Tuesday, August 16, 2011
"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord"
“Thou shall not tempt the Lord.” When we considered the calling of God on our lives, to come down and serve the Lord in Colombia, many well meaning people have used this verse, in the list of why we shouldn’t go. Let us observe for a bit if it is used in true form.
One of us would say. “So we feel like God has called us to go to Colombia, to start a church and a home for displaced children and widows.” The response often was something like this. “Wow, Colombia,why there? You know that is a very dangerous place. Are you you planning to take your family down to such a risky country?” Many well-meaning people would say. To that we may respond,“God will be our shield and our protector.” Then, this would almost always come, “Don’t you think that is putting the Lord to the test?” Hmm? “Don’t you think that is putting the Lord to the test?” Is that statement true? Please labor with me for a short thought on this subject. We are going to take a look at some scenes in the Bible and church history to see what God shows to us about risk, and when is it ever right. Also, I think we will see clearly what the Lord intends from this verse.
What is the final command of our Lord before he leaves this planet and ascends into Heaven? Mathew 28:18-20 -And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” So you see our commissioning has been made clear here as well as who will be with us in this work, Jesus himself. Do you believe this Josh? Is the question I had to ask myself before I could make a commitment to move from everything I know and move to a country that is unknown and not the safest place to raise our white families? Putting yourself at risk is easier for a young man, I do it every time I get on a motorcycle or go on a lone hunt in the wilderness or ever time I would drive too fast to make it to an appointment on time. But throwing my kids and wife in the back with me, it becomes a different type of risk. I studied the life of missionaries and ministers that have gone before me. Men that are still recognized just by there last names, like Taylor, Judson, Patton, Carrey, Bunyan and Luther. Then I looked at our beloved Paul as well as the first martyr of our faith, Stephen. I studied the life of these men and found that they all had one common denominator. They served under a Great God for a greater purpose then the common man lives for in this life, and because of this, God was with them in power. They had as Jonathan Edwards said” Eternity, stamped on there hearts.” They risked it all for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel. They all left behind loving families and friends. Many of them left behind good paying jobs and or successful ministries as well as would have “lives of ease” in the country side. Many never saw there fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters ever again this side of heaven. Some lost numerous children in the field, wives and there own life’s for this cause, a cause that has very little to do with themselves. It offers no gain this side of eternity. Why would they do this? Was it worth it? Then I looked at the great and first cross-cultural missionary, Jesus. He came from Heaven to earth. I would imagine that was a large culture shock. He came to a people group that for the most part didn’t want Him to come. He came with one Great purpose in mind. To set the captives of sin free and pay a great debt that wasn’t his own, but the debt was paid in full for all that turn to Him in repentance and faith. Also, He came to show us all how to live and love others. Why, so that we who believe in Him would spend our lives making Him known and glorified to all the peoples and nations, and that this all could be done “to the praise of his glorious grace.”
Lets take a quick look at another. John G. Patton headed to the New Hebrides’ Islands in 1858. He took his new wife and a few belongings. Just 19 years after two young men, John Williams and James Harris went there to be missionaries. These two men were killed, cooked and eaten in the sight of the ship before they got out of the Harbor. Needless to say, this was a dangerous mission field, that nobody ever lived through. They were known to be the South Sea Islands of the Heathen Cannibals. He was told by many of his strongest Christian friends that he was tempting the Lord by taking unneeded risks, such as taking His young pregnant wife, you will be eaten by Cannibals, they would say. Why would you leave a successful ministry here? The Lord has really blessed you. He heard the call from God and he had to go. He lost his wife and newly born son early on. His own life many times was near an end with the same sickness that took his wife. Over and over He was on deaths door. The enemy tribe’s men would follow him around with loaded musket and point it at him as he did his chores around his house, day after day. What would keep this man here? Doesn’t that seem to be tempting the Lord? He trusted His Sovereign God that the musket hammer couldn’t fall down unless God gave it permission. If God gave it the Okay then he was satisfied with it. God numbered his day before he had one. He states that, “I am immortal till my masters work with me is done.” OH that God would be pleased to raise up these kinds of followers today! He is not tempting the Lord my friend he trusted Him. He worked for regeneration from The Holy Spirit in faith not just a decisions. In the end of his life’s hard labors among the Island people in trial and deep trials of faith, he left behind a legacy that still holds today, of Christ lovers and Reformed Presbyterians churches on every Island that the old Cannibal people dwell. They profess to be over 80% Christian. Was it worth it? Now it is easy to say yes. It seemed as though he may have been tempting the Lord by undo risk to some. But based on the purpose of the risk, Patton risked nothing.
