December 30, 2015
“The God of all grace, who called you . . . will Himself restore you
and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
1 PETER 5:10
Happy New Year! Here we go: 2016 and a whole new preaching series from 1 Peter, followed by his second epistle in early summer.
As Paul closes out his intensely personal second letter to Timothy, he exudes the following confidence:
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and
will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
2 TIMOTHY 4:18
Paul wrote those words while he was in prison. Alexander (the metal worker) had done him “a great deal of harm,” and he was sensing that the time of his departure was near. Nevertheless, he was confident that he had fought the good fight, that he had finished the race and kept the faith, and that the Lord had in store for him a crown of righteousness.
C. H. Spurgeon reminds us of what we can expect, as we live this life as sons and daughters of the King.
“Brothers and sisters, the battle does not end when, by a desperate rush, we come to Christ. In many, it assumes a new form. The enemy now attempts to drag the trembler from his refuge and eject him from his stronghold!
It is difficult to get at the hope of the Gospel but quite as difficult to keep it so as not to be moved away from it. If Satan spends great power in keeping us from the hope, he uses equal force in endeavoring to drag us away from it – and equal cunning in endeavoring to allure us from it. Do not think that in the moment when you believe in Christ, the conflict is over, or you will be bitterly disappointed! It is then that the battle renews itself and every inch of the road swarms with enemies.
“Between here and Heaven, you will always have to fight, more or less – and frequently the severest struggle will be at a time when you are least prepared for it. Do not grow secure or carnally presumptuous. There is but a short space between one battle and another in this world. It is a series of skirmishes even when it does not assume the form of a pitched battle.
“He that would win Heaven must fight for it! He that would take the new Jerusalem must scale it, and if he has the wits to take Jacob’s ladder and set it against the wall and climb up that way, he will win the City.”
This Sunday, to launch our new sermon series in 1 Peter, Timothy Pinkham will be reciting the entire epistle from memory. Be praying that this book will profoundly shape our Christian walks, that it will result in fresh zeal and fervor, so that we at Grace can run the race of faith well with no turning back.
And speaking of not turning back, John Bunyan, of Pilgrim’s Progress fame, wrote the following words during his twelve-year prison sentence for refusing to stop his street preaching. May the Lord enable us with the strength to fight night and day all the way home to the finish line.
“To Be a Pilgrim”
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather.
There’s no discouragement,
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright;
He’ll with a giant fight.
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away;
He’ll fear not what men say.
He’ll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.
Percy Dearmer modified Bunyan’s words in 1906:
He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master;
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound; his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might, though he with giants fight;
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.
Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say;
I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.