Stand Out!

Whenever there is a move in society to go against the laws of God it is easy for many to just blend in, or grumble a little and then “cave in,” or lend their voice to the hype. But throughout time there have always been a few that stood out from the crowd -- exactly what each true Christian is called to do.
Stand Out!
Source - image owned by author, Copyright 2014, Peter P. Macinta

While there were a few godly people around during Christ’s earthly ministry, much of that society was corrupt, especially among those that were “well to do" and those in a position of authority. Among those in authority at that time were the Herods whose acts of evil ranged from deception, to adultery as Christ defines it in Luke 16:18 and even unto outright murder (and family was not spared).

Despite this societal corruption, John the Baptist “told it like it is” by the power of God. It did not matter to him who was offended, whether it was the common man

{1} or a Roman puppet-king such as Herod Antipas.

Basically, for certain reasons this Herod had divorced Phasaelis in order to marry Herodias who was apparently divorced from his brother, Philip. John the Baptist, empowered by the Holy Spirit and solidly based in the Word of God, knew that divorce meant nothing in the eyes of God and that marriage was to be throughout physical life {A}, and unflinchingly told Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have thy brother’s wife." Herod did not like this and put John in prison (see Mark 6:17-18).

While in prison news reached John about all the wondrous works Jesus was doing, so he sent messengers to ask Him if He was the One devout Jews had been looking for. Jesus told the messengers, "Go your way, and tell John what things you have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

After they departed, Christ said to the crowd (Luke 7:24d-28), "What went you out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 25  But what went you out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. 26 But what went you out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27 This is he, of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you.' 28 For I say unto you, among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

From this passage we see that the true disciple of Christ is to stand out, and do so in the following ways.

I. Separated From The World 24-25

Christ knew that the crowd desired something more than the usual religious fare that they had experienced. A number of those people were able to see through the hypocrisy of some of their religious teachers and the layer of man-made statutes added to the Jewish Law. There were also times that the people heard conflicting teachings since some leaders wanted nothing to do with Rome and their puppet kings while others catered to their bidding, attempting to influence the population.

But ever since Abel there have always been a few that stood out from the crowd for the sake of the truth of God and in the best interests of their society. John the Baptist was one of those people. To a degree, the true Church of Jesus Christ now stands in the place of John the Baptist in that we are to proclaim all should repent and prepare for the Kingdom of God to come, the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20).

So, like John, we are not to be "a reed shaken by the wind." There are winds of fear, pleasure, politics and more. Some people "poll-parrot" what they hear. I have done that in the past and have learned the hard way that I need to double check everything with the written Word of God, the Holy Bible. For example, when I was in Bible school the New International Version of the Holy Bible was being published (NIV). Some of my professors raved about the "accuracy" of that translation. I repeated that declaration to my listeners for about two decades. However, as time progressed I saw there were instances that its New Testament did not match the actual Greek texts. I finally decided to give up on it after stumbling a bit with some Jehovah's Witnesses on the topic of the Trinity when the NIV changed some words in 1 Corinthians 15. Had I referred to the actual Greek in the discussion there would have been no problem.

The "prosperity Gospel" and extreme "positive confession" are a few of the doctrinal winds many preachers promote. A careful reading of the Holy Bible and simple observation will show the former false, for in a number of places the Word tells us to be rich in the spiritual matters instead of the material ones and if one looks around the world they will be able to find many true Christians that are materially poor and have greater faith than some professing Christians in well-to-do nations. The latter doctrine I have mentioned is also proven false by the Word of God, one brief example being that even Christ had to pray twice so a man could be healed (see Mark 8:22-26 {B}).

In verse 25 Christ speaks about those who are "clothed in soft raiment." This devotionally could point to those in society who just adjust and even adapt to anything that comes along, even when it conflicts with the Word of God. Abortion and homosexual marriage is fine with some "Christian" groups (Notice I have used quotation marks around the word Christian in this sentence. Please see note {2} below.). There is no taking of an actual Biblical stand for to do so would not be convenient for some of these groups.

II. Spurred On By The Holy Spirit 26-27

First Christ points out that John is a prophet. Some have a notion that prophecy deals with telling the future. However, while Biblical prophecy might at times speak of the future, its primary function is to declare the will of God and to encourage others to yield to His will.

