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Taking a Stand for Jesus - Text

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Taking a Stand for Jesus

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Dr Kenneth Ibe

 

It was in 1858. Dudley Tyng, an Episcopalian pastor, was lying on his death­bed. He whispered to friends and family these words: "Let us all stand up for Jesus".

 

In his life, he was known as a preacher who stood strong and stood tall on righteousness and spoke against evil. He spoke against the evils of slavery and got fired by his church for it. He continued to preach and many came to Christ through his sermons.

 

It was his last words: "Let us all stand up for Jesus" that inspired the familiar hymn:

 

Stand up, Stand up for Jesus!

You soldiers of the cross;

Lift high his royal banner,

It must not suffer loss.

From victory unto victory

His army shall he lead,

Till every foe is vanquished

And Christ is Lord indeed.

 

As followers of Jesus, we are called to stand up for Jesus, to stand up for His word, to stand up for righteousness. Jesus Himself said: "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." — Mark 8:38

 

I will be ashamed of those who do not take a stand for me when I come in my glory. We are called to take a stand for Jesus.

 

In his famous sermon on the mount Jesus said:

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is you reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". — Matt 5:10-12

 

Let us now answer these questions:

 

1. Are we taking a stand for Jesus in righteousness?

2. Are we standing up for Jesus?

 

There are 3 encouragements from the Lord from His word to help us stand up for Jesus because it is not easy.

 

1. Be encouraged: God calls us to stand up and be counted for the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

If we are ashamed of Jesus, then we can't stand but if we are not ashamed of Him who died in agony and blood for us, then we would say "yes, I want to be counted for Jesus."

 

The book of Jude is the only book in the Bible given solely to the subject of apostasy — a falling away from the faith before the second coming of Jesus.

 

In Jude 3-4 we read: "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people, for certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immortality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord".

 

Contend earnestly – that means to agonize, to strive. It is translated to fight, to defend. We are to fight and defend our faith because it is under attack.

 

Jude was saying, I was about to write to you and rejoice with you about the salvation we share, but then the Holy Spirit impressed it on me to write to you to contend, to defend, to fight for the faith. It is right to stand for righteousness. Righteousness literally means what is right, what is virtuous, what is true.

 

Blessed are those who are standing for what is right. The Bible tells us what is right.

 

In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read:

 

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for:

Teaching (telling us what is right)

For rebuking (telling us what is not right)

For correction (telling us how to get right)

And training in righteousness (telling us how to stay right)

 

It is always right to take a stand for righteousness.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to stand up for Him and not be ashamed of Him or His words. It is always right to stand for what is right, honorable, and virtuous and true – the things that are found in the word of God. When we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness Jesus said we are blessed. Not only is it right to stand for righteousness, it is necessary to stand up for righteousness. Look again what Jude said in the passage we read:

 

Jude v 4: In this verse Jude is saying I felt the necessity to write to you to contend earnestly for the faith because false prophets have infiltrated the church. Jude and 2 Peter 2 are similar in their statements about false prophets and false teachers infiltrating in the church in the last days.

 

Our faith is under attack from within and from without. The world around us is changing the boundary markers of morality and things that the church has always known as right and wrong now has been turned around and what we have known to be wrong since creation, people are saying it is not wrong, it is good, it is right, and this has been jammed down our throat. When we speak out against it, we are regarded as bigots, hate-mongers, and terrible, horrible people.

 

About January 2013, there was news of a Christian baker in Canada who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple based on his Christian convictions. He was taken to court and convicted of homophobia and discrimination. He was heavily fined. In December 2013, there was news about Phil Robertson of the Duck dynasty in America, a Christian reality television show. In an interview published in a magazine, he declared that homosexuality is a sin, based on his Christian convictions. He got fired from his job. This is just a few examples of widespread Christian persecution around the world.

 

We are called to stand up for Jesus, to stand up for what is right, to stand up for the word of God. We are called to tell the world the clear boundary markers of morality that God has set up and that only God sets boundary markers even when we are being brutalized for speaking up for Jesus. Jesus Christ is calling people who will stand up for Him regardless of the cost.

