endue with strength.” Every true believer is supernaturally strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

 

Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”  

 

Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

 

Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…”

 

This supernatural power that the Holy Spirit gives us enables us to stand victoriously against an enemy that, from a purely human perspective, is stronger and smarter.

 

Ephesians 6:1-12, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

 

To be able to stand and be strong in the Lord you first must KNOW the LORD!

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-). To be in the Lord means that He has saved you from God’s judgment by His grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Salvation is not based on anything that you have done or deserved. You cannot begin to understand what it means to be strong in the Lord unless you truly know the Lord through saving faith in Jesus Christ.

To be able to stand and be strong in the Lord you must know your own weaknesses.

 

This is a continual, lifelong process that begins at salvation. We cannot trust completely in Christ to save us until we come to some awareness that we are helplessly, hopelessly lost and unable to save ourselves by our own good works. As Spurgeon put it, “we must see that we are convicted and condemned, with the rope around our neck, before we will weep for joy when Christ pardons us”

The apostle Paul had an amazing experience of being caught up into heaven itself. Because of this, to keep Paul from exalting himself, the Lord sent a messenger of Satan to torment him. The lesson that Paul learned was (2 Cor. 12:10b), “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

Our pride blinds us to our true condition. It makes us think that we have some measure of strength in ourselves. Pride makes us think that the longer we are Christians, the stronger we become. But we never become stronger in ourselves. In reality, the strong Christian is one who has come to see more and more of his own weakness and propensity towards sin. That awareness drives him to depend all the more on the Lord’s strength. To be strong in the Lord, you must know your own weakness.

 

To be able to stand and be strong in the Lord you must know the Lord’s strength. 

Satan is a powerful enemy, but he is only a created being, and he has only as much power over us as we give him. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). God is the eternal, almighty Creator of the universe. If the Lord so willed, He could annihilate Satan in an instant. He has already defeated him at the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:15). All we must do is to claim that defeat. His final end is already prophesied, the Lake of Fire, where he will be tormented forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

 

When we look at the world with all of its trials, troubles, tribulations, and heartaches; we sometimes ask: “Where is God? Why doesn’t He do something?” Is it that God is not able? Throughout Scripture, the LORD reminds His people that nothing is impossible for Him. “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). God told Abraham that he was going to have a son in his old age, and Abraham questioned the LORD. In Genesis 18:14, God asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Later, Jeremiah gives the answer, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, is anything too hard for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV).

 

There is no promise too hard for God to keep. There are over thirty thousand promises in the Bible, and God will keep His Word. If God made the promise, He cannot lie. There is no promise too hard for God to keep.

 

There’s no prayer too hard for God to answer. Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” When you ask in prayer and believe, you’ll receive.

 

There is no problem too hard for God to solve. God specializes in things that seem impossible. Now God may not solve your problem the way you want Him to, but there’s no problem too hard for God to solve.

 

There’s no person too hard for God to save. God can save anyone if they will come to Him.

 

There’s no problem too big God cannot solve it.

There’s no mountain too tall God cannot move it.

There’s no storm too dark God cannot calm it.

There’s no sorrow too deep God cannot sooth it.

Oh, if he carries the weight of the world upon His shoulders,

I know my brother he will carry you.

Oh, if he carries the weight of the world upon His shoulders.

I know my sister he will carry you.

–Scott Wesley Brown

 

 

If this message was helpful to you, please let me know: pastorbigjohn@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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