SAFETY, REST, AND QUIET
“I was not in safety,” is the first thing Job thought of when he considered that he was behaving himself as best he knew how before God. I often wonder what happened to the giants of the Christian faith. The believers who were brave. The ones who had courage. The ones who were not too yellow to fight the enemy tooth and nail. The ones who were not afraid to stand for right against the devil and his crowd no matter what it cost them, even if it cost them their lives. Job’s first priority in serving his Lord was that his own personal safety was of no consideration. And I believe that is the number one thing that made him great in God’s sight.
When one trusts in Christ in repentance of his sins, by God’s power he is then born again and becomes a child of God. He is saved from Hell and is on his way to Heaven. Salvation is free to the one who trusts in Christ, the Saviour of the world. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man boast.” (Ephesians 2:8&9) The believer is saved unto good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Verse 10) This means that God desires that the believer perform many good works after he gets saved. All the good works, which God desires that we do, are taught to us in the Holy Bible.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to diligently read Thy Word daily, to learn of all the good works Thou hast ordained for me to do. And by Thy Grace, please help me to do all of them. Please help Brother Richard to do this also. Amen.”
One can do little or nothing for God after he gets saved, and still get to Heaven by God’s saving grace. In fact, there is a good chance that he will get there a lot quicker that way. God may soon get so fed up with his laziness being such a poor testimony to those around him, that God will just strike him dead to remove his miserable testimony from this earth.
However, God’s desire is that all Christian believers enlist in His army and fight against the devil and the forces of evil. The greatest war going on is the war between good and evil, between God and the devil. And God desires that all His children actively fight in this war. But as best I can discern, God has an all-volunteer army. He doesn’t draft believers into it and force them to fight. And as I look around at Christianity, it appears that there are many believers who never become soldiers of the cross. They never fight for their Lord. They don’t witness. They don’t fish for men and win souls. They don’t cry out against the ocean of sin and evil around them. They do little or nothing that will matter for all eternity.
Therefore, they will be so ashamed when God judges them. There will be eternal loss for them because they did not fight in the battle for God and right. And they will have the blood of many lost sinners on their hands because they failed to warn those sinners of their approaching punishment in Hell.
But God desires that each of His children become a good soldier in His army. And a prominent characteristic of a good soldier is that he is not concerned for his own safety. For several years, I was a leader of soldiers, an officer, in an earthly army. And in Marine Officers Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, they taught us second lieutenants that our number one priority in peacetime is the safety of our men. Second to that is the accomplishment of our mission. In training, you don’t purposely get men hurt or wounded.
However in actual combat, they taught us that those two priorities get reversed. In real battle, your top priority is to accomplish your mission. Second to that is the safety of your men. And if it is necessary to sacrifice the safety of your men to accomplish your mission, then you do it. Of course you do it. You will use your men as cannon fodder, if need be, to take that hill, storm that beach, gain a victory, or win the war. That’s true of any war. And you know how that in the big war of World War II, we sacrificed the lives of tens of thousands of our young men (the pride of our nation) on the battlefields of Europe and on the sand and coral of those many beaches in the Pacific, to conquer that demonic Nazi force in Europe and to stop that pagan force of evil coming out of Japan. And if a soldier is only concerned about his own safety when he gets into battle, then he is not worth anything as a soldier.
And the same principle applies to us if we are going to be valuable in doing spiritual warfare in God’s army. We must not; we cannot be concerned about our own safety. We must be willing to completely ignore it, and if necessary, to give our physical life for the cause of Christ. We must be like Job and say, “I was not in safety.”
May God help each of us believers to declare, “I am not in safety. I care not for my own safety. I exist to work the work that my Heavenly Father has ordained for me, no matter how dangerous it is. My physical life belongs to God. He can do anything with it that He desires. He may take it any time He wants to. I’ll gladly lay it down for Him any time He wants me to do so. When it comes to doing God’s Will, my personal safety is of no importance to me.” If and when you and I can reach that point, God will be just as proud of us as He was of Job. Oh, to be like Job.
“Lord God, I do desire to be like that. Please help me not to be a spiritual coward. Please strengthen my inner being. Give me courage. Make me strong. Help me to completely trust my life into Thy Care and be willing to serve Thee with all my heart, no matter how dangerous that it may be. Amen.”
Look at the record. From the time that Cain slew Abel, all the way through the Bible, the record is a river of blood, as believer after believer gave his or her life in standing for right. Many of the men that God used to pen the inspired words of the Bible, were martyred for God’s cause. And when our Saviour came to this earth, it was no different for Him. His holy, righteous stand against evil cost Him His life. Those men who killed Him did not get together and say, “Let’s go ahead and nail Him to the cross, so that He can give His life for the sins of the people.” They did not believe that He was the Christ, the Messiah, and the Saviour of the world. They didn’t believe that He was God. The reason they killed Him was because He pointed His finger in their faces and called them hypocrites, serpents, whited sepulchers, and such. And each time He did so, hatred, anger, and envy swelled up and burned within them. They could not tolerate His godliness among them. They could not tolerate His holy condemnation of their sin and hypocrisy. And that is the reason they killed him. His condemnation of their wickedness is what got Him killed.
Job was not in safety. Neither was our Lord and Saviour in safety while here on this earth. And you and I are to follow these examples and not be in safety either.
True, it was the plan of the Godhead that Christ come to this earth to give His life a ransom for us. But looking at it from the viewpoint of the ones who had Him nailed to the cross, they killed Him because He stood for and fought for holiness and righteousness.
And we servants of God are certainly not to be above our Master. And we are certainly not any better than the martyrs we read about in the Bible or the many more who have given their lives for Christ these twenty centuries after the Word of God has been penned. And if God calls on any one of us to lay down our life for Him, we should gladly do so. Our life is a possession of God, for Him to do anything He pleases to do with it. If we as Christians consider our life to be our own, then we are guilty of the sin of coveting something that belongs to God.
“Heavenly Father, please help me not to commit that sin. Help me to totally place my life into Thy Hands for Thee to do Thy Will with it. Help me not to be fearful of doing so. Help me not to be in safety. I pray this for Brother Richard also. Amen.”
In Revelation 12:11, we read this about the overcomers; “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; AND THEY LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO THE DEATH.” That is what made them overcomers. They loved God much more than they loved their own lives. Any time that God desired it, they would gladly lay down their lives for His sake. They were like Job. Their own safety was of no consideration. What profitable servants they were. May God help us to be like them. May God help us to be like Job. “I was not in safety.”
“Lord God, please help me to be an overcomer. Help me to love not my life, even unto death. Help me to love THEE, MY GOD, with all my heart. Help me to commit my life into Thy Hands. And please assure me of how safe I am, when I am completely trusting in Thee. Amen.”
As a young soldier and an officer in an earthly army, I went thru many stages of intense training aimed at making me a good soldier and a qualified leader on the battlefield. The training was rugged and accurate records kept on me to determine how I measured up and how valuable I would be as a fighter against the enemy.
When I was in advanced pilot training, there in the squadron operations office was a large board on the wall with each phase of our training listed horizontally across the top of it. The names of us pilots were written down the left side. And as we qualified in each phase of training, it was X’ed in by our names as completed; navigation, formation, night formation, air-to-air refueling, bombs, rockets, strafing, air-to-air tactics (dog fighting), carrier landing, etc. Nuclear weapons qualification was last. And after many days of rigorous and specialized training, I finished it. I was then completely qualified as a pilot to do battle with the enemy, even to deliver a nuclear bomb on him.
After one receives Christ as his Saviour, no doubt but what God is constantly watching him and is sizing him up to see how much he is growing spiritually and how valuable he is (or is becoming) to God. If the new convert will read his Bible regularly, that’s one mark in his favor, because he will grow spiritually by doing so. If she is a prayer warrior, that’s another point in her favor because that will give her spiritual growth also. If she prays for others, then she is valuable to God as an intercessor. If he will assemble himself regularly with other believers when the church meets together, that will show the saved and lost world alike that it’s important to go to God’s house. And God lists that as one of his assets. If he will give tithes and offerings to the Lord, that is an important mark in being profitable to God; because God gets to use in His Kingdom, some of what He has blessed that person with, and that is recorded in his favor. If the person will witness and spread the Gospel to others, God lists that asset on his record. He is a soul winner. How valuable he is to God, bearing fruit for Him. No doubt there are many areas like this in which God keeps records on us and evaluates our spiritual growth and usefulness in His Kingdom. And possibly the climax of all this evaluation may be the question, “Will he (or she) give his (or her) life for me?” And if God can put “Yes” to that question along side your name, then He can use you to accomplish most anything He has for us to do here on this earth.
