"Die to" or "How to"?
...but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 2 Timothy 1:8b
Text: 2 Timothy 1:8-12
"When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself because that's what makes God happy. Amen?" (The congregation applauds). This is an excerpt from a church service from a very well know pastor on TV.
A.W. Tozer wrote years ago, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." God is not your "genie in a bottle." He does not exist to give you your personal definition of happiness. Many people "follow" Jesus as long as it's convenient, comfortable, and generally an enhancement to their life. But Western Christian religion has failed to point potential converts to an essential element of the gospel: "dying to self."
Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7). Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process (Got Questions).
The New Testament constantly reminds us not to be surprised by suffering for the gospel. As I mentioned yesterday, US Senate is preparing to vote on a so-called “Equality Act.” The National Association of Evangelicals has stated: “If the measure became law, many religious schools and charities would have to change their faith-based policies and practices or face sanctions that could force them to close their doors." In our lifetime in American, suffering for the gospel may not look like prison and chains, but unless God steps in, it will look like a loss of federal funding, crippling fines, and lawsuits. As Andrew T. Walker wrote in an article for TGC, “The bill represents the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America. Given that it touches areas of education, public accommodation, employment, and federal funding, were it to pass, its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience would be both historic and also chilling." I encourage you to reach out HERE to our Georgia Senators and let your voice be heard on this issue!
But you need not be fearful about whatever happens. Don't be surprised by suffering for the gospel. Jesus promises that persecutions and trials will be his disciples’ “opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:13)—an opportunity to tell about your hope in Jesus and why He is worth it!
God is purifying His church! "Indeed, all who desire to live a godlylife in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Those who live godly will be persecuted. Those who compromise will be spared persecution, but in the process, their true hearts will be revealed for what they are--ungodly!
So here is the question we must consider:
- Is the "god" I follow there to fulfill MY dreams and desires? OR
- Is GOD my dream and desire?
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me (2 Timothy 1:12b).