How many thousands of people have repeated a prayer and publicly announced that they were a follower of Jesus Christ only to fall away back into the world? The answer to that question cannot be fully comprehended. Many estimate the number of false Christians to far outnumber the true Christian population which is a staggering thought to consider. Yet, it seems that was what Jesus communicated in Matthew 7:13-14 as he differentiated between the “many” and the “few” in relation to the false Christian and the true believer.
Throughout time, a certain category of Christianity has emerged under the name of carnal Christianity. This category is the product of a certain belief that claims it’s possible to have Jesus as Lord and Heaven as your home while living in open sin and remaining in love with the world. Not only is this a harmful belief system, it’s simply unbiblical. In short, there is no such thing as a carnal Christian. The carnal Christian is like a unicorn walking around in an open field—it’s an impossibility.
The Christian’s Call to Holiness
To be a Christian is to be a child of God. What God expects from his people is a life of holiness. As Peter stated, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16) as he quoted from Leviticus 11:44. God has always had one goal for his people and it’s holiness. In Ephesians 2:10, we see Paul emphasizing the fact that God has before ordained that his people walk in good deeds (a life pursuit of holiness).
Far too often people miss the point of the Levitical laws. They turn them into a system of positives commands and negative prohibitions when in reality something far bigger is taking place. For instance, God was not merely forbidding the Israelites from enjoying a good BBQ sandwich in the dietary laws. God was positioning his people to be a distinct and separate people from the rest of the world. The Levitical laws were used to separate the people.
God is holy and has called us into a life of holiness. Paul urged the church at Ephesus to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). The pursuit of our lives should be on becoming conformed to the image of God rather than being marked by the world, the flesh, and the devil. That was our former way of living and we have been called out of that lifestyle. Listen to Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:2-3:
Ephesians 2:1–3 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Notice that Paul emphasizes that the believers in Ephesus (true about all believers regardless of geographic location) were once dead in their trespasses and sins. This spiritual deadness caused them to walk (a statement about lifestyle) in a manner that was following the prince of the power of the air (a title for Satan). This entire lifestyle is focused on satisfying the depraved passions of the flesh. It should be noted that Paul begins by describing this pattern of living by the believers in the past tense. In other words, before a believer’s conversion their lifestyle is carnal, but carnality is not the description of the believer in the present tense (after conversion).
According to Titus 1:8, the Christian is called to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” An undisciplined life centered on satisfying depraved cravings is not the picture of a pursuit of holiness. It’s the picture of a life that’s pursuing the world.
Conversion Results in Sanctification
When God saves a person, he not only saves that person from the penalty of their sin, but he likewise removes the shackles of sin and gives the individual victory over sin. Why would anyone believe that the God who can transport people into the his presence in eternity could not remove sin from a person’s life before they cross over the precipice of eternity?
The Christian’s life will be a constant battle against the flesh (Rom. 7). However, God calls the Christian to present himself as a living sacrifice—one that is holy and acceptable to God (Heb. 12:1-2). As a result of conversion, the child of God will love God more than the world or anything this world has to offer (1 John 2:15). As John makes clear, if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Sanctification is the progressive process whereby the child of God puts off the deeds of the flesh while putting on the clothing of holiness. Listen to how Paul describes this process in his letter to the church at Ephesus:
Ephesians 4:22–24 – to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Salvation should be viewed holistically rather than merely a compartmentalized focus on the soul. The work of salvation impacts the entire person, body, mind, and soul. The renewal of the mind comes as a byproduct of the changed heart at conversion. New desires and affections for God emerge which change priority lists, goals, lifestyles, and nearly every other detail of the human’s existence in this present evil world.
Conversion without sanctification is not genuine salvation. Carnality is not a description of a child of God. When a true child of God walks off the straight and narrow path—the Spirit of God will not allow that to be an ongoing pattern. There will be a chastening of the disobedient Christian that brings about correction. This process could come in form of a sermon preached where the Spirit deals with the sin internally resulting in repentance. It could be a private rebuke by a pastor out of love. It could come in form of church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). For the obstinate, God has more severe methods of correction (Heb. 12:3-17). God will sanctify his people and Christ will have a pure bride.
