by Mike Ratliff
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12 ESV)
One of my favorite things to do is study my Bible, and then write about what God has shown me from His Word. Lately there has been some posts that have lead to some serious contention from some people. Why? Those posts touched on subjects dripping in controversy. They cast doubt on the foundation of some people’s sacred cows. Of course that is because I used scripture to make those points which God used to espouse that contention in people’s lives and hearts.
While I do not regret being obedient in doing this, I have become a target of our enemy. I have had some severe attacks trying to get me to despair and become discouraged. Along with that I am experiencing my annual Spring Time allergy misery coupled with severe back pain and digestive issues. When I sat down here to get ready to write this post it was all I could do to shut out that voice in my head telling me, “It’s okay, you don’t have to write this evening. No one is going to read this anyway. Let someone else fight the fight.” However, I have learned not to listen to that voice. He will only lead me to spiritual mediocrity and self-absorption. So, I ignored the voice then asked God to help me. This post is the result.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:8-13 ESV)
Why did Paul suffer? He wrote this from prison. His suffering was the price he paid for preaching the gospel. Some say the gospel is not necessary. Why not just trust that God will save His elect. He is going to anyway. Why preach the gospel to everyone? We must never allow the gospel to be overshadowed by election. Election is not the gospel. When Paul ministered in planting churches everything he did and said was bathed in the gospel. Why?
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25 ESV)
People are saved by hearing the gospel. Studying doctrine and contemplating the wonders of election, justification and sanctification is great, but it does not replace our obligation to share the gospel with everyone. God has chosen the foolishness of trusting in, believing in and submitting to a Saviour who was crucified and died on the cross to justify those who do believe and repent. I will someday, perhaps even today, stand before my Lord to give an account. I pray that I will not be ashamed of what I did with the truth He has given me. Therefore, I renew right now my commitment to continue to rightly divide the Word of truth and proclaim that truth to all who read what I write. The gospel must be central to our message. It must permeate all that we do. It isn’t an add on to our message. It is the message. Why? Salvation requires and comes only through faith.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:8-17 ESV)
I pray that those reading this will renew themselves to living gospel centered lives free from the coldness and sterility of simply studying doctrine and theology as ends in themselves. The end of all things is Christ. What we do with what He has given us must be dedicated to our obedience to Him in all things.
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