Am I a Soldier of the Cross? Pt.1

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

Isaac Watts wrote the hymn “Am I a soldier of the cross?” around 1724.  Here is the text: “Am I a soldier of the cross, A follow’r of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name? Must I be carried to the skies on flow’ry beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize, and sailed through bloody seas? Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God? Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord; I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word. Thy saints in all this glorious war shall conquer, though they die; They see the triumph from afar, by faith’s discerning eye. When that illustrious day shall rise, and all Thy armies shine, in robes of vict’ry through the skies, the glory shall be Thine.”

The question posed is, “Am I a soldier of the cross?” However, before we can answer that – are we even aware that we are in a true and real spiritual battle?  A war against the powers of darkness?  A campaign against the world, the flesh and the Devil?  Many Christians are not. We are often oblivious to the spiritual battle we are in, and this is deadly – like a soldier wandering around standing straight up in the middle of a battlefield.  Watchman Nee said, “Only those who are spiritual perceive the reality of the spiritual foe and hence engage in battle.”

            In reading the Word of God, one soon finds the militaristic terminology is undeniable.  “Be a good soldier; fight the good fight; war a good warfare; forsake all and deny yourself; love not your life unto the death; armies of Heaven; Jesus is the Captain of the hosts; put on the whole armor of God; the weapons of our warfare; the Sword of the Spirit; enemy; foe; adversary; God our shield and buckler and strong tower and fortress, etc.”  This being the case, it would be wise for us to come to a basic understanding of military life. If we are to be good soldiers of Christ, we must first know what a soldier is.

            If, as Christians, we are indeed soldiers of the cross – then fighting is our business.  If fighting is our business, then we must be trained to do it.  Also, if fighting is our business, then there will be times when we are wounded.  Therefore, the church is both a training center and a hospital.  A training center, to prepare soldiers how to fight and win in (spiritual) battle, and a hospital for those wounded in battle to be healed, that they may return to the battlefield.  The church is not a daycare or entertainment center.

            The general headquarters of the church is The Kingdom of heaven, a spiritual Pentagon, so to speak. From there, we receive our general orders (God’s Word) from our commander and chief – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Each local church is an outpost on enemy soil (the world), and from this base camp, soldiers are trained and fed; refreshed and healed; resupplied and given orders to go back out on the front lines and fight.

             Like a military base, the church has its own rules and government; its own judicial system; its own language and way of communicating.  As soldiers in the Lord’s Army, we abide by God’s rules and system of government.  The world approves of many things and operates in many ways that are contrary to God’s ways – but the church is the pillar and ground of truth (1Tim 3:15).  Jesus is King, and his standard is our standard.

            What is it to be a soldier?  Soldiers all wear the same uniform (robe of righteousness and full armor of God). Soldiers are team players. The good of the unit is considered above the individual. Soldiers obey orders, and they don’t question them.  God’s Word is not a book of suggestions.  It is our marching orders, and as soldiers of Christ, we are to obey what our Captain says.  Soldiers know disobeying orders have severe consequences.

            Soldiers live by a creed.  Our creed is God’s Word, the fundamentals of which are contained in the Apostle’s creed.  Christian soldiers ought to know it.  Soldiers only advance in rank if they perform the qualifications of the rank they are presently in.  Soldiers must be faithful in their present assignment, if they hope to serve their Captain in greater ways.  Unfaithfulness is not rewarded.  Soldiers exercise on a consistent basis.  The soldier of the cross should be performing spiritual exercises every day to stay in good spiritual health and preparedness.  Bible reading and study; prayers; devotions; Scripture memorization; etc. 

            Soldiers learn the tactics of their enemy.  Soldiers fight for one another, as well as the cause.  Soldiers get paid little, but the medals pinned on their chest is their reward.  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” from the lips of Jesus to us is all the reward we need to faithfully serve Him.  Soldiers know their life is not their own, and they love not their lives unto the death. As soldiers of Christ, we are now property of Jesus, to do as He wills; even unto death (1Cor 6:19, 7:23, Rev 2:10, 12:11). 

            Though only an introduction to this series, I pray it has already begun to change how many of us view our purpose, calling and the Word of God itself.  Selah.

Am I a Soldier of The Cross?