God has certain missions that can only be accomplished at the cost of the life of some believer or believers. “The Lord is a man of war.” (Exodus l5:3) He desires that each of us believers become a soldier of His and fight with Him in the spiritual battle against the devil, sin, and evil. And in any war, we can naturally expect soldiers to get killed. To be a soldier, one must be willing to lay down his life for the cause for which he is fighting. And if you are willing to be such a committed soldier of the cross, then God can use you anywhere to accomplish anything He desires to be done.
During the last half of the 20th century we heard Christians say things like, “Well, we cannot take the Gospel into Russia through the iron curtain.” We cannot take the Gospel through the bamboo curtain into China.” And as one after another country fell to wicked, demonic communism, people would say, “Now we cannot get into that country with the Gospel.” “Another door is closed.” “God has now closed that door.”
Lies! That’s not true. This ol’ world is just as wide open to the Gospel now, as it has ever been since Cain slew Abel. You can take the Gospel through any border into any nation to any people anywhere on the face of this earth. You may not come back…but God never promised you a two-way trip. And the most powerful Gospel message one can preach to any people on the face of this earth is that it is worth my life just to try to get the Gospel to you. I want you to seriously consider that, as you consider Job. Are you willing to lay down your life for lost souls as Christ did? Are you willing to be perfect and upright like Job by not being in safety?
Almighty God, by Thy Power, please help me to be like that. Please help me to be willing to lay down my life for Thee. I Thank Thee, Lord Jesus, that Thou wast willing to give Thy Life to provide eternal salvation for me. Please create in my heart a perfect love for Thee, so that I will be willing to give my life for Thee any time Thou desireth that I do so. Help me to be a mature, courageous soldier that Thou canst use for any mission, no matter how dangerous it may be. Help me to never fear danger. Help me to only fear God. Lord, I pray all this for Brother Richard also. Amen.”
All we have to do to get into such “closed” countries, is for more of us to line up at those borders than their guards have bullets for, and just start walking in with our Bibles in our hands. And when they start shooting down the first ones, we just keep walking over those dead saints till the guards or soldiers run out of bullets. And that way, someone will get in with the Word of Life to give to those precious souls in captivity.
Likely you have never thought of doing it that way, have you? Seems sort of ridiculous to even consider that, doesn’t it? And do you know why? It is because we are not like Job. We are more concerned about our immediate safety than we are about the eternal safety of billions who are now without salvation in Christ. All we are concerned about is our own skin. Sad to say, that for most of us, our number one priority is our own safety. Most of us are just the opposite of Job in this matter.
“And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” (Job 2:4) Satan knows fallen man quite well, doesn’t he? What he said there is so true of many of us. But God had a golden servant named Job, who proved the devil wrong on that point. Job would sacrifice his safety, even his life, to honour God in Heaven. That is one reason God called him perfect and upright. Oh how the devil detests seeing a saint like that. God wants you and me also to prove the devil wrong on this point concerning our lives. And if we will, God will delight just as much in us doing it as He did in Job doing it. “I was not in safety.” Come on and strive with me to be like Job. If we do so, our Creator will be so proud of us also.
“Lord God, I too, want to prove the devil wrong on this point. I want him to be absolutely wrong about me when he says, ‘all that a man hath will he give for his life.’ But I am weak and do not have such courage within myself. It must come from Thee. So I beg Thee for it. Please give me the supernatural courage and boldness that can only come from Thee. Make me into a steadfast and unmovable Christian, who will never flinch nor waver, even in the most fierce battles with Thine enemies. I pray this prayer for Brother Richard also. Amen.”
For the person who truly knows God, there should be some things more dear and more precious to him than his own physical life. Love for and desire to obey his Lord should be one. Concern for lost, condemned souls should be another. But most of us Christians, me included, fall far short in these areas. And that is one reason that about half of the world’s population is almost completely without the Gospel. Because if any place is somewhat dangerous to enter with the Gospel, we are likely to not even think of trying to take it there. So about one out of every two people living in this world with you right now, has never one time heard a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is over three billion people (in 2,002), with the number increasing daily.
That is a large mass of human souls the size of which your mind can hardly conceive. And “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Romans 10:14&15) If those without the Gospel are ever going to get to hear it, someone is going to have to be like Job, lay aside their own safety and take the words of life to them, no matter what it costs them to be a “preacher.”
Some Christians naively think that the age of Christian martyrdom is long past. Not so! In our present day, hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout the world are martyred each year, murdered because they believe on Christ and because they spread the Good News to others. And the number who are slain is increasing with passing time.
From 1978 thru 1984, I preached out in public a lot on Guam, when I went there twice a year or so from Japan. At times I got threats on my life while preaching at night down on “the strip,” a place of bars and other such dens of iniquity. One time a man who was yelling and cursing at me, pulled a pistol on me and threatened me. And there were other similar “close calls.”
So one time, a good Christian brother sat me down and talked to me about that, cautioning me to be careful and even sort of trying to talk me out of doing it anymore. And in doing so, one thing he said still lingers clearly in my mind. “It’s dangerous down there.”
And I thought, “Brother, if I really believed that, I would be ashamed to confess it to others.” If you have Christ, THERE IS NOTHING DANGEROUS TO YOU. Your safety is insured forever. You have eternal safety. That is the reason you can be like Job and lay aside your physical safety. You are safe forever. Christ is your Resurrection and Life. He will go with you through that valley of the shadow of death and bring you out on the other side in glorious resurrection power. And because He lives forever, you will also live forever. So don’t ever fear the one who can only destroy your body. Fear the One Who has power over your soul and body to destroy them.
I wasn’t the one in danger as I preached in front of those dens of iniquity. I was safe in Christ. The ones who were in danger were the ones who were cursing me and threatening to harm or kill me. One heartbeat away from an eternity of torment in hell fire, God’s Wrath hovering over them like a consuming fire because of their wickedness, separated from eternal retribution only by a whisper-thin thread of physical life in them, any second to have that thread snap apart and plunge them into a Christless eternity of never-ending torment; they were the ones in danger as I stood there and preached to them. As for me, I was enveloped in eternal safety.
How dare you fear the devil and his crowd? How dare you consider your own physical safety when Gods commands you to “Go and tell”? Don’t be worried about your own safety. Be like Job instead.
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) God help us to believe the truth of that. Death is a past event for those of us who have Christ. It became a past event for us when Christ died on the cross in our place. What a painless death that was for us. “Thank Thee, Lord.” And now we are “risen with Christ.” (Colossians 3:1) Because He lives forever, we believers also live forever, never to die again.
“Lord Jesus, help me to fully comprehend, understand, and believe this truth. Because I have put my trust in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, Thou hast conquered death for me and I have eternal life. Therefore I will live forever, no matter what wicked men may do to me. Please give me the assurance of this fact. Grant me the boldness and courage to be like Job and not to worry about my own safety, but rather to be completely desirous to serve Thee, no matter what may happen to me. In simple trust, help me to completely place my life into Thy Hands, into Thy Tender, Loving Care. Help me to totally trust Thee with my life, knowing that it is Thy own creation. Help me never to be fearful of Thy commands and help me to never balk at them. I pray this prayer for Bro. Richard also. Please help him to be perfect in these matters. Amen.”
Years ago I heard a story about a preacher in the mountains of the southeast U.S. who preached hard against the bootleg (illegal) whiskey in that area at that time. One day a mean ol’ bootlegger (whiskey seller), full of the devil, stuck a pistol in that preacher’s face and told him that he was going to kill him if he didn’t stop preaching against bootlegging (selling illegal whiskey). That bold man of God (like Job he was) just laughed in that murderer’s face and proclaimed, “You can’t scare me with Heaven!” AMEN!
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Paul said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8) That martyr’s crown that Christ bestows on those who lay down their physical life for Him must be a glorious sight to behold. And how small some of us are going to be in Heaven, when we meet up with people like Isaiah who was probably put inside a hollow log and sawed asunder, Stephen who beheld God’s glory as he was stoned to death, John the Baptist and Paul who were beheaded, and Peter who was likely crucified upside down. There are thousands of others who had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, of bonds and imprisonment, who were stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword, who wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins in deserts, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth being destitute, afflicted, and tormented. (Hebrews 11:36-38) How are our cowardly selves going to be able to face such giants of the Faith when we meet them in Heaven? How are we going to be able to face our Precious Saviour with those nail prints in His Hands, knowing the suffering He endured for us?
