Today, I am going to use quite a bit of scripture, I do not want to confuse anyone or get you frustrated by having to turn back and forth to keep up with what is going on, but I want you to leave here today, not knowing what I have had to say, but knowing what the word of God has had to say.
Any passage of scripture must be taken in context and the Bible must be taken as a complete book.
The Bible does not contradict itself in any way. I have heard people say in the past that there are some contradictions in the Bible, well I am here to tell you today folks, that if we feel like there is a contradiction in the Bible, then we have not studied the Bible enough to understand what is being said or taught.
You know, I like to listen to preachers preach a good sermon; I even like to watch preachers on television.
Many of you may know a well-known preacher from Texas, Mr. Ron Dunn. In his book, “will God heal me, faith in the midst of suffering” Mr. Dunn stated rather humorously that he likes to check out the competition on Sunday mornings while getting ready for Church.
I assure you, that is not what I do, but I do like to hear a good sermon.
I even listen to men preach on the health and prosperity movement that is so prevalent in our society today, I really do,
I listen to them for about 30 seconds just to hear what kind of garbage they are telling folks and then I get so upset that I have got to stop listening.
People are basing their entire belief systems, even entire religious denominations on one single passage of scripture that is taken completely out of context and the original meaning has not been studied at all.
What these men are preaching does not agree with the Bible as a whole.
Now, I cannot stand here today and tell you that these men are not Christians, but I am very comfortable telling you that they are not preaching the truth from the Word of God! And the problem is that millions of people are following these men, because we have gotten to the point where we want more than God has already given us.
Now today, I am going to use scripture to back up what I have to say. I do not want you to hear a message from Gene Baird today; I want you to hear a message from God!
Take your Bibles please and lets start of by going to the book of Acts.
I would love to start reading from the beginning of the third chapter and read all the way through Chapter six…but we just do not have time to do that….
I am going to start in chapter four, but let me go ahead and give you a little bit of background information first.
Peter and John had come to the temple, you may know the story, they had come across a crippled beggar lying at the temple gate.
Peter said to the man, “ Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have, I give you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”
Peter reached down and lifted the man by his hand, the man stood on his healed legs. Now the temple gates were a busy place. Many people saw this miracle. This gave Peter and John the opportunity to witness to many other people.
The people marveled at the healing of the man and Peter and John said,…
Why do you marvel at us……….
You see friends……God was given the glory this day.
Now, the priests and the Sadducees did not like this very much so they had Peter and John arrested.
The Bible tells us that even while under arrest, Peter continued to preach, even to the people that were persecuting him.
Now lets pick up in Acts chapter 4, verse 18.
Read Acts 4:18-20
Even while under arrest they continued to preach the Gospel and they were not deterred in any way!
Now, turn over with me just a little bit to Acts chapter 5 and verse 28.
Peter and John had been released with orders by the rulers and leaders to stop their teachings.
They had been commanded not to preach in the Name of Jesus Christ but they did not sway from their task at hand, they continued to preach the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
So, of course, they were arrested again.
This time, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and let the apostles out.
And what do you think the apostles did?
They went straight back out to the temple courts and started preaching again.
The guard’s came in and told the officials that the men had escaped, but when they went out looking for them, they did not have far to look.
So they brought them back in and set them before the sanhedrin, or council which was basically, the court system of that time.
Now lets pick back up in our story.
Read Acts 5:27-32
Man, Can’t you just see the faces on the people that had them in custody?
Talk about high blood pressure! They were probably angry, mad, upset.
They could do nothing to get these men to recant what they were saying; yet they did not know what to do about it.
The apostles stood FIRM in their faith of Jesus Christ.
Move just a little farther over still in chapter 5 but starting in the middle of verse 40.
Read Acts 5: middle of verse 40-42
Did you notice how the apostles stood firm in their faith to Jesus Christ?
They did not bow down to the religious rulers of the day.
They did not bend to the will of others!
They did not break when threatened, they did not break when mistreated, they did not break when beaten.
They did not ease up, they did not compromise, they did not water down the Gospel, they were not deterred in any way.
As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that they rejoiced because they were found worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ.
History traditionally tells us that most of the apostles were killed for their stand on the faith of Jesus Christ.
It is said that Simon Peter was Crucified head downward, head downward because he did not find himself worthy to die like Christ.
It is said that Andrew was crucified on what was later to be named, saint Andrews cross, shaped like an x.
The Bible tells us that James was beheaded by Herod.
It is held that James the younger was crucified in Egypt.
