How should we then live?
And he said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15
This is our primary duty, our calling if you will. As Christians living in this present world, we are to share the gospel with others. It was our Lord’s last command He left with us before his ascension to heaven and it was also one of His first commands to those he called to follow Him.
When Jesus called the disciples, Peter and Andrew, he told them And he saith unto them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them,
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. ” – Mark 8:34-38
The Christian’s life will not necessarily be an easy path to follow.
The sanctified Christian set apart and following Jesus will be living in a world of conflict and must separate themselves from the “leaven” of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Matt. 16:6) which is hypocrisy (Lk 12:1). When people actually heed this message and do as Christ says, then they will inevitably have to deny “themselves” — deny material desires, deny ego, deny pride, etc. In place of all that, they must “take up his cross” (assume the burdens of one who is separate from the rest of the world) and act like Jesus.
True Christians do not do good works to be rewarded or praised. They do good works because that’s what God is, and the more faithful we are to following Jesus, we will supernaturally exhibit the grace of God through Jesus in our works. As our good works are exhibited to the unsaved, they will see God’s goodness through our Savior Jesus Christ in our actions. It’s as if we are mirrors to world reflecting who God is and the saving grace of our Lord.
We must not be ashamed of our faith.
A person who is more concerned about fitting into and pleasing his own “adulterous and sinful generation” than about following and pleasing Christ will have no part in God’s kingdom. It is no surprise that the Christian is commanded in 1 John 2:15 to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” James 1:27 tells us to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world.”
The Apostle Paul tells us that it’s pleasing to God to put our religion into practice, and those that don’t are worse than an unbeliever.
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timonthy 5:3-4; 8
Christ has chosen us “out of the world,” according to John 15:19. Even so, John 17:11 tells us that for the present we must still live “in the world.” John is not calling for monastic separation from the world but for an inner attitude of separation from the sinful world and its practices.
Christians are called to bring every thought captive to the lordship of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5); this means we are to develop a biblical world view on all of life – on work and worship, law and morality, and on popular culture. Otherwise our faith becomes privatized and powerless.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. – Romans 1:16
We are not left on this earth to persevere on our own power or strength with only a hope for the future.
In Acts1:4-5, Jesus promised us a present reality to empower us as we await His physical return. He promised that in His leaving He would send His Spirit to guide us.
The Holy Spirit came to the apostles when they were weak (Matt. 28:17-20). He transformed them from frightened weaklings to empowered ministers of the Gospel. No longer did they sit back and preserve the Gospel; instead, they went out and preached it, bringing other frightened people to the fold of bravery.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:8-11
It is sometimes easy to become discouraged when we feel surrounded by evil and when it seems that Christ’s message is not being heard. But, we’re not called to be necessarily “successful” in our efforts – we are called to be faithful.
God is in control and He draws those to Him in His perfect timing. Those that rebel and reject Him will continue to live among us and are destined to be excluded from heaven.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:17-21
We should stand against the evils of our day.
But, unless the heart of man is changed, evil will continue to reign. Even if Christians successfully defeat the social evils of our day as they attempted with the Social Gospel, they will return again to plague society. The demonic entities that once influenced the likes of Caligula, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao still exist today. Only, they are possessing different bodies and continue to spread their message of hate and destruction. As long as the humanist evolutionary world view prevails, sinful man will continue to change the laws and bring back the evils previous generations have fought to remove.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
Chuck Colson preaches that we need to bring back into American life the transcendent. We need to restore the objective truth of the living God in Christ. His message usually has four points: [Cited in Russell Chandler, Understanding the New Age]
- Restore orthodoxy. Live by the laws of God’s kingdom and Jesus’ teachings in Christian truth. Fundamental, basic beliefs are necessary (2Thess. 2:15). To preach that if you come to God he’ll give you anything you want is to preach a false gospel. Lose orthodoxy and you lose the heart of the church.
- Be the church; it is the community of the redeemed. Be God’s people. Make Jesus Lord.
- Think and, therefore, act like Christians. Apply the truth of Scripture in the marketplace. Argue every principle of life from this perspective: “current events in the eyes of God.”
- Confess the faith. Be the salt and the light – take the Good News to others so they may understand the gospel and glorify God (Matt. 5:13-16).
Will you encounter resistance? Yes!
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. – 1 Pet. 4:3-4
We can expect pressure from the world around us to conform to their sinful ways. That pressure will only increase as the light of truth, which we bear, encroaches on the darkness threatening to expose their deeds to the truth. To the lost, proclaiming Christ’s name is like the unwelcome prick of the conscience because it confronts them with their sin.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. – John 3:19-20
When we stand for the Lord Jesus and the laws of God revealed in the Bible, it is inevitable that we will offend someone. And in that hour we must not shrink from our duty – no compromise. In that hour of trial the unwholesome preservation of our reputation is of little or no consequence to God. In fact, He might be trying to smash the idol of reputation. The Prince of Life hung naked and shamed on a cross for you and me in the fulfillment of God’s will. God has the right to require that our reputation be laid in the dust in obedience to His will. If we are mocked, falsely accused, berated, and maligned for doing or saying what our Lord has commanded, so be it. He has given us the indescribable privilege of experiencing the trials with the prophets and of following in our Savior’s blood-stained steps. [Randall A. Terry, Why Does A Nice Guy Like Me Keep Getting Thrown In Jail?]
