Summary: want to tell you of an old soldier of the Cross. His name is Paul.
OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE
INTRO: Many years ago, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was relieved as UN Commander in the Far East. Some people say that this was one of the biggest mistakes any president ever made. I do not know what would have happened if MacArthur’s policies were carried out in the Orient, but I do know this: MacArthur did a grand job in Japan.
When he went to Japan, he said that the remaking of that nation was a “theological question.” He felt that it was a matter of the Japanese getting right with God. He called on us for 1,000 missionaries. We never sent that many, but we have sent a large number, and some of the greatest revivals in modern history have been held in Japan. Because of MacArthur’s matchless leadership and all the other contributing factors, Japan is a different country today. MacArthur deserves great praise for the work that he did over there.
When the General came back to America after 14 years abroad, he made a speech to the American Congress. It was one of the finest and most dramatic speeches ever heard in America. At the end of the speech he quoted an old song of the Army, “Old Soldiers Never Die.”
But I have not come today to talk to you about MacArthur; you can read about him in the history books. I want to tell you of another old soldier, and old soldier of the Cross. His name is Paul. As we meet him in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, he is coming down toward the end of the way. In a little while his head would roll off the block and they would pronounce him dead. But his soul, his spirit, and the real Paul would be living on forever and ever with the Christ whom he loved. It is true that old soldiers of the Cross never die.
I. PAUL HAD A GREAT CAREER AS A SOLDIER.
There was a time when Paul hated Christ and the Cross. He fought against Christianity with all the zeal and fervor of his soul. But one day on the Damascus road, Christ saved him and transformed him, and from that day on he became the greatest and most effective soldier Jesus ever had.
When Paul gave his life to Christ who saved him, he felt that he ought to give all of himself to the Saviour. So he said that he was dead to the old life, and that he was living only for Christ. He said that a soldier did not entangle himself in the affairs of this world; for if a soldier did this he could not do his best as a soldier and he could not please his master.
Christians need to learn this lesson today. Too many of them are mixed up with the things of this world. Thus their powers become dissipated and they are not able to do anything for God. When we ask them to do something for the Lord and be faithful to the Church, they tell us that they are too busy. When you are to busy to do something for God, you are busier than God wants you to be.
Paul also said that a soldier of the Cross must learn to endure hardness. He was certainly a worthy example of this great truth. Have we ever suffered anything for Christ? Have we ever made a sacrifice for Him? Paul did this and calls on us to do the same thing (Romans 12:1).
II. THE OLD SOLDIER LOOKS BACK ON LIFE.
“I have fought a good fight,” Paul says. He looks upon life as a battle to be fought, a victory to be won. He said on one occasion that he was not fighting flesh and blood, but the evil hosts of Satan.
1. Paul had to fight himself. Writing to the Romans, Paul had said in effect, “I have been saved, but the old carnal nature is still present. I want to be absolutely free of sin, but I am having a desperate fight. There are two natures in me. The flesh and the spirit are both there, and they are always fighting, the one against the other.”
We are just like that. We are surrounded by all sorts of temptations. They are on the right of us, the left of us, in front of us, and behind us. We often give in and let the Devil defeat us.
2. Paul also had to fight the enemies of the Gospel. They knew how faithful he was to Christ, so they tried in every way to hinder him and to block his testimony for the Lord. These enemies are still alive today.
When we Christians set out to make our lives count for Christ, these enemies get busy and try to ruin our testimony (don’t give so much time to the Church; it won’t hurt you to miss prayer meeting; there’s no harm in this, etc.). Let me ask you a question: Have you ever seen anyone who has great influence for God who did not put Christ and His church first, always? NO, AND YOU NEVER WILL.