Part 2

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

            Last week I left off with “Your life is not your own”.  In my four years in the Coast Guard, I literally hated my first two years, but loved my second two.  However, whether I liked a certain assignment or not, was irrelevant. My life was not my own. I was bought with a price, so to speak.  (1Cor 6:19-20).  So the soldier of Christ will find himself at times in assignments he doesn’t necessarily like, but he does them anyway, because Jesus told him to. It’s just that simple.

            This brings up a good point.  Our lack of spirituality, power and transformed lives, often comes because we approach God’s Word and being a disciple from a civilian mindset.  I don’t like this outfit… I don’t like this food… I don’t like this job… I don’t like this co-worker… I don’t like my pay… I’m tired of my spouse… The boss yelled at me… The pastor said something I didn’t like… etc.  So, I quit.  Civilians, more often than not, will avoid hardness at all costs.  Being faithful – sucking it up and sticking it out – is often not required, so it is often not done.  The soldier, on the other hand, knows they have to endure hardness, and knows they don’t have a choice – so they accept their situation and push on. 

            Imagine, if Christians viewed their entire Christian life from a soldier’s mindset instead of a civilian’s.  Would Christianity look different?  Would marriages last?  Would there be more commitment to the Church?  The Bible taken more seriously?  I think the answer is obvious.  The question is, why isn’t it viewed from this perspective?  Are we not soldiers of Christ?  Why then, as soldiers, do we view being a disciple of Christ from a civilian “if I feel like it” mindset? Selah.

            So where does grace fit in to all this soldier talk?  I’m glad you asked.  Our attitude determines our altitude.  We are to do all things as unto the Lord Jesus.  Once we yield to the Spirit, and accept that we are indeed soldiers of the cross, under the command of the Lord Jesus; then the grace to be a good soldier is there.  In fact, we will actually find ourselves happy to be under discipline.  Happy for the structure.  Happy that we don’t have all these choices.  It simplifies life.  It brings comfort and security. It removes all the guess work.  Once we embrace the soldier’s life, we will find it fulfilling.

            The problem is, many “civilian mindset” Christians never embrace the soldier’s life.  They like easy; undisciplined; no cost; no commitment; no faithfulness; no hardship; no responsibility; no accountability – Bermuda shorts and flip flops “Christianity”.  However, nothing could be further from the soldier’s life – nothing further from the Bible’s definition of discipleship.  Our feet are to be shod with the Gospel of peace, and these are combat boots, not flip flops (Eph 6:15).

            Warfare is the soldier’s business, and we are to war a good warfare (1Tim 1:18-19). What is this spiritual warfare? Holding faith and a good conscience.  We fight the good fight of faith, and thereby lay hold on eternal life (1Tim 6:12). We must earnestly contend for the faith (Jud 1:3). Unbelief and a defiled conscience will shipwreck us, and leave us bleeding out on the battlefield.  We keep ourselves in faith by perpetually meditating in God’s Word (Jos 1:8), and we keep our conscience clear by obeying and practicing what we’ve read; and being quick to confess and repent when we err. 

            This warfare is not physical, but spiritual (1Cor 10:3-5).  We do not fight this battle with guns and tanks.  Ours is a spiritual enemy, and therefore only spiritual weapons work against it.  What are these weapons? Prayer, fasting, study and meditation in God’s Word, confession, repentance, the name of Jesus, forgiveness and declaring God’s promises are a few.  Through God, these weapons are powerful to destroy strongholds, which are ways of thinking and believing that are contrary to the truth of God’s Word. 

            Through these weapons, we can cast down deceiving arguments and thoughts that oppose the truth, and take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Our hearts and minds are this battlefield, and only by using the spiritual weapons God has given to us will we win.  If we do not use these weapons at our disposal, the strongholds will prevail; the lies believed; and the battle lost.  Selah.

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Pt. 3

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

Agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

            Last week, we saw that we are to war a good warfare; fight the good fight; and earnestly contend for the faith.  These terms are synonymous with battle, struggle and conflict.  However, as we ended on 2Cor 10:3-5, we saw that this battle is spiritual, and the battle ground is in the heart and mind of man.  Though there are outward aspects to this battle, first and foremost it is a battle within us.  The struggle is inward and the fight is the good fight of faith.

