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Jesus Christ:  Are you ashamed to be identified with Him?

Gary Googe Jul 03

It is a sad thing to see people fail to take a stand for the teachings of God’s Word.  I’m afraid we have far too many of what I call “secret service Christians.”  If they speak of the truths of Scripture at all, it is in general terms and perhaps ones hoped to be encouraging and inspirational but non-controversial.  They may not want to admit it, but they maintain a peace at any price attitude.  It is backed by “anything to avoid conflict” thinking.  But I’ve known for many years that if what you stand for doesn’t create some controversy and opposition, you don’t have a ministry.  That comes because so many people of this world are opposed to God and His Word.  Such has always been the case.

II Timothy 3:12

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. [Emphasis added]

He didn’t say SOME, he said ALL.  Opposition to truth is everywhere.  It is unavoidable if you stand with it.  You may not even be saved if you’re not having to deal with some conflict over it.  Please notice our Lord’s words about this.

Matthew 10:34-35

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Is that the message most believers and most churches convey? If you work at being like Christ and serve to represent Him, you will face similar opposition and division.  The division is often extreme among one’s own family members.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [Emphasis added]

You don’t hear much of this mentioned in churches, do you? And please notice what Christ said right before He spoke these words.

Matthew 10:33

33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. [Emphasis added]

People who love our Lord quite naturally and spontaneously speak up about Him.  There’s so much “good news” about what He has done and what He has to offer.  They’re also excited about what they’ve found in their own relationship with Him.  But Christ had only stern words of rebuke for people who opposed Him and His teachings.  If you don’t believe it, read Matthew 23 sometime.  There you have a whole chapter of our Lord rebuking “the religious crowd,” the religious leaders of His day.  That’s because self-righteous and “religious” people tend to be the worst.  I’m afraid we’ve grown into becoming a nation of “fair weather Christians” who would suddenly deny it all if serious persecution came because of their identification with things thought to be Christian.  They’d be hiding any and all evidence that might implicate them.  Again, our Lord had only harsh words for people who would deny Him and His teaching of truth.

Mark 8:38

38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. [Emphasis added]

Although that passage is talking primarily about things at that time and in the time of the coming seven years of Tribulation after believers of our time are in Heaven, the underlying principle it brings out relates to us now and in every generation.  In this sense, nothing has changed.  So many people today, even churchgoers and professed believers, are reluctant to associate or be identified with people who embrace our Lord and His teaching.  This is especially true about the teaching of the apostle Paul which serves to represent Christ’s teaching to us in our time. 

I Corinthians 14:37

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Those who lived in the time of the kingdom message of the past and those in the future who are living during the time of The Tribulation will be denied certain rewards for their shameful attitude.  Both Luke [for Israel] and the apostle Paul [for us] talk about this.

Luke 9:26

26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. [Emphasis added]

Here are Paul’s words about it that are directed specifically to us today.

II Timothy 2:12

12 If we suffer, [because of our identification with Him and His teaching] we shall also reign with him [rewarded with a position of rulership]: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [Emphasis added]

The subject in Paul’s statement is not salvation, but rewards.  If your choice is to miss out on a lot of eternal rewards that could have been yours forever, then you will choose to express shame toward Christ, His Word, and those who are serving faithfully as His representatives. So many foolishly refuse to be identified with Him and His teaching.  And I’m especially speaking of those things Paul spoke of as mystery doctrine that our Lord revealed first to him.

Ephesians 3:1-5

1 For this cause [because of this message] I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Here Paul is a prisoner of Rome because of the opposition to his message.  A great portion of that opposition came from “religious” people.

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [Emphasis added]

Why are people ashamed of this identification? It is because Jesus Christ is a controversial person because of His teaching.  People typically don’t have a problem with the baby Jesus of Bethlehem.  It’s the man Jesus they are prone to reject, even hate.  Most people want nothing to do with Him and His teaching.  Why? The core cause is that they selfishly want to govern their lives independently of His teaching.  It can also cause them social and/or financial losses.  So many people are far more interested in being acceptable to “the crowd” than they are to God.

There’s no reason to assume members of the Body of Christ won’t be denied eternal rewards because of their shameful attitude of not wanting to be identified with Christ and His teaching.  In our time, we have the teachings of Christ coming to us through the writings of the apostle Paul.  The Bible tells us that whenever you want to know what Jesus would do in any given situation, do what the apostle Paul says to do or not do.

I Corinthians 14:37

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [Emphasis added]

It is, therefore, his teaching, the apostle Paul’s teaching, that faces most of the attack, not that of the other apostles.  The things Paul taught were not of man or even Christ’s earthly ministry, but of the resurrected heavenly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 5:16].   Paul received his new and different message directly from the resurrected and ascended Christ and it is quite different [even his gospel] in many ways from what He taught in His earthly ministry. For more information about this, please see my other articles about it–

Gospel:  Where did Paul get the one he preached?

Gospels:  Did Peter & Paul preach the same gospel?

Gospel:  Which gospel did the 12 apostles preach after the ascension?

Galatians 1:11-12

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

This tells us he didn’t get his message from the apostles or others.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [Emphasis added]

Even Paul’s gospel message for salvation was different from that of The Twelve apostles.  The fact that his gospel was different from the gospel message of The Twelve and others has been clearly stated.

Romans 2:16 [See also Romans 16:25 and II Timothy 2:8]

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. [Emphasis added]

Until Paul revealed his gospel to The Twelve Apostles, they knew nothing about it.

