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Faith Toward God (29)

In continuation of our study on why so many Christians are fearful and lack faith in God, we shall be looking at the third reason, which we can glean from the Lord Jesus statement which is recorded in Matthew 16:23-26: But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man 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: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?. From this scripture passage, we have so far deduced two root causes for why so many Christians are fearful:
1. They lack interest in doing the Will of God. The lack of interest in doing the Will of God is replaced by an overwhelming desire for the things which pertain to men, and hence, these fearful Christians are more willing to do what men say than what God says;
2. They are unwilling to deny themselves. To deny oneself is to forgo ones goals, desires, and pursuits in life, for the goal, desire and pursuit of God. Many times self-denial may make you feel that you are missing out on some very important things, but when what you are forgoing is Christ, it brings you to the place of trusting God absolutely, which in turn eliminates fearfulness and its manifestations, like anxiety, fretting, worry, trepidation, and timidity;
And now, the third root cause for why so many Christians are fearful:
3. They are not prepared to carry their cross and follow Jesus. When we talk of carrying a cross we are not talking about carrying some wooden cross all day long, and for as long as a person lives. No! When we talk of carrying a cross we are referring to the cross as a symbol of a well-known instrument of the most cruel and humiliating punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians: to the cross was affixed among the guiltiest criminals, particularly the basest slaves, robbers, those who aid and abet insurrections, and occasionally upright and peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens themselves. In Roman times, when you saw a person carrying a cross, it meant that that person was on the way to his execution, for those to be executed had to carry their crosses themselves. This was what happened to the Lord Jesus on the way to His death on the cross at Calvary (although in His case, after a point, help came through a Cyrenian whom the Roman soldiers compelled to carry it the rest of the way). To carry ones cross then, is to embark on a journey to the place where you would be executed! This is definitely not a palatable thing, and it is little wonder that not many preachers talk about it. What we have today, are mostly sweet talkers, who want to get something out of your pocket for their benefit; so, most of the messages we hear are about how to get money, how to be popular, how to become the next most important citizen in your country, and so on. The thought of walking to the place of execution is not only a sobering thought, but it is also a challenging one, because, you must make up your mind that that is exactly what you are doing once you decide to walk with Christ! The early Christians were made conscious of this fact so that it made them not to place any significant value on this life or on property or possessions. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Christian today, where what you possess in terms of earthly property and earthly accolades, form the basis for recognition as a pillar in the church! Brethren, when a man has made up his mind that as he is going along on his Christian journey, he is actually on the way to a certain ignominious death, there will be nothing else to be afraid of; there can only be the hope of a certain resurrection unto eternal life with Christ. Such preparedness to die eliminates the fear of death. The bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:26 that, The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. Friend, when you conquer death, you would have successfully conquered all fears! The man who is ready to die is a man that cannot be threatened with anything. But more importantly, the man who is ready to die knowing that he is entering into everlasting life, is the man who has truly conquered all fears, and it is such a man whose faith shall not waiver, no matter what! In John 12:24-26, speaking metaphorically of His death, resurrection, and its implication for those who would follow Him, the Lord Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. In these verses, the Lord was not just speaking of Him going to the cross at Calvary, but was also saying that all those who desire to follow Him must likewise be prepared for a most humiliating demise, just as He would also be subjected to such humiliating death. It is not just about carrying a cross, but it is also about following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ! Indeed, the Lord had warned all those who would follow Him and His teachings that whatever He went through, they would also go through. In Matthew 20:20-23, when James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, and disciples of the Lord requested to be granted seats of prominence directly next to the Lord Jesus in His kingdom, the Lord told them emphatically that they would have to go through the baptism which He would go through, and yet to sit in the position of prominence as they were requesting was still not for Him to decide