            2Co 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  We need not guess what “strongholds” are.  Paul tells us in the next verse.  They are ways of thinking over a period of time that build a fortress of lies within our minds that must be “cast down”. 

            Every person has a belief system, whether they realize it or not.  There are many things they hold firm – or not so firm – beliefs on.  The question is, is it truth?  If we firmly believe something that God calls a lie, or sin, or evil, etc.; then this is a stronghold that must be destroyed with the truth, and replaced by the truth.  God’s Word is a “hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jer 23:29).  For instance, you may believe you’re entitled to eat, though you refuse to work.  However, that lie is destroyed with the truth of “If a man does not work, neither shall he eat” (2Thess 3:10).

            Spiritual warfare is fought on three fronts, which are: The world, the flesh and the Devil.  The world, because Satan is the God of this world system (2Cor 4:4); it is evil (Gal 1:4); and we are not to be friends of it (Jam 4:4).  The world’s ways are opposed to God’s ways.  The world often calls evil good, and good evil (Isa 5:20); and appeals to the flesh.  We must remain steadfast in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not accept what God rejects.  We must keep in mind, that though the world’s ways may seem at times appealing, it’s all going to burn someday (2Pt 3:10-13). 

            The second front is the flesh, because of its lust against the Spirit (Gal 5:17), and the death that comes from walking according to it (Rom 8:13, 1Jn 2:15-17).  Man is a spirit, soul and body (1Thess 5:23).  The soul (which includes the natural mind) is where the battle is waged between the spirit and flesh.  Both want control, though the spirit will not impose its will.  We must yield to the Spirit, and mortify the deeds of the flesh.  If we renew our mind consistently in God’s Word, the spirit will gain the advantage, and life and blessing will result.  If we are carnally minded, the flesh gains the advantage, and it brings forth death (Rom 8:6). The flesh never ceases from its lusts, so its deeds must simply be mortified.  The more we renew our minds in God’s truth (Rom 12:2), the less power the flesh will have over us, and the more victory we will walk in. 

            Finally, the third front is the Devil, because he is our adversary, and seeks to destroy us (1Pt 5:8-9, Eph 4:27, Jam 4:7). Satan and demons are no metaphors.  They are real spiritual beings, seeking whom they may devour.   We must not give place to them, but rather resist them.  Jesus said Satan is the father of lies and a murderer (Jn 8:44).  We must not over emphasize his power, nor deny it altogether; for both are error.  We must be aware of his devices, tricks and treachery; and stand against them. 

            Next week, we will look more thoroughly into this last front, and exactly what the full armor of God is, and how to apply it.  We have the spiritual weapons to overcome the Adversary, but we must know what they are and how to use them; otherwise, they will do us no good.  A good soldier of Christ knows his weapons and how they work.  Selah.

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Pt. 4

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

Agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

            Last week, we saw that our spiritual warfare is fought on three fronts, which are: the world; the flesh and the devil.  We overcome the world through our faith in Jesus and exalting His word and ways above the world’s words and ways.  We overcome the flesh by yielding to and being filled with the Spirit, meditating in God’s Word and prayer.  We overcome Satan by putting on the full armor of God and resisting the devil.  It is this third front we will focus more on today.

            William Gurnall said, “In heaven we shall appear, not in armor, but in robes of glory. But here these are to be worn night and day; we must walk, work, and sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ.”  Being a good soldier of Jesus Christ means living our lives in the full armor of God every moment of everyday.  The kingdom of darkness does not sleep, so neither can the disciple of Christ.

            I encourage you to read Eph 6:10-18.  In it, we find there are seven pieces of armor the Saint is to put on.  Five are defensive (belt, breastplate, boots, helmet, shield), and two are offensive (sword and prayer). The pieces of armor we will look at more thoroughly next week, but first we will cover the preceding verses.

            Eph 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” “Be strong” means empowered, enabled, increased in strength. In whom?  In the Lord, and the power of His might.  Through Him, we can do all things (Philp 4:13).  We are strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner man (Eph 3:16).  Spiritual battle requires spiritual strength, and it is through Jesus that we receive His might and power.