 

Edmund Buck, a philosopher of the 18th Century said this: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing". So what we may do to let evil triumph is to do nothing, to stop speaking up against evil, to stop standing up for Jesus and his word.

 

First encouragement: "God calls us as children of God to stand up and be counted for the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul told Timothy'. "Be a good soldier and join me in suffering hardship like a good soldier of our Lord Jesus Christ." – 2 Timothy 2:3

 

2. Be encouraged: A stand for Christ will not be popular.

 

Not only does God call us to stand up and be counted, He warns us that a stand for Christ will not be popular. The world does not applaud us or throw roses at our feet for standing up for the savior of the world; rather they throw stones at our head.

 

It God tells us clearly in His word that we are not going to be popular when we stand for Him. The world will hate us.

 

Jesus said in John 15:18-19 : "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you".

 

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and love in the flesh. He came into the world and the world hated him-, so much so they nailed him to a tree. The word of God tells us the reason why the world hates Jesus in John 3:19-20 . This is the verdict: "Light has come into the world, but people 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 their deeds will be exposed." The Pharisees hated Jesus because he shined the light on their hypocrisy. They hated the light and got together to put out the light.

 

As followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are the light of the world. We shine the light on sin and evil in the world. We tell the world to repent and be saved. The world does not like to hear that and they hate us. If the world loves us, that tells us that we are of the world, for the world loves its own. As the true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are hated in the world. Not only are we hated in the world, we are being persecuted in the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us we will be persecuted in Matthew 5:10 - 12. Three times in Matthew 5 , he told us we will be persecuted when we stand up for him.

 

The word persecution although it encompasses torture and martyrdom actually means to harass, to trouble, to pursue with hostility. It means we will be pursued with hostility, harassed, troubled, made fun of.

 

In 2 Timothy 3:12 , we read: “And indeed, all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

 

Every true believer in Christ Jesus experiences persecution in his or her life at one time or another or multiple of times. It may be people making fun of you at school, work, in your family or in the community. It may be people making snipe comments against you about your Christian convictions. It may be people denying you your right because of your Christian convictions. It may be martyrdom.

 

About 2 years ago I visited a relative in Sydney who had a baby born to them. The husband served me wine; I think about 20% alcohol. I said to him, thank you for the drinks. You know I don't drink any alcohol. He said to me, yes we will serve you juice like children. He and the other man there burst out laughing.

 

Yes the world makes fun of us and makes snipe comments about our Christian values. But when these things happen to us, we will not retreat or join them. Rather, we will rejoice that we have been counted worthy to participate in the sufferings of Christ so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

 

Last year there was news about a Pastor in Nigeria. Boko Haram, the militant Islamic sect stormed his home and demanded he renounce his faith in Christ and embrace Islam. When he refused, they tortured and murdered him. This is just one example of many others around the world. But we are confident of this that no matter the assaults by the kingdom of darkness against the church of Christ, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church by the power of the Almighty God.

 

There are some Christians who don't like the idea of being persecuted and would not want to be persecuted. This is what John McArthur (pastor and author) says to those Christians who want to avoid being persecuted... “If you want to escape and go through your life without being persecuted, it is very simple. This is how to do it: first of all approve all the world's morals, standards and ethics. Just join in. Live like the world lives. Don't tell people about sin. Don't tell them they are lost without Jesus. Don't tell them about hell. Don't tell them that Christ is the only way and every other religion is a lie. Don't separate yourself from the world in all its activities and pleasures and in all its enterprises. Go along with the world. Laugh at its jokes. Enjoy all its entertainments. Smile when it mocks God. And let people take the Lord's name in vain. Just be ashamed to take a stand for Christ. And I promise you, you won't be persecuted. Then when you are done doing that, examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith or not".

 

Indeed all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. God is warning us: the world will hate you because it hated my son, the world would persecute you because it persecuted my son.

