This morning we will turn our attention to Matthew 10:26-33. As we approach this passage, I would like you to consider a few questions. Have you ever been fearful of telling others of your faith in Christ? Have you ever been fearful of being bold in your witness to others of the truth of Christ? When you talk to an unbeliever about Jesus, does your blood pressure rise, does your heart beat faster, do you get nervous, and does your throat get dry as you speak? If you are anything like me, you may have experienced these types of things when you give witness to Jesus Christ. Evangelism is difficult. It always will be difficult. Our text this morning will give us courage in witnessing when we feel like cowards. This is my message this morning: Courage for Cowards.
To obtain courage, simply believe what Jesus says, and God will grant us boldness to speak. The context of Matthew 10:26-33 is that Jesus has been instructing His apostles what to expect as they go out into the world and preach the gospel of the kingdom. I trust that you remember that these words have not been particularly encouraging to these apostles. Jesus had told them that they will be delivered up to the courts and scourged in the synagogues (verse 17). They will stand trial before governors and kings (verses 17, 18). Family members will turn against them (verse 21). They would be hated by all because they represent Jesus (verse 22). They would be persecuted (verse 23). And, they would be treated worse than Jesus, whom they called "Beelzebul" (verse 23). As one would naturally expect from such an outlook, the disciples must have felt a measure of fear, knowing that these things would await them. In our text this morning, Jesus is seeking to comfort the apostles in their fears. He gives them reasons to have courage to be bold witnesses for Him. Let us examine what the text says.
"Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
The theme of these verses is quite clear. Three times in these verses, Jesus says, "do not fear" (verse 26, 28, 31). Certainly, these apostles were susceptible to fear. Certainly, we are susceptible to fear as well in our proclamation of Jesus Christ. Each time, Jesus points out a cause for fear. Each time, Jesus points out a solution to the fear. The cause for fear always focuses upon other people and a fear of what they can do to you. The solution to the fear always focuses upon God and what He can do to you. In every circumstance, a proper view of God ought to give courage to speak boldly. So, if you are fearful of evangelism, this message is for you this morning! Jesus gives us four reasons why we should not be cowards in our evangelism. Let's look at the first one which begins in verse 26.
Jesus says in verse 26, "Do not fear them." Let’s stop here a moment and make sure we understand the people of whom Jesus refers to here. In verse 25, Jesus identified these people as those who were calling Jesus "Beelzebul." They beheld the Son of God doing good and teaching good, but they refused to acknowledge Him as good. Instead, they acknowledged Him as the arch enemy of God. Matthew 12:24 reveals that the people who were doing this were the Pharisees. They totally misunderstood Jesus and His ministry. As such they resisted Him to the greatest degree! Jesus says, "Do not fear them." Certainly, however, Jesus’ admonition to not fear is not limited to the Pharisees alone. It certainly applies to everyone who would resist you as these Pharisees did. It certainly applies to everyone who opposes you falsely. It certainly has application to everybody who misunderstands you. Will there be people who misunderstand you and resist you as a result of it? Yes. Followers of Jesus Christ will be misunderstood in this world. The fact is that they will be hated and resisted in this world. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18).
When you think about it, it’s really quite amazing. Of anybody who can and will serve other people and help them, it is the Christian. Christians can help people during this life. Christians are called to serve other people. Our Master took the apron of a slave and washed the feet of the disciples (John 13:5). He gave us an example by performing the most humble of tasks. We are called, whether at home, or in the market place, or in the neighborhood to serve others. Of anybody, Christians are the ones who are willing to get on the floor to clean something up, to spend the extra hour in helping another person, to say the encouraging word, and to help in times of difficulty. Paul says, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10).
Christians can help people for eternity. Christians have "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68) because we have the words of Jesus. We can help people for eternity as we direct them to the fount that cleanses from sin. Nobody else in the world can do this, except for Christians.
We of all people hold in our hands the greatest opportunity to do good for the entire world. Yet Christians will be hated by the world. The Pharisees called Jesus "Beelzebul" and put Him to death upon a cross. People will misunderstand you and your intentions to help them. I remember one time passing out brochures in DeKalb to the neighborhood surrounding Kishwaukee Bible Church. When we approached one house, the man of the house was outside washing something in his driveway. As I started to walk toward him, I was probably some forty feet away from him and he began to yell at me, curse me, and tell me to get off of his property. He said that he is NOT interested in anything that I might be offering him, and that I should not ever come back! He did not understand my heart to help him, and not to harm him.