Charles Spurgeon once remarked, “Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”
I recall walking into my father’s room as a boy and seeing him sitting in the bed reading his Bible. It was his custom to read in the evening just prior to going off to sleep. When we traveled together, I recall him reading his Bible in the hotel room in the evening, at the beach condo, and in the tent while on a hunting trip. In fact, the habit of reading the Bible daily was something that I can recall my father doing and I also recall how he taught me to do the same thing (as he often encouraged a Proverb per day along with other readings).
When it comes to our physical health, doctors tell us that our eating habits will shape us (both externally and internally). If eating habits and exercise habits are important for the physical body, how much more are the spiritual habits of those who are children of God? Jerry Bridges once penned these words, “Habits are the thought and emotional patterns engraved on our minds. These internal habit patterns play just as forceful a role as external influences on our actions – in fact, perhaps more so.”  We are called to a life of sanctification, always moving and always learning which will lead to a life that is always conforming to the image of Christ. In order to do so, we must develop good habits that will shape us in the journey of faith.
Bible Reading: If you read four chapters of God’s Word each day, you can read the entire Bible in a year. I remember David Miller (an evangelist friend) who has much of the Bible memorized telling me once that he went for a span of ten years reading sixteen chapters of God’s Word every single day. That allowed him to read the Bible in its entirety four times each calendar year. No matter if your goal is to read the whole Bible within the span of twelve months or to simply be reading the Bible everyday, it’s a good habit to form and it helps you worship God on a daily basis. Look for good plans (in both print and app version) to help you stay on track daily over at ESVBible.org.
Prayer: One way to commune with God on a daily basis is through his Word and that naturally opens the heart to pray. We must move beyond using God as a glorified bellhop to bring us answers to urgent needs or blessings to make our heart rejoice. We must carve out time to adore God and to thank him for what blessings we’ve already received from him. Consider how the habit of prayer will transform your life, your speech, your anxiety, and your worship.
Christian Fellowship: Far too much effort is placed on secular fellowship to the neglect of Christian fellowship. Read in the book of Acts and throughout the epistles and notice how often the church is spending time together in fellowship, prayer, breaking of bread, and all of this was on a daily basis. It really is true that the people you spend time with will shape you and leave a mark upon you. We need good marks and in order to be shape others and be shaped by others is to intentionally carve out time for Christian fellowship. How many times have you heard of someone in your local church complaining about not connecting well with others all while they spend more time complaining than they do intentionally inviting others into their lives. Christians need community and friendships that are robust and healthy—producing a higher fellowship than can be attained through a football gathering over pizza.
Journaling: You might not be the diary type, but a journal where you track your progress in prayer and Bible reading along with your own progress in the faith is a very healthy habit. In this journal, you might have some longer entries while others might be brief. At times you might just doodle and write down simple thoughts, but it will serve as a means of charting progress in the faith.
Fasting: One of the great disciplines in the Christian life is fasting. To go without food deliberately for the purpose of spiritual progress through prayer and Scripture intake can be enormously helpful in demonstrating the need for God over food. The body will scream for food, but as you continue to give your body more of God—you begin to settle into a sanctifying dependence that awakens holy affections and enables you to mortify sin.
Note Taking: Beyond the practice of journaling, the art of note taking can help a person connect thoughts and put on paper helpful nuggets of information that will increase learning and provide easier opportunities of discipleship. Some people prefer to use shorthand during note taking, but whatever works best for the individual should be the method while at the same time staying away from complete sentences when possible. There have been studies that link handwritten notes and the brain (especially in men) to a greater capacity of retain information.