How can we possibly think about thinking about our own safety? Job did not. Therefore God so delighted in bragging on him in front of Satan. Christ didn’t consider His Own safety when He came into this world to die for us. He gladly lay down His Life for us. Had He not done so, we would all be lost without hope. We need a renewed vision. We need to consider again, the eternal fate of lost souls. We need to learn again, the heart of the Saviour of the world Who died for all mankind and is not willing that anyone should perish. We need to repent of our selfishness and become totally committed to God’s Will for our lives, no matter what it might be. We need to be willing to take the Gospel message anywhere the Good Shepherd leads us to go with it, not troubled at all over the possibility of it being a one-way trip.
“Almighty God, please give me the courage to be like Job. Please help all my fellow believers to be like Job, not being concerned about their own safety but rather only concerned about working the work Thou has ordained for them to do. Give us more courage, Lord. Make us bold. Make us strong soldiers. Help us to never run from the enemy. Help us to never cower before him. Please give us Thine Divine Help in this matter, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
Our Christian life is one of many paradoxes and here is one of them. There is only one true place of safety and that is in the dead center of God’s Will, going where He says go and doing what He says do without batting an eye, even if it costs you your physical life. If God tells you to march thru the Red Sea you had better start walking thru it, or He may send a flood and drown you out there on the dry ground where you were trying to play it safe. If God tells you to get into the lions’ den, you had better just jump right in. If you do not, some mad dog may come along and tear you to pieces. God is still the God Who created those lions. He still has the power to give them lockjaw so you can get a good night’s sleep using those lions for a pillow. If God wants you in the fiery furnace, you had better walk right in. If you refuse to do so, then be afraid that your house may burn down on you. “Heat that furnace seven times hotter!” Yeah, go ahead you ol’ pagan king. Give that command. That won’t tax God’s air condition- ing one bit. We can still just step into the cool, refreshing Pre- sence of the Fourth Man in the fire.
Back in the l980’s, I heard the true story of a man from the U.S. who was then in Central or South America as a mission- ary. It was a time of much trouble in that region with U.S. cit- zens being kidnapped and held for high ransoms, and such. Because of the dangerous situation there, the decision was made that the missionary would return home to the U.S. where it was “safe.” So he returned to the U.S. and within two weeks, the car he was driving skidded on ice, hit a tree, and he was killed.
I do not know who all were involved in considering the “danger” of his situation on the mission field and in making the decision for him to return home to “safety.” Likely it was a lot of people; him, his family back home, people in his home church, the powers-to-be in the missionary organization that sent him out, and other such people. When the decision was made that he should return to “safety,” likely all those people involved were happy and heaved such a sigh of relief when he returned home, having no idea that within two weeks they would be grieving at his funeral in the land of “safety.” I do not know if God was displeased with him leaving the mission field and therefore God took his life. I do not know if that is the case. But I do know for certain that true safety can only be achieved by obeying and following God, no matter how dangerous that path may be.
“I was not in safety.” “Lord, help us all to be like Job!”
“The Lord is a man of war.” (Exodus 15:3) So one good way to get close to your Lord is to jump right into the thick of battle. The closer you get to the front lines, the closer you will be to your Lord. You can feel that nail-scarred Hand in yours and know precious fellowship that cannot be found anywhere else. God takes great delight in the Christian who will not try to be the author of his own safety, but will leave that entirely up to his Lord. What bountiful blessings God has in store for such a believer. “Oh, to be like Job.”
“Lord Jesus, I do want to know those bountiful blessings which come from doing spiritual warfare for Thee. So please draw me close to Thee, a Man of War. Help me to always be brave and stay by Thy Side in battle, no matter how fierce the enemy may fight. I want to be a victorious soldier for Thee. So please help me to be that. I pray this for Brother Richard also. Amen.”
The safest thing you can do is to go where the Lord says go and do what the Lord says do, no matter how dangerous that obedience may appear to the natural eye. And one of the most dangerous things you can do is to balk on the Lord because that appears to be the safe thing to do. My heart still breaks every time I think about that young Christian man who walked up to a casket, lifted out his little son, held that lifeless body up toward Heaven, and with tears streaming down his face told God; “I can preach now. I can preach now.” Over a period of time as God dealt with him to preach, time and again he told God; “No, I can’t do it.” Now that is a D A N- G E R O U S thing to do. Finally God would tolerate his refusal no longer and took the man’s precious little son out of this life. THEN the man could say, “I can preach now.” So sad that there are Christians who wait till God brings about some tragedy like that, before they will forget about their own safety and desires and go ahead and do what God is telling them to do.
Parents, even Christian parents, commonly thwart God’s Will for their children. When their son announces that God is calling him to preach, they don’t want him to have all the problems a preacher must cope with. Or they want to steer him toward a high paying career so that he and his family can enjoy much more of the things of this world. (I John 2:15) So they talk him out of preaching. Or God calls a daughter or son to go to a foreign mission field. And the parents cringe to think of the hardships and dangers to be met there. Neither can they bear the thought of not seeing their child and their grandchildren for years at a time. So the parents talk their child out of following the Lamb where He is leading. That too, is a d a n g e r o u s thing to do, folks.
Those children belong to God more so than they do to their parents. God is their Creator. Better let Him have His Will and His Way in their lives. Thwart God’s Will in your child’s life and God may say, “I wanted him to serve me over there in that foreign land. But since you are not going to allow that, then I’ll just bring him on to Heaven now to be with me.” And those parents never again in this life see that child. Oh what tragedy and sorrow. More than once has such happened.
It does appear that God in His great love and mercy toward us doesn’t take such harsh action against us in most cases. However, I’ll tell you something that is more common. The child whom the parents kept from doing God’s Will, often goes to the devil and lives a life that brings much shame upon the parents. And in the cases when it does not go that far, often the child’s life somehow doesn’t bring the parents much pleasure. When they are together, they bicker and fight, or something similar is the case. Everyone concerned would have been much happier in this life and for all eternity, if they would only have said, “Yes, Lord. Thy Will be done in our lives. D a n g e r o u s it is to look out for your own safety instead of following the Lord. Be like Job. “I was not in safety.”
“Lord God, please give me a new vision of what a great and terrible God Thou art. May I ever be aware of Thy Wrath on disobedience to Thee. By Thy Power, help me to fully grasp the importance of serving Thee with fear and trembling. Help me to never balk when Thou doest beckon. Have mercy on me and save me from ever selfishly holding back a loved one from doing Thy Will. Help me to totally and unreservedly commit my life and the lives of all my family to Thee, to follow Thee wholly. I do not have the power within myself to do these things. That Help must come from Thee, Almighty God, so I beg it of Thee. And I also pray this prayer for all Christian believers throughout the world. Amen.”
Now after talking about the only safety being in following God anywhere and everywhere, let’s flip this over and look at the other side of the coin. There are certain dangers in following the Lord as Job did. Job being close to God and in God’s Will was an important factor in this disaster coming his way. Those three miserable comforters of friends who thought they knew every cause of his trouble, did not have to worry about disaster coming upon them for the reason that it came upon Job. That’s because God was not proud of them like He was of Job.
Listen to Job reminiscing over the good days of the past. “Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me.” (Job 29:2-5)
What about that, parents? Isn’t it a lot nicer to have your children round about you than to have all ten of them taken out of this life at one time? And the only thing Job did to bring this disaster upon himself was to be perfect and upright before God. Now to our natural eye, that seems to be a most unjust way for God to repay Job’s goodness.
Think of the most righteous, godly couple that you now personally know. And suppose all their children were suddenly killed in one stroke. Would not your natural reaction be to shake your head and say, “Why? Why would God allow this to happen to people who are such godly saints?” Well, that just may be the reason why God did allow that to happen to them, because He wanted to show everyone what fine gold He possessed there. The backslidden, lukewarm Christians whom you know, will not have to worry about disaster coming their way for that reason.
Carefully look at everything Job said there in Chapter 29, verses 2-5. Job said that in the past God preserved him, God’s candle shined upon his head, by God’s light Job walked thru darkness, the secret of God was upon his tabernacle, and the Almighty was yet with him. Apparently he now feels that none of those things is any longer true. He indicates here that he feels like he has been totally forsaken by God. How destitute he must feel in the midst of this harsh trial.
“For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.” (Job 9:17) Here Job laments that God has afflicted him without any known reason to him. And God confirms this too. Speaking to Satan, God says, “Thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3) And if you follow hard after that which is righteous, you also face the danger of God bringing similar disaster upon you to glory in your love for Him before mankind and the devil. God will use you as cannon fodder for this reason. Rest assured that He will. If you are the best Christian, God may bring the worst of physical destruction upon you just for this reason.