            Eph 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  “Put on” means to be clothed with.  Meditate on it; grow in the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of it; realize it and accept it.  We must know the Word and trust in it. “Whole” means all of it.  We cannot neglect any piece of armor.  Imagine a soldier who had all his equipment – except for his belt.  It’s near impossible to fight with your pants around your ankles.  Any part we neglect, will be a vulnerability that our enemy will exploit.

            Also, this armor is “of God”.  It is not our own invention.  We don’t go to war with handmade cardboard box armor.  We have God’s armor, and it works.  His power and His tools are all we need to overcome our adversary.  We stand against the “wiles” of the devil.  Wiles are his methods, strategies, schemes, tactics or devices.  Satan was stripped of his power by Jesus (Col 2:15), and Jesus now has all authority (Mt 28:18), and has delegated that authority to us (Eph 1:19-23).  Satan comes to us not in power and might, but subtly, craftily, sneakily. 

            Eph 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  We do not wrestle flesh and blood – but we do wrestle.  A wrestler tries to overthrow and pin down his opponent.  If we are not engaged in this wrestling match, we are overthrown and pinned already.  We’re in it, whether we know it or not; whether we like it or not.  The sooner Christians suit up and soldier up, the sooner they start getting the victory over the enemy.

            With whom do we wrestle? Principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and wicked spirits in the atmosphere.  In other words, Satan and his demon spirits. Satan, demons and the kingdom of darkness are real.  They are by no means more powerful than God, nor more powerful than the Christian in the full armor of God.  Nevertheless, they exist and seek to: hinder God’s work (1Thess 2:18, Rev 2:10); blind people’s minds (2Cor 4:4); mislead and deceive (Mt 24:24, 2Cor 11:3); tempt people (1Cor 7:5, 1Thess 3:5); buffet God’s people (2Cor 12:7); and attempt to infiltrate and corrupt God’s true Church (Act20:30-31, 2Cor 11:12-15, Gal 3:1, 1Tim 4:1).

            Demonic forces are real, active and crafty.  Some err by denying them altogether, and others by giving them more power than they have.  We are not to fear Satan, but rather, we are to fear God (Lk 12:5).  We do not have a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2Tim 1:7). We are to resist the devil, and he will flee from us (Jam 4:7).  Next week, we will look at each piece of God’s armor. 

Am I A Soldier of The Cross?

Part 5

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

Agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

            Last week, we began to look into Ephesians 6:10-18.  We covered verses 10-12, which is an introduction into the whole armor of God.  This armor is necessary for the soldier of the cross to clothe himself with in order to win the daily battles with the adversary, Satan. This week, we will look into what this armor is.

            Eph 6:13 says, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  The reason the armor of God is so vital, is because we will not be able to stand in the evil day without it.  What is the “evil day”?  Why, it’s today, my friend.  These days are evil (Eph 5:16).  This present world is evil (Gal 1:4).  We live in the midst of crooked, perverse, wicked, adulterous and sinful generation according to Jesus; of which Satan is the “god of this world” system. “Having done all to stand” means we do all that we can and should do as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We must take and use the weapons provided for us by God.  If we’re not standing, then we’re not using what God has given to us.  It is God’s job to provide this armor, but it is our job to put it on and use it.

            Eph 6:14 “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” Gill said this on “Stand therefore”: “Keep your ground, do not desert the army, the church of Christ, nor his cause; continue in the station in which you are placed, keep your post, be upon your watch, stand upon your guard.”  This is no time to abandon our post, but rather we should press into the Kingdom even more so than ever. The belt of truth is our unwavering belief in the integrity and truth of God’s Word.  It holds everything together.  Without this belt, your pants fall down, and you are exposed to the enemy and you cannot fight.  Without this belt, you have nothing to hang your weapons on. 

            The breastplate of righteousness guards the heart.  Righteousness guards our heart against the lies of the enemy.  This speaks of both knowing we are righteous with God’s very own righteousness through faith in Christ; and also living righteously so as to have a good conscience. The enemy can put us out of the fight if this breastplate is not worn constantly.

            Eph 6:15 “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” It can also be said, “And for boots, the readiness of the gospel of peace.” The gospel of peace is the foundation on which we stand, and also the message which we carry.  We must be firmly rooted in “We have peace with God through faith in Jesus” (Rom 5:1), and carry this message wherever we go.