It is stated that Phillip died as a martyr in Phrygia.
It is said that Matthew died as a martyr in Ethiopia.
And it is also stated that Thomas died as a martyr.
All stood firm in their faith to Jesus Christ. No matter what the outcome, no matter what happened to them, they did not bow, they did not bend, the were not broken, even unto death! THEY STOOD FIRM!
We use the word martyr now days to describe someone who has been killed because of their belief.
I said the apostles were martyred for their faith in Christ, what I mean is they were killed because of their steadfast faith in Christ.
But the original word martyr did not mean this. The original word was more of a legal term. The word meant to render, to testify,to witness, to tell of what one knows or has seen or has heard.
I have been asked before to be a witness on different occasions.
I have been asked to be a witness at the scene of an automobile accident…
I have been asked to be a witness to in a battle between a logging crew owner and an insurance company. I was asked if I would testify to how certain components on a piece of equipment function. I was asked to do this because I had many years of experience in that area. I could testify to what I knew to be true.
I was asked to give a legal deposition when a piece of equipment hit a bridge one day and critically injured a man.
They only wanted me to tell them what I knew to be true. I was a legal witness.
And this is what the word martyr originally meant, to be a legal witness,….
but the people that were testifying about the truth of Jesus Christ were being killed for their testimony so often that the term now means, “one who bears witness by his death”.
Did you know that we are commanded by the word of God to be witnesses for Christ and to serve him?
Romans 12:1 and 2 says,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
We are commanded by the word of God to be witnesses for Christ.
when I originally put this sermon together, I was going to use many stories from the Foxes book of Martyrs. This book is full of thousands of people who have suffered and died because of their firm stand for Christ.
Many of these people were killed by sadistic and hideous means.
But even while these people were being killed and put to death, even while many of them were being tortured and beaten, they stood firm in their faith to Jesus Christ.
Many of them stood so firm while they died that many of the executioners themselves accepted Christ because of the witness of these people.
I said I had originally planed to use stories from the Foxes book of martyrs, but I found out that I can pull much more recent stories from our news today.
According to the world Christian encyclopedia, between 155,000 and 159,000 Christians are killed for their faith throughout the world every year.
Now, these numbers do not include those persecuted for their faith.
This does not include those beaten and tortured for their faith, this does not included those left homeless for their faith,
This is only the amount of people killed for their faith every year.
We have heard so much more recently about how Muslims are torturing and killing Christians all across the world…
I read the latest publication from Voice of the Martyrs.. and it told of a man that was separated from his wife and daughter for five years… this is after he found his son and parents hacked up in little pieces…. All because he would not denounce Christ…
The publication had pictures of another man in Indonesia that had scars all over his body… he was hit with machetes time and time again.. he was hit in the back of the neck so severely that he was almost decapitated…. Then he was covered with banana leaves that were lit on fire to burn him…. But he lived….
He could have stopped this at any time by denouncing Christ…. But he said he feared God more than he feared man…..
I remember at our revival services a few weeks ago,… our evangelist Bro. Al, stated that he was ashamed that he will have to stand before the Lord one day…. Without a single scar on his body that has come because of his stand for Christ….
That really made me think friends…….. what do I have to show my Lord and savior????
There is much much more, all because of a firm stand for the cause of Jesus Christ.
All for obedience to God no matter what the outcome.
Even staring death in the face, people stood firm and are standing firm in the faith.
Remember, it was Paul that said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
As Christians, we can not loose!
And then we look at America.
The country that was founded on faith in Jesus Christ……. The land of the free, the home of the brave. The country that, taken as a whole, is full of unmotivated, complacent Christians, many of whom are not even willing to come to church if the weather is not just right or if the air conditioner is broken, much less take a stand for Christ that will cause them persecution, ridicule or even worse.
The country whose political leaders are soft on the issues so they will not be “politically incorrect”. …. The country whose people have allowed the murder of around 40 million unborn children yet a few years ago they put a man in jail for killing a duck with a golf club.
The country that is allowing the unnatural sexual ideas of a few people to dictate what the rest of the country does.
Let me just go ahead and set the record straight right here and now friends,
Abortion is wrong!!
I can understand how a woman that is in a moment of crises can be talked into believing that abortion is her only way out, I can understand the pressure that can be put on her, what I can not understand is how this form of murder can be legal in our country today!
Homosexuality is wrong!
The Bible calls it an abomination unto God.
