As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Romans 8:36
like bravado that overtakes all flesh, ppl wanna think they will do great and heroic things when faced with the choice to do so. many christians say, i will not deny Christ, even if it costs my life. or as surely, i hope my children serve Christ, even if they die because of it. The scenario where great claim is made to die rather than live without Christ usually takes place in the imagination of man, where a choice for Christ and dying has no real existence; it’s bravado at best and at worst, it is an inflated ego. all of it is flesh.
how can i say this? because the ‘death’ thats bein supposed is from an unseen foe, an enemy without claws and teeth, and the threat is mere doctrinal supposition that has never been felt. many of these same ppl who proclaim that they will die for Christ without even a look back, arent denying self now — which of course is the crux of ‘dying for the sake of the gospel.’ and these are often the same ppl who make sure their kids have the current fashions and are acutely aware of every slight their children suffer at the hands of playground bullies and social injustice.
School curriculim isnt Christ-centered and neither are schools. For many christians, the answer is to sue, to insist the world acknowledge their rights. But Jesus Christ is calling His ppl outta the world…He isnt trying to change the world, He will conform the new creation to His image by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He is hated by the world, He didnt try to be loved by it; and He said we gonna be hated too. Not the kinda hate that ppl can adjust to, the unkind remarks or ridicule we all have endured and learned to ignore.
The hate Jesus meant was the kind that locks u out; that is repelled by Him; that seeks to kill Him. How many ppl who hope their children become missionaries, raise these same children to value fashion trademarks, outward respectability and education from institutions that have long stood against the teachings and belief of our Lord & Savior? How many parents are willing fior their children to be hated the same way Jesus was hated — and lose their life because of it. Are you willing for your child to fail a class rather than recant his belief in Christ by doing some ridiculous, depraved assignment like many given today for homework?
Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What will you? She said to him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on your right hand, and the other on the left, in your kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say to him, We are able. Matthew 20:18-22
Like the mother of the sons of zebedee, we got our eyes set on the glory of the Kingdom without counting the cost.
There are curriculum in schools right now, where children are assigned the task of writing their own epitaphs, practicing meditation and channeling, learning that truth is relative not absolute, learning philosphies that the apostle paul called vain and without the power of God, and being indoctrinated in a million different ways in the very sin nature that we are to crucify. born in sin, shaped in iniquity. why do we expect a sinful, depraved world to teach our children and prepare them for life, when the only life for a believer – and the only life a believer should hope for his child – is the one that decreases so Christ can increase.
one chicago school teacher assigned her high school students to write a composition…the only rule being that they could say anything and to dont censor themselves; just write freely. a 17 year old student wrote of a viscious and bloody massacre at his school, not one htat happened, but one he wanted to execute. in great detail he described the guns he would use and how he would feel while killing. this was one week after the va tech shootings. he was initially suspended, his future hopes of bein in the marines dashed, and his academics, that much-coveted high gpa , on hold because this same teacher was alarmed by his writing. whaaaaaaaaaaat? alarmed, you say? didnt you tell em to dont censor? after a big courtroom drama with the aclu, parents, & the student’s apology, as is usual in the world, the student was let back into school, and –not surprisingly–is yet eligible for the marines. imagine that.
my point is, how many young believers are in his class? how many of their parents would rather see their child boycott & fail such an insipid assignment, than succumb to the taunting of the enemy to ‘dont censor your thoughts’.
And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29-30
In Christ we are to take every thought captive; to cast down vain imaginings which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. What are your children learning in school? What is the hallmark of university education?
Casting down vain imaginings…does this mean in school too?
How many parents are willing to sacrifice a future in a prestigious university for the leading of the Holy Spirit in their children. Now here’s a killer with real teeth and claws. a real enemy of the flesh: Your child’s worldly success vs. Christ. Do we tell our kids to die to self and mean it? Is it possible that while we preach a vain ‘dyin for the sake of the gospel’ message that confronts an invisble, toothless, clawless foe, we actually denounce Christ in our mundane, respectable everyday lives? Academic failure has claws and teeth. the best clothes, schools, the outward respectability of life, these also have a price far beyond retail markup. If we are raising kids who believe that dyin for the sake of the gospel is a moment’s choice without a life of sacrifice, without a living sacrifice , we are lying to them and we need to stop. And just as important, maybe we need to find our cross.
Did you ever wonder why paul spent so much time in prison? i mean, if any of the apostles knew Christ, it was certainly paul. He preached deliverance and stayed in prison. He preached healing but rejoiced in his infirmities. Not that he claimed to achieve anything. But in lookin at paul’s life, from the moment he was converted on the road to damascus, theres no denyin that here was a man who was intimately acquainted with the real stuff of dyin for the sake of the gospel. he lived it; he died daily. he counted his life as nothing, and said as much. and let go of everything that he might gain Christ. his death wasnt a mere speculation, some cliche he used to build up his confidence; he died every day. He actually died.
He lived Christ in stinking dungeons, was chained, shackled, beaten, flogged, stoned twice, all without benefit of doctor & hospital. He worshipped in unclean prisons, sang hymns amid the groans of dying flesh and the stink of rotting corpses. And when he prayed, the walls shook and prison doors opened. He laid his life down a living sacrifice to the only Lord he loved. and trusted Him to raise it up again.
who are we?
its easy to declare we gonna die for the sake of the gospel — especially in america where we gather in temperature controlled buildings, wearin flowers on women’s day and big white hats on first sunday. where the men open doors and greeters welcome us with cheery smiles, dont we jus know we would die for the sake of the gospel?
when the worship team opens with a good song that comforts your flesh, isnt it easy to die for the sake of the gospel?
especially on sunday.
