Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Overcoming the Fear of Man and Bearing Reproach for Christ

Monday, July 8, 2019

Overcoming the Fear of Man and Bearing Reproach for Christ

Why Are We Failing the Great Commission?
Chapter Thirteen
Overcoming the Fear of Man and Bearing Reproach for Christ

“Our fears do make us traitors.”  (William Shakespeare; Macbeth)

          Matthew chapter ten is Christ commissioning and empowering His twelve apostles to preach to the children of Israel.  This is the context of Matthew chapter ten.  There would be a time when these men would be sent to the Gentiles as well, but the context of Matthew chapter ten is the “house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). Although the principles of the text apply to all Christians, certain aspects such as healing and power over demons (Matthew 16:1) is specific only to the Apostles as signs to the Jews.  The “councils” and “synagogues” of Matthew 16:17 are Jewish apostates who rejected Jesus as the Messiah.  In simpler words, like “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Daniel 3:19-20), Jesus was sending these men into the fire.  When a Christian has already consented to being kindling for the Lord’s purposes, he does not object to the potential of the fire of persecution. 

Most of the Apostles did not understand of what Jesus spoke until they witnessed the brutal torture and crucifixion of Jesus.  They were willing to consent to the “baptism” and the “cup” (Matthew 20:22-23) of Jesus until they actually saw to what that “baptism” and “cup” referred.  

First, let’s explain was appears to be an Eschatological problem in the text. The fact that Matthew chapter ten pertains to the “house of Israel” is the point of Matthew 10:23, which refers to the seven-year Tribulation.  The point of that text is that all the physical geography of Israel will not be completely evangelized in those seven years prior to the second coming of Jesus. 

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when {not if} they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved {as evidence of genuine salvation, not a condition for salvation}. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Matthew 10:16-23).
          It is inconsistent with the commands and expectations of Jesus for a believer to think faithfulness to the Great Commission can exist without difficulties.  Confronting fears and inconsistencies with the Word of God is a necessity for overcoming them.  Biblical Christianity does not exist within a vacuum absent of the “mystery of inequity.”  Biblical Christianity involves confronting temporal thinking and feelings with the eternal realities known only through a real faith in the things to come.  

A fear of man can cripple Christians in doing what God has commanded them to do.  When we succumb to the emotion of fear, we become spiritual cowards.  The issue is not the presence of fear, but rather our succumbing to that fear and hiding in our fox holes.  In Matthew 10:21-39, God gives three perspectives of life to overcome fear, two commands for overcoming fear, one principle of encouragement, and two proofs of real discipleship (each proof has a warning with it).  If we do not understand and apply these truths to our lives, we will find ourselves cowering in the darkness, warming ourselves by the world’s fires, and denying the Lord Who bought us.

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 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. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:21-39).

Matthew 10:24-39 is intended to give us God’s perspective towards the world’s reproach of Christ.  Christ gives us three different eternal perspectives for life that will work to help us overcome fear of persecution and death to become faithful, witnessing believer-priests. 

Perspective one: 24 The disciple {follower} is not above {causally does not hold a position above, beyond, or more than} his master {teacher; the One whose teachings are followed/lived}, nor the servant {purchased bond slave ‘bought with a price;’ I Corinthians 6:20} above { causally does not hold a position above, beyond, or more than } his lord {the One who purchased you with ‘His own blood’ from the bondage of sin; Hebrews 9:12}. 25 It is enough {sufficient or satisfying} for the disciple that he be like {comparatively} his master {in truth and wisdom}, and the servant like {comparatively} his lord {in life and practice}” (Matthew 10:24-25a).

          The person who has committed himself to serve as a disciple of Christ should expect to bear similar rejection by the world to what Christ experienced.  Bearing some reproach for the cause of Christ is a normal part of Christian service and experience.  If you have not experienced rejection because of your service and witness for Christ, it is probably because you are not serving or witnessing for Christ.  If that is the case, your Christianity is abnormal from the Scriptural standard.

4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. 5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. 7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness {gifted in salvation by grace}, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. 8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation(Isaiah 51:4-8).

Perspective two: If they have called the master of the house {the ‘last Adam’ and ‘firstborn’ of the New Creation} Beelzebub {Chaldean name for their dung-god; another synonym for Satan; the point is that Jesus was leading people away from the corrupted priesthood of Israel and therefore the Pharisees considered Jesus to be evil.  Therefore, when believers leads people away from false religions, false gospels, or false doctrines, expect those people to think you are evil.}, how much more shall they call them of his {the Master’s} household {‘born again’ children of God}” (Matthew 10:25b)?  Ridicule by this Christ rejecting world should be a normal part of the Christian experience.  The point of this perspective on the “ministry of reconciliation” as “ambassadors of Christ” is that the Truth we preach will not automatically be received as truth from God.  Expect accusations and unbelief!

