THE LAST CONFESSION – part 3

The following passage gives us a glimpse into the life of the apostle Paul and his final days on earth.

II timothy 4:5-7 “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.

II Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown or righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.”

If a single phrase could be used to describe the mindset of the apostle Paul as his departure from the physical world was fast approaching, it would have to be “it is well with my soul.” For years affliction and hardship had been relentless companions. The II Corinthians 11:26 perils continuously manifested in his life and each day carried with it a profound element of uncertainty. In Miletus, he told the Ephesian elders who had travelled to meet with him “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” From a natural standpoint, it would have seemed a most chaotic existance that no rational person would embrace. But Paul knew that the Lord Jesus had called him to this office. He had not conferred with flesh and blood before travelling far hence into the Gentiles and he did not approach spiritual issues from a platform of natural reasoning.

And now, this man, who had suffered the loss of all things and whose sole desire for being in this world was to be about the Fathers business, was nearing the end of his journey. Soon he would make his last confession; that Jesus Christ is Messiah. The only begotten Son of God, who paid for our sins with his own blood, and has gone to prepare a place for those who receive him by faith. There is a level of grace; a level of fellowship with the Lord, that is only present at the time of ones departure at the hands of those who know not God. History is filled with stories of those whose faces shone like the sun as they were living out their final seconds. From the midst of the flames, in the arena overrun by lions, and kneeled before the business end of the gillotine, they testified of a Savior whose presence is so real that everything else was merely a formality. These truly understood the words of Steven; “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.

This level of departing grace will not be found by one who is lukewarm or half-hearted. Those who retain any love for their lives in this world or have neglected to build up their most holy faith will not be prepared to endure the final chapter of their testimony and many will seek our a compromise. These will justify their actions in various ways; from “I have to take care of my family because we know what I Timothy 5:8 says” to “God is loving and he understands my situation.” At the critical moment, millions will discover how powerless and deadly a form of godliness can be. It is important that none of us take this issue lighty; especially those of us who came to repentance and faith in Jesus without having to face any real consequences for doing so. But even though we have yet to be tried at the ultimate level, if we let go of all things frivillous now and draw close to the Lord Jesus; ensuring that he is our first love above all else, he will sustain us. Our God is able to keep us from failing in the hour of temptation, if we are abiding fully in him. 

A while back, a missionary with a very unique story visited our area. After spending years in the corporate world, he is now working as a missionary inside China. He sold everything here and moved overseas in obediance to the heavenly vision. Naturally, there are limitations to what can be done due to the political situation, but the Lord has been opening doors unexpectedly. It is reported that, nationwide, 20,000 souls are coming to Jesus every day and the need for discipleship is incredible. It takes Matthew 9:37-38 to an entirely new level. As he was telling his story, he mentioned five primary things that are being emphasized to the saints in China. These five things are equally important for us as we may well  have to face similar circumstances in the future.

1 – “Intentional. Always be ready to testify about Jesus.” We never know when a divine appointment will be present and when someones heart will be recieptive. The missionary then issued a challenge. “Do we awaken each morning prepared, and looking for, opportunities to share Jesus? Or do we just go about our day and give it little thought?” I have to admit that many times I just want to be alone and that I don’t seek opportunities as I should. This has caused me to re-evaluate the way that I approach the various venues of my life. It’s easy to say “I’m so busy” while souls are perishing. We have to let go of the excuses and be about our Fathers business. Eternal souls in the U.S. are perishing; just as eternal souls in China are perishing. 

2 – “Always be ready to memorize more scripture.” Many don’t place a priority on this here. In a land where the average professing christian has a bible in every room, one in their vehicle, and one in their workplace. It’s always been there; along with a strongs concordance and a myriad of study materials, and we take it for granted. If we were to suddenly be deprived of such convenience, many would be ill-prepared to endure. Hiding the word of God in our heart is a must.

3 – “Always be ready to suffer for the sake of the gospel We never think about it here. In the west; particularly the U.S. the cost of following Jesus is little more than being called a name or two and perhaps not getting a promotion at work. We need to be close to, and love the Lord Jesus on such a deep level that we’ll stand up to any form of persecutiopn; regardless of its intensity or length of continuance. The missionary told of a pastor in China who spent 50 years in prison. At any time, he could have been set free by simply renouncing his faith in Jesus. But he held fast his testimony.

4 – “Always be ready to flee the authorities.” We know that, prior to his conversion,  Saul was making havoc of the church in Jerusalem and commiting any that he found to prison. Acts 8:4 tells us “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” The time may well come when we have to flee, and this flight may result in the furtherance of the gospel.

Matthew 10:23 ” But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man is come.

5 – “Always be ready to die for the testimony of Jesus.” This is a very real possibility; not only in China, but in any country where there is institutionalized hostility to the gospel. It’s not so evident in the west right now. We know, however, that as the return of Jesus draws closer, the world is going to become increasingly hostile toward anyone who maintains the testimony of Jesus Chirst. He told us in Matthew 24:9 “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all (not most) nations for my names sake.” We really need to take seriously; and prepare spiritually, for this possibility.

