Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Vanity Fair-Pilgrim's Progress

We just finished reading about the events that transpire at the Vanity Fair, ending in Faithful's death. In Hebrews 11:37-40, the conclusion of the heroes of the faith chapter, we are told that these that suffered for righteousness’ sake are those of whom the world was not worthy. In every time period since the Day of Pentecost men and women have suffered for their Lord and Saviour. We think of the Roman Christians who died violent deaths in the colliseums. During the Dark Ages some 50 million Christians sealed their testimonies, being hounded and persecuted by the church of Rome. God has always had his witnesses, those that stood for His truth and would not be swayed, no matter the consequences. For many years after the Protestant Reformation, many Protestant homes had two books, the Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. The second book they read and taught their children so as not to forget the price paid by their forebears in handing down the faith. Now it sits on clearance shelves in so-called Christian bookstores. This type of suffering is very foreign to us in 21st century America but we should commemorate it and never forget their sacrifice. Some today are offended or even ashamed of the name Protestant when they are the ones who should be ashamed. Will we forget their sacrifice? God Forbid!

In Acts 5:41 we see the disciples rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. Paul tells us in Romans 8:18 that whatever suffering we may encounter in this life is nothing compared to the future glory that will be revealed to us when our Lord returns to set up His kingdom. There is no more definite condemnation of today’s “prosperity gospel(which says that if you become a Christian then you will be wealthy, healthy, and without trouble)” than 2 Timothy 3:12 where we are told that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Thankfully, today’s persecution does not include being fed to lions or burning at the stake. Another thing to be thankful for is that the Roman church does not have the power to persecute here in the West. Persecution comes in many forms –slander, ridicule, exclusion. How many of us are willing to bear this reproach for the name of Christ? Are we living with one foot in the kingdom and one foot in the world? Do we speak out against error and apostasy or just go with the flow so as not to offend? These are dark days, morally and spiritually, and the church must fulfill it’s obligation to stand for the truth. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says that our adversary, the devil, is like a roaring lion, seeking to devour whoever he can. As soldiers of the Cross we must memorize Ephesians 6:10-17, which gives us the Christian’s weapons of warfare.

Psalm 46-God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.


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