You had better get it settled in your mind that you can love a God Who will do that to you, because He will certainly do it. Though He may do it “without cause,” still it is not without purpose. Usually it is to show forth His Great Glory. Do rest assured that His Grace is always sufficient for you. (II Corinthians 12:9) He will not tempt you above that which you are able to stand. (I Corinthians 10:13) Precious in His Sight is your death. (Psalms 116:15) Without any reservation, you can commit yourself into His Hand for Him, as a Faithful Creator, (I Peter 4:19) to do unto you as He pleases. Therefore if you love God, you must totally discard your physical safety and proclaim with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (Job 13:15) How God delights to see a believer with such spiritual maturity. What glory Job gave to God. May God help us all to be like him.
“Heavenly Father, praise Thy Name for convicting me of how far my heart is from Thee in this matter. By Thy Power draw me near to Thee. By Thy Power make me like Job, not concerned about my own safety, but rather only concerned about following Thee and glorifying Thee no matter what adversity thou allowest to come my way. I pray all this for Brother Richard also. Amen.”
Years ago a Christian friend of mine was killed in an automobile accident. She was a young wife and a mother of small children. Such a tragedy is difficult on family members, of course. But at that time, her Christian mother said of God, “He hath done all things well.” (Mark 7:37) What great glory God received from that testimony of hers. May God help all us believers to have such a testimony.
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. (Job 19:25-26) We too should also live in that “after life” as much as we live in this present life; or possibly even more so, knowing that at any second we are going to be transferred in our flesh into the very presence of God. Yes, there is going to be a bodily resurrection. And this earthly being of ours, is going to be transformed into a heavenly, perfected being to dwell with God forever in His Holy Heaven. That is where our affection should be.
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) That is a command from God, not a suggestion. Therefore it would behoove all of us to obey it.
“Lord God, help me to obey this command and set my affection on Thee and on Thy Glorious Eternal Heaven which awaits those who believe on Christ in this life. Please give me a new vision of Thy Great Glory and give me a greater love for Thee. I want Thee to be first in my life and my affections. I want to love Thee with all my heart. So please help me to do this and help Brother Richard to do this too. Amen.”
As long as we are living in the will of God, just where, why, and how God chooses to cause us to depart this life shouldn’t be any cause of worry for us. If you desire to be most profitable to God then you must take on Job’s attitude, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
By all means, do not forget just Whom it was that started the ball rolling that got Job into all that trouble. We are prone to think that the devil started it because of his hatred for that perfect and upright believer. But that is not the case. God started that battle. “Hast thou considered my servant Job?” God said to the devil. And that was the very start of Job’s great trouble. Of course the devil didn’t like to think about Job. Job’s holy, righteous life is such a thorn in Satan’s flesh that he doesn’t want to consider it at all. He despises to even think about Job. As he goes walking to and fro in the earth, the devil always shies away from Job because he even cringes just to see that giant of a saint. On this day when he comes to present himself before the Lord, he certainly isn’t going to say anything about Job. He wants to completely forget Job. And he so hopes that God will not bring up the subject of that perfect man. Of course God knows what misery Job brings to the devil. And since the devil would never bring up the subject, God just delights to rattle his chain and say, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?”
Then Satan retorts with, “Doth Job fear God for nought? Put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 1:9&11) And the battle is on, with perfect and upright Job being the pawn that gets used and abused. But it didn’t start with the devil. It started with God. God delighted to get that battle rolling. And if while you are following close to God monumental disaster comes your way, it just may not be because the devil was chasing hard after you. He may have been running away from you as hard as he could when the Lord chased him down, cornered him and said, “Hast thou considered my servant ____________.”
And then the fight is on. And from there on, the story of your life may read like the book of Job. What about it? Are you willing to let God allow you to be treated like that in return for you being the best servant He has? If you will gladly submit yourself to receive even that kind of treatment if God wills it, what great delight and great glory you will bring to God. And what sorrow, defeat, and frustration you will bring to God’s enemy, the devil. How about it? Will you settle it in your heart right now; that you will be like Job and be willing to let God bring any physical disaster upon you that will glorify Him. “I was not in safety.” “Oh, Lord, do help us all to be like Job.”
“Almighty God, by Thy Infinite Power, please help me not to draw back from being willing to allow Thee to do anything to me and my family that Thou desireth. Please give me godly courage and make me as bold as a lion, like Job. Help me to glorify Thee as Job did. Help me to fear Thee and serve Thee for nought. If my life wholly dedicated to Thee, brings me nothing but disaster and adversity, please help me to endure it all as a good soldier for Thy Great Name’s sake. I pray this prayer for Brother Richard also. Amen.”
How is it that a pastor can continue to keep his pulpit afire, plainly naming and denouncing the sins prevailing around him, while the devil’s gang is cursing him, slashing his car’s tires and those of the church buses, setting his house and the church house on fire, threatening his life and his family on the phone several times a week, arresting him and throwing him into jail, and such? And on top of all that, his pastor friends come to him saying, “Take it easy. Slack off some. You are going to get hurt if you don’t.” And they make themselves into miserable comforters just as Job’s “friends” did. Why are certain preachers so bold? Because they are like Job. They are not considering their own safety.
How can missionaries take the Gospel to cannibals who kill them and eat them in return for their love? How can they allow their wives and children to be so grossly mistreated and suffer so severely in a heathen land? It’s because they are more concerned about the eternal safety of those pagan souls, than they are concerned about their own safety.
In l975, I sat in a church in Japan listening to a giant of God tell about experiences of his as a missionary in India in the 1950’s & 1960’s. One day he went into a customs office there in a town in India with a slip of paper in his hand to pick up a package of his that had been sent there from the States. It contained medicine that he had asked to be sent to him, medicine that he hoped and prayed would keep his little daughter from dying. (Presently she was gravely ill.) When he presented the slip of paper to the customs official to pick up his own possession, that man of India looked at the slip of paper, then looked at Brother Jim and said, “I am not going to let you have it.”
Now if Brother Jim had chosen to stay in the States, it is most likely that his daughter would have never contracted that disease that was killing her. She was dying because that man was there giving the lives of his family for that customs official and other Indian souls. So he told the man, “My little girl is deathly sick and it looks like she may not make it if we don’t get that medicine to her.” He thought that would touch the man’s heart, if he had any heart at all, and make the man give him that, which rightly belonged to him anyway.
But upon hearing that, the customs official turned and spat out his betel nut juice. And with that red juice dripping down his chin and the inside of his mouth beet red from chewing that betel nut, with a scornful smile of delight he turned to that missionary and sneered, “This world would be a better place to live if another white person were never born into it.” And that customs official illegally refused to give that miss- ionary his package of medicine.
That man of God left that customs shack without his medicine and went back to the hospital and into the room where his girl lay. When his wife saw his face, she knew instantly that he was not able to get the medicine. So he and his wife stood there helplessly by the bed and watched that precious little girl, the fruit of their own bodies, slowly die. Soon after, he took some wooden boards and made her coffin, by himself. He went out and dug her grave, all alone. Then at the funeral, he bore that little coffin out in his own arms. He was the only pallbearer. He and his wife alone sang the songs for the funeral. He preached the funeral message for his little daughter. He prayed the prayers that were prayed for the funeral. And when it was all over he himself, lowered that little coffin down into the grave he had dug there in India to receive it. Then he took the shovel and put every clod of dirt on the grave that was placed on it. And he and his wife walked away from the fresh grave, leaving their little daughter as a Christian martyr under the soil there in India.
How could that missionary and his wife do that? One simple reason: they were like Job. When God told them to go preach the Gospel in India, they didn’t consider their own safety, or the safety of their family. They obeyed God by going where He said go. They glorified and pleased God. And by doing so, they received more eternal treasure than you can fathom.
“Heavenly Father, I pray for myself and for all Christians. Help us all to be just as willing as this missionary couple, to make such a sacrifice for Thee. So few of us believers have such love for Thee in our hearts. So please help us to love Thee more than we love our own lives. I pray for my Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world who are serving Thee in places where their lives are in danger. Please be near and dear to them to give them all the Divine love, help, and courage that they need. Lord, I also pray for all the children of the devil throughout the world who are like that customs official in that they hate Thee enough to desire the death of, and delight in the death of Thy messengers and their families. Please have mercy on their wicked, sinful, murderous souls. Wake them up as to what an awful eternal fate awaits them because of their terrible, sinful rebellion against Thee. Please grant them a heart of repentance and cause them to forsake their awful sins and receive Christ. Grant this, dear Lord, I humbly pray. Amen.”