on, but for His Father in heaven. The bottom line is that, if you really trust God, then you must be willing to follow in the footsteps of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, Who was obedient to the Father, even when that obedience meant dying on the cross! Brethren, we cannot run away from this: we must be prepared to die for the sake of the gospel! And for this, there is the promise of a crown of life! Let us take comfort in the Lords word to the Church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:9-10: I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. This church was given an advance warning of an impending persecution, and the Lord encourages them to hold on to Him till the end, being faithful unto death; and for that, He promised a crown of life. Let us unequivocally state here that it is unrighteous and grossly deceptive for any preacher of the gospel not to prepare those he is preaching to or teaching, and those in his congregation, for the reality of the Christian walk. Paul the apostle, after establishing churches went round encouraging them, and this is how it is recorded in Acts 14:21-22: And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Friend, one of the things that a Christian must prepare for, is much tribulation! In 2 Timothy 3:12, the bible affirms that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Brethren, we are using this medium to prepare you for the real Christian walkthe real Christian walk has nothing to do with the false preaching of a living a rosy life in this present world that you have been hearing about; No! Rather, the real Christian walk is about a life that is radically different from, and at variance with, the lifestyle that is being lived by the people of the world! The life that God promises the Christian is eternal, not earthly; for life on earth is only for a moment, when compared with the endless years of eternity with God. The bible tells us that the sufferings we shall go through here on earth are merely light afflictions in comparison to the weight of glory that is to comebe enjoyedin eternity. On the earth, everything is temporal, but in eternity, everything is everlastingsadly, even the punishment of burning in hell is forever! Brethren, shouldnt you be preparing yourself for the joy of life eternal with Christ? There is no room for the kind of fear that drives men away from God; the kind of fear that makes men not to do the Will of God; the kind of fear that paralyzes men and makes them timid and ineffective in their Christian walk. Hear what the bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. If you born again; that is born from above, of the Spirit of God, you have been given a new spirit; and this new spirit is not a spirit of fearnot a spirit of timidity, neither is it a fretful spirit, nor is it a spirit of trepidationbut you have been given a spirit that is bold, that perfects your love for God, which will cast out fear, and, that make the recipient have a sound mind, not a tormented mind. The state of many Christians today sadly, is one of constant worry about any and every thing! We worry about what to eat; then we worry about what to wear; then we worry about where to wear what we worried about wearing; then we worry about where to live; and then worry about how we are going to pay for and maintain where we are living. Indeed, the list of worries for the man who is living in this world is endless. For the condemned man, all he is concerned with is how to make the peace with his Maker, so that when he meets with Him after he has been executed, he will be received into eternal life. Why are so many Christians fearful? It is because they are more concerned for the things of the earth than for the things that pertain to eternal life; it is because they are focused on this earthly life and not on the life that is to come hereafter; it is because they are yet to understand that the Christian walk is a walk that is strewn with trials, tribulations, persecution, and even death, and are yet unprepared for such a life. Sadly, too many Christians of this Age have not really counted the cost of following and serving the Lord Jesus Christ! Christians are mostly unprepared to carry their cross and follow Jesus in the way! There is a hymn written in the 50s, by John Peterson (1921-2006), to the effect that the Christian walk is not easyand this is the truth! Ill read this hymn now:
Its not an easy road, we are travelling to heaven,
For many are the thorns on the way;
Its not an easy road but the Saviour is with us,
His presence gives us joy every day.

No, no, its not an easy road,
No, no, its not an easy road;
But Jesus walks with me and
Brightens my journey,
And lightens every heavy load.

Its not an easy road there are trials and troubles,
And many are the dangers we meet;
But Jesus guards and keeps so
That nothing can harm us,
And smooth the rugged path for our feet.

Though I am often foot sore
And weary from travel,
Though I am often bowed down with care;
A better day is coming when
Home in the glory,
Well rest in perfect peace over there.

Beloved, the Christian must walk in this life, with the confidence of the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 27:1-5: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And like Queen Esther, a true Christian must be able to say, If I perish, I perish!

Let us pray!