            Eph 6:16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” In front of all this armor is the door shield, for it protects the whole man.  Through unwavering faith in Jesus and the promises of Scripture, every flaming arrow of lies, deception, doubts, fears and temptations can be extinguished.  “All” the fiery darts means every one.  The shield of faith held up constantly can give us complete victory over the devices of the adversary.

            Eph 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  The helmet protects the head.  The greatest battlefield in spiritual warfare is between our ears.  We must know we are truly saved (1Jn 5:13). If we continually question this fact after we have surrendered our lives to Jesus, the enemy will exploit our doubts and render us ineffective in the battle.  A soldier who continually questions what he is cannot have confidence in battle.

            The sword of the Spirit is the word of God. This is not the Word on a bookshelf, or even in our head; but the spoken (rhema) Word.  It is God’s Word on our lips, spoken from a heart of faith.  As Jesus taught us in his wilderness temptation, the spoken Word drives the Devil away (Mt 4:4, 7, 10-11; Jam 4:7).  It is vitally important we use this offensive weapon if we want to walk in victory.

            Eph 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”  Finally, we have the powerful weapon of prayer.  We must pray “without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17), and continually stand our watch.  We do not want to be asleep on duty. Our watch is this earthly life, and our duty is every day.  This is not only prayer and watching for ourselves, but for “all saints”.  We must pray for our brothers and sisters as well as ourselves as our General taught us (Mt 6:9-13). 

            This is but a brief overview of our spiritual armor, but I pray it is enough to give us understanding, and to compel us to utilize the resources God has supplied us with to overcome in spiritual warfare.  Selah.

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Pt. 6

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

Agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

            This week we will start to dig into these four verses in 2Timothy.  The first thing I want to look at concerning being a soldier of the cross is in 2Tim 2:1.  It says, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong…..”.  The first command the Apostle Paul (a general in the Lord’s Army) gives to young Timothy, is to be strong.  Specifically, he tells him to be strong in grace of Jesus Christ.  However, in general, the command is to be strong – period (Eph 6:10). We are to be strong: strong in grace; strong in faith; strong in the Word.

            This command to be strong generates from God Himself, and is often repeated in the Bible.  God told Joshua in Josh 1:6, 7, & 9 to, “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them… Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law…. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  From these verses, we see that we can be strong because: 1. God commanded us to. 2. God has given us the victory. 3. God is with us wherever we go.

            When king David was on his death bed, he told his son, Solomon, to be strong and courageous; for God would not fail him nor forsake him (1Chr 28:20). He told him to be a man, and to keep the Lord’s commandments (1Ki 2:1-3). In order to pass this confidence onto our children, we must first possess it ourselves.  In Isaiah 35:3-4, it says to be strong and of good courage, because God would save you.  Therefore, we can strengthen the weak hands and the feeble knees.  If God be for us, who can stand against us?

            In Dan. 10:19, the angel of the Lord told Daniel to be strong.  Daniel replied, “I am now strengthened, for you have strengthened me”.  In Daniel 11:32, it says that the people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits. If those people who did know their God during the time of Antiochus, and who will know their God during the Tribulation, can be strong and do exploits; surely we can in our day.

            Soldiers of the cross are to be strong.  We must walk in our God -given roles as leaders, protectors, providers, prophets, priests, and kings.  We must not bow to selfishness, nor political correctness.  We must declare truth and walk in truth. Paul told us to be vigilant; to persevere in the faith; to act like men; and to be strong (1Cor 16:13). 

            What does it mean to “act like men”?  When someone says, “Why don’t you act like a man?”, what are they saying?  Perhaps, “Be strong.  Suck it up.  Do what needs to be done.  Go to work.  Provide for your family.  Quit whining.”  Or, “Where is your honor?  Where is your integrity?  We shook on that.  You gave your word.”  Or, “Who cares how you feel?  You have responsibilities.  Boys cut and run.  Men stand and do what needs to be done.”  I believe all these are accurate, but the ultimate definition of a man is Jesus Christ. 

            To act like a man, is to act like Jesus.  Speak boldly.  Live righteously.  Walk humbly.  Stand for truth. Be faithful.  Love deeply.  Endure hardship.  Forgive.  Show mercy.  Honor God.  We are told as soldiers of the cross to “act like men.”  May we seek to conform more to the image of Christ day by day.