Sowers of Gospel seed, who go to frozen, barren regions in search of lost souls, suffer frostbite from the cold and malnutrition from lack of fresh foods. Others in many “poor” nations lack proper food and nutrition for their families. Yet they gladly endure such for their Master and His Cause. Why? Because they are being like Job and not being in safety.
In 1975, fellowshipping with newly met missionaries here in Japan, I noticed that one of the men wore thick lens eyeglasses. And from his actions, I could tell that he had very poor eyesight. The next day another missionary and I met him on the sidewalk downtown and he walked by us as if he didn’t even see us. The man with me said, “That’s Joe ______. He’s an MK (missionary kid). His father was a missionary years ago in Korea when that country was nothing more than sheer poverty. So Joe grew up in Korea when good food was a scarce commodity. Not getting proper nourishment as a child resulted in his eyes going really bad. He didn’t even recognize us as he walked by.”
Why did Joe suffer from such poor vision? Because his daddy was like Job. He had a clear vision of souls in Korea perishing without the Gospel. If family’s health has to suffer some to see some Koreans rescued from Hell fire, then that will just have to be. And his son, Joe, is also like Job. When Joe could be in the States taking it easier because of his handicapped vision, here he is in Japan going all out to win pagan Japanese people to Christ. He may not have very clear physical eyesight. But he sure does have clear spiritual vision.
And what joy it will be to him when the trumpet sounds and Joe instantly receives perfect eyesight. Hallelujah! And the first sight he will behold with that perfect vision will be his Saviour’s smiling Face saying, “Well done,” and commending him for suffering so, even as a child, for the cause of Christ. And I suppose the next sight those perfected eyes will behold will be the many souls he led to Christ in his lifetime. What a wonderful sight that will be to him. Likely he will next see a gigantic mansion with his name engraved in gold and studded with diamonds over the door, and that huge mansion filled with eternal treasures that his suffering earned him. And he is going to enjoy those treasures forever and ever. Oh, hallelujah! How blessed and rich Heaven is going to be for you if you are like Job. “Oh, to be like Job.”
Some missionaries who take the Good News to the steaming tropics contract a fungus growth on their skin for which doctors know no cure. And they have to put up with the itching, irritation, and unsightliness of it for the rest of their lives. From the dirty food and water some of them get amoeba and bacteria in their stomach and intestines that cannot be gotten out or killed. And it makes them weaker for the rest of their lives, occasioned by stomach cramps, pains, diarrhea, etc. Why? For one simple reason: they were not in safety. And God has it on their record that they are like Job. And God will certainly reward them for being like that. He’ll also reward you, if you will be like Job.
For many years, I fellowshipped with Brother Ray Fagan, a good missionary on Guam. In 1984, he, his wife, and daughter went from Guam to the island of Truk to do missionary work there. Soon after going to that primitive island, he became deathly sick. Later, in December of 1984, his wife sent me a letter that said in part: “Ray did have food poisoning. He also has either Cholera or Amebic Dysentery. He almost died Nov. 24. He had diarrhea and vomiting for 23 days. Lost over 20 pounds the first 11 days. He still is not well. The doctors won’t let me bring him in to the hospital because if he has cholera they don’t want it to be spread around. Bro. Jester had Cholera & Ameba medicine he got in the Marshall Islands. I believe that’s what saved Ray’s life. Plus a lot of prayer. The hospital won’t even let me bring in a stool specimen to be analyzed because it may be cholera. No wonder so many died here (and still are dying) from Cholera.”
Picture him lying in that most simple shelter of a house in the jungle, wasting away and near death, refused any and all help by the hospital because he may have had a highly contagious disease. Brother Fagan is from Kansas. In many ways, his family is like your family or any of your neighbors. Had he stayed home in Kansas, it is highly unlikely that he would have ever suffered any of those sicknesses described above. Also while on Truk, his wife was terribly abused by men there. Why did such suffering come their way? The answer is simple. They were like Job. They were not in safety. Therefore they reached souls for Christ that would probably have perished, had the Fagans considered their own safety and stayed home in Kansas.
How it sets me on fire to read Richard Wurmbrand’s book, “Tortured For Christ.” Let me quote from Chapter One of that book.
“The communists convened a congress of all Christian bodies in our parliament building. There were four thousand priests, pastors, and ministers of all denominations. These four thousand priests and pastors chose Joseph Stalin as hon- orary president of this congress. At the same time he was president of the World Movement of the Godless and a mass murderer of Christians. One after another, bishops and pastors arose in our parliament building and declared that communism and Christianity are fundamentally the same and could coexist. One minister after another said words of praise toward communism and assured the new government of the loyalty of the Church.
“My wife and I were present at this congress. My wife sat near me and told me; ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.’ I said to my wife, ‘If I do so, you lose your husband.’ She said, ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’
“Then I arose and spoke to this congress, praising not the murderers of Christians, but Christ and God and said that our loyalty is due first to Him. The speeches at this congress were broadcast and the whole country could hear proclaimed from the rostrum of the Communist Parliament the message of Christ! Afterward I had to pay for this, but it had been worthwhile.”
Oh how he paid for it with many years of imprisonment, undergoing much torture during that time. And oh how worthwhile it has been, as he has inspired millions of Christians worldwide by what he endured for Christ in prison and by the glorious work he has done for God after coming out of prison.
And his wife’s courage impresses me as much, or more so, than his. What great love she has for her Saviour. “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.”
“If I do so, you lose your husband.”
“I don’t wish to have a coward for a husband.”
What a courageous believer she is. Christian wife, how do you measure up, compared to her? Do you love God more than you love your husband? For a long time after the communists arrested her husband, she didn’t know where he was, what his condition was, or whether he was alive. At times she heard rumors that he was dead. Each night she would pillow her head alone, not knowing what they had done to her man.
Christian wife, would you have spoken to your husband as she did? “Stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.”
Or would you have cringed at the thought of the secret police storming your house at night, dragging your husband away to “you know not where,” leaving you alone at home to pillow your head in solitude each night, not knowing if your husband is alive or what horrible torture he is enduring? If you and your husband had been at that meeting, would you have tugged on his arm and whispered to him, “Now just sit still and keep quiet. Don’t make any waves or we’ll get into big trouble.”? Would you have been more than glad to have a coward for a husband and therefore would have said something along those lines? Well, if so, then it is time for you to repent. It is time to fall on your knees and ask God to help you to be like Job.
A lot of men, who are called to do a work for God, are held back by their wives. What a shame! An elderly Christian man supported my missionary work for years. (He has since died.) What a heart he had for missions. I visited in his home in the States and saw the world map on his wall that he regularly gazed upon and prayed for countries by name. He gave financial support to Christian laborers throughout the world and would talk to me at length about his burden for world missions. During one such time, he remarked to me, “I really admire you, Richard. You went out.” I was so honoured by that elder’s remark about admiring me. But at that time I felt like I was accomplishing so very little here in Japan, and it seemed to me such a small matter that I simply went out (to a foreign country with the Gospel).
But later, piecing together things he said over a period of time, I discerned that he had been called by God to take the Gospel to an Asian country. But he didn’t go. (Hence his fervent interest in foreign missions.) Also he made remarks to me, which indicated that his wife didn’t want to go live in Asia and therefore she held him back from God’s calling. So for years as he did a good work of supporting foreign missions and praying for countries by name as he looked at that world map there in his study, he also did it with a heart full of sorrow and regret over disobeying God’s call to him to go abroad. What a shame. What loss.
Christian wife, don’t you dare be like that. Stand behind your husband to push him out into the work God calls him to do. If he is reluctant and whines that he may get killed, leaving you and the children alone; then just smile and say, “Don’t worry about it. I know God will take care of us. And after I mourn over you for a decent amount of time, I’m sure God will give me another good Christian husband, likely one who is twice as good as you. So you just be like Job and then don’t worry at all about what may result when you lay aside your safety.” (Wife, such an attitude on your part should greatly inspire your husband.)
Multitudes who are called to go serve God are kept back by family members, wife, mother, father, or others in the family. You hold a loved one back from going where God leads and you will regret it forever. So don’t do it. Love God with all your heart. Love Him more that you love your family. And on Judgment Day be able to say, “I was not in safety.”