I remember when I was in the secular workforce there was a man who was particularly antagonistic against me. For years he was this way. He did not like me at all. I remember many occasions where he made condescending remarks about my Christianity. It was a relationship of antagonism. For years it went on this way, when the entire time in my heart, I had his best in mind. I always tried to teach him what I could about computers and give him projects that he would like. When appropriate, I was always willing to help him when his workload increased too much for him. And yet, he still was hostile toward me. He did not understand my intentions to help him and not to hurt him. This continued for about five years. Then, about a year before I left to become a pastor here in Rockford, I believe that he finally understood my intentions for him. Our relationship was much better after that. I believe that much of his antagonism toward me was simply because I was a Christian, and he did not understand that this meant that I only had good in mind for him. It took me years to persuade him. However, some will never be persuaded and the hostility will continue forever.
Jesus says, "Do not fear those people who slander you and misunderstand you and resist you." Why? Because God will clarify everything in the end. Jesus said, "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops" (Matt. 10:26-27).
Verse 26 speaks about the day in which everything will be made known. When Jesus Christ is revealed in the splendor of His glory, He will be vindicated of all the evil that was done to Him. People will see how pure, righteous, and holy Jesus was. People will see how sinful and wicked they were to resist Him. But just as Jesus Christ will be vindicated, so also will you be vindicated. If people have slandered you falsely, it will be known. If you have served others with a pure heart, and yet have received scorn in return, it will be known. If you have been hated "without a cause" (John 15:25), it will be known. This ought to encourage us. In that day, God will set all records straight. The truth that you have been telling people for years will be demonstrated to be true. Though they have thought you to be out of your mind and crazy, you will have been demonstrated to have been in your right mind. Paul said when the Lord comes, He "will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God" (1 Cor. 4:5). If you have been faithful in your ministry to others, and they have rejected and scorned you and hated you, do not fear. Your vindication comes from God, not from men.
So, when you are misunderstood and poorly treated, you ought to respond with love, rather than with vindication. Paul said, "When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to console" (1 Cor. 4:12, 13). This is this type of ministry that finds favor with God: "When you do what is right and suffer for it [and] you patiently endure it" (1 Peter 2:20). Peter tells us, "to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation" (1 Peter 4:13). Paul and Peter are echoing the words of Jesus. Jesus says that you have no need to fear those who would slander you as an evil-doer, though you do right, because God will clarify everything in the end.
And the implication of this is that we ought to be bold in proclaiming to the world the things that we have heard. There is no reason to be ashamed of the truth of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). What we read in our Bibles is to be proclaimed. There is nothing in this book that is to be hidden. Jesus said, "What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops" (verse 27). For these apostles, they were to tell people everything that Jesus had told them. For us, we are to tell people everything that we read in our Bibles. That is the way that God speaks to us today, through His Word.
You are not to be ashamed of any part of God’s word. Last week, we talked about the importance of proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We ought to tell others about the resurrection, regardless of your perception of the receptivity of the message. We ought not to make our message more palatable by easing into truths that the Bible speaks of. Yet, sadly, entire churches are built upon the philosophy that non-Christians will be offended with certain truths in the Bible. Rather than acknowledging this fact and entrusting themselves to God, they avoid speaking directly about certain topics. They take special care in deciding what truths their audience needs to hear. This is not what Jesus told us to do. Look closely at how Jesus instructed these apostles (verse 27). He said that they would be told things in the secret, dark place. He said that with respect to the things that they would hear, be open about them and boldly proclaim them. Tell it in the streets. You tell it on the housetops. Tell it to the world, without shame. After all, God will clarify everything on that final day. However, be warned. You can react so strongly to the modern movement today of attempting at all costs to be inoffensive and can swing to the other side and say things so abrasively that they are actually rejecting you, not your message.
