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The week before last, we began getting into the practical instructions that Jesus gave to his disciples as He sent them out on their first missionary journey. Jesus Christ warned them that they would face opposition from those who hated the Gospel. In Matthew chapter 10, we are looking at all the ways in which Jesus told them to handle the conflicts that they would face because we can make use of Jesus’ commands as we face conflicts in this day and age.
The first point that we covered was “Christ’s command to ‘beware of men.’” Jesus wants us to be wise in our dealings with the people of this world. He does not want us to go into battle thinking that we are just playing a game. He wants us to be aware that we will run into people who do not like us, who do not like the Gospel, and who do not like Jesus Christ. Some people will hate and oppose the Gospel because the preaching of the Gospel infringes on their lifestyle, convicts their hearts, or hinders their source of income. However, it is not only the Gospel that offends the world, but it is the fact that the Gospel changes people’s lives and minds about sin in the world, and they can be influenced by the devil to try to hinder us as we try to preach the Gospel and live our lives according to the Bible. So, we must beware of men.
2. We must keep the cause in mind. Jesus Christ says, “for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.” Jesus tells His disciples that they will have to answer for their faith before the government and religious rulers of their day. Not surprisingly, Christians today are being called upon to do the same.
You have heard of the case of Meriam Ibrahim — a wife and mother in Sudan who had to stand trial because she refused to renounce her faith in Christ and turn to Islam. In China, the government has laid out an official plan to stymie the explosive growth of Christianity. In Pakistan, another Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was thrown in jail after she was accused of apostasy and insulting Islam by a co-worker. Judges in that case have delayed her appeal five times. And, we remember Pastor Saeed A-be-di-ni, who is in prison in Iran for eight years, for starting house churches in the country.
What is the number one thing we must do when we are taken before hostile rulers for our beliefs? We must keep the cause in mind. Jesus says, we will “be brought before governors and kings for my sake.” In other words, it’s not about you; it’s not personal. It’s about Jesus Christ. And because He suffered for all of humanity, we ought to be willing to endure suffering for Him.
When the Israelite army was being threatened by the heathen giant, Goliath, David said to his brothers, “Is there not a cause?” Or, is there not a reason why we should fight?
Our cause is not only Jesus Christ, but it is about the spreading of the Gospel among all people. Jesus says we will suffer “for a testimony against them (our accusers and persecutors) and the Gentiles.” Every instance of persecution is an opportunity to preach the Gospel — to those in authority, to our persecutors, and to those who would not otherwise pay attention to the Gospel if it were not for our persecution.
When we face conflict as Christians, we ought to be thinking of how we can use every situation to glorify Jesus Christ and preach the Gospel. We must remember that it is not about us, but all about Him.
As we seek to preach and live out the Gospel, Jesus commands us to beware of men, and to keep the cause in mind.
3. We must trust God for solutions. Jesus says, “When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” When we face conflict as Christians, we are not to rely on ourselves and trust our own ingenuity for what to say or do. Rather, we are to trust and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. God knows the hearts of all men, and He alone can give us the right thing to say in every situation.
We must remember that the disciples were not highly educated. They were simple men who likely felt inadequate as they set out to accomplish the great task that Christ had set before them. William Barclay said, “It was not the humiliation which early Christians dreaded, not even the cruel pain and the agony. But many of them feared that their own unskillfulness in words and defence might injure rather than commend the truth.” However, God had a solution to that fear. As Barclay goes on to say, “It is the promise of God that when a man is on trial for his faith, the words will come to him.”
Of course, this promise is no excuse for us to not study God’s Word and prepare ourselves to speak about our faith in Jesus Christ when the time comes. The Bible commands us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” We are also encouraged to, “Study to shew ourselves approved unto God, as workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Perhaps the greatest thing about this promise is knowing that God will be with us during the difficult conflicts that we will face. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will not only give us the words to say, but He will comfort us and provide reassurance that we are His children, that our salvation is secure, and that He will see us through to the end of every trial.
MUSICAL SELECTION: “The Blood of Jesus” by Smokie Norful and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Vickie Winans
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.