“Heavenly Father, I beg Thee to have mercy on me and help me to always love Thee much more than I love any other person. Help me to never hold back or discourage a family member, or anyone, from following Thee. Rather help me to encourage them and help them in any way I can, for them to go forth conquering in Thy Precious Name. After reading these missionary stories here, I am so convicted over my wicked sin of selfishness, so desirous to live a comfortable life here in my home country surrounded by family, relatives, and friends. Thou knowest my heart, how reluctant I would be to go serve Thee in a foreign country. Thou alone knowest just how likely I would be to draw back from such leading from God. So please have mercy on me, forgive me of this terrible sin of selfishness, and give me victory over it. I want to know the genuine deeper spiritual life of being totally committed to Thee. I want to be completely willing to endure any trials and sufferings that will glorify Thee, my Lord. I pray this prayer for all other Christians also. Amen.”
And when “time shall be no more,” Heaven will have been populated with a multitude of precious souls redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; because down through the ages there has been an army of God’s soldiers in each generation who laid aside their own safety and went forth with that blood-stained banner in one hand and that razor sharp Sword, (The Word of God) in the other hand. And no matter how bitterly the devil, demons, and wicked men fought against them; they stood for and fought for right as long as there was life in them with which to fight. “I was not in safety.” The one whom God called perfect and upright had this as his number one priority in his walk with God. And today, it just may be impossible to find one more pleasing to God than the one who makes this his first priority. “Lord, please help us all to be like Job.”
“Lord Jesus, that is what I want to do. I want to make this my number one priority, just as Job did. So please help me to do that, Lord. Thou knowest that I am so weak and so fearful. So please take away this spirit of fear. Make me into a courageous soldier for Thee and for Thy Glory. I pray this prayer for Bro. Richard and all other Christians too. Amen.”
I will speak a word of “balance” in this matter of not being in safety. Fleeing persecution is certainly scriptural. We can read about that in the book of Acts and in other places in the Bible. I do not consider such to be cowardly at all. I believe there will be times when it will be appropriate to flee, to hide from persecutors, and such. I believe there will also be times when we should stand in the face of the enemy and fight him. Let God be our Guide in this. Always seek His Will and ask Him to always make your heart willing.
This principle of a believer not being in safety is not limited to the possibility of danger to life and limb. To be “in safety” also means things like; always seeking the easiest road to trod, not living by faith, building up our own man-made security instead of looking to God in faith, and such. Often when Christ moves in the hearts of the pastor and church members to launch out into the deep and do greater works for the Lord, we are likely to hear a cry from the “fifth column” among us; “That’s too risky.” “It’s taking too big a chance.” “It may not be safe.” And when we follow those “natural” instincts and draw back from the task instead of being like Job and not being in safety, then the cause of Christ suffers greatly.
In 1973, I came to Japan in the U.S. military with orders to be here for one year. But after I came here God told me; “I want you to get discharged from the military here in Japan without returning to the States and stay here to preach the Gospel.” God’s leading in this matter was very clear to me.
But that was also plenty scary to me. What a major change that would be, to quit a well paying job as a captain and pilot in the U.S. Marines, and stay in Japan without any income to live half way around the world from all my family and friends. I felt like I didn’t have the courage to do that, so I prayed for courage. Also I started seeking out other missionaries here in Japan and discussing it with them, hoping to get some encouragement from them. But that only caused it to get scarier.
Though two of them encouraged me to obey God, a dozen or so of them did just the opposite. As I told them about what God was leading me to do, they acted shocked that I would even consider doing such a thing. Then they would respond with such discouraging words. “That’s shaky.” “That’s risky.” “It won’t work.” “There’s no security in that.” “That’s not safe.” “How are you going to live?” “Where will you get your money?” I had no idea how I would live or where I would get my money. Such thoughts had already scared me and sent me running to them, seeking encouragement and assurance. But “miserable comforters are ye all…” Most of them told me, “You had better go back to the States and get with a good mission board and raise your support so you can be sure that you will be able to stay on the field.”
Though I had gone to them in hope of getting encouraged to obey God, instead they advised me to disobey Him and they highly discouraged me. I was young and inexperienced and they were old and “experienced (?).” So I thought they must know what they were talking about. Each time after talking with different missionaries, I would travel back to the military base so discouraged and defeated by them. I would get alone with God in my room, pour out my heart to Him and ask, “What shall I do, Lord?”
And God’s answer was always so very clear. “Obey me.” I would spend hours alone praying to God about that, while thinking about the many discouraging things those “veteran” missionaries had said to me. So God seemed to give me this ultimatum; “You can believe them, or you can believe Me.” And I did what was a most stupid, dangerous, and foolish thing in the minds of many Christians. I BELIEVED GOD! Then I obeyed Him in His calling.
One year and three months after I arrived in Japan, my mandatory time of duty in the military ended. So at that time, in obedience to God, I received my discharge from the U.S. military here in Japan and immediately entered a missionary language school to study the Japanese language. And since that time (February, 1975), not for one single second have I ever regretted that decision. I praise God for teaching me that I don’t have to be in safety. I don’t have to know how I am going to eat tomorrow or how I am going to obtain the other necessities of life. All I have to do is to first seek the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto me. Amen and AMEN!
Though most missionaries I talked to said it would not work, glory to God that it worked! Amazing how it always works to obey God, no matter how many preachers and missionaries do not believe it will and even strongly advise people against obeying Him. Now, about 30 years later, I still marvel at how important to those missionaries was the safety and security provided by man, and how foolish and dangerous they deemed it to be to obey and follow God in faith. “Give us man’s safety and security, least we perish.”
“Lord God, please help me to never trade obedience to Thee, for safety, security, and provision which comes from fellow men. As a Christian, help me to never discourage another believer in the matters of believing, obeying, and following Thee. Rather give me words from Thee to speak to them in an encouraging and assuring way concerning obeying Thee. Please keep me from being a miserable comforter and a hindrance to believers following Thee. Please help all other Christians to also do right in this matter. Amen.”
In the Bible, our Lord Jesus clearly shows us His method of sending out missionaries. In Luke chapter 9, Christ sent out His twelve closest disciples to preach the Word, sending them on missionary journeys. And when He did, He commanded them, “Take nothing for your journey.” (Luke 9:3) Then in Luke chapter 10, Christ sends out 70 other people on missionary journeys. Now He commands them, “Carry neither purse, nor script, nor shoes.” (Luke 10:4)
Even though we have those two most clear examples (commands) in the Bible, most mission organizations have a firm policy that all missionaries who go out under them must disobey these two commands here. Those organizations require their missionaries to first raise much financial support before going on their missionary journey. And if the missionary-to-be cannot or does not raise those finances in advance to journeying, then he cannot-be-a-missionary with that organization. They require him to disobey our Lord’s commands in Luke 9:3 and 10:4 in order to associate with them. What wicked sin that is.
“Heavenly Father, is that true what Brother Richard just said? That is a most profound statement to make and it is hard for me to believe. So please speak to my heart and tell me if it is true. I want to know God’s Truth in this matter. I pray for Christian leaders who are in authority over missionaries and other such Christian workers. I pray for Thee to help them to know the exact, present-day applications of Thy commands in Luke 9:3 and 10:4. Then please give them a heart that desires to obey these commands and that desires that the Christian workers under their authority also obey these commands. Deal with them to cease requiring Thy servants to disobey these commands. Clearly show them any sins they are committing in this matter, and give them a heart to repent of and forsake those sins. Also give them a heart to proclaim to all people, the importance of obeying these scriptural commands from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Do you know why those mission boards require that disobedience to God? Because it is not “safe” to do it the way God says do it. We must have man’s security also. Without it, when that missionary gets way off over there on the opposite side of the world on the backside of some heathen nation, God just may forget all about him. After all, God must stay quite busy taking care of all of us here at home. And He just may slip up and forget about that missionary and his family and let them all starve to death. So if we are going to do this thing right, we must look out for their safety and have the money in and enough pledges signed before we let them “Go and tell.” “Take nothing for your journey”? Why, there’s no safety in doing it like Christ said to do it. That’s dangerous. That’s just too risky. No security in that at all. Forget about what our Lord commanded in Luke 9 & 10. That is just too unreasonable. Why, it’s even unthinkable. We can get our heads together and come up with something much better than that.
Such thinking and scheming is SIN! And how disgusting it must be to God and how it robs Him of the glory that our obedience to His Word would bring to Him.
Now I am not to try to play God and tell anyone else how little or how much he is to take on his journey to spread God’s Word. That’s between him and God. I cannot tell him that he must go penniless. But for another Christian to take authority over him and tell him, “We operate on a firm rule that support must be raised in advanced for all foreseeable expenses before we will allow you to go,” amounts to nothing more than plain, blatant, open, sinful disobedience to and rebellion against God; when no leeway is given for the missionary to be obedient to what Christ commanded in Luke 9 & 10. And Almighty God is highly displeased with that sin.
