April 8, 2018 - Inscriptions From The Heart
April 8, 2018
Pastor Tonyvic Tira
Rebels With a Cause
12 …I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.
27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
(NLT, Philippians 1:12-13,27-30)
In 1955, James Dean starred in a controversial and later deemed “culturally significant” film about the tragedy and growing teenage angst of their society as a product of the decay of the American family unit. His portrayal of arrested, isolated, delinquent Jim Stark earned him his most celebrated role as the “Rebel Without a Cause”. A rebel is defined as a person who rises in opposition (or resistance) against the established. In the Bible, we find many rebels, from people like Samson and Noah to Paul and Jesus.
Jesus’ arrival 400 years after the conclusion of the Old Testament, was a time for rebels. God’s people (the Israelites) exiled after their own rebellion against God had divided into several camps each with their own interpretation as to how their promised messiah would lead them into rebellion over their oppressors. To this, Jesus responds, ministers, and proclaims in his own unique way. Challenging all of God’s people with a radical message from the father of love manifested through forgiveness to all people (who would receive it). Jesus is the rebel with a cause.
Paul, being “in chains because of Christ” repeatedly in his letters encourages others to advance the gospel. To do this, we must first understand what is the gospel, that is the message given to us to receive and commissioned to us to give is: (1) the exclusive claims of Jesus and his message; (2) the meaning of Christ’s death (and victory over sin) at the cross, reconciling God’s people unto himself; (3) the necessity for all God’s people to proclaim through both word and deed the Saving Lordship of Jesus Christ, as the [only] way, truth, and life; and (4) that all life without him as Lord and Saviour is lost to eternal damnation as a consequence of humanity’s sinful disposition. That while all humanity is sinful, lost, and condemned to die, God in his love, sent his son to gather His people, pay their penalties, and free them from sin’s grip, God forgave them (this is Good News). Paul, as a minister of the gospel used his imprisonment to advance the message of forgiveness (Acts 16), Paul was a rebel with a cause.
Today, many professing Christians (2.2 B people) know little about the claims of their “Lord and Saviour”, leading to difficulty living in sanctified truth (resisting sin), having been freed from sin they willfully return to operating under sin’s yolk. Because they do not proclaim him, they have become rebels without a cause. Nominal Christianity is defined as ‘in name or form only, as distinct from real or actual’ little Christs. To these, Paul says: “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” True Christianity is to not only enjoy the “privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” To forgive, one must first be wronged. Would you be willing to be wronged for Christ? Paul encourages us to stand together, challenge the established, lovingly forgive, and be rebels with a cause.