The prophet Ezekiel gave a great picture of what it means to be a herald of the good news of the gospel. He described the role of a watchman upon the land. The watchman’s job is to stand upon the wall of the city and watch for trouble coming in the distance. If he sees trouble in the distance and people coming with swords to attack the city, he is to blow his trumpet and warn the people of the city that danger is coming. Now, if he warns the people and the people neglect the warning, and die by the sword, who is to blame? Is the watchman responsible? Of course not. He did his duty and warned the people of the destruction that was coming upon them. Of the people that rejected the warning, God says, "He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life" (Ezek. 33:5).
Ezekiel also gave another scenario. Suppose the watchman sees the trouble in the distance and people coming with swords to attack the city, but does not blow the trumpet and warn the people that danger is coming. The city is attacked and the people in the city die. Who is to blame? Are the people to blame? Of course not; they never heard any type of warning coming upon them. God says, "If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand" (Ezek. 33:6). This is the same thing that Jesus was saying. Do not be editing the message of the Bible. Do not be like the silent watchman. We have a trumpet, we are supposed to blow it. Jesus said, "Get on top of your house, and shout forth from the top of your lungs of the danger that is coming." In other words, do not hide the truth.
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28).
Jesus is saying we should take a long-term view of things. Look beyond this life. Look to what happens after you die. After you die, each of you will stand before God. In that day, you will either be placed at His right or placed at His left. Everyone to His right will "inherit the kingdom" (Matt. 25:34). Everyone to His left will be cast "into the eternal fire" (Matt. 25:41). Those who love God and have found their righteousness in Jesus Christ will inherit the kingdom. Those who hate God and have trusted in their own righteousness will be cast into the eternal fire. Now, I ask you, who can do more harm to you, men or God? What are some bad things that men can do to you? They can insult you. They can hurt your feelings. They can fire your from your job. They can knock your teeth out. They can steal money from you. They can burn your house. What is the absolute worst thing that men can do to you? They can kill you. What is the worst thing that God can do to you? He can condemn you forever. No man can do this. The implication that Jesus gives us is that you ought to fear the one who can do more harm to you.
We understand what it means to fear the one with greater power. Who does the child at the playground fear more: his younger sister, or the bully who is two years older than the child? Who does the bank robber fear more: the teller, who can give him lots of cash from her drawer, or the policeman who is standing guard with a gun? Who does the disobedient child fear more: Mom or Dad? Mothers sometimes say, "You just wait until your father comes home!" Why do they say that? Because that is the bigger threat! I remember hearing about a child (not ours) who was being disciplined by his mother. After receiving a spanking which didn't hurt very much, the child turned to his mother and said, "That was a good one, Mom!" After that, his mom stopped disciplining him, and his dad did all the disciplining! We ought to fear the one with the greater power. Likewise, we ought to fear God, and not men. May this settle in our minds once and for all, that we are to fear God. Jesus tells us to do this. After all, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10). I believe that your fear of men will entirely disappear when you truly fear God entirely!
So, the obvious question that ought to arise in our hearts is this: What does it mean to fear God? Simply put, I believe that living in the fear of God means that we ought to live in light of the eternal realities of God. We need to realize that we always live in the presence of God, to whom we will give an account. "There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13). We need to realize that we all are ultimately accountable to the judgement of God. "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Heb. 9:27). And we know that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).
I remember the story of John and Betty Stam, who were missionaries to China in the 1930’s. At one point they were taken captive by the anti-Western, anti-Christian communist army in China. Their captors demanded a $20,000 ransom from them, which was a huge amount of money at that time. While being held captive, they were allowed permission to write to China Inland Missions headquarters. John wrote, "The Lord bless you and guide you, and as for us, may God be glorified whether by life or by death." As their ransom was denied, both John and Betty were being led away to their execution. They were stripped to their undergarments, paraded down the street, sentenced to death, ordered to their knees, and were both beheaded (Christian History, Vol. 52, p. 37). Along the way to their execution, someone asked where they were going. John said that he did not know where the guards were going, but added, "But we’re going to heaven." This wasn't easy for them. They left behind a four month old baby. (The good news to their testimony is that upon reading the biographies of these missionaries, hundreds volunteered for missionary service.)
What allows people to have such fearless boldness? It is an understanding of the fear of God. God is the one who can condemn eternally to hell, but men can only kill the body.
Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Matt. 10:29-31).