            Do you feel weak?  Weary? Faint? Has the good fight of faith become tireing and burdonsome? Do not be weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap the harvest if we faint not (Gal 6:9).  God gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:29-31).  Selah.

Am I A Soldier of The Cross?

Part 7

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

Agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

            2Ti 2:2  “…the same commit thou to faithful men…”.  In Psalm 12:1, David cries, “Help Lord! For the godly man ceases, and the faithful fail from among the children of men.”  King Solomon likewise said, “Most men will proclaim their own goodness; but a faithful man, who can find?”  Such is our state today in the church.  Many have boasts and claims; visions and ideas; gifts and talents: but where are the faithful?  Where are those that are consistent, steadfast, trustworthy – year in and year out?  Where are the rock solid, reliable and dependable?  Where are those that can hold a lot of weight?  Where are those pillars?  We find ourselves asking – as David and Solomon did.

            As a soldier of the cross, we are to take what we have learned from the Word and our time walking with Jesus, and commit them to faithful men (anthropos – people).  However, we cannot expect these people to be more faithful than we ourselves are.  We must first be faithful soldiers, and then can we be in a posistion to teach other faithful soldiers.  If we are not found faithful, what ground do we have to stand on, in teaching faithfulness?  Our words our empty.

            As Christians, the number one reason we should be faithful, is because Jesus is faithful.  The word faithful is used to describe Jesus many times in The Bible (Heb 3:2, 10:23, 1Jn 1:9, Rev 1:5 – to name just a few).  If we are one spirit with Jesus, and He dwells within us; then faithfulness should be a fruit of our lives (Gal 5:22).  Christians should be the most faithful people on earth, because the Faithful One abides within us.

            While pleasing God is the first and best reason to be faithful as Jesus was, there are other benefits to being faithful, such as: 1. The Lord preserves the faithful (Ps 31:23).  2. The Lord’s eyes are upon the faithful (Ps 101:6).  3. The faithful man abounds with blessings (Prv 28:20).  You see, it is not only righteous, but also to our benefit to be faithful people. 

            Does faithful describe you?  When your name is mentioned, does it bring up the word “faithful”?  Sadly, many Christians are very unfaithful.  They are unfaithful in their  marriage.  They are unfaithful on the job.  They are unfaithful in the church.  They cannot be counted on for anything.  Their word means nothing.  This should not be the case!  Our word should be trustworthy.  We should mean what we say, and say what we mean.  We should be disciplined. We should be consistent, dependable and reliable. We should be faithful to our spouse; our children; our company; our church; our God!  Do you want to be named with the faithful?  Start being faithful.

            Here are some that are called faithful in the Bible: Jesus (Rev 1:5), Moses (Heb 3:5), David (1Sam 22:14), Hanani and Hananiah (Neh 7:2), Shelemiah, Zadok, Pedaiah, Hanan (Neh 13:13), Uriah & Zechariah (Isa 8:2), Daniel (Dan 6:4), Lydia (Act 16:15), Timotheus (1Cor 4:17), Abraham (Gal 3:9), Tychicus (Eph  6:21),  Epaphras (Col 1:7), Onesimus (Col 4:9), Paul (1Tim 1:12), Silvanus (1Pt 5:12),  and Antipas (Rev 2:13).    It only took me a few minutes to type these names, but it took these people years and decades of being trustworthy, faithful, consistent and committed to be on this list. We cannot microwave faithfulness.  It only comes with consistency over a long period of time.

            If we are ever going to be entrusted with anything of significance by God, then we must show ourselves faithful.  God cannot promote us if we are not faithful in the small things (Lk 16:10-12). Why?  Because he cares too much for you, and for others you might effect, to entrust an unfaithful person with anything.  However, if you do prove yourself faithful, great reward comes as a result (Lk 19:17).

            Faithfulness is not an option.  It’s not a side note or after thought.  It is required! If you going to be a steward, you must be found faithful (1Cor 4:2)!  A steward is an overseer or governor – one entrusted with precious things.  We have been entrusted by God with the truth, and must be faithful to walk in it and relay it to others.  We need to do all that we do faithfully; to those within and without the church (3Jn 5).  Why? Because the faithful end up with Jesus (Rev 17:14).  God calls and chooses, but we must be faithful in it.

