When I was a boy of 10, I was lost in the woods and it seemed the more I thrashed about, the darker the situation became. Fear overtook my mind and thoughts of dying penetrated my very soul. It was only when a chum of mine and I decided to take turns climbing to the tops of the tallest of trees to catch a glimpse of anything that would save us that deliverance came. For after an exhausting hour or more, with only about a half hour before total darkness enveloped us, a hydro or telephone wire leading to a forestry station was spotted. I have often reflected upon that experience and how God mercifully led us out of the depth of the forest. Yet, although He led us to safety, He had us learn a valuable lesson, that is, we had to take steps to earn our deliverance.
Our Israel Christian world is lost today and we are much deeper in the woods, so to speak, that my chums and I ever were. Most are living in some hope of deliverance but are not earning it. Instead, the Christian nations are living in a world of fear, economies crumbling, wars escalating, the political apparatus no longer trusted and without truly realizing it, a world where our Christian faith has been emasculated, with the help of immigration of peoples of other faiths, and too, theologians who seem determined to bend our faith to blend with all others. The question is, “what must those in Christian nations do to earn deliverance?”
The Apostle Paul was most certainly lost in his world of evil and he definitely earned his deliverance through his service to God and his manner of death. But, he threw off the shackles of evil and for the balance of his life, he devoted himself to taking news of the Kingdom to fellow Israelites around the then known world. At the end of his journey, He was able to make the statement at the outset of this article. I like the way The Open Bible described it. “I have fought the good fight,” which demonstrates the spiritual life battle throughout Paul’s life, one that he won. He never surrendered to the enemies of righteousness. Sadly, Christians today long ago raised the flag of surrender.
Paul said, “I have finished my course.” He had a course to travel and he did not detour the hard places and he did not look back. He finished his course with his eyes fixed upon Christ. Most in our Christian lands avoid the hard places; avoid looking at being lost, instead seeking escape in a world of pleasure, sports, entertainment and other crutches of life. Certainly the trend away from Christ is best exemplified by the media’s treatment of Him and a lack of indignity from the Christian world.
When Paul said, “I have kept the faith,” he was indicating that he preached all the counsel of God and never betrayed any of the great doctrines. He looked ahead to the “Judgment seat of Christ” where the “Crown of Righteousness” will be given to those who “love his appearing.” These days not even our theologians preach the true counsel of God and His people have, for the most part, strayed from the great doctrines. Indeed, the Second Coming of Our Lord, the foundation of our Faith, is rarely mentioned in mainstream churches.
And so, our nations and our brethren go on, filled with foreboding and looking for the answers in all the wrong places. And fear has grown with each decade as knowledge of evil has mushroomed, outstripping the benefits of the knowledge of good. Yet, God gave us the answer long ago, He said, “I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.” This is His guarantee for peace and safety and His only condition is that we “walk in His Statutes and keep His Commandments.” We couldn’t even do that, we betrayed the trust and so it necessitated the Lord Jesus Christ coming the first time to redeem us and serve Him without fear. He clarified this in Luke 32 when He said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” That’s our reward, being worthy to enter into the Kingdom of God and this is ours if we fellowship with Him and come under the shedding of His Blood. And begin to obey His Commandments, as He directed.
You wonder why more of our brethren fail to accept this wondrous gift. Yet, for those who do, a freedom from fear gradually grows within us and a desire to “fight the good fight” emerges. And we begin to recognize these important words Paul left for us. “I adjure thee in the sight of God, and of Jesus Christ, who is to be the judge of living and dead, in the name of his coming, and of his kingdom, preach the word, dwelling upon it continually, welcome or unwelcome; bring home wrongdoing, comfort the waverer, rebuke the sinner, with all the patience of a teacher”
Then, again, as if speaking to you and I, and all those who have their entry pass to the Kingdom, he imparts this description of today’s world and gives us our marching orders. He said, “The time will surely come, when men will grow tired of sound doctrine, always itching to hear something fresh: and so they will provide themselves with a continuous succession of new teachers, as the whim takes them, turning a deaf ear to the truth, bestowing their attention on fables instead. It is for thee to be on the watch, to accept every hardship, to employ thyself in preaching the gospel, and perform every duty of thy office …”
This is a huge mandate but we can only sow the seeds of the great antidote for fear. But, what we cannot do for ourselves will be done by Jesus Christ, all we have to do is ask, for He promised, “I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel, to do it for them.”