It's That Time

I am going to lose 30 pounds. I am going to exercise more. I am going to eat out less and cook more at home. I am going to read the Bible in a year. I would imagine you’ve heard many of these resolutions already this year. I would even bet that you have one of these as your New Year’s resolution. You may have even already “changed” that resolution. None of these are bad things and I pray that you are able to keep all the resolutions that are edifying to the Lord. However, I want to speak about a different kind of resolve that I believe is an ever-encroaching reality for the Church here in the United States.

If you keep up on the news, I am sure you have already heard of the recent C-4 Bill in Canada. If not, I will briefly explain. This bill makes it illegal for anyone in Canada to practice or promote conversion therapy on anyone who is engaged in or is considering an LGBTQIA lifestyle. That sounds innocent enough, right? Wrong! The implication is that it is illegal to discuss biblical sexuality. This means that a Christian who communicates the biblical creation of male and female, and God’s design for marriage between only a male and a female as laid out in Genesis 1 and 2, would be breaking the law. Under C-4, this would be considered hate speech and would be punishable by up to five years in prison. The temptation could be to dismiss this as a Canadian problem that doesn’t affect us, but it’s not that simple. For starters, we live in a global culture and we are affected by happenings throughout the world. But this issue is also nearer to us than you might think. Did you know that saints in Lafayette, Indiana are fighting a very similar bill? Did you know that pastor John MacArthur’s sermon on the subject of biblical marriage was recently removed from YouTube? We must recognize that censorship and persecution have already arrived, and we must resolve ourselves to the Word of God.

Now, more than ever, we must daily consume the nourishment of God’s Word. We must resolve to be saturated in the gospel. As Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds us, we must put on the full Armor of God. Jared Wilson gives the following encouragement in his book, “The Pastor’s Justification” — “We must wear this armor constantly. We should never take it off. This is wartime. Don’t take the armor off.” (Pg. 103)

So, how are we called to practically engage the battle set before us. Acts chapter 4 gives us some insight into how we are called to engage the battle. It highlights 3 actions that must be on our radar. First, we must remain in Jesus. Acts 4:13 records, “When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus (emphasis added).” The point is clear: we must know Jesus and feed upon His Word daily, as we abide in Him.

Second, we must pray. I will admit that prayer is sometimes a struggle for me. But, it’s important to note that this second step flows from the first. How can we be with Jesus and not communicate with Him? Brothers and sisters, we get to be in a personal relationship with the God of the universe that is marked by intimacy! And, He hasn’t just granted us access to His presence, He has taught us how to remain in Him. As we’ve studied in the Psalms, we must cry out to God — who is our stronghold. He will hold us in His glory and grace under the guidance of His will.

Lastly, we must live out and share the gospel. Acts 4:29-31 records this: “And now Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand for healing, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of you holy servant Jesus. When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.” (emphasis added)  
In the list of God’s Armor in Ephesians 6, the gospel is described as the sandals. That is because we live out the gospel in all that we say and do. It is important that we confront the culture, not by yelling back at it for how wrong it is. We confront the culture by speaking the truth of the gospel into it and by living a transformed life that is compellingly different. When we are asked about this difference, we get to boldly proclaim the redemptive power of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We get to tell them about the One who humbled Himself by living among us, dying for our sin, and raising from the dead to save our souls.

This is our resolve! This is how we engage in the battle against the principalities of darkness and the roaring lion. As Peter tell us, we must cast our anxiety upon Christ, for He alone is our stronghold. Let’s pray for one another to hold fast to Jesus and walk daily in the light of His glory and grace.

A Fellow Soldier In Christ,
Austin Strange | Pastoral Resident