Many of us think we love the Lord. We would be surprised to learn that we don’t. We might not be aware of it, but there are thousands, probably millions of Christians who love this world more than they do the Lord Jesus. The saddest fact is that they are unaware of it because they have been ‘taken captive’ by a different gospel other than the one that the Apostle Paul preached. They are unaware of the fact that the gospel is about denying self. It is about taking up our cross and following Jesus.
It is clear from Paul’s epistles that not many born-again believers in his time were willing to “partake of the cup” of the sufferings of Jesus with him. That being the case, why would we, the Church of today, think that we are so willing and ready to follow Jesus? Actually, we do not need a diviner to know that we are not. That fact is clear to even the most intransigent apologetic.
Because of an absence of the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Jesus which crucifies the flesh, many variant gospels have been fashioned and allowed into the Church which give Christians a false sense of following and serving the Lord, while clearly they are serving the flesh.
We little realize that we, too, are not any different from Phygellus and Hermogenes.
It is telling that at this particular time in his ministry Paul found only one person worth mentioning – Onesiphorus, who gladly identified with and served Paul during this time of Paul’s persecution.
When Paul was undergoing persecution, very few people stood by him. At times he stood absolutely alone. If you have read the Bible you know it is true.
But Onesiphorus was “not ashamed” of Paul’s ‘chain’. In other words, this was a man who took up his cross and, following after Jesus, welded his life to Paul’s sufferings.
Elsewhere Paul talks of Priscilla and Aquila “who have for my life laid down their own necks”. (Rom. 16:4)
Onesiphorus practically partook of the sufferings of Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for the crowd. It is not for the thousands.
The gospel is for a chosen few – a very few. It is for those who will lay their lives on the line for the gospel’s sake.
Many of us are not willing to do so, in spite of our vocal declarations to the contrary. We are contented to live the gospel to the extent of our own personal gain and comfort, no more. We scream and rave upon hearing the prosperity message, the gospel of blessings. But when we hear the message of suffering, we suddenly turn cold. We say, “This is a strange doctrine!”
Probably it is time to wake up and walk away from the crowd. Probably it is time to have another look at the gospel we are hearing in light of the revelation that God is bringing to us today, and to determine to be born into that spirit of the sufferings and death of Christ.