There is spirit of defiance in our culture, an antichrist spirit, brazenly defiant against the Bible and the God of the Bible. There is an implicit, and more often explicit, attack on biblical values and morality. It is as if our present culture is waving one fist in God’s face and with the other hand shooting the middle finger at the Church. Some wonder what our society will come up with next…but when will individuals who claim to be saved stop griping and complaining about the ills of society and just say, “Enough is enough!”
I recently read of Sempronius Densus (69 A.D.), a seasoned Roman soldier of the Praetorian Guard, who withstood scores of mutinous soldiers, single-handedly. When a mob of soldiers determined to attack the palace and kill the Emperor, this centurion was the only one who would stand against them. Plutarch says,
“No man resisted or offered to stand up in his defense, save one only, a centurion, Sempronius Densus, the single man among so many thousands that the sun beheld that day act worthily of the Roman Empire, who, though he never received any favor from Galba, yet out of bravery and allegiance endeavored to defend the throne” (Plutarch, Lives).
When that horde of unfaithful, treasonous soldiers would not stop at his commands to stand down, Densus simply had enough, and charged them (alone!). He had faith with guts! He fought through a mass of soldiers “for some time,” Plutarch says, making a courageous last stand. He was finally taken down, but not before making a stand for what he believed was right.
To have “guts” is synonymous with having strength of mind to carry on in spite of danger. It is to feel fear, but not let that fear determine your actions. We need Christians with guts. Our families and communities, our country, needs men and women with faith and boldness, a spiritual backbone and “grit.”
There are plenty of folk who “believe in God,” but how many have holy boldness and do not back down when their Christian values are attacked? “Grit” is personal determination, perseverance, and resilience in the face of challenges and adversity. It is recognized in the field of psychology as the path to accomplishment and personal achievement. I like to think it always comes back to an individual’s faith.
What is faith without works? I’ve read about men and women whose faith in God forced them to take deliberate action and endure unspeakable backlash from their society. These “heroes of the faith,” as they have been called,
“Subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb 11:33-38).
What perseverance! We have people whining today because they have taken prayer out of school, or because someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Come on.
During the New Testament period, the city of Ephesus was a center for witchcraft, magic and superstition—so, what better place to infiltrate and expose the lies of pagan religion and idolatry? The missionaries and apostles had faith, and did not back down in the face of overwhelming odds. Acts 19 records the results of such determination:
“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:18-20).
The preached word of God and the miracles performed by the apostles prevailed over the magic and cult religions of Ephesus, over the worship of government, over the worship of athletic games, over phony religion, over anything that stood in between the people and God. This is the kind of apostolic revival happening in the Roman Empire during the 1st century. The churches were STILL surrounded by sin and ungodliness, and all kinds of spiritual wickedness, but instead of whining, complaining, or cowering down in silence, they preached the word of God and prevailed. That is apostolic.
Being a Christian is not for passive, weak and anemic persons. BEING AN APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Being apostolic is NOT for those who want to fit in and be accepted by the majority. Being apostolic is NOT for those who are enamored by the hype of pop-culture. And being apostolic is definitely NOT for excuse-makers who are experts at finding other things to do, but cannot find the doors of the church or a prayer room.
An unbelieving person, always vacillating between faith and fear, cannot please God. No one can sit back, talk a spiritual talk, and cruise into heaven pointing to the one night they “accepted” Christ as personal savior. IT TAKES FAITH WITH GUTS TO LIVE FOR GOD. This is not about earning salvation through our own good merits. The truth is that every Christian must make an EFFORT in this life to live for God.
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).
This word “strive” comes from the Gr. agōnízomai, meaning “conflict” or “struggle” and is from the same root (agṓn), as in the English word “agonize.” It literally means to struggle, as a wrestler or boxer engaged in an intense athletic contest or a soldier in warfare. There we have it, from the lips of Jesus himself. If we are going to make it, and “enter in at the strait gate,” we are going to have to strive, struggle, and agonize. We better have spiritual “guts.”
In the end I hope we can say our faith was fierce, always aggressively reaching forward and upward, pulling down the blessings that God has already provided. Many know they have come too far to lie down and pathetically sink into apathy. The promises for God’s people are too great for us to allow lethargy and passivity to overtake us. The true Christian is not passive; he or she is not lethargic. The Christian life is not perpetual rest and ease in pious thanksgiving while we wait for our reward.
Who is ready to violently stir their own spirit to action? Who has got faith with guts?