"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
- Luke 9:23
|The Changing Of The Guard|
|Written by Jay Yeager|
|Wednesday, 11 February 2009 21:17|
The changing of the guard
(By Jay Yeager)
The book of II Timothy must have been one of conflicting emotions for the apostle Paul. Three missionary journeys undertaken and completed - an unknown number of congregations established and strengthened by visits and epistles, this faithful and weary soldier who had endured so much for the Lord he loved and served (II Corinthians 11:23-28), is ready to face the death he considers to be for his personal gain (Philippians 1:21).
“For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).
Still, the gospel message he so ardently proclaimed and fearlessly defended (Ephesians 3:8-9; Philippians 1:17) must continue. The enemy, deceptive and ever present (II Corinthians 11:14-15), would be as always actively seeking to pervert the right way of the Lord (Acts 13:10). However, the challenges, both present and future, must be met by others. For the peerless apostle Paul, the battle was over. It was time to change the guard.
History has recorded the faithfulness or lack thereof of those who were to carry the banner of truth in ages gone by. What will history (if God grants it) say of this generation? How faithful will we proclaim and defend this priceless treasure (Matthew 13:44; II Corinthians 4:7)? It takes no special insight to realize the next generation will be effected by the answer to that question.
The purity of the word is still there (psalms 12:6), the message timeless (I Peter 1:25), the need for faithful men as pressing as ever (Matthew 9:37-38), the tears shed in warning are as moving now as they were when they left the eyes of the apostle Paul (Acts 20:31; Philippians 3:18-19), the meaning as contemporary.
We are engaged in a fierce battle, and there is a desperate need for those who are “…strong in the Lord, and the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Beloved, we have been entrusted with the glorious gospel of Christ (I Timothy 1:11), the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). We must preach it as did the early church unto all the world (Colossians 1:23), and we can, if we rekindle the same commitment, the same urgency that caused the enemies Of Christianity in the first century to cry out in frustration, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6).
Further, while we are carrying out our God-given mission (Ephesians 3:10-11), we cannot for a moment lose sight of the fact that there are grievous wolves rampant among us (Acts 20:29-30) who are seeking to destroy the purity of the church our Lord loved and died for (Ephesians 5:25).
The changing of the guard, a thoughtful subject. Through the centuries, things have remained pretty much the same. The mission of the church is the same. The enemy is the same. Only the guard is different. For now, it is our turn! How well will we stand the watch?