I have people tell me that there is no black and white area on this issue in the Bible, they are all gray areas, they tell me that Homosexuality is not mentioned in the Bible.
I have got news for you folks, If you believe that, then you have not studied the word of God.
The Bible explicitly say that Homosexuality is wrong.
I don’t have to stand on my beliefs, I can stand firm on the Word of God!
And these things have become legal in our country today.
The country that has taken prayer out of school and God out of most everything else!
Our country, America, the beautiful.
I praise God that we have some very Godly men and women in our country today.
There are men’s organizations that have had hundreds of thousands of men getting together all across our beautiful country to proclaim their faith in Christ.
There are women’s conferences where women can do the same thing.
But I must think of one thing, if all the men that had attended those conferences, and if all those women that had attended those conferences, if they would have come back home and taken the same stand for Christ that they took at the conferences, our country would already be radically changed.
But we don’t.
We get home and we get complacent and apathetic and you can look around and see what kind of shape our country is in.
Let me give you a few scriptures from the Bible that tells how we are supposed to act and what we are supposed to do when we become Christians.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
1 Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Peter 4:16-19
16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
1 Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
Folks,…. Christians are responsible for the shape our country is in because We have not taken the stand that God has asked us to take,…. we have not been willing to suffer for the cause of Christ.
In john 15:5, Jesus Said,
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..
We need to stand firm. No matter what the cost, no matter what the consequences, we should be willing to stand firm, steadfast and immovable in our faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, there are any number of other passages of scripture throughout the Bible that tells us how we should stand.
But if you are not yet convinced,
If everything I have read here today has not convinced you, if you still need to know why , as Christians in America we should be willing to face persecution, humiliation, pain, torture, hardships or even death for that matter.
Jesus Christ said what would it profit a man to gain the world and loose his own soul.
If you still need something else to consider,
I think I can sum everything up for you here in one word.
Possibly one of the most important words ever spoken.
Spoken by Christ Himself!
The sixth saying of Jesus Christ as he hung on the cross.
Not spoken in defeat as some would have you believe,
Not spoken in anguish,
Not spoken in humility,
But spoken as a victory cry from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Translated into three words in our English Language
IT IS FINISHED!!!!!
Christ has completed the work God had sent him to fulfill,
it is finished.
All of the prophecies of the Old Testament that spoke of the suffering of the Messiah were completed.
It is finished
The ceremonial laws were abolished; Jesus has taken their place,
It is finished.
God has been fully revealed to us through his son Jesus Christ
It is finished
The world has been reconciled to God through Christ.
Christ has paid the penalty for my sins,
Christ has paid the penalty for your sins,
Christ has paid the penalty for the sins of the entire world throughout history,
IT IS FINISHED!!!!!!
Satan has been defeated, the war is over, as Christians we can stand today and say WE HAVE WON!
I have a wife and four wonderful children.
I want my wife and children to know me as a man that is willing to stand firm in the faith of Jesus Christ no matter what happens.
I want them to know me as a man that will not bow down to those that would have us denounce Christ.
I want them to know me as a man that will not bend to the will of non Christian people just to be politically correct in and nation that has turned away from God.
I want them to know that I will not be broken, I will stand firm in the faith of Jesus Christ.
I am challenging each of us today, to take this stand.
Do you realize, if just the Christians in this community would take that type of stand for Jesus Christ and not be swayed in any way, for any reason, If we would all testify to what we have witnessed Christ do in our own lives,
Then I believe that starting right here, today, we could change our entire country, and bring it back from the brink of destruction that it is in.
Yes, I have been called to preach and therefore I should be committed, I should be sold out for Christ, but guess what, I should be no more sold out than any other Christian.
God has called all of us. He has called us to different functions in the body, but we are all called.
Let us learn a lesson from Peter and John and all of the other people we have heard about today.
Now, if you have heard a message from Gene Baird today, than I want you to forget absolutely everything you have heard.
But if you have heard a message from God today, If the Holly spirit has touched your heart, then you can not leave here today, without making a decision to stand.
Do not bow, do not bend, do not break, do not compromise, do not water down the faith.
I challenge you, as we sing a hymn of invitation, I challenge you to come and take your stand. Let the people know that you will not compromise your faith in your Lord and Savior.
And if you are here today and you are not a Christian, If you have never accepted Jesus Christ into your heart,
There is no guarantee that you will make it home today.
Why would you be willing to take a chance on being separated from the love of God for all eternity?
You can come this morning, accept Jesus Christ into your heart, and you to, can
Would you come?