But the real dyin means u dont live like the world. Means nobody gonna look at you and say, now there goes the image of Christ. u gonna be hated and u gonna hate ur own life in this world. the real dyin looks too much like a real cross and theres no comfort, no accompanying music, no worship leader. theres only u and Christ. if He would live, you gonna die. Not by your own doing, even in dying to self, theres no credit to the one who dies; theres only a longing greater than life to know Christ; to see Him glorified in every moment.
what if dying for the sake of the gospel meant living in a wheelchair? what if it meant bein poor, hungry, without the best clothes. What if it meant bein sick and turnin away from doctors who practice witchcraft, to believe and witness the healing of Christ? What if it meant to deny your children a world education and trust the Lord to raise em up in Him.
What if every chance you had to shine, the Holy Spirit rose up and revealed Christ in you?
Paul had some accomplishments in life…he could do some stuff …but once he knew Christ…it all became nothing. When Christ is truly revealed, there isnt’ the desire to hold fast to what isnt Him. Theres just this undeniable overwhelming constant desire to know Him. paul said, woe is me if i dont preach the gospel. he wasnt talkin from a religoius point of view, that he might suffer some consequence in disobedience. His only desire was Christ and without Him there was only woe. He wanted to see Christ glorified in every moment; to the conquering of sin and flesh, to the killing of the old man. he preached Christ crucified, that the power be of God and not of man.
when physical death occurs, 10 outta 10 ppl cant stop it.
one day the Lord told me, ppl who are waiting for physical death to come and take em into heaven, arent dying daily. Its actually easier to believe that one day death will just come and stop ur suffering in the world and give u the reward of Christ in heaven, then it is to realize that the suffering u wanna escape in life is Christ in you. When u are born from above, u die to self; u are already dead. there arent bursts of life that puncutate your existence; theres only one long, all-encompassing, death and the newness of life. But dyin for the sake of the gospel is so much more than a mere physical death. dyin for the sake of the gospel makes u a living sacrifice to the Lord of Life.
look at the disciples who were with Christ; they arent very different from us. from peter to the sons of zebedee, to thomas…each one was made to conform to the image of Christ; not by a wilful, flesh-exalting ‘dyin for the gospel sake’; but by the slow, meticulous work of the Word of God, separating, sifting, strengthening and letting go. from great revelation to great rebellion, the war between flesh and Spirit is seen in the ebb and flow of one’s everyday life:
And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:16
From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said to Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offence to me: for you savour not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Matthew 16:21-23
We think we know Christ. We think we understand. Thats why we expect Him to make us successful, profitable, someone who can gloat and lord it over the world. Ha Ha …my God can beat up ur god. And its why we dont expect the suffering to last so long and be so completely final. We look for healing instead of for God to glorify His Son in us. We think He will remove our poverty and give us the power to get wealth; instead He is the New Covenant promise of eternal life. We look for our healing to manifest like the world calls healing, instead He makes us to be in health as our soul prospers, by the renewing of our mind and the New Covenant promise of eternal life.
When we rejoice in our infirmities; when we embrace the cross that will kill us, when we wanna decrease so he can increase, then and only then, are we aware of the real Christ in us — the hope of Glory. We think we know, but the real work that is bein done in us is bein done by the Holy Spirit, and if we catch a glimpse of the fruit, its just a glimpse; when the fruit appears, then will the harvest come.
Did the disciples love Christ? aha.. did they believe Him? aha. And in all of that, they didnt understand the work the Word of God was actually doing in them. Jesus said when the seed is planted, no man knows it until the sprout rises up outta the earth. We grow in knowledge of our Lord, but we don’t grow by knowledge. The full maturity of Christ in us is by the Holy Spirit leading us into all Truth. We are His captives, and as His work manifests, praise erupts and we rejoice in our Lord. Not a thinking man’s rejoicing…but the raw, untutored, unchurched praise that comes from a new creation conforming to the image of the only Lord he loves.
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how. For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest is come. Mark 4:26-29
From peter, came great revelation and great rebellion. The sons of zebedee desired honor and boasted that they were able to suffer as Christ would suffer. When Jesus died on the cross, so did thomas’ hope of life. and when stephen was brought before saul, saul had him killed and they laid stephens clothes at saul’s feet.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Christ’s death on the cross was bloody, brutal, humiliating and seemed to be final; the last gasp of promised life to those who watched him die; and a seeming victory for the evil one. As Jesus Christ said at his arrest, the hour of darkness is now come. Many at that time believed in the resurrection, but in the face of Christ’s death, even resurrection musta seemed a lost hope. Here was the one who God promised. The Messiah. The Savior. Here was the Son of God who walked like a man and taught in the synagogues with such authority even the elders were amazed. Here was the One, as john the baptist said, ‘the bridegroom’, who john was waitin for. And here He was. dead.
Curiosity has since spawned a number of writings describing the physical aspects of death by crucifixtion; but the physical aspects of his death dont even come near to understanding the Lamb of God who laid down His own life, and took it up again bc He could. Such a thing cant be understood by study or surmise. it has to be lived, or rather, died daily. The way paul did it. Rejoicing in infirmity; praising in darkness; choosing the stink of prison to the aroma of perfumed flesh. Choosing Christ. Everyday.