Summary: The Faith which Paul taught is the Faith that is needed for Christianity to thrive in our day. That Faith is nothing less than muscular Christianity.
Christianity has been feminised in our day. I don’t mean that men are unwelcome among the churches or that there is overt feminist anger toward men. What I do mean is that acting manly—accepting responsibility to provide guidance and to build up the penitent, maintaining vigilance while standing firm against wickedness (incipient and blatant), performing difficult tasks without grumbling, protecting the vulnerable and the marginalised—is penalised. Personal comfort is of greater importance to contemporary saints than is personal integrity. Ease of life is to be sought rather than fidelity to the Word among modern Christians.
The pulpit is seemingly unwilling to address the emasculated, enfeebled and enervated condition of contemporary Christianity. Contemporary preaching is anaemic, flaccid, insipid. Someone has said, quite accurately, I fear, that modern churches demand that their preachers prepare sermonettes for Christianettes—a recitation of pious platitudes that offends no one and threatens only vague phantoms incapable of materialising. Tragically, the modern sermon may best be described as a bland individual reciting bland statements blandly urging bland parishioners to be more bland.
During the past five decades we witnessed churches making a concerted effort to make the Faith friendly to women; however, those efforts have had the effect of marginalising men by penalising them for being manly. Consequently, the Christian Faith is suffering a deficit of godly manliness. When we take seriously the New Testament, we are confronted with a virile Faith that is rejected by most churchgoers today. The demands of the New Testament are too great to be welcomed by the banal and bored occupants of the modern pew.
What is lacking, and what is desperately required if the churches of this day will again reflect the dynamic faith found among apostolic saints, is a return to manly Christianity. Such faith is revealed through the encouragement provided in the writings of the New Testament writers. One such place is found in the concluding remarks the Apostle to the Gentiles penned to the troubled and troublesome congregation of the Corinthians. There, Paul commanded the believers, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
THE URGENCY OF THE COMMANDS — We are prone to forget that this is a letter to problematic Christians. Only centuries after he had written the letter was it divided into chapters and verses. I bring up that issue because Paul is speaking about the resurrection. Then, without pausing he speaks of the giving anticipated as a mark of the worship of believers. Just as precipitously, he speaks of his immediate plans for service and provides some general instructions concerning his co-workers. Then, without hesitation, he issues the commands that are our focus in this message.
What should be apparent when reading the final chapters of this book is the urgency characterising the Apostle’s words—an urgency that is absent from much of the preaching in this day. Whereas much of the preaching in this day sounds almost academic, Paul’s words are energised with earnestness that reveals a singular desire that Christians should excel in godliness. This intensity is seen throughout all of his letters to the saints. Consider but a few examples.