            When we are faithful, we then need to entrust the principles of God’s Word to other faithful men – and they in turn to other faithful men.  This is discipleship.  But we must first be found faithful – then we can teach others.  Let us dare to be different than the world.  Let us be trustworthy.  Let us be dependable..  Let us be faithful in all things.  I pray we lead lives that will cause us to hear at the end of our life these words from Jesus: Well done, my good and faithful servant!  Enter in to the joy of the Lord!  Selah.

Am I A Soldier of The Cross?

Part 8

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            2Ti 2:1-4 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”   

            Vs. 3  says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word translated “enduring hardness” means: undergo hardship; endure afflictions; suffer trouble.  Paul said he suffered trouble as an evil doer, just for preaching the gospel (2Tim 2:8-9). If you preach Christ, you will suffer trouble.  Paul told Timothy to “be watchful and endure afflictions” in 2Tim 4:5.  Afflictions will come when you become a soldier of Christ, but we can “be of good cheer” (Jn 16:33).

            What else should we do when we’re afflicted?  We should pray (Jam 5:13).  God hears and answers prayer, and will deliver from all fears (Ps 34:4).  We should also keep our eyes on Jesus.  The Messiah is our chief example of enduring afflictions.  He endured the opposition of sinners, even unto the death.  He endured suffering on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world.  We should look to Him and think about all He has endured, when we feel like we are overwhelmed and cannot endure anymore.  It will help us keep things in perspective when we suffer afflictions, and remember that if Jesus endured all He did for my salvation; surely I can remain faithful to Him (Heb 12:2-3). 

            We do not want to be like the seed planted on rocky ground that Jesus described in the parable of the sower (Mk 4:5-6, 16-17 offended – desert, stumble “fall away”).  That person has no depth.  They have no roots.  They are superficial Christians who cave at the slightest difficulty or problem that comes into their life.  Endurance marks the true Christian.  Suffering opposition and trouble without giving up marks the true soldier of Christ.  Quitters are a dime a dozen.  True soldiers of the cross – through God’s grace and strength – endure hardship and keep keeping on.

            Not all hardness comes from the world, flesh and Devil.  If we are to be real sons of God, we must endure chastening (child training, Heb 12:7).  God uses His Word and conviction of heart to train us, and although discipline does not feel good at the moment, it produces the fruits of righteousness. It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong, but we must endure this hardness in humility as a disciple of Christ.  In ages past Christianity equaled toughness, commitment and determination.  It now often seems to equal being a perpetually offended child – in the U.S., anyway. This should not be the case.

            Did you know that Moses chose to be afflicted with the people of God, rather than enjoy the comforts and privileges of being royalty? (Heb 11:25-27).  How many of us Christians compromise our faith for worldly comfort and wealth?  We cannot buy a clear conscience.  We should rather endure hardness as a child of God – identifying with the people of God; rather than live in ease, fitting in with the world.

            Who do we endure afflictions for?  Paul said that he endured all things for the elect’s sake (2Tim 2:10).  There is more to think of than just ourselves.  We ought to endure hardness for the sake of our brothers and sisters as well. Paul, like Jesus, suffered for the sake of others, that they might be saved and endure.

            We are also to endure affliction for the sake of the Gospel (2Tim 1:8). With the living out and proclaiming of the Gospel comes hardness.  They are inseparable.  The life of a soldier is not a life of ease.  No one signs up to be a soldier, expecting it to be the easy life.  If they do, they are deceived.  We also endured hardness for God’s sake (1Pt 2:19). 

            Jesus said the world hated Him, so it will hate us as well (Jn 15:18-20). Jesus was love incarnate, yet He was persecuted and rejected by most.  Do we think we’ll be embraced by all with open arms? No servant is greater than his Master.  Hardness comes with the territory.