Look outside and see the birds. Have you ever seen a bird fall from a tree and perish? I have seen many little birds upon the ground at the base of a tree, having fallen from their nest before they could fly. I remember in the home in which I grew up, we had a big sliding glass door. On many occasions, I was sitting in the family room, only to hear a "thud," as if someone was pounding on the window. I would look out and find a bird, who did not understand glass, who had broken its neck and died. Jesus tells us that not one of these birds that I have seen dead on the ground have ever escaped the will of our heavenly Father (verse 29).
Jesus points out that these birds are considered as to be cheap in our eyes. He said that you could get two sparrows for a cent. These birds were purchased for food and were considered to be the cheapest food that you could buy. These birds were the staple of poor people -- the hotdogs, or the Kraft macaroni and cheese of the marketplace. Though considered cheap, God knows and cares for the sparrows. Verse 31 draws the conclusion for us, "You are of more value than many sparrows." Like in Matthew 6:26, when Jesus was instructing us not to worry about the future, so also here, Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater. If God, in His providence, has His hand in the plight of cheap and insignificant sparrows, then certainly His hand of providence extends to us, who are worth more than many sparrows (verse 31). God’s hand of providence and protection was upon a man in our congregation last week, when he fell last week from the trailer and put a 6 inch gash in his leg. God’s hand of providence and protection was upon another man, when his legs were caught in a fork-lift accident last week. These things do not escape the notice of our sovereign God. God could have prevented the accidents, but He allowed them to occur. God could have allowed them to be worse.
This week, I received a magazine from the undergraduate college I attended. Right in the front cover, there was a message from the president of the college. He said, "A priority for 2003 will be for the College’s Trustees, senior level staff members and me to get out to talk personally with as many alumni and friends of the College as we can. We want you to know directly from us about the teaching and learning that goes on every day. Equally important, I want us to listen to our alumni and friends -- to take into account what they are saying about Knox, their experiences here and what they think I should be doing as president. ... Obviously I cannot meet with all of our alumni and friends myself. Thus, I have asked trustees and a few members of our Advancement staff to get in touch with our alumni and friends, bring them up to date and listen." The college president wants to reach many of the friends and alumni of the college. But, he cannot do it alone! So he has chosen to gather a team around him to do this. God is not like that. God does not have to prioritize and rely upon others to listen to the concerns of His children. God does not have to divide the world into many geographic regions and send his angels out to find out what is happening in this world. God does not have to say, "I’ve got to get My hands around the management of the world. I have gathered you angels to listen to the concerns of the people in the United States. You go to Alabama. You go to Alaska. You ten angels go to California (because nobody really understands what is happening in California). Go and listen to the concerns of the people in your assigned state and come back and report to me how they are doing." Then, turning to another group of angels God says, "I have gathered you angels to go throughout the provinces and territories of Canada and do the same for me." God does not have to do that, like we humans need to do.
God does not simply care for the big things that matter. God is not like the President of the United States who has so many worries on his hands, that he cannot deal with the smallest problems in our lives. Rather, God is able to care for each of us, individually. In fact, God’s care goes right down to the hairs on your head, "the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (verse 30). (Admittedly, for some, this is easier than for others). But notice how Jesus phrases it here. He does not say, "God knows how many hairs are on your head." Rather, he says, "Your hairs are numbered." God has assigned a unique number to each of the hairs on your head. If I pull one of my hairs from my head (Yvonne does not like me doing this, because of how thin I have been getting) then God will renumber my hairs.
When you believe in the sovereignty and supremacy of God over all things, you will find your heart being content. Down through the ages, a belief in God’s sovereignty has secured many of His saints in times of incredible fear. When Paul first came to Corinth, "he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks ... solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:4). Eventually, some in Corinth resisted him (Acts 18:6). Paul considered leaving in light of the difficulties he was facing. Yet, the Lord said to Paul in a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10). So, Paul stayed there for 18 months. It was God’s sovereignty over the souls of men that kept Paul in Corinth without fear.