Try to picture some young, aspiring missionary-to-be going to such a missionary organization and saying, “Brethren, I’ve found some scripture that apparently no one else has ever noticed before. Here in Luke 9, Christ tells the 12 disciples to take nothing for their missionary journeys. And in the next chapter, He sends out 70 more ‘missionaries,’ telling them to carry neither purse, or script, nor shoes. I like doing it like Christ commanded them at that time. No doubt that is the best and simplest way, so I want to do it like that. Forget about wasting 2 or 3 years trying to raise support. I’m going to do like my Lord said and just pick up and go now with taking anything for my journey. Doing it God’s way, I can be on the field years earlier. So give me your blessings and let me be on my way now!”
How would those religious leaders react to him wanting to do it God’s way? Likely they would quickly show him to the door. “Be on your way! And don’t you ever come around here again bothering us with such foolishness!” They would drop him immediately and make a missionary-not-to-be out of him. They have become sinful gods who do not listen to God.
With passing time, fallen mankind continually slips deeper into depravity. And one area in which we see this definitely manifested is that of becoming more and more dependent on man and government for provision and security. We are so eager to trade away God’s safety for man’s security, thereby continually paving the way for the anti-Christ to come onto the scene and have most everyone follow him. And it is so tragic to see the church following the same worldly pattern by setting up man’s security for God’s prophets and making rules aimed at preventing Christian workers from obeying God and instead causing them to bow down to man’s security and authority which is in opposition to God. Job who proclaimed, “I was not in safety,” must certainly be ashamed of them as he looks down from Heaven. And truly their Saviour is most disappointed in their disobedience to Him. Don’t you be like them! Purpose in your heart that, by God’s grace, you will be like Job.
“Lord God, please help me not to sin against Thee by refusing to live by faith. Help me to always depend on Thee first and foremost for my livelihood. Help me to never be afraid to obey any of your commands in the Bible. Help me to never be afraid to follow anywhere Thou leadest. Give me faith to know that Thou wilt always go before me and prepare the way, and that Thou wilt supply all my needs according to Thy riches in Glory. Please help me to always be an encouragement to other Christians to live by faith and to never be fearful of following Thee and doing Thy Will. God forbid that I ever commit the sin of discouraging anyone from obeying Thy leading just because it doesn’t appear safe in the eyes of natural man, or for any reason at all. Please help all other Christians to totally obey Thee in these matters also and thereby greatly glorify Thee by that obedience. Amen.”
As time passes, more and more people who set out to minister the Word of God, are first hired by another individual or religious body. May God help us to see just how detrimental is this one fact alone. It makes a hireling out of him. “He that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.” (John 10:12&13) Loving, tender concern for the flock is at a minimum in the heart of one who is made into a hireling. The devil delights to see that, and to see that many of the overseers of the flock are not like Job.
Why are an increasing number of Christian laborers becoming hirelings? One main reason is to gain man’s safety and man’s security. Oh for all the provisions of life that will come down from Christian leaders above, if one will simply become their hireling and obey them instead of obeying God. It’s more “safe,” so let’s do it man’s way. May God save us all from this awful sin.
Nowadays many preachers appear more like businessmen than they appear to be like men of God. A lot of us can still recall the day when the pastor didn’t even have an office in the church. Now in the pastor’s office, you typically see a large desk with padded swivel chair, telephones and intercom network, FAX, T.V., video player, video monitors, the latest computer system, and such. Looking on all that, I feel like more like I am in the presence of a large corporation president than in the presence of a man of God. Adopting the business methods of the world’s system definitely tends to squeeze out the Holy Spirit. And no area of the church’s work receives any more influence from the world’s system than that of setting up as much of man’s security as possible for God’s servants. The reason we do this is simply because we know nothing about being like Job, and not being in safety.
Once while I was fellowshipping with good Christian friends in their home, missions got into the conversation. My friend said he thought it best if all foreign missionaries were first salaried by a missions board before they went to a foreign field. In return, I began to quote from the Word of God about how the just are to live by faith, and that whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and that Christ’s example was one of sending His disciples out to preach without any money or support. But this Christian friend quickly interrupted me, not wanting to hear that at all.
He said, “Now let’s just forget about that…” Can you believe it? His attitude was, “Forget about what God has to say about the matter.” And the reason was, of course, because he had decided it was better to do it differently from the way God teaches and commands us to do. Man has become God.
“Now let’s just forget about that and look at this. If missionaries are first salaried, they can go to the field without any worry or concern about where their support is coming from and therefore they can more fully give their attention to the work.” His reasoning sounds really good, doesn’t it? The only problem is that it is not living by faith. It is not God’s plan. It is in disobedience to God’s commands in the Bible, “Take nothing for your journey,” “The just shall live by faith,” and other such commands. Those missionaries will never know the spiritual growth and the many blessings that come from daily depending on God. They will not be obedient to God regarding faith in Him. And they will not be like Job. Hirelings they will be. And they will be without the love they should have for the flock. Also, the people in authority, by controlling the funds the missionaries receive, thereby have the power to make those missionaries obey them, even when that means disobeying God.
As soon as I began to speak from the Bible to my friend on this matter, his immediate reaction was; “Now let’s just forget about that.” Unbelievable! And right there is one main reason why so many Christians have a testimony that is of absolutely no value in the eyes of the world. It is the reason that their lives do not glorify God. They have committed the horrible sin of ignoring God, trampling upon His Eternal Word, and setting themselves up as God by following their own vain wisdom instead of believing God, trusting God, and obeying Him. They are close to worthless to God as a spiritual warrior and little or nothing in their daily lives glorifies God.
“Heavenly Father, Have mercy on me and help me to never want to forget about and ignore what Thou teachest us and commandeth us in Thy Holy Bible. Help me never to set myself above Thee in any way at all. Help me to forsake my own human wisdom and rely totally on Thy Inspired Instruction, The Holy Bible. Help me to exalt Thy Holy Word by always putting it first and foremost in my life. Please help Brother Richard and all other Christians to do this also. By Thy Great Power, grant these requests, Lord, I pray. Amen.”
Years ago, it was typical that not even the pastor had a salary. Now just look at how many people your church pays a salary to, including part-time workers. If we keep on, soon the missionaries and everyone involved in furthering the kingdom of Heaven will have the nice security of a salary. That will reduce many of them to punching in and out on a clock when they labor for the Lord. And it will reduce many more to the attitude of punching the clock, doing their duty by putting in their 8 hours each day. And after that it is unreasonable to expect any more out of them. “I’ve put in my 8 hours today. So don’t you bother me now.” A hireling they have become.
Back in 1980, in a time of desperation, I turned to a fellow missionary for help. He was a very “business-like” man. I would never have gone to him for help except that he was about the only one available, and it was close to a life and death matter. Demons had attacked in the night and were trying to kill some children. The three children were in grave danger, so I needed someone to take the children into their home for the rest of the night. Desperate, I went to the man and his wife and asked them to take the three children in for the rest of the night. “Sorry, but it’s just out of the question,” was their reply. He called another missionary on the phone but she also refused to help. It was too late at night, she said. He called a third missionary couple and we got refused a third time. All three were proud members of the same missionary organization.
To this day, I still find it hard to believe that in our desperation, three different missionaries refused us help. It was at night, after their working hours had ended. It didn’t involve their mission organization or the work they were doing. So all 3 flatly refused to help me in my desperation. Why? One reason was because they were mainly man’s hirelings instead of God’s missionaries.
Such an attitude is often a by-product of organizing Christian labor along the guidelines the world has for security, safety, fair labor, etc. So instead of being obedient to God and allowing Him to mold giants of the faith who will immediately obey His Voice and tackle any job He assigns, or take the Gospel anywhere on the earth He tells them to take it, without considering how unsafe and insecure it may be; our way of doing it produces weak hirelings who will go only if they are promised a “rose garden.” If a fine salary and enough fringe benefits are offered, they’ll agree to fill a position. They’ll be missionaries if they can raise enough support to insure that they will be most comfortable while being a missionary, even if it takes 2 or 3 years to raise that support. Organized Christianity has come to like its own man-made methods so much, and to so dislike God’s methods and instructions which are clearly laid out in the Bible; that those who build and run religious machinery must think they are doing God a favor by requiring His servants to be disobedient to several of His commands in the Bible. May God have mercy on those believers who are like that instead of like Job. “I was not in safety.”
