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Are We Ready, or Not? By John Miltenberger, May 4, 2017

the-price-of-a-soul.jpgYou have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. [Heb 12:4; NKJV]

“The price of a soul has always been the cost of a life.” (My own: 4/30/2017)

Today I’m getting ready for yet another stellar church service. It will be a house packed with exuberant people, ostensibly on fire for more and more of God’s presence, and I’m looking forward to it very much, and yet, I remember early this morning during my prayers….

In most of the gatherings of the church, songs are sung which boldly proclaim the commitment of the singers, myself included, but in the back recesses of my mind is always a catch, and I hear in my conscience, “Are you personally ready to surrender all, even at the cost of your life, because you are declaring into the heavens that you are. Are you ready, or not?”

For many generations we in America have not yet had to risk our own lives by believing in and living for, Jesus Christ, but that time may very well be coming, and soon. Are we ready to take our turn?

Just prior to my reference verse in Hebrews 12 is the verse that refers to a ‘great cloud of witnesses’, and I’ve always felt “watched” by them. Who are these ‘witnesses’’? They are the ones who have gone on before us, the point of the spear in their own generations, and I know they are watching us to see if we will finish well, as they did.

In prayer early this morning, I was picturing a first century Christian family in a cold, dark, wet prison cell, awaiting to be ushered into the adjacent arena to face the lions; awaiting as a family, to have their entrails torn from them by the huge claws of the beasts – men, women and little children, some of them babies. And I wonder, were they ready? What kind of faith would give them the incredible resolve to face that fate? Do we have that kind of faith? Frankly, I’m not sure we do; I’m not sure I do.

What I am sure we are ready for is the Glory of God to break upon the world with power and majesty. I, we, are getting ready for the great influx of desperate, hopeless people, moved by their pain and fear to seek the God we are joyously willing to share with them. Yes, I’m ready for that, and my church is too. But what if a great, concurrent persecution were to arise at the same time? Are we ready to risk all? Are we willing to forfeit our lives on American soil, for the cause of the Gospel? More importantly, should we only be ready for one and not the other?

Gloom and doom, many would say. “You are casting cold water on our worship by your questions...” I would answer with something that came out of my mouth unbidden while I was praying this morning: “The price of a soul has always been the cost of a life.”

What if that life is yours? What if that life is mine? Are we truly ready? What is God going to buy at the cost of our lives? Will He require our lives to advance His Kingdom? We’ve enjoyed God’s blessings in such abundance for so long, that to even raise this issue of sacrificial commitment is not something we want to do, yet I’d rather have too much commitment than not enough. I’d rather be too ready, than not ready at all.

Several decades ago, a missionary named Jim Elliott penned a now famous quote: ‘He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep; to gain something he cannot lose’. He lived by that saying…and died for it. After his violent murder, the very Indians who had killed him and his companions became Christians. Jim Elliott and those with him were true Christian heroes. They sacrificed their lives in order to bring life to those who were dead.

I am not suggesting we all go out and look for valiant ways to sacrifice our lives, but I am saying that God may use the termination of our lives to bring life to the lost, and advance His Kingdom, and I’m concerned because so many “soft” American Christians only want to usher in a glorious party.

And I have to wonder, who will pay for the party? Are we ready, or not?

John

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