 

Matthew 5:11 tells us, Christians will be insulted and lied about and slandered. The world "will falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." You know what they said about Jesus? Jesus performed a miracle where a blind and mute man could both hear and speak and see. But the Pharisees said Jesus performed his miracles by the power of Beelzebub – the prince of demons. ( Matthew 12:22-24 ) Beelzebub is an interesting name for a god of the ancient Phoenicians. The Phoenicians took note that when they see a dead animal or dung or filth, after some time, there will be white worms over the filth. They did not know these are maggots coming from microscopic eggs laid by flies in the filth. They concluded that life comes from filth and worshipped a god – Beelzebub whom they said was responsible for that to happen. So when Jesus healed and performed miracles to restore a life, the Pharisees attributed Jesus' miracles to the god of the flies and filth. In essence they were saying that Jesus was the lord of the flies – one of the most hellish, hateful things they said about Jesus.

 

The world insulted Jesus. It will also insult followers of Jesus.

 

They called him a drunkard. "He is a friend of tax collectors and sinners" – a wonderful thing but they said it as a slam to insult Him. The world will insult us

Christians and say bad things about us. Some Christians afraid of this have backed off. They say I don't want persecution, I don't want people to make fun of me at school or at work or in the community so I will zip it, I will shut my mouth and I will not put my neck out. But we (all Christians) have been called to stand up for Jesus and fight for the faith that is under tremendous attack from within and from without.

 

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people in Christ Jesus to zip it.

 

God's people need to speak up because the devil's people have no trouble speaking up and spreading their agenda and filth and changing the boundary markers for morality. We need to stand up for the truth of the word of God.

 

A story is told about Nikita Khrushchev, a leader of the former Soviet Union who took over after Joseph Stalin. One day he was denouncing the policies and atrocities of Stalin in a large crowd. A heckler in the crowd shouted, "You were one of his men, why didn't you stop him?"

 

Nikita shouted "who said that?" There was complete silence. No more moved. After a pregnant pause, Nikita said "now you know why, too afraid to stand up for what is right".

John the Baptist was not afraid. He confronted Herod with his sin of adultery. He was imprisoned and then martyred. He stood strong for righteousness.

 

The prophets of the old testaments stood strong for righteousness. Most of them were martyred for speaking out against evil. 11 of the 12 apostles of Jesus were martyred for standing up for Jesus. The apostle John was exiled to an isolated island for standing up on the truth. And over the course of history many Christians have paid with their lives for standing on the truth of the word of God.

 

God calls us to stand up for Jesus. He warns us that a stand for Jesus will not be popular.

 

3. Be encouraged: A stand for Christ is worth it.

 

It may be hard but it is worth all the troubles. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 , we read: "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain." Our service in the Lord, standing up for Jesus, standing up for the truth of the word of God in spite of the persecution from the world is not in vain.

 

Matthew 5:10 – "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."

 

Matthew 5 : 12 – "Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you". God has a reward for all who are faithful to Him.

 

Jesus Christ said "Look I am coming soon! My reward is with me and I will give to each person according to what they have done" – Revelation 22:12

 

It is not an easy road to follow Jesus. The road is narrow and the gate is small. But we have the promise and assurance of God's blessing and reward for following Jesus.

Thomas Watson, a puritan in the 17th Century Britain wrote this about Christian persecution: "Though they (Christians) be ever so meek, merciful pure in heart, their piety will not shield them from suffering; they must hang their harp on the willows and take up the cross; they way to heaven, though it be full of roses in regard to the comforts of the Holy Spirit, yet it is full of thorns in regard to the persecutions. Set it down as a maxim, if you will follow Christ, you must see the swords and the staves-, put the cross in your creed". But it is worth it because God will reward us handsomely for it.

 

Let us all stand up for Jesus as the soldiers of the cross. Let us lift high his royal banner. It must never suffer loss. Let us contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

 

The time is now for Christians to stand up for what is right. We have to stand up for the truth. And when we have stood up for Jesus all our lives, we can say with the apostle Paul at the end of our lives: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, there is now in store for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me but to everyone who have longed for his appearing". – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

 

Let us pray.

 

Our Father in heaven, you have called us to stand up for Jesus,

to stand up for His word,

to stand up for righteousness.

You have called us to stand

up in spite of persecution.

We pray Father, that in the

face of persecution, we will

not be afraid but that we

will all stand firm on the

Rock of our salvation for

the glory of God.

In Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

 

Acknowledgements to Pastor Jeff Schreve First Baptist Church

Texarkana, Texas

 

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