Reading (other than social media): One of the best ways to grow as a Christian is to read good biblical literature. This would involve a good commentary and it could include resources such as technical, pastoral, and even study notes in a good study Bible. Going beyond the typical devotional reading is best. To take on a book on a particular subject by a reputable author is a good practice that will help you think through theological issues and increase your faith in God. If you don’t know where to begin, consider looking for a good reading list potentially on your church’s website or through another trustworthy ministry. You can always begin by asking your pastor for suggestions.
Serving: What a blessing it is to serve others. God has called us to serve and to exercise our spiritual gifts within the context of our local church, but we can go beyond to serve our community and those with needs in our community. It’s always a blessing to serve others and to give rather than to always be on the receiving end of such service. When it comes to the life of the church, do you show up expecting for others to serve you or do you have a desire to serve in and through your church? Faithful serving produces greater humility and prevents a selfish personality from developing.
Building a Vocabulary (especially theological): Have you been listening to a sermon from your pastor or a lesson from a Bible teacher in your church and couldn’t understand specific words he was employing? Rather than being frustrated with your inability to know the words, try jotting them down and making some effort to learn the words yourself? In fact, reading and searching through good dictionaries and theological concordances can help you build your theological vocabulary which will enable you to add additional layers of learning and discipleship as you grow as a follower of Jesus.
Exercise: It may sound crazy and a bit out of step with the rest of this list, but if you put effort into your mind and discipline yourself in discipleship, it would be a good idea to take care of your body too. Not only will a regular exercise routine decrease your stress levels and increase your physical health, it will enable your mind to think on the things you’ve been reading, the words you’ve been learning, the books you’ve been reading, and the sermons you’ve been taking in. In addition to this meditation, you can spend good quality time in prayer as you exercise. We should not neglect and harm the body that the Lord has given us. Better health leads us to a better quality of life and enjoyable ministry.
No matter what we do—whether we pray or journal or read—we must do all for the glory of God.
Yesterday I preached Romans 5:1-5 in our series through Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. After spending an entire chapter on the faith of Abraham and demonstrating that he was justified by faith alone—Paul turns to chapter five and points out two things that cause the Christians to rejoice.
Rejoice in the Peace of God
First, Paul begins by talking about rejoicing in the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that we were once enemies of the cross and enemies of God and have now been reconciled to God through the work of Jesus is something to rejoice about for sure. We were once under the wrath of God which is just and righteous and settled indignation against transgressors of the law. God has brought us near and settled the account against us through the suffering and bloody death of Christ. We should rejoice indeed.
Rejoice in Suffering
Paul goes on to make the point that not only do the Christians rejoice in their salvation, but Paul says, “we” rejoice in our sufferings. He included himself in the equation. Not only is he a sinner who has been justified by faith and brought into a peaceful relationship with God through Christ, but he also rejoices in the fact that he is counted worthy to suffer with him as well.
The word Paul uses here for rejoicing is “καυχάομαι” meaning to boast, brag, glory in, pride oneself in. In other words, it’s not only something the Christians were willing to endure, but something they found joy in as they were identified with Christ in the pain of public opposition and suffering for following Jesus. That should not only be true for the Christians in Paul’s day, but it should likewise be true for us today.
According to The Voice of the Martyrs, approximately 171,000 Christians are martyred for their faith each year around the world. We hear far more about political parties, political agendas, and other lesser important new stories each year through the news media, but we rarely hear anything about Christians dying for their faith.
According to Persection.com, on September 20th 2018 the following story was shared as a matter of prayer:
Authorities in Chiapas have forced nearly 30 Christians out of their homes and off their farmland simply because they are Christians. The men and women, who are also losing most of their personal belongings, are being humiliated, beaten and detained for days at a time by local government authorities.
As we survey the Scriptures, we find many warnings about the suffering that will come upon those who would follow Jesus. We must take these words seriously since it has always been dangerous to follow Christ around the world.
Matthew 10:21-22– Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death,  and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
John 16:2– They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
Romans 8:16-17– The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with himin order that we may also be glorified with him.