Now let see what Happens with Stephen. He is a young Deacon in the church filled with the Holy Spirit. One thing I have learned in the scriptures is that anytime that someone was filled with the Holy Spirit you knew they were going to do something that was would be for the betterment of the Kingdom and the Gospel. He was doing exactly what God had commissioned him to do and he was captured by the leaders of the day. They put him under Blasphemy charges and put him before the council of the religious rulers of the day. He lays forth for them The history that they all hold to and fulfills it all with the coming of the righteous one Jesus the Christ whom you killed Just as your fathers did the prophets. They in anger and pride take him out and cast him out of the city and stoned him to death as a young man named Saul held the coats for them so he could be killed. Like His lord he cried his last “Hold not this sin against them Lord. “ This raised a great persecution to the church in Jerusalem. The people of the church were scattered about the country side. Do you know what they were doing as they went? They were making more Disciples. This killing of God young faithful man spread his Gospel to whole country side. Latter on one of the young men in that crowd of Killers was saved. I’m sure there was a memory from that faithful saint’s testimony as well. Saul became Paul and then becomes the Greatest Theologian with hands and feet that the world has ever known. Was it wise for Stephen to be preaching in the Synagogue of the Jews? I mean it was full of haters of Jesus. Is that Tempting the Lord? Jesus said, “I send you out as sheep into a mist of wolves.” When doing things in the service of the Lord, there are always dangers. We must walk by faith and be wise oh yes. But friend don’t let wisdom keep you form from walking in faith. Prudence is more prevalent in Israel and the church I’m afraid, then real faith is. OH church, how many times will you doubt your Gods ability to act for those who wait for Him and walk with Him?
God never told Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. That is the answer, Josh and church. Let’s see what the word says; Ps 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Ps 91:12 “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
God says in the passages that the Devil twists in use against Jesus, that He commands his angels guarding you in all your ways. You see the ways are the ways of life and service to and for His Glory. Not jumping in front of a moving train, no. But, preaching the Gospel in a foreign land, yes. What about jumping out of planes for a rush? No, the promise is not for that. But flying into Dangerous countries and parachuting out under the cover of darkness to hand out bibles, yes.
John Calvin’s Bible commentary on Mathew ch 4:
“When Satan wickedly tortures Scripture, does Christ give way to him? Does he allow him to seize and carry off the Scripture, with which he formerly armed himself? On the contrary, he quotes Scripture in his turn, and boldly refutes Satan’s wicked slander. Whenever Satan shall cover his deception by Scripture, and ungodly men shall labor to subvert our faith by the same means, let us borrow our armor exclusively from Scripture for the protection of our faith. Satan twist it to say, If you expose yourself to death, contrary to the will of God, angels will protect your life." It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” The reply of Christ is most appropriate. There is no other way, in which we have a right to expect the assistance promised in that passage, than when believers humbly submit themselves to his guidance: for we cannot rely on his promises, without obeying his commandments. God is tempted in many ways: but in this passage, the word tempt denotes the neglect of those means which he puts into our hands. In short, whoever desires to make an experiment of the divine power, when there is no necessity for it, tempts God by subjecting his promises to an unfair trial.”
So what I have learned about this topic so far; you are not tempting the Lord by going anywhere he calls you to, if the calling is for His name sake and not some crazy idea in your own head. You see it’s not about weather there is high danger or safety. You may die in the service of the kingdom, and then you join the ranks of many fine men and woman before you. Hebrews 11 tells us the world is unworthy of ones such as these that give it all for the faith. And in the end you will hear “Well done thy good and faithful servant. “ If you shut the mouths of lions and put foreign armies to flight by faith and Plant 20 new churches and win a nation to faith for Jesus? You will hear “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” Why? Because walking by faith is walking for God no matter what it calls for or where it is or what it cost you. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. God has provided something better than this life. A Resurrection to glory. The question is will you join Him on the Calvary road to death to your self. Hebrews 13:12-14 “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” My brethren it’s not about earth. For here we have no lasting city such to prepare. Look to the Kingdom. Ask God, “God stamp eternity on my heart.” I have, and it has changed everything!