Galatians 2:7

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]

It is important that you beware of which Bible translation you read verse seven from because most translations have it wrong.  It appears the translators were trying to translate it in such a way that it would be consistent with their beliefs, not following the Greek text of the Bible itself.  And just as Paul experienced tremendous opposition for this message, so will believers who believe it and proclaim it today.

Again, II Timothy 3:12

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. [Emphasis added]

But, as we’ve also noted, Paul’s message is Christ’s message for us today.  If you want to “follow Jesus” today, you must follow the teaching of the apostle Paul.

Again, I Corinthians 14:37

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [Emphasis added]

You may be familiar with Peter’s denials of Christ during His earthly ministry.  Suddenly because of fear he refused to be identified with Him, even claiming he never knew Him.  Our Lord had even warned him, predicting he would do this.

Matthew 26:34

34 Jesus said unto him [Peter], Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. [Emphasis added]

On the other hand, the apostle Paul’s identification with Christ and His teaching was constant all the way to the end of his life.  From what we know from Scripture there never were any times of denial on His part.

Romans 1:15-16

1So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. [Emphasis added]

You’ll notice that Paul was not ashamed of it because “it is the power of God unto salvation.”  Because of the importance and, therefore, the value of this message, he was by no means ashamed of it.  For it is through this message first presented by the apostle Paul that people in our time gain eternal life and all the blessings that go with it.  Hence, we should not only not be ashamed of it, but we should boldly proclaim it.

II Timothy 1:12

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [Emphasis added]

But please notice the opposition he got.  Asia Minor was once an area where Paul established numerous churches.  That apparently included ones in Tarsus, Antioch in Pisidia, Alexandria Troas, Ephesus, Lystra, Miletus, Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch.  But notice what eventually happened to them.

II Timothy 1:15

15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. [Emphasis added]

Apparently Phygellus and Hermogenes were once leaders in the church.

I won’t be like Peter and say I’ll never deny Him.  I’m aware of my weaknesses, as I hope you are yours.  But we all need to be prepared and determined to stand by His message in the face of opposition.

Then at the very end of Paul’s ministry there were other well-known believers who had once been loyal followers who deserted him.

II Timothy 4:10a

10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; [Emphasis added]

But there were a few, very few who remained faithful.

II Timothy 1:16-18

16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:

17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.

18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. [Emphasis added]

Paul even solicited the prayers of others that he might not be intimidated by those who had become his enemies.

Ephesians 6:18-20

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. [Emphasis added]

Despite the fierce opposition, Paul was always bold with his message.  What a wonderful example he has set for us!

I Thessalonians 2:2

But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. [Emphasis added]

As I mentioned at the first of this article, in every generation we have those I think of as “secret service Christians.”  They don’t want it to be known as to who they are.  They are your “fair-weather” Christians.  At the first sign of opposition or controversy they are prone to run and disassociate themselves with those promoting the Word of God that is always contrary to mainstream thinking and beliefs.  This is what Peter did at the time of our Lord’s arrest and crucifixion, but he also later did this sort of thing in the early days of his orientation to the message of grace that was first given to Paul.  He hypocritically withdrew himself from being identified with Paul and his Gentile converts.

Galatians 2:11-14

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I [Paul] withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation [HUPOKRISIS = hypocrisy].

14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? [Emphasis added]

It is very easy to fall into hypocrisy.  The temptation can be great to disassociate yourself with those who uphold the grace message of Scripture.  But we’re to follow Paul’s example.  He wanted only to be bold about Christ and His message, even if it cost him his life, which it eventually did.

Philippians 1:20

20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. [Emphasis added]

We are warned in many places of Scripture about being ashamed of the teaching of our Lord.

II Timothy 1:8,12

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me [Paul] his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. [Emphasis added]

In case you’ve ever wondered, the subject we’re addressing in this article is tied to the principle of bearing one’s own cross in following Christ.  On the “Palm Sunday” before our Lord was crucified, the people in Jerusalem gave Jesus a warm welcome into the city.  But by the end of the week, the tide of public opinion had turned against Him.  Nearly everyone had scattered in fear when the religious crowd, the Scribes, Pharisees, and other religious leaders, worked to bring about His death.  Are people today any different? If Christ lived on Earth today, would we see something similar come about? Yes!!! Definitely!!! Only the names of the people would be different.  The attitudes and actions would be much the same.  Therefore, what can you expect? If you’re serving as one of Christ’s ambassador representatives, will you not find yourself in similar opposition? So, if you really want to “follow” Christ, hear His words!

Matthew 16:24

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [Emphasis added]

There’s a long list of faithful believers who’ve gone before us who suffered greatly at the hands of people who resisted them because of their association with God and His will.  Here are a few you may be familiar with–Joseph, Jacob’s son; David, who suffered because of the envy of King Saul; Daniel, who was thrown into a den of lions; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery pit, and many more.  The writer of Hebrews makes some comments about all this opposition God’s people have experienced.

Hebrews 11:36-38

36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

I’ll end this article with some of the apostle Paul’s closing words in one of his letters that I mentioned earlier.

Ephesians 6:18-20

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. [Emphasis added]

I pray we’ll all have the courage to be bold with our message as troubling times of opposition are unfolding before us.  Always be mindful that our rewards in Heaven will be determined by how we address it.  All the faithfulness we manifest will be highly rewarded in Heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

II Corinthians 5:10

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. [Emphasis added]

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