Philippians 1:29– For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
2 Timothy 1:8– Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospelby the power of God
Acts 5:41– Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
We must not forget the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12 where he made it clear that anyone who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. As we survey church history, we find these words are strikingly accurate. Consider how men like William Tyndall, John Rogers, John Leaf, and many others. One man, John Hullier was taken to the stake in chains, and placed in a barrel of pitch. As they lit the flames, the crowd began to throw books by the Reformers into the flames with Hullier.
As Hullier was being burned, he reached out and caught a book on the sacraments – a book that was written to counter the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine of transubstantiation. He opened it and read it joyfully and loudly to the crowd holding it up above his head. He read until his eyes were consumed with smoke and he couldn’t see any longer, and he then held it to his chest and prayed aloud one final prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of that little book in his dying moments.
How can men go to the flames with such resolve and joy as they’re martyred for following Christ? The answer is found in what Paul says in the first two verses of the fifth chapter of Romans. It’s because of the fact that they have peace with God through Christ. They may not have peace with the world, but they have peace with God—so they can endure the pain of the world while longing for the eternal peace that they will soon enjoy in the presence of Christ Jesus.
If there is one thing we can learn from these verses it’s the reality that the Christian life is not an easy life. It will be filled with pain, rejection, and suffering. We must rejoice when we are called upon to suffer for Jesus.
Far too many people approach their religion as a checkbox religion — something they have to do in order to please their god. However, as a Christian, the life of a Christian is not bound up in a “must do” or “must perform” ideology, but rather a Spirit-empowered life of joy that finds ultimate fulfillment in God through Jesus Christ. Have you stopped to consider what you get as a result of being a Christian? What has God given to each of his children that we often overlook on a daily basis?
The Perspicuity of Scripture
The natural mind cannot fully understand the Scriptures because of the stain of sin. It is the effect of sin that prevents the depraved sinner from reading, understanding, and comprehending the meaning of sacred Scripture. This point Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians 2:14 as he writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” What does it mean that the Scriptures are spiritually discerned?
Spiritual discernment is a way of Paul referencing the work of the holy Spirit in illuminating the truths of God’s Word to his people. Remember, Jesus taught in parables not merely to place the cookies on the bottom shelf for everyone to understand freely — instead he utilized the parables to reveal truths to his disciples while concealing the same truths to the God-haters. In the same way, today God’s people can read and understand the truths of the Bible while those who reject God are incapable of seeing it because the work of the Spirit is not at work in their hearts.
The perspicuity of Scripture is an old phrase that isn’t very clear at all. Interestingly enough, it means the clarity of Scripture. As a Christian, it’s a thrill to open the Bible and know that I can read it, understand it, comprehend it, and obey it. All of this is the overflow of the Holy Spirit’s work in each of God’s children.
The Local Church
Contrary to popular trends, the local church is not for unbelievers. That may sound a bit harsh, but allow me to explain. First, let me explain what I don’t mean by that statement. I am not insinuating that unbelievers should never be invited to our church assemblies. What I am suggesting is that membership in the local church is for followers of Jesus only — and to deviate from that plan is to redefine the very word “church” as we see it in the New Testament.
Through the years, I have witnessed many professing Christians who approached church attendance more like an old family tradition rather than a joy and privilege. For some, attending church is a “checkbox” for their religious duty. Once they get that checked off by noon, they’re free to go on and enjoy their day. However, true Christians find joy and fulfillment in attending church for worship and fellowship. It’s through the local church that we serve God, worship God, fellowship with friends, and serve one another. Because I’m a Christian I have the distinct privilege of attending church — assembling together with the church on Sunday mornings, evenings, and Wednesday evenings (our regular scheduled gatherings).
The church is often referred to as the family of faith — and as a family of Jesus followers we gather together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). What a joy and privilege to be a member of a local church (1 Cor. 12:27).
Temporal and Eternal Joy
Before regeneration changed my life, I had no true joy in God. The temporal joys of waking up in the early hours of the morning and just thinking about how good God is and how his love for me is all satisfying was non-existent. Those moments of gazing at the sky and considering how majestic God is in creation and how sovereign he is in ruling over the universe was not something that occupied my thoughts often. When I did think on those things, they usually were in conflict with my sin and resulted in fear and shame rather than joy and happiness.
