What May Be Hindering National Spiritual Awakening?
“Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner,
but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works,
but according to His own purpose and grace
which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Timothy 1:8-9 NASB).
If you are a sincere follower of Christ, you want to witness more. You long to do more for the spread of the gospel. What is holding you back? Many believers go for years never really sharing their faith with others. Why?
It is the fear that comes from our unwillingness to suffer, pure and simple. Do not try to make it more complicated than this.
Paul constantly exhorted his young disciple Timothy to not be afraid. And opening his second letter, he reminded Timothy of a line he must cross—the willingness to suffer for the gospel. This involves our physical bodies (time, effort, loss of sleep, comfort, etc.) and particularly our emotions (what people will think of us, our popularity, how it will feel to be ostracized by those who reject us and the gospel we share). It may affect our jobs, our relationships, our families, our friendships. It could affect everything to cross this line.
Look at the people who are constant and effective in their witness for Christ, and you will notice that they have purposefully and deliberately made this decision. Here is Paul’s great rationale for such a choice.
JOIN WITH ME
Paul was not asking Timothy to go anywhere that he himself was unwilling to go. In fact, he was already there. He was unashamed of the gospel and had suffered and would suffer again for his bold witness. He invited Timothy to join him.
There would be a literal price to pay for this witness, and Paul was upfront about the cost. He knew that if Timothy was unaware of this, he would pull back at the first sight of suffering, or even recoil at the thought.
FOR THE GOSPEL
This is the great agenda. There is nothing else worth suffering for, but this is worth it all. The good news had gripped Paul and overwhelmed him, as had the need of those lost without Christ. He couldn’t stop, and he would pay any price to see this good news communicated, because he knew “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
ACCORDING TO THE POWER OF GOD
Wherever God leads, He will also provide. God’s power, Paul claimed, would be sufficient for everything Timothy (or you and I) would ever encounter. We are never alone and never without power when we are in line with God’s mission. God will give us the power to witness and the power to endure any suffering that might come.
WHO HAS SAVED US AND CALLED US WITH A HOLY CALLING
This is the greatest incentive. We have been saved by God’s grace. Further, we have been called by God Himself with a high and holy calling into God’s “own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus.” How can we shrink back from this salvation and calling?
FOR THIS REASON, I ALSO SUFFER THESE THINGS, BUT I AM NOT ASHAMED (v. 12)
Paul was fearless because he had crossed the line. He did not merely talk about the gospel, or talk about talking about the gospel; he shared it everywhere, all the time.
I have heard famous Romanian pastor Josef Tson share the story of the revival in Romania, which ultimately led to the overthrow of Communism there. God showed Tson and other pastors that “taking up your cross” is a physical step. It is the willingness to give our physical bodies to Christ for His use, in whatever way He desires and whatever the cost.
When that line had been crossed and the people cared no more about suffering, they became fearless. What do you do with people who don’t care what you do to them? They began to share everywhere, with anyone, and became unstoppable. When such unashamed, constant witnessing occurred, the gospel exploded across Romania, and a great awakening ensued.
Perhaps the next step for American Christians is to do the same. We are all concerned for our communities and our nation. We are crying out for revival. But the great call to every Christian is to witness everywhere, all the time, with no fear. Our calling is not only to pray for revival, but to die to the suffering that may incur with gospel proclamation, and then get busy gossiping the good news incessantly.
Regardless of what happens in government, elections, media, culture, morality, etc., the bold proclamation of the gospel is the resurgent force we need. What would happen if an unstoppable tidal wave of praying, witnessing believers was unleashed on our nation?
Paul and our Romanian brothers (and others where the gospel has rapidly increased) crossed the line. Will we?