I have heard it said that as a Christian, you are invincible until your work on earth is done! We ought to believe this! Perhaps you remember seeing or playing the video game called, "Pacman." The game consists of a yellow circle with a missing wedge for a mouth running around a maze eating everything in sight. Pacman was chased by four different-colored ghosts. If the ghosts touched Pacman, it would be the end of him. But when Pacman ate a large dot, the ghosts turned blue, and Pacman became invincible! Rather than being eaten by the ghosts, he was able to eat the ghosts! Christians ought likewise to be bold like Pacman, who has just eaten a large dot! In God's sovereignty, we are invincible. The Psalmist said,
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident" (Ps. 27:1-3).
God has providential sovereign control over all things. Is this something that you intellectually agree with? Or is this something that you enthusiastically embrace? Romans 8:28 is a great promise, "God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). Yet, the sad thing is that this verse is often neglected when needed most! When the trial comes, people begin to question God and His care for them. This verse promises that the difficulties that come upon us are under the sovereign control of God. Though things now may not seem good, God will orchestrate them for His ultimate good. The Bible shows that events like the killing of Jesus and the selling of Joseph into slavery turned out for the better good of the gospel. Is Romans 8:28 simply a verse that is written in nice calligraphy and placed in a frame that hangs upon your wall? Or, do you embrace Romans 8:28 with your whole heart? If you do, you have no need to fear being bold in your evangelism. Jesus gave remedies for fear when engaging in evangelism.
Jesus said, "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32-33)
With these verses, Jesus fast-forwards us to the judgment day. When you stand before the judgement seat of God, Jesus is the one who holds the verdict as a judge of the world. The Father will turn to the Son and ask about each of you. There will be some, concerning whom Jesus will say, "I know this one. I know him. I know her." There will be some of whom Jesus will say, "I do not know this one. I do not know him. I do not know her" The criteria that Jesus gives here is your public affirmation of following Jesus. Paul said it this way, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Rom. 10:9,10).
There is no such thing as a closet Christian. It does not exist. If you find yourself wondering whether someone is a Christian or not, and you say, "Well, I think he is a Christian," something is wrong. That is the wrong answer. In the last day, Jesus will do what we do. If we give testimony to others of our love for Jesus in this life, He will acknowledge us in the judgement. If we have been ashamed to speak forth His name in this life, so also will He refuse to acknowledge us in the judgment. Jesus can do this, because "The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim. 2:19).
This ought to bring to mind that your only hope before God is Jesus Christ, your Advocate before the Father. John wrote, "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). The only way that you will stand before God without blame is to have Jesus Christ claim you as His own on the day of judgment. He is an advocate because Jesus Christ is The Great High Priest. All other priests offered up sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice. But, Jesus Christ, "offered one sacrifice for sins for all time ... [through which] He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb. 10:12, 14). All other priests never finished from their work. But, Jesus Christ, "sat down at the right hand of God" (Heb. 10:12), because His sacrificial work was finished. But Jesus still works. He "always lives to make intercession for us" (Heb. 7:25). Those who love the Lord Jesus Christ have this advocate before the Father. Those who love the Lord Jesus Christ will let this love be made known.
Imagine a wedding ceremony. The couple is at the front of a church, standing in front of a pastor. The part in the ceremony comes when the pastor turns to the husband and address him by saying, "This woman whom you hold by the hand is to be your wife. She has given you one of the most sacred things under heaven: a woman's life and a woman's love. You may bring her great joy or cause her deep sorrow. It is not what you bring her in a material way that will make true happiness--riches without love are nothing. The gift without the giver is bare. The practice of those virtues as husband that you have shown as her lover will keep her heart won to your heart. Do you vow here, as you have promised that you will be true and loyal, patient in sickness, comforting in sorrow, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her so long as you both shall live?" At this point, the groom is to make a bold profession before all those in attendance, by saying, "I do!" Yet, what would happen if he kept his mouth shut and did not say anything? The bride would certainly question his love for her, right? She may even turn, rush down the altar in tears, leave the church in disgrace and want nothing to do with this man again! Why? Because He has failed to profess His love! It is no different with Jesus. There will be times in your life when you are confronted with a choice to profess your love to Jesus. When you keep your mouth shut, you are telling the world that you do not really love Him. Like the bride, He too will abandon you.
Certainly, there is room for grace here. Peter denied His Lord three times, and yet, was forgiven. All of Jesus' disciples abandoned Him in the day of His trial and crucifixion, yet, they were forgiven. Yet, in the pattern of our lives, we need to boldly profess to others our love for Jesus Christ. Jesus will return the favor. You need not fear.