As a Christian, I have the overwhelming privilege of looking at the birds of the sky, the flowers on the roadside, and the expanse of God’s creation with joyful eyes. As a Christian I have the opportunity to look beyond the temporal joys of enjoying God now to when I will have the privileges of enjoying God for all of eternity. When those temporal opportunities pass away, I will be welcomed into the presence of my God — and the beginning of a never ending happiness in the presence of God will suddenly come to pass. What has been visible only through a veil will become vividly clear in high definition focus. As a Christian — I get to enjoy God now and for all of eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:50–58 — I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
If you live life long enough as a Christian, conflict in inevitable. The New Testament is filled with words that address the subject—often because apostles were correcting local churches or providing counsel on how to pursue resolution and unity. Broken relationships are hurtful within the context of the local church—and they certainly don’t promote the gospel to a lost world outside the church in the local community. Therefore, it’s essential that we know how to deal with conflict within the family of faith in order to honor Christ and avoid hypocrisy.
Humility is Necessary
If you approach a situation of conflict, humility is required to achieve healthy and biblical results. If two parties who are in disagreement simply enter the conversation by throwing defensive bombs toward one another—the parties involved will spend their time talking past one another rather than talking to one another. The art of listening is key to conflict resolution. The humility to admit fault is also key to defusing conflicts that would serve as barriers to joyful friendships and Christian unity.
In Psalm 147:6, the Psalmist declares, “The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.” In Matthew 23:12, we find the following warning, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” It is God’s will for God’s people to pursue peace in a humble and gentle fashion. The one who is haughty and arrogant will never achieve reconciliation and will consistently find himself or herself in the midst of broken relationships. This pattern is not only damaging to the individual—but to the entire church. This is a sinful trap to avoid as a Christian.
Pursue Reconciliation and Unity
Jesus, in his famous sermon, stated the following, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). We want to be called the sons of God rather than children of wrath—like the rest of mankind. It’s essential to pursue peace in order to be called the sons and daughters of God. Richard Baxter once said:
He that is not a son of Peace is not a son of God. All other sins destroy the Church consequentially; but Division and Separation demolish it directly. 
We must likewise remember that reconciliation and unity do not rest upon the shoulders of one party alone. Each party involved in a conflict must value reconciliation more than their own pride. It may be that one individual pursues reconciliation while another individual remains in a state of bitterness and disunity. Paul addressed this issue in Romans 12:18 as he provided the following instruction to the church in Rome:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18–21).
We must likewise recall Paul’s words prior to this paragraph as he instructed the Christians in Rome to be genuine in their love and to outdo one another in brotherly affection (Rom. 12:9-13). Winning the argument is not always the way to reconciliation. Remember that as we gaze at the cross of Jesus Christ and see how Christ saved us through his brutal crucifixion, we will find that reconciliation is not only a workable solution but it’s mandated by God (Phil 2:5-11; Eph. 4:32).
Do Not Change Churches
Is there ever a time to leave a local church? Sure, there are biblical reasons, but if I’m perfectly honest, I believe far too often people leave their local church for unbiblical reasons. I’ve written on this subject in another article titled, “When Should I Leave My Church?“—but we can be quite certain that it’s never wise to leave under conflict. If you believe that changing addresses of where you worship will solve your conflict with fellow believers—you’re simply wrong. You will only change the address of your problems. So long as you never learn to do the hard work of conflict resolution as a Christian—you will find yourself walking a broken road of loneliness and isolation within your local church. Conflict builds walls and the devil is really clever at isolating people in local churches until they become so unfulfilled that they simply change churches. Until a person learns to work through conflict in a biblical manner that honors Christ—this pattern will continue in perpetuity. Ray Ortlund writes the following:
The gospel being what it is and always will be, “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19), our churches should be the most reconciling, peaceable, relaxed, happy places in town. We are so open to enemies, so meek in the face of insults and injuries, so forgiving toward the undeserving — if we do make people angry, let this be the reason. We refuse to join in their selfish battles. We’re following a higher call. We are the peacemakers, the true sons of God (Matthew 5:9). 