            However, it’s not all bad.  There are benefits to enduring hardness for Jesus, such as : 1. Deliverance (2Tim 3:11). God will deliver you! We win no matter what happens.   2. Happiness (Jam 5:11).  You know how Job lost it all?  Well, he got double everything back in the end, because he endured.  The righteous will receive double for their trouble.  3.  Eternal Salvation (Mk 13:13).  Endurance through hardness in this life, reaps an eternal reward of everlasting life and joy.  4. Blessedness and a crown of life (Jam 1:12).  The Lord has promised this to those who love Him. 5. Obtaining of the Promise (Heb 6:15).  Abraham enudred for 25 years, but in the end the promises of God came to pass in his life. Understanding the facts presented here, we can “count it all joy” to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ (Jam 1:2-4).  Selah.

Am I A Soldier of The Cross?

Part 9

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

           

2Ti 2:4  “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”  This week will be the final message in our series.  I pray that over the last nine weeks we have grown in our understanding of spiritual warfare, and what it means to be a soldier of the cross. While this series could be prolonged, I think it is sufficient enough to help us grasp the basics.  I pray we can answer affirmatively the title of this series: “Yes, I am a soldier of the cross!” 

            “No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life.”  We have already determined over the last eight weeks that as soldiers of the cross, warfare is our business.  Therefore, we are not to get entangles with the affairs of this life.  I want us to notice, it does not say the soldier has “nothing to do” with the affairs of this life; but only that he doesn’t get entangled by them.

            For instance, we are not to shun everything that has to do with the world in which we live.  We should work; pay our bills; be educated in government; vote; etc.  However, we must be careful so as not to get consumed with these things.  There are Christians who know more about politics and football than they know about God’s Word.  This should not be the case.  There is nothing inherently wrong with politics or football, nor with making money or enjoying the good gifts God has given us to enjoy; as long as they are in their proper place and right measure.

            If we get consumed with these things, they will choke out the Word of God, and we will bring no fruit to perfection (Lk 8:14).  Eventually, we will become completely unfruitful (barren) in our spiritual lives (Mt 13:22).  It’s ok to have stuff, as long as stuff doesn’t have us.  Neither poverty nor riches equate to holiness or unholiness.  It is the condition of the heart.  The poor should not be covetous and the wealthy should be generous (1Tim 6:9-10).  Neither should let material things consume their thoughts as good soldiers of Christ.

            Paul said Demas forsook him, having loved this present world (2Tim 4:10).  We should not forsake the spiritual for the material.  Jesus must have the preeminence in our lives.  We are not to love the world above Him (1Jn 2:15-16).  The soldier of the cross is a spiritual athlete, striving for an incorruptible crown (1Cor 9:25).  This means we are to be temperate and moderate in all things, not allowing ourselves to be entangled with the carnal. 

            Why do we not entangle ourselves?  “… That he may please Him …”.  Our heart for Jesus as His disciples is to please our Lord.  We want to please our commanding officer as a good soldier of Christ.  We are called to be God pleasers, not man pleasers (1Thess 2:4, Gal 1:10, 1Cor 7:23).  This is not to say we are not to serve and please others; but only that our service and pleasing is directed at Jesus first, and then the outflow of that relationship is service to others. Our vertical relationship with God is primary, and our horizontal relationships with others secondary.

            “…. who has chosen him to be a soldier.”  Finally, we must realize that we have not called ourselves to this great mission.  We did not choose Jesus, but He chose us (Jn 15:16).  We love Him, because He first loved us (1Jn 4:10, 19).  We weren’t walking down the street one day and just all of a sudden say, “I love Jesus now.  I think I’ll be a soldier of the cross.”  No, the Holy Spirit was working in us, calling us, bringing us conviction and understanding.

            When we understand this, it causes us to rest in His strength.  Where He guides, He provides.  Where He leads, He feeds.  Who He appoints, He anoints.  We are soldiers, because He made us soldiers.  This series has been taught, not to give us fifty things we need to do to become a soldier of Christ; but rather, what we are as soldiers of Christ, and how to fight the good fight of faith and win. 

            As Jesus was sent on a mission to earth, so we have been sent as well (Jn 17:18).  We have a calling; a purpose; a mission.  Soldiers are sent; soldiers are under orders; soldiers fight.  We have the weapons of our warfare; we have the full armor of God; we have a mandate; and we have the victory through Jesus Christ.  Don’t quit.  Don’t fall back.  Don’t be discouraged.  God will complete the good work He has started in you! (Philp 1:6)