This post could end here, however, one thing more needs to be added. It’s a segment from a recent Voice of the Martyrs mailing in which a letter is shared. Below is the introduction by Voice of the Martyrs, followed by a letter from Lizzie Atwater – August 15, 1900:

During Chinas Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the twentieth century, no foreigner was safe. The Boxers opposed all foreign influences, including Christian missionaries. Diplomats fled to a compound in Beijing, but missionaries in the outer provinces had few choices.

Local officials in Fenzhou, Shanxi province, were relatively accepting of missionaries, so a number of missionaries fled there in hope that they would be safe until the uprising ended. After they arrived, the governor of Shanxi, a noted Boxer sympathizer, assigned a new magistrate to Fenzhou. The magistrate promptly posted an armed guard over the foreigners. One of the missionaries, Lizzie Atwater, was pregnant at the time. She wrote a final letter to her parents on Aug. 3, 1900:

“Dear ones, I long for a sight of your dear faces, but I fear we shall not meet on earth…..The Lord is wonderfully near, and he will not fail me. I was very restless and excited while there seemed a chance of life, but God has taken away that feeling, and now I just pray for grace to meet the terrible end bravely. The pain will soon be over, and oh the sweetness of the welcome above!

My little baby will go with me. I think God will give it to me in heaven, and my dear mother will be so glad to see us. I cannot imagine the Saviors welcome. Oh that will compensate for all of these days of suspense. Dear ones, live near to God and cling less closely to earth. There is no other way by which we can receive that peace from God which passeth understanding.

My married life, two precious years, have been so very full of happiness. We will die together, my dear husband and I. I used to dread separation. If we escape now it will be a miracle. I send my love to all of you, and the dear friends who remember me.”

Twelve days later, Lizzie, her husband, their unborn baby, and six other missionaries, were hacked to death by their guards.

Source: www.asiaharvest.org

In her final letter, Lizzie Atwater writes about the peace that we have when the end is upon us. For it is not the end. All who are born of the Spirit, will be forever in the presence of the Lord Jesus following their final breath. We move instantly “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” We need to lay aside every sin, every weight, every distraction, and every agenda that ties one to this worlds system. We must determine in our hearts to maintain the testimony of Jesus Christ regardless; even if it costs us everything in this life. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

“Dear ones, live near to God and cling less closely to earth.”

Blessings always in Jesus name.

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5 Responses to “THE LAST CONFESSION – part 3”

  1. Hi Timbob,

    I like the powerful quote that ends this post. I realize as I see what is going on in this world and with the recent sudden passing of my brother how important it is to strive for a closer walk with God. Persecution in this country is very minimal, but the atmosphere is definitely getting more hostile toward Christianity. I have wondered before if there will come a day when my husband could be thrown in jail or worse for mentioning that homosexuality is a sin or refusing to perform a same sex marriage. I know God does not want me to live in fear of the future and things that might happen, but I can’t pretend that the possibilities don’t exist either. It truly is important with each passing day to seek to draw closer to the Lord. There is nothing more important than being ready when Jesus comes or being ready to go by the way of the grave if our time on earth is up before the Rapture. May God help us to be watching, praying, working for Him and ready!

    Blessings to you and your family,
    Carol

  2. Hi Carol. Thanks so much for stopping by. As you mention, we cannot live in fear of what might be. Regardless of circumstances to be, we have an inheritance incorruptible and lookm for the moment when we enter into the presence of Jesus forever. Lizzie Atwaters words are indeed profound. If we will live closer to the Lord and become less attached to this world, the mechanics will fall into place insofar as what we may have to face.

    The promise of our Jesus our Savior; to be with us always, even until the end of the world, is very comforting.

    Blessings always in Jesus name.

  3. TimBob:

    Thanks for fearlessly posting for Christ. I do the same, leaving the results and effects up to Him. Apart from Him we can do nothing…and blessings to all who understand that. I, too, have understood for some years now that suffering is the Way for those who would truly know Christ. This suffering can be through family and friends, and come from those who claim to be Christians. It can come from the world, but we in the affluent modern churches avoid strenuously sticking our necks out enough to get them chopped off!
    The Parade of Christian religiosity continues its march, with loud worship and a “gospel that is no gospel”, and the world laughs and ignores it, because Satan knows it poses no threat. The remnant, made up of those who truly seek Christ and trust only in Him, is at risk every day. We walk the Narrow Road with Christ, and tread the high places with Him, where the air is thin, the rocks are treacherous, and the paths wind ever higher. We are the few, the chosen, yet we love all, and call with our Christ for them to follow. Keep up the good work, brother. And I hope sometime you will visit my site and comment. The Narrow Gate posts are like yours. True to Scripture, simple, yet powerful because it’s all about Him.

    To Christ and His glory alone,

  4. Beautiful post. Thank you…

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