“Heavenly Father, I pray for Christian leaders. Please help them to be completely obedient to Thee. Help them not to usurp Thine authority over Thy children. May they realize what an awful sin it is for them to set up rules for Christians under their authority, when those rules are contrary to Thy commands. Help them to never commit such an awful sin. Help them to rather use their power, influence, position, abilities, and such; to encourage and to help Christians to totally obey and follow Thee. Help our leaders especially, to be like Job and therefore disdain man’s safety and security. Deal with them to preach this important principle to Thy flock. Save them all, Lord, from becoming power-mad, religious dictators, who magnify themselves and their position above Thee and Thy Eternal Word. Amen.”
“Freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) These are Christ’s own words as he gives a clear command, “freely give.” Though He doesn’t explain to us just what He is commanding us to “freely give,” it is imperative that we know what it is, in order to obey this command of His.
Lord Jesus, please teach me just exactly what it is that Thou commandest me to ‘freely give.’ Give me plain and clear understanding as to what it is that I must always ‘freely give,’ and help me to be obedient to this command by always freely giving that away to others. Amen.”
With God as my Teacher, I believe Christ is commanding us to always make our Christian ministry completely free of charge. All of our preaching, teaching, singing, and such, should be done without any charge. I do not believe there is anything displeasing to God about us accepting offerings and donations that are willingly given to us as we broadcast the Word without putting any price on it. But when the Lord commands, “freely give,” He is forbidding us from ever putting a price tag on the Word of Life and only imparting it if we receive mammon (money) in return for it.
When a preacher is called to pastor a church, if he is obedient to this command, he will not first demand of them a certain salary and other financial benefits. Rather, if he feels led of God to go pastor that church, then he will simply go, trusting God (not man) to provide his needs. If the church gives him a set salary, a parsonage to live in, and other such financial help; I do not believe he does anything wrong by receiving these things with thanksgiving. But if he requires the promise of such, before he will agree to go minister the Word to that flock, then I believe he disobeys Christ’s command, “freely give.”
When we give out Bible preaching and teaching, Gospel singing, and such, in printed form and in recorded form, then this command here requires us to give it away free. That is my firm belief and I am quite certain that God taught it to me.
Very few present-day Christians obey this command. Likely very few of them believe that it forbids us to sell Jesus. So the selling of Bibles, Christian books and literature, cassette tapes, CDs, videos, and such; is now a big business, fervently engaged in by many “fine, upstanding” Christians. Many Christians earn their living by selling Jesus. Some of them make an extremely good living (high profits) by merchandising the Gospel. Some of them labor long and hard at selling Jesus for the sole purpose of making as much filthy lucre as possible, having no concern at all about glorifying God by what they are doing.
Likely many Christians who merchandise the Gospel honestly believe there is nothing wrong in doing so. Still, if they are mistaken about that (which I totally believe they are), their sincere belief about it doesn’t make it any more right. No doubt many believe that requiring money in return for it is the only way that they can be able to continue getting out Bible teaching. “Oh ye of little faith.”
I believe the love of money (which is the root of all evil) is one main reason Christians merchandise our Saviour and His Holy Word. They love money more than they love Him and more than they love obeying Him. And what a large price mark-up (above cost) there usually is on such materials. How tempting that profit is.
And no doubt that another main reason for selling Jesus, is that it just seems so unsafe to “freely give” Bibles, books, tapes, etc. “No money will come in.” “I’ll go broke.” Well, if so be it, then so be it. Go broke. And glorify God in your poverty instead of shaming Him by putting Him out for sale. “Freely give.” Christ never said it was safe. He just said to do it. And if you are like Job, you will not be concerned about safety in this matter. Your foremost concern should be obedience.
When God called me to serve Him as a missionary, He made it clear to me that I was to never, ever sell Him in any way at all. He also led me to not stick a money bucket under people’s noses (take up an offering). When anyone “freely gives” unto me, I receive it with thanksgiving and use it in the Lord’s work. But I don’t sell the words of the Bible to anyone, nor do I take up offerings, nor do I make appeals for money; because I know it greatly glorifies God to refrain from doing these things. And I don’t care at all about how unsafe it may be, because I DO want to glorify my God. And I also want to be like Job, perfect and upright.
During my first ten years as a missionary here in Japan, I had such a burning desire to get out the Gospel to the multitudes of lost Japanese around me, that often I would use most of what little money that came in, to buy Bibles and other literature to give out free to lost Japanese. Sometimes that would result in me going without anything to eat for days at a time. But that was being like Job too, as he said, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12)
That’s how necessary each of us should esteem the words of God. And I thought that with those words being so necessary to us believers, how much more necessary should I consider those words of eternal life to the masses of lost and dying souls around me. So it just seemed the natural thing to do, to buy Bibles and good Christian literature for them instead of buying food for me.
And I thank God that He honoured what I did and blessed it by steadily adding an increase of funds. So that to date (2002), I have freely given away over 30 tons of Christian books, literature, and Bibles, in several different countries. To God be the glory that I have been able to give that for free.
Therefore I know it is not necessary at all, to put a price on Bibles and Bible literature in order to keep supplied. Other Christians who have obeyed Christ’s command, “freely give,” have also found that to be true. You who merchandise our Saviour are without excuse for shaming Him so; offering Him to people for a price just as the merchants of the world offer their worldly merchandise to the public. Playing it safe by requiring a monetary return on that which costs us money should not be considered at all. Instead, obedience to the Bible is our ONLY option. In such spiritual matters, don’t think about the safety of your wallet. Be like Job and be able to say, “I was not in safety.”
“Heavenly Father, this is quite a surprise to me to read that it is a sin to sell Bibles, Christian literature, and such. Seeing so many Christians do it, makes it hard to believe that it is wrong. In my doubt, I need Thee to clearly tell me if it is wrong to do such. Please give me clear discernment in this matter, a strong desire to do right in it, and help me to always obey Thee regarding it. Now, I pray for all the many people who do merchandise the Gospel. Because if it is a sin to do so, there sure are a lot of people in a heap of trouble with Thee. If those who sell the Gospel are doing wrong, please send Thy Holy Spirit to convict them of it and by Thy Power help them to cease doing it. Lord, Thou knowest we are weak and frail humans and must have Thy Help to do that which is right and which glorifies Thee. So I beg of Thee, to please give us that Help. Thank Thee, Lord, for hearing and answering this prayer. Thank Thee for dealing with many to do right. Amen.”
Not being in safety was the top priority of this man Job, whom God called perfect and upright. Therefore I believe it was the main thing, which made him so great and so pleasing to God. A handful of believers with the same priority can turn their world upside down for Christ. I want you to be one of them. But most important of all, God your Creator desires that you be like Job in this matter.
Daily call on Almighty God to help you overcome your human weaknesses and help you to be brave like Job. With God as your Helper, boldly stand against Satan, sin, and wrong. And when the devil gets mad and says, “I’ll kill you,” then you reply, “That’s all you can do, you ol’ murderer.” Then fight back at him even harder. Love your Lord God more than you love your own physical life. The devil is completely powerless against such a believer. And that believer is the most powerful weapon that God has against the forces of evil, because nothing short of death will stop him.
“And they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11) What can the devil do against such a person? Sure, he can kill him. And as soon as he does, two or three more believers of like persuasion will immediately stand in his place. God delights to have His armory full of weapons like Job. Will you be one of them? I pray that you will. You please pray for me, that I too will be like Job in this matter.
“I was not in safety,” was the first thing that came to Job’s mind when he thought about behaving himself as best he knew how before God. “Lord, help us all to be more like him.”
“Heavenly Father, please send Thy Holy Spirit to teach me just how important and how pleasing it is to Thee, for me to be like Job by not being in safety. Create within me a burning desire to be exactly like him in this matter. By Thy Unlimited Power, change me. Make me bold. Give me the courage I need to stand for Thee and to fight against evil. Help me to also teach this matter of not being in safety, to other Christian believers. Please use me to guide and help many other Christians to become like Job, to put aside their own safety, and boldly go forth conquering in Thy Name. Have mercy on me, Lord, and forgive me for having greatly failed Thee in this matter up till now. And from now on, help me to do right concerning it. I pray for Brother Richard, as he also desires to be like Job concerning safety. Please empower him to do so. I pray for all other Christians too, that they will become like Job by not being in safety. Truly, our help is in the Name of the Lord. Please look down upon us in merciful kindness, and help us all by granting these petitions of mine, dear Lord, I most humbly pray. Thank Thee for hearing my cry, and Thank Thee for answering in an abundant measure. Amen.”
(This ends Chapter Two of the book, “SAFETY, REST, And QUIET.”)