I work in Children’s Church on Sunday mornings. Overall, it is something I love. There are times where the kids are a handful, but it really makes me happy when they remember something from several weeks prior, or you can really see the lights come on when they learn something. The downside to being in Children’s Church is that I am not in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings hearing the sermon. Most of the time it does not bother me too badly, since I don’t know in advance what the sermon is on. However, Mark preached this past week, so I knew what the sermon was, and that it was going to be very good. I hated to have to miss it. I thought about asking someone else to cover Children’s Church, but I knew I could get the sermon outside of Sunday morning, whereas others could not. I am posting a few things from his sermon, because I think they are really good and would like to share them with the rest of the world that didn’t get to hear it.
Where are the young people like Abel, who desire to please God? Where are the men like Enoch, who walk with God instead of the world? Where are the believers like Noah, who will take a stand for God even if it means they will stand alone? Where are the senior adults like Abraham, who leave a life of comfort at the age of 75 to follow God’s instructions, not knowing where God will take them? Where are the believers like Abraham, who are looking for a city built by God instead of what the world has to offer? Where are the women like Sarah who finally begin to trust God to fulfill His promises? Where are the parents like Abraham, who offer up their children to the Lord, knowing that He knows what’s best for them? Where are the fathers like Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph who live and die trusting in God and teaching their children to do the same? Where are the believers like Moses, who choose to suffer persecution with God’s people instead of enjoying the passing pleasures of sin and who consider the reproach of Christ to be greater riches than the treasures of the world? Where are the women like Rahab, who is more concerned with serving God and caring for His people instead of living a life focused on herself like all the other women around her?
Where are believers like the apostles in Acts 5, who after being flogged for sharing the Gospel, rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer shame for Christ and kept right on teaching and preaching Christ? Where are the Christians like the believers in Acts 8, who after being put in prison and run off from their homes, kept preaching the Word wherever they went? Where are the believers like the apostles, who were willing to suffer persecution and death for the sake of Christ?
Where are the believers like Paul? He was able to say, “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”
Where are the believers like William Tyndale? He was sentenced to death for translating the New Testament into English. He was strangled to the point of death and then burned at a stake. As he was burning he cried out, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes!”
Where are the believers like Martin Luther? He was on trial for preaching salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. During his trial he was asked if he would recant the books he had written and the positions he had taken. Luther responded, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”
Where are the believers like Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer? They were on trial for preaching the clear teachings of the Word of God. As they were being tied to the stake before they were burned to death, Latimer said, “Be of good cheer, Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day, by God’s grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust will never be put out.”
Where are the believers like John Bunyan? They told John Bunyan to quit preaching, but he said ‑ I cannot quit preaching because God has called me to preach. And they said ‑ If you preach we’ll put you in prison. And so he said to himself ‑ If I go to prison who cares for my family? But how can I close my mouth when God has called me to preach? And so he committed his family to the care of God and was obedient to the call of God and preached, and they put him in prison. And since then he’s blessed millions of families because it was there that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. Listen to what he said: “The parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place, as the pulling of the flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I have besides. O the thought of the hardship I thought my blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces…But yet, recalling myself, thought I, I must venture all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you; O I saw in this condition, I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet thought I, I must do it, I must do it.”
Where are the believers like Henry Martyn? He went to India and spent the rest of his life there. Already in India he had done more than his share of missionary service when he announced that he was going to go to Persia because God had laid it upon his heart to translate the New Testament and the Psalms into the Persian language. By then he was an old man. They told him that if he stayed in India he would die because of the heat. And then they told him that Persia was hotter than India. But he went anyway. He studied the Persian language, then translated the entire New Testament and the Psalms in nine months. And then he was told that he couldn’t print it or circulate it until he received the Shah’s permission. So he traveled 800 miles to Tehran, and he was denied permission to see the Shah. He turned around and made a 400 mile trip to find the British ambassador. The ambassador gave him the proper kinds of papers and so forth and sent him back to the Shah. And so he traveled another 400 miles…that makes l600 miles. He rode this at night on the back of a mule, and rested during the daytime…protected only by a strip of canvas from the sweltering desert heat. He finally arrived and was received by the Shah who gave him permission for the Scriptures to be printed and circulated in Persia. Ten days later he died. But shortly before he had written in his diary this statement: “I sat and thought with sweet comfort and peace of my God. In solitude my Companion, my Friend, and Comforter.” He didn’t live a life of ease, but it was a life worth remembering.
John Knox, on his knees for lost souls in the little country of Scotland pleaded with God and said, “Give me Scotland or I die.” Hudson Taylor as a young man looked across the thousands of miles to the unreached multitudes of China and cried out to God, “I feel that I cannot go on living unless I do something for the lost in China.” Henry Martyn after landing in India said, “Here I am in the midst of heathen, midnight and savage oppression, now my dear Lord let me burn out for Thee.”
Why does American Christianity look so different than Christianity in the New Testament and in Church History? Christianity from the New Testament and Church History is splattered with blood, sweat, and tears. American Christianity sounds more like this:
Luke 9:23 says, “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and watch television. That’s what Christians do now.
Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and play on the computer. That’s what Christians do now.
Luke 10:2 says, “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and play video games. That’s what Christians do now.
1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and complain about how long the sermon was. That’s what Christians do now.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and talk on the phone and text message. That’s what Christians do now.
2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and take a nap. That’s what Christians do now.
1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and act and talk just like the world. That’s what Christians do now.
James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and try to think of something to do so I won’t be bored. That’s what Christians do now.
James 1:22 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”
Me? I go to church, the pastor preaches, I go home and do nothing. That’s what Christians do now.