Have you ever had to provide advice to your child after he had a scuffle on the playground with another child? What advice did you provide him? Did you instruct him to work through his problems and pursue peace and salvage his friendship or did you move him to another school the next day? We must remember that the children and immature believers (as well as the mature believers) are watching how we all deal with conflict. We should not disciple others in our local church to change churches when they experience conflict. The local church is family and what do family members do when faced with conflict? The family works through it together. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. The end result is worth it and Christ will be glorified through a proper and healthy conflict resolution.
- Richard Baxter, The Practical Works of Richard Baxter: Selected Treatises, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 4.
- Ray Ortlund, “The Ministry of Reconciliation” — Accessed on: March 5th, 2018.
Tolerance is in vogue politically and socially for every idea, every religion, every agenda, and every social construct other than Christianity. In recent days, Richard Dawkins has come under fire for his comments about the actions taken at the London Pride parade. His statements have resulted in the cancellation of a speaking engagement—resulting in a massive firestorm. The man who’s certainly not a friend of Christianity, tweeted the following on July 23rd:
What this whole dust storm of ideologies revealed is that the tolerance agenda cannot tolerate Christianity. Why is the world willing to be tolerant of everything under the sun except Christianity? Even Dawkins notices the prejudices leveraged against the Christian community which we can only expect to grow more intense as the days go by.
The World Murdered the Founder of Christianity
Jesus is the founder of Christianity and the world despised him during his earthly ministry. Every religious community that was divided on almost all other issues came together in unison on their hatred of Jesus. The Sadducees and Pharisees were divided on matters of Judaism—but they were united in their angst toward Jesus. Jesus gave the following warning to his followers:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)
This is why all of the apostles (except John) were martyred for their faith. They all suffered horrible deaths from clubs, to spears, to an upside down cross, to the beheading of Paul in Rome. This is likewise why William Tyndale was burned at the stake. This is why Jim Elliot suffered death at the end of a spear on the river bank in Ecuador. This is also why Christians who promote the normal gender usage of bathrooms on the campus of Harvard University are reported as “hateful” and “intolerant” to campus social groups and police. The world hated Jesus and the world will always hate those who genuinely follow Christ (Matt. 16:24).
Christianity Really is Dangerous to the World
When you think about it, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all other world religions have no power over the world. Jesus, on the other hand, has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18-20). According to the teachings of Christianity, one day—every knee will bow to Jesus and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2:5-11). If Jesus is not merely a religious lunatic as the world tries to suggest and he really is the devil defeating, death conquering, sinner saving, sovereign Lord—everyone who rejects him will be gathered up like chaff and suffer the judgment of God (Matt. 13:40; 25:41).
Furthermore, Christianity is dangerous to the world in a different manner as well. Christ saves sinners and rescues them out of the power of the devil and the domain of darkness (1 Pet. 2:9; Eph. 2:1-10; Acts 26:18). The world, the flesh, and the devil have an agenda, but Christ conquers and crushes their plans and overcomes their power by the blood of the lamb and the preaching of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18-21; Rev. 12:11). Seven years before his death, at the age of 22, Jim Elliot penned down these words in his journal in the early hours of the morning:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
When genuine Christianity is lived out before a Christless culture, their desire to reach people with the good news of the gospel cannot be stopped even by threats, persecution, and martyrdom. That’s why true Christians are a threat to this present evil world. Jim Elliot also wrote the following:
The world cannot hate us; we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!
God answered Jim’s prayer, but what about you? Does the devil know your name? Do the demonic powers of this present darkness know the name and ministry of your church? The world hates Christianity because the world hates Jesus and feels threatened by the sin crushing, devil defeating, soul saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.