This past week, we had a great example of a bold witness. Many of you are aware of the Larry King Live show that was broadcast across the world last Sunday night. The show was entitled, "Seeking meaning in the aftermath of war. Can faith heal all?" Larry King had invited leaders from the world’s religions to chat with him. He invited a Roman Catholic priest, a scholar of Islam, a Jewish rabbi, a spiritual advisor, and a pastor of a Christian church, John MacArthur. Near the beginning of the broadcast, Larry King asked John MacArthur, "When you were here the last time, you said Christianity is the only way." MacArthur replied, "Right." Larry King responded, "Right? Meaning that Dr. Hathout and Rabbi Kushner both will go to hell if they do not believe as you do." John MacArthur, on world-wide television said, "That is what the New Testament teaches. ... Apart from Jesus Christ, you spend eternity in hell. But I want all of you gentlemen to know and everybody else that that's not necessary because Christ offers forgiveness and salvation to all who come to him." Needless to say, this did not win very many friends for John MacArthur. In fact, everybody else on the show turned against him. (For the full transcript of this broadcast, click here.)
Everybody else on the show believed that there are many truths. The Jewish Rabbi, Harold Kushner said, "I believe that my religion is the best in the same way that I believe my wife is the most wonderful woman in the world, not as a statement of fact but as a statement of love and loyalty. That is it's a way of saying this is what I am committed to. It's not a way of making a factual statement that I'm correct and everybody else is wrong because when you say that, ... you're going to end up arguing with each other ad infinitum." The Catholic priest, Father Michael Manning said, "We've got to be able to understand the presence of God in Muslims. We've got to understand the presence of God in all people, ... God is moving in [Larry King], God is moving in the Muslims in a great way, and I need to say, hey, God, thank you for that, help me to learn from that, help me to learn that I might be able to draw closer to God." At one point, the "spiritual advisor," Deepek Chopra said, "You know, I find it very difficult to have a dialogue with the pastor because his -- he sticks to one point of view, and ... he's rigid, and he has no desire to embrace the fact that other people have points of view." The Islam scholar, Maher Hathout, said, "It's best to give the other person the right to find his own highway."
As John MacArthur repeated again and again the again that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, it a great demonstration of boldness in the midst of opposition. This is the sort of boldness that Jesus Christ calls us to have when relating to our world. I believe that John MacArthur is enabled to be so bold because he believe that ... (1) God will clarify everything (verses 26-27); (2) God will condemn for eternity (verse 28); (3) God will care for His people (verses 29-31); and that (4) Jesus will confess before the Father (verses 32-33).
Are you fearful of speaking with others about Christ? If you struggle with boldness to speak forth the name of Christ, you are in good company. Timothy had a struggle with his own boldness to proclaim the message of the gospel to others. Paul wrote to him, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Tim. 1:7-8). Where does this boldness come from? It comes from God. God gives us power and love and discipline to overcome our own timidity to proclaim Jesus Christ. May we rely upon him to embolden us, so as not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord! May we rely upon him to relieve us from our fears of speaking boldly before men.
I will close with a poem ...
JESUS! and shall it ever be,
A mortal man ashamed of Thee? -
Ashamed of Thee whom angels praise,
Whose glories shine through endless days!
Ashamed of Jesus! sooner far
Let evening blush to own a star;
He sheds the beams of light divine
O'er this benighted soul of mine.
Ashamed of Jesus! just as soon
Let midnight be ashamed of noon;
'Tis midnight with my soul till He,
Bright morning-star, bid darkness flee.
Ashamed of Jesus! that dear Friend,
On whom my hopes of heaven depend!
No! when I blush, be this my shame,
That I no more revere His name.
Ashamed of Jesus! yes, I may
When I've no guilt to wash away,
No tear to wipe, no good to crave,
No fears to quell, no soul to save.
Till then - nor is my boasting vain -
Till then, I boast a Savior slain;
And oh may this my glory be,
That Christ is not ashamed of me!
(As quoted by Marvin Rosenthal in Zion's Fire, Vol. 8, No. 2, March/April 1997).
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
April 27, 2003 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.