Point of Reference
by Fred Price
But what about condemnation from the world? History, and scripture, assures there will be. But why? Primarily because the value-systems of the world and Christians are – or should be – so markedly different; causing tension, discord and strife. ( John 15:18-20) So why can’t we just mind our own business and let “them” do their own thing? Because if we really believe in the Christ of the cross and if indeed the gospel is correct, “they” are going to hell! Can we be unconcerned about that? Salvation is our gift from God, as a result of our acceptance of that gift we are obligated to live according to the Spirit ( Romans 8:12), who will direct us in sharing with others. ( Romans 1:14) And if we, like Paul, are the earthly representatives and Ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom ( 1 Peter 2:9 & 2 Corinthians 5:20), then we can do nothing but, “…declare the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into His wonderful light.” This opportunity and responsibility compelling us to fulfill that calling. ( 1 Corinthians 9:16 & 2 Corinthians 5:14)
Anyone allowing themselves to be muzzled by peer pressure and fear risk similar treatment in return, being “unknown” and disowned by Jesus. ( Matthew 10:33 & Luke 9:26) We must be able, willing and eager to share the good news, “…(un)ashamed to share the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16 We gain confidence as a result of studying God’s Word, developing mental and emotional preparedness and an openness to the Holy Spirit’s leading. “…a workman who does not have to be ashamed.”; (or one who does not embarrass himself) because he “…correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (See also 2 Timothy 1:8)
The world will bring condemnation. There have been and continue to be martyrs; both of conscience and life. Yet no one can truly condemn us. Charges can be brought, but none will stick in the end; the highest court having already ruled in our favor. Paul asking, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” No! Neither can angels or demons, the heights or depths (whether that be real distance or emotional experiences), the present or future nor anything else in the created world; not that these things don’t happen to Christians but that, “…in (or through) all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Nothing can separate us from the love of our Savior – unless we allow it to, the busyness of life at times hindering out attempts at obedience but even death being turned into the means by which we enter into his holy presence. ( Romans 8:35-39)
Indeed, Paul assures us that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. ( 2 Timothy 3:12) Yet he testifies to God’s sustaining presence as well. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 His litany of difficulties survived is daunting, with, “…great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distress; in beating, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;…” Yet his response was always Christ-centered, “…in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God;…” Regardless of the external circumstances, Paul practiced the presence of Christ in his life, allowing him to prosper, “…through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” This attitude allowed him to live in such a way so as to, “…put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
Love of ministry – to people – by God’s word – through Christ – was his motivation, his hope of an eternal reward bolstering his belief that, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 Jesus himself warning and encouraging his followers with, “… If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” Characterizing our Master/Servant relationship with him by cautioning us to expect no less than what he received. “If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. (But) you do not belong to the world… I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-20 Again encouraging us with, “But take heart. I have overcome the world!” John 16:33 And in consequence of his overcoming, “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
The answer to Paul’s question “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31, is resoundingly answered: No one. For if they reject us, he promises us his acceptance; if they hate us, he assures us of his love; if they imprison us, we can maintain our freedom of spirit; as they afflict us, he uses that affliction to refine us; if that affliction leads to death, he makes of it a passage into paradise. We cannot be defeated!
Paul further assuring us that, “…our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 “For our light and momentary troubles (This from a man who experienced severe hardship and extreme opposition firsthand. – 2 Corinthians 11:23-28) are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17,18
Scripture insists that Christ died, yet arose – and that we find renewed life in him. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (With the proviso “Whoever believes in him is not condemned,…”; whoever does not, is. John 3:17,18)
Inspired in part by “The Passion of Christ Jesus” – Fifty Reasons Why He Came To Die – by John Piper. Published by Crossway Books
"Refreshment in Refuge" from
Jesus The Promise Door Into HeavenRead Article »
Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
Receive the newest devotional each week in your inbox by joining the "Point of Reference" subscription list. Enter your email address below, click "Go!" and we will send you a confirmation email. Follow the instructions in the email to confirm your addition to this list.