Jesus declared John to be more than a prophet in that he was the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1. A ministry of John the Baptist would be to encourage the people to change their way of thinking and turn away from many of the religious teachings they had been fed that they might turn to the Living God.

The Church today has the same mission and in order to do so we must proclaim precisely what the Holy Bible says, neither adding to it nor taking away from it. This is a sacred priestly function, to draw people to God through Christ, the great High Priest. Thus, whatever God's Word has declared a sin then we, too, say it is a sin, even if we are persecuted for doing so.

 

III. Solid In The Kingdom Of God 28

"Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

This statement was made before Christ died, rose and ascended, and before the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured forth and the Church "was born." John the Baptist did very well in being directed by the Holy Spirit, but those who would enter the Kingdom would have more going for them.

By the way, when Christ used "is" in the


latter half of verse 28, even though the Day of Pentecost had not yet come, it was because He is God veiled in flesh and thus spiritually spanned all time.

While John the Baptist was indeed a great man, after the ascension of Christ and upon the Day of Pentecost those that place their full trust in God through Christ can not only be moved upon by the Holy Spirit but can be filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit.

And, primarily when one does turn to God now, when they make a full surrender to God through Christ, Christ by His Spirit dwells within that believer. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, but now anyone who truly yields to God through Christ lives in the Spirit and power of Christ. Consider 1 John 3:1-10 presented here in the English Standard Version for the sake of clarity:

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother."

The ESV brings out some key points as indicated in the Greek and much can be said just about this passage. However, suffice it for now for me to say if Christ truly dwells within, the true disciple will learn and have the ability to stop habitually and willfully sinning. It is not they will never sin again, but it is that they will stop practicing sin.

If one is truly saved (redeemed, regenerated) they will eventually get to that point. I say "eventually" because every disciple must learn to walk with God in Christ. As we walk in Him and remain in Him we become stronger in Him. Someone that is a real Christian and has been one for a time should be able to look back on his earlier days as a Christian and realize he has improved.

The question might very well be asked, "Why did not God just have made available all the above to start with?" That is, why not have Christ come, die, rise, and ascend in the first generation of Adam, along with pouring forth the Holy Spirit. I would say it is because He has so designed it that those who truly believed before the cross would be a witness for or against us who believe now, and also an encouragement for us. Consider Hebrews 11 to 12. Essentially Hebrews 11 shows us that there were those that followed God in faith without having a full Bible, being blessed by Pentecost, and more. Therefore, today's believer has no excuse.

So, if you really know God through Christ, by all means, stand out! Let it be known you are not part of the world anymore. You belong to Christ. In fact, the term "church" in part means {3} "the called out ones."

To stand out may mean persecution. Look at the United States, established in part for religious freedom. Ever since some states have opted for homosexual marriage and where some senseless judges have declared it to be the law, many in my nation have lost their jobs and have been brought to court because they chose to stand out instead of going with the flow or just blending in. And, in reality, a level of religious persecution has existed in the United States many decades earlier, but it is not within the scope of this message to discuss that now.

Look at the Word of God, believe it, and stand upon it. One may lose all their material goods, but standing out for the Kingdom of God lasts for eternity if one is redeemed.

Notes:

{1} Used in the proper traditional sensible sense, denoting all people, male and female. I could not care less about being politically correct.

{2} In my mind and in my writings there is a distinction between the real Christian and the nominal one. Much of what is called "Christendom" is not at all of Christ. True Christians are a minority.

{3} From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

Links:

{A} Please see my marriage pages at http//ppm.3eeweb.com/ma00.html for further information on these matters.

{B} For further insight to Mark 8:22-26 please listen to my message, Seeing Men As Walking Trees, by selecting the appropriate link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M283 .

This article was in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by December 12, 2014 (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M341 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the 1769 Authorized Version with spelling of some words updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. An * next to the abbreviation for another translation or version indicates the same for the text presented.



Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Posted on: Last updated: 29-07-2016 284 1

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  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    We stand together as brothers and sisters with Jesus and as the beloved children of God. Now our God depends on us, and looks to us to be the presence of truth and love in the world.
    reply 0
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