Contend Earnestly: Risk is Right: Part II

Monday, October 06, 2008

Risk is Right: Part II

Last time we ended with speaking on some Old Testamant saints and I wanted to continue with Paul and then the words of Christ that would show us some wisdom within the context of understanding risk is right. Again, much of this is taken from "Don't Waste Your Life" by John Piper. So, let's start with Paul.

We could really take a look many times at when Paul seemed to take risks, but we will take a look at one. The setting is found in Acts 19-21. Paul was certain that the Holy Spirit had told him to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21) and there was a prophet who came to Paul and told him that Paul would be bound and put in jail for going. (Acts 21:11)

Believers begged Paul to not go and Paul responded by saying:

“What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus”
Acts 21:13

After Paul’s words, the people then responded by saying:

“And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done’ ”
Acts 21:14

Paul understood that if it was God’s will, he must do it. No matter the cost. Death, imprisonment, mockery, loss of money, time, whatever…he didn’t know what was to come, but he felt the call from God and took the risk.

Christ told us this is what we are called to:

We are called to take risks. Paul states: through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22)

Jesus states: Luke 21:16, “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.”

Notice Jesus says some. The disciples didn’t know who would die, who would live. They were called to live for Jesus, the risk being that you don’t know what will happen because of it. The only for sure in this life when you live it for Christ is that as Paul states, you will be persecuted,

Jesus states that our surety is that “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20)

The first three centuries of the Christian church set the pattern of growth under threat. Stephen Neill, in his History of Christian Missions, wrote,

“Undoubtedly, Christians under the Roman Empire had no legal right to existence, and were liable to the utmost stringency of the law.… Every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life.”

Might. There’s the risk. It was always there. Maybe we will be killed for being Christians. Maybe we won’t. It is a risk. That was normal. And to become a Christian under those circumstances was right

How to Waste 40 Years and Thousands of Lives

The people of Israel had been brought out of the land of Egypt. In less than three years they were at the borders of Canaan. Moses sent in spies and what happened?

Caleb states:

“Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). But the others said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are” (v. 31)

The people had this thought of being in this stupor of safety and Joshua states:

The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them. Numbers 14:7–9

The point is that you must see life as not safe. You could literally die any day, why not live life for the glory of Christ and not for your safety? We are called to take risks…why just try and live in bubble for the sake and for the glory of self?

So, What is the Danger Here?

The danger is taking risks for the wrong reasons. The worst risk you can take is taking a risk for the glory of yourself and not for God.

We might feel as though if we take risk God is more pleased with us and likes us more than those who seem to be more reserved.

When we talk about risk we are always pointing to taking it for the cause of Christ and not for the cause of heroism, martyrdom, lust for adventure, or the need to earn God’s good will.

Risk should only be taken if you believe it is in God’s will for his glory alone.

And when we take risks we must believe that God will truly give us everything that we need.

When Paul promised, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” he had just said, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12–13, 19).

“All things” means “I can suffer hunger through him who strengthens me. I can be destitute of food and clothing through him who strengthens me.” That is what Jesus promises. He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). If we starve, he will be our everlasting, life-giving bread. If we are shamed with nakedness, he will be our perfect, all-righteous apparel. If we are tortured and made to scream in our dying pain, he will keep us from cursing his name and will restore our beaten body to everlasting beauty.

Remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
Don’t live your life in fear of what might happen. Live your life in the fear of what might happen if you don’t follow the call of God. This is the risk that should be taken.

Remember that Jesus said that your life is not going to be easy as a Christian. It is going to be hard.

This is the promise that empowers us to take risks for the sake of Christ. It is not the impulse of heroism, or the lust for adventure, or the courage of self-reliance, or the need to earn God’s favor. It is simple trust in Christ—that in him God will do everything necessary so that we can enjoy making much of him forever.

Every good poised to bless us, and every evil arrayed against us, will in the end help us boast only in the cross, magnify Christ, and glorify our Creator. Faith in these promises frees us to risk and to find in our own experience that it is better to lose our life than to waste it.

Therefore, it is right to risk for the cause of Christ. It is right to engage the enemy and say, “May the LORD do what seems good to him.” It is right to serve the people of God, and say, “If I perish, I perish!” It is right to stand before the fiery furnace of affliction and refuse to bow down to the gods of this world. This is the road that leads to fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

At the end of every other road—secure and risk-free—we will put our face in our hands and say, “I’ve wasted it!”


Anonymous said...


I want to cut and paste a paragraph from a book I am reading and rereading and rereading and and and by a Swedish Theologian of the first of the 20th Century titled "Our Calling" that underscores what you are saying. Einar Billing is the author.

Here's the quote: "...How important it is seriously to consider this 'day to day' first becomes evident when we consider that faithfulness to the call which daily comes to us has a twofold demand-it requires at one and the same time a rigorous restriction and an infinite expansion of our work. On the one hand we must turn away from every work, no matter how appealing and useful it may seem, if we cannot see it as a God-given task. On the other hand, we must be prepared for each new assignment he may have for us."

The Apostle Paul wrote it this way:::>

2Co 1:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
2Co 1:9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
2Co 1:10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

Well, knowing recorded history some, that quote has a yes and no touch to it seeing History records the first time he was let go after being arrested for preaching Christ and the second time he was martyred.

I would say there is no risk when any assignment we accomplish for God and it 'truly' is a God assigned "meant" to be outcome!

Paul also went on to assert His Faith, not his, this way:::>

2Co 5:1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2Co 5:2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
2Co 5:3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.
2Co 5:4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2Co 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
2Co 5:6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
2Co 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
2Co 5:8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2Co 5:9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

When I put up my "spiritual" finger in the wind seeking directions for today, it does seem His Faith that works in us is flushed out when it is His Faith working in us because we believe we are obliged to come into obedience to it as Paul wrote here and here:::>

Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,


Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith--

We can say we have alive in us "His" Faith working. We certainly will know day to day it is when we are assigned to the task that ends up with our natural end unnaturally by martyrdom.

I want to die of old age with my wife and children and grand children gathered around my death bed, don't you? :)

What is the risk then to die to self and live with Christ "now" in God?

Rom 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

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