2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?
6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
The gospel will be opposed.
Jesus is telling His “friends”, for so He has named us in the prior chapter, that opposition will be there when we try to spread the gospel. I was reading a short devotional about how highly prized the Bible is in countries where it is forbidden. (You can find a picture of the Bible that was passed around until its pages were practically read away here: http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/02/stories-about-scripture-when-the-bible-was-illegal/ .) Let me see, doing an inventory. I have access to the Bible online in many forms at Biblegateway.org. I have three versions of the Bible on my PDA smart phone. I have four versions of the Bible on my Kindle, and there are two or three strewn around my office, including interlinear versions. So I have at least 10 different Bibles around me, and that does not include the Bibles which my wife has. Truly I am rich!
The problem is that those of us who are considered rich, usually neither know it or use it in the proper fashion. Am I really using my Bible as I ought? For years I have been doing just a light devotional reading, getting through my Bible once a year. But years ago, when I first became a Christian, I became an avid reader of Scripture. I am a voracious reader, often reading one or more books per day, and when I became a Christian, I was convicted of reading other books, but not reading the Bible in any comparable fashion. I challenged myself to read a book a day—the longer books are broken up into two or three sessions, and the shorter books are grouped together. In this fashion I was able to read my Bible through over seven times per year. It was probably the best thing I ever did with my life, and continued on for many years.
But I let it lapse with my teaching career, probably due to the sinfulness of letting other events crowd it out. Recently I became convicted once again, and with the advent of the new year, decided that continuing this program would probably help me focus better upon God’s will for my life. Early in my Christian life, I had the good fortune of being sent to Multnomah School of the Bible for a year, and during that time I met the “Walking Bible”, John G. Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell taught us a spiritual life class each day, and I sat amazed as the Bible verses would roll off of his tongue, often faster than I could write them down.
I believe I had already started my daily Bible book reading, but I find the power of the Spirit so strong upon Dr. Mitchell that I began trying for several years to do what it seemed he had done—memorize the Bible. I did get many many chapters memorized, but early in my attempts recognized that Dr. Mitchell had a special gift from God. I recall him teasing us when he had us look up a verse. “So we would not get lost,” he said, “let me recite the verse before and then the verse after.” Truly an amazing man of God, and I look forward to seeing him in heaven.
In all of which I am trying to say that we undervalue the Word of God. It is the Word which changes us, not Calvin, Augustine, Wesley, or any other man. It is the Word of Christ, which Jesus left to us which gives us the power to convict and introduce others to the glories of God. I see a renewed interest in the Reformation Bible teachers today, and that is not at all bad in itself, so long as those being taught are taught to be grounded in the Word, and not in some man’s interpretation of the Word.
I am about to start interpreting one of the great passages of Scripture, where it teaches me that God directly would be our teacher, and that He would take of His Word and make it bear fruit in my heart, if I will just give heed to it. I wish those who are fighting again with renewed vigor would remember what so many of our fathers of the Reformation did have in mind. Evangelism? Ask John Wesley, C. H. Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, D. L. Moody, Charles Finney, all great men of God, and all men who held to somewhat different principles of the faith. And they had great disagreements about the principles of salvation and election, but you know what? I cannot find them is disagreement about the priorities of the faith. They were all busy giving out the Word of God to the lost as often as they could. They understood the priority of spreading the Good News. It is my job, it is your job, to get busy telling others about the greatest news ever given to man. Oh that we might straighten out our priorities, and leave the disagreements for afterwards! Sometimes I feel like we are arguing the world into oblivion. Too much like, I fear, Nero fiddling while his city burned. I can think of no greater thing than to be found explaining Jesus to someone when Christ returns. Can you?
I wonder why it is that witnessing is the hardest of all things to do. Years of witnessing and being in different programs, and I have noticed that it never seems to get easier. I do notice that witnessing is the one place our Lord tells us that we will receive opposition, as in the passage above. When Christians are determined to proclaim the gospel to the lost world, seems to be when the greatest spiritual opposition starts. I never notice that when I am wanting to argue with someone about some point of doctrine. Isn't it time to reduce the arguing, center ourselves in the Word, and begin proclaiming?
Go Tell It on the Mountain
1. While shepherds kept their watching
O'er silent flocks by night
Behold, throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light.
2. The shepherds feared and trembled
When, lo! above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our Savior's birth.
3. Down in a lowly manger
The humble Christ was born
And God sent us salvation
That blessed Christmas morn.
Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.