22 Blessed are ye {faithful ministering ambassadors}, when men shall hate you {for being faithful ministering ambassadors}, and when they shall separate you from their company {for being faithful ministering ambassadors}, and shall reproach you {for being faithful ministering ambassadors}, and cast out your name as evil {for being faithful ministering ambassadors}, for the Son of man’s sake {because of the unwillingness to compromise one ‘jot and one tittle’ of the teachings of Jesus}. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven {Judgment Seat of Christ}: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

          Since all fallen people tend to create God in their own image, expect lost people, and Biblically ignorant people, to make their wants and desires the standards for right and wrong.  This is what today is called Political Correctness.  Political Correctness is just a Liberal’s way of saying his beliefs are right and God’s ways are wrong.  That is a doctrine of fools! 

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory {the visible attributes of the nature and character of God revealed through God’s creation} of the uncorruptible {undecaying in essence or continuance; eternal and immortal i.e., never changing} God into an image {something physical and tangible} made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:19-23).

The central reason people deny God’s existence is because they can then justify anything and everything in their practices of sin.  Paganism is just do as you want idolatry so the unbeliever can make the worship of his deity (even if the deity is himself) take any form he desires and there is no source of Truth to govern those worship styles.  This is essentially what Isaiah 5:20 says when “evil” is called “good,” “darkness” is exchanged for “light,” and “bitter” replaces “sweet.” 

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20)!
Perspective three: “Fear them not {those who reject you and the Truths you present to them, for they are really rejecting Jesus}, therefore; for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hidden that shall not be known {all Truths will eventually be revealed and all lies and liars will be judged}” (Matthew 10:26).  We should not determine that conditions under which we presently exist are the way things always will be.  We must learn to look beyond the present realities to the second coming of Christ.  When we see the corruptions of this world from the perspective of the Satanic influences of the “mystery of inequity” working in the world, we can then see our critics and accusers compassionately as merely deceived people being used by Satan.  We MUST be able to see them through the eyes of God’s compassion or we will never risk life and limb to persuade them to repent.  This compassion is revealed by Christ towards the very people who were crucifying Him as they were doing so.  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).  Judgment Day is coming for them, but until then there is still opportunity to persuade them to repent. 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (II Thessalonians 2:8).

          Eventually God will turn the tables on this world.  Even though living and witnessing for Christ is presently considered religious fanaticism compared to the world’s standards, this world will one day be changed.  Satan’s present covert actions (“the mystery of inequity”) against the cause of Christ will one day be revealed including the judgment of each person involved.

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16).

Christ gives us two commands to obey in order to overcome fear.  Command one: What I tell you in darkness {privately; somethings are taught privately and deeply because lost people will not understand}, that speak in the light {publicly; what you understand deeply can be explain ed simply and with the time necessary}; and what ye hear in the ear {that you understand and that are explained to you}, that preach {proclaim and explain} upon the housetops {to everyone and anyone that will listen}” (Matthew 10:27).

          God does not work covertly through manipulation and deception.  Although the illumination of a believer to the truths of God is usually done in quiet times and with the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit as He gives us understanding, those truths are intended to be proclaimed and explained boldly and publicly.  God wants this world confronted with the truths of the Gospel message.  Man is a sinner, lost in his sin, condemned to an eternal hell.  Christ has paid the wages of sin.  God is propitiated.  Anyone can be saved if he will call out to Jesus to save him, recognizing Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-13).

          The more we think about the possible negative consequences of witnessing for Christ, the higher the probability of our never getting out of our fox hole and doing anything for Christ.  Yes, the very people to whom you witness may kill your body.  But death is where this world’s power ends!  They can never touch your soul.  Your soul is ALREADY secure in the Father’s hands.  The more you focus on the Commander, the more the potential is there for your life to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Command two: And fear {imperative voice; i.e. a commandment} not them who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear {imperative voice; i.e. a commandment} him {God} who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matthew 10:28).

          The believer must fear God for the lost.  The lost do not know enough to fear God for themselves.  Although the believer need not fear God for himself (except for chastisement in disobedience), God will one day judge this world and lost mankind without mercy.  This includes the people Christians fail to witness to because of a fear of being rejected.

“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13).

28 He that despised Moses law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.  And again, The Lord shall judge his people {lost, Christ rejecting Jews}. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:28-31).
Christ gives one principle of encouragement for overcoming fear

Principle one: 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?  And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are numbered.  Fear not, therefore; ye are more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

          The “farthing” was 1\4 of one cent.  Not one of these sparrows die (which to the world seem worthless) unless God gives His permission.  God’s concern with the details of the believer’s life is so involved, He knows the numbers of the hairs of our head.  Therefore, the believer who trusts in the sovereignty of God in his life should not fear what man can do to him.  Man’s power over the believer’s life ends with death.  

          Overcoming the fear of rejection or persecution will happen when we change our perspective on life, when we obey Christ’s commands, and when we understand that God is intimately involved with every detail of our lives.  A continual refusal to be a testimony for Christ exposes the hypocrisy of our Christianity.  

          When was the last time you really worked at trying to bring a soul to Jesus Christ?  Do you really believe Jesus is the answer to all of man’s needs?  If you believe that, why isn’t getting that message out the central priority of your life?  What did you do this last week that proves your Christianity is real?

35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 50 years.

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