As the apostle Paul wrote, “For unto you it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” – Philippians1:29.
Will they argue for alternatives? Yes!
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. – 2 Corinthians 11:4
Telling the truth is more fundamental than all other tasks. The Christian writers who have made the greatest impact on the pagan world of the twentieth century – people like Chesterton, Weil, Lewis, and Sayers – were more than intelligent, able, and learned. They were bold. Rather than begging the world to believe, they told it the truth. Like that of Christ, their speech was full of “hard sayings.”
In contrast, defenses of the faith like Bishop Robinson’s Honest to God worry that the world is no longer religious and think the solution is to change the gospel so that it is easier to believe. Instead they make it not worth believing. Apologetics should never be apologetic.
Any stand on the truth will be difficult. Stands on the truth do not draw large groups of support; often those “radicals” standing on the truth will be standing will little human support. However, one solitary person or movement can change the course of history. If the apostle Paul had turned East instead of West, the entire course of world history would have been altered. [John W. Whitehead, Religious Apartheid, 1994.]
We desperately need to get back to the simplicity that is in Christ and earnestly begin to follow the Good Shepherd rather than the many who claim to speak for Him. We need to be like the Bereans, who didn’t accept what Paul said just because he was the great apostle to the Gentiles, but “searched the Scriptures daily [to see] whether these things were so” – Acts 17:11 KJV.
We must each come to the firm conviction of what we believe and why we believe it on the basis of the Bible itself, not on the basis of someone else’s interpretation. We need to know what we believe and why. We need to renew our commitment to the inspiration, the infallibility, the inerrancy, and the authority of the Bible.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! – Galatians 1:6-8
Any gospel or teaching that is not consistent with that which the apostles taught is false and those teaching it are condemned.
- So much for multiculturalism tolerance.
- So much for alternative lifestyles.
- So much for the NOW led feminist movement.
- So much for secular humanism.
- So much for evolution.
We are at risk of losing the culture war because we’ve poured immense effort into fighting social evils like crime, abortion, homosexuality, and pornography, without understanding the deeper issues that move a culture.
We’ve been treating the symptoms rather than the disease itself. We’ve been fighting battles without knowing what the war is all about: It is a clash between competing world views – it’s a battle with another gospel. It’s a spiritual battle against Satan.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
Certainly, evil must be exposed!
To expose such evil is a Christian duty (Luke 17:3). To rebuke sin and admonish error is never an option (2 Timothy 2:4). Instead, it is an obligation (Titus 2:15). Modeled by Christ before His disciples (Luke 9:41), and before the world (John 6:26), it is like bearing testimony, an essential aspect of true discipleship (Hebrews 12:5). It was openly practiced by the Apostles Paul (Romans 15:14), James (James 5:1-6), Peter (2 Peter 2:1-22), John (3 John 9-12), and Jude (Jude 4-23). And it has been responsible for many of the Church’s great revivals throughout history.
The popular assumption that we can “clean up our country” may be a wonderful notion but it is a camouflaged deception which leads us on the war path against other people’s sins, not ours, and therewith cover our own sins with sins of the others. This spiritual battle we wage will not be won until God’s people repent and have a change of mind. There are NO solutions in government or politics without a spiritual awakening.
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” – 1 Peter 4:17
It is for that very reason the Lord gives us such a sure commandment regarding our duty and obligations as Christians, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15. To the extent we are willing to fulfill that task, our light will shine brightly and darkness will be exposed which always results in the decrease of the demonic activity.
Many of us have grown weary of the “chicken little” syndrome that has manifested itself in the Christian community. Though we may live in difficult times, these are the times given to us. And, they are certainly not as difficult as having our heads stuck on poles or our bodies burned – the very legacy passed onto us by our Christian forebears from times past. Our task it not to add to the crescendo of naysayers crying that the sky is falling, but rather, following in the footsteps of the Savior, to be the bridge between heaven and earth and hold the sky up. We have gone from Coliseums, to converting empires before in our history as a Christian people. Faced with hostility to the faith we don’t retreat, angrily confront, or wrongly conform; rather we transform cultures, that’s the way of those who follow Jesus. As Christopher Dawson reminds us, we are the “soul of the nation.” No matter which nation, no matter the time.
As Christians and as Americans we must not join the ranks of those who simply curse the darkness. We must shine the light of truth. In an age of despair we must be hope. In an age characterized by emptiness we must provide substance. [Keith A. Fournier, “Holding The Sky Up,” ACLJ Casenote, April 1995.]
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.