Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Lexington, KY. Pastor Earl Thomas
Pleasant Ridge Baptist ChurchLexington, KY. Pastor Earl Thomas

HAZARDING OUR LIVES FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST

Text: Acts 15:19-27 "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; [namely], Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell [you] the same things by mouth."

Note particularly v. 26. this is a line out of a letter of introduction written by the church at Jerusalem to the gentiles in Antioch. It stands an immortal description of the character and caliber of the kind of people God wants to serve Him. People who live to make a difference for God’s glory. People who are ready to put their lives "At risk", who daily hazard their very lives, in doing the work of the Lord. Those Christians literally did that. Christians today are not living in a time that this is so, except in countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, or other Muslim controlled places. However; not too many centuries ago Baptists were persecuted and killed as heretics right here in this newly forming nation of America.

I. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAZARD OUR LIVES.

It means to put our lives in peril; risk, jeopardy, or danger. We are meant to bring about a difference in the way people think, live and deal with the eternal things of life thereby effecting change by bringing about good things.

Isn’t it interesting that we learn from the Bible about the sanctity of life, that life is a sacred gift from God, but also about "hazarding" that sacred trust, our very lives, for Him? Offering it up for Him? There may not be many others for whom we would risk our lives in this world, but in the text we read of those WHO DID! It reveals how deep their commitment to Jesus Christ was and how happily the church at Jerusalem was able to send along such a high statement of the character of Judas/Barsabus and Silas. They were men who denied themselves to serve others. Took risks.

Grace inspires us with a will to give ourselves to a service of one who is greater than ourselves and to a cause that is higher than our lives in this world. Mt 16:25 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Paul, Barnabus, Barsabus and Silas were all men who had hazarded their lives for the Lord Jesus Christ.

HOW MUCH HAVE YOU AND I RISKED? HAZARDED? Well, perhaps we haven’t been called upon to risk our very lives like they did, but shouldn’t we feel ready to do so if need be?

This is essentially what Romans 12:1 teaches "present your bodies a living sacrifice...."

If our founding fathers of this country could pledge to risk their lives and fortunes for the establishing of this nation, can we not also stand ready to RISK whatever it takes for us to help bring about the spreading of the gospel, and the winning of lost souls to Jesus Christ, the edifying of the church to spiritual maturity and the aiding of one another to "grow up" in Christ? That builds Christian character.

II. SOME EXAMPLES OF THE TEXT.

The bible is full of them, lets look at a few:

1. many hazards for Paul, 2Co 11:24-27 "Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."

2. Paul At Damascus 2Co 11:32-33 "In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands."

3.Paul was stoned at Lystra, (Acts 14:19-21)

4. The whole city of Ephesus was in an uproar because of Paul’s preaching. He was nearly mobbed.

(5. Acts 20:22-24; 21:4l at Tyre; 21:10-14 at Caesarea)

III. HOW DOES THE SUBJECT APPLY TO US?

We in America are not faced with the same situations which made it necessary for the men of our text to risk their very lives. But surely, the verse must apply to us somehow. What kind of people need we to be in order to qualify as of the same caliber of people as those in the text? We need to be:

1. Persons who count not our lives dear unto ourselves. "For to me to live is Christ." Ac 20:24 Paul says, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Paul was NOT turning back!

2. Persons who can truthfully say, "Lord, not my will, but thine be done" in heaven, on earth, and in me. Sometimes we Christians can be so selfish and self seeking can’t we? Php 2:4 "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Paul is telling us, Let’s not be all wrapped up in ourselves. Other people matter too. Reach out to them.

3. Persons who can sincerely say, "all I have, or am, or hope to have or be, I yield to Jesus. How can I do less than give to Him my best and live for Him completely. Lord use me. All to Jesus I surrender. That is the attitude that builds Christian character and makes a difference.

4. Persons who make attendance at our church a priority of obedience. Regular, faithful, giving, supporting, teaching, doing, loving, praying, hearing, heeding the call; like Paul, 1 Co 9:22 ....I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some."

5. Persons who are available when they are needed at church. Workers not shirkers, helpers not hindrances; find something to do for Jesus then doing it with all of our might!

If we can be such Christians, then we meet the standard of the text. Then we will make a difference for Jesus Christ right were we live. Giving our lives in His service is hazarding them for Jesus Sake.

IV. WHAT WILL PROMPT US TO SUCH A SURRENDER OF OUR SELVES?

1. A genuine love for Jesus. Love stirs us to action. Oh, the power of a name to stir us emotionally. For some it is "mother." For others it may be "play ball." But there is no mention of a name that stirs more hearts with emotions of love than the name "JESUS." There’s just something about that name. There is no name like Jesus to rouse us to action, sooth our troubled hearts, or melt our stubborn wills to submission. It is out of love for Him that we can practice the text.

When we were kids and didn’t want to do something, we might have been told by our mother, "honey do it for mother, please." And who could resist that! Well, let’s do it for Jesus.

2. An accepting of spiritual values over materialism. The world doesn’t want to let go of us. It wants to enslave us, trap us in its web of worldliness, as well does the devil, but John the Apostle reminds us that we are not to love the world and if we do, the love for the Father is not in us. One day we will leave the world all behind... we don’t want to take it with us.

3. A love for the church Jesus built will prompt us to fulfill the principles of the text.

Gallus took a pole (1964) which showed that 54% of American adults did not regularly attend church. Reasons for why the other 46% attended church were given: 26% went out of habit; 20% out of duty; 19% needed answers for problems; 17% because of religious beliefs; 2% for their children; 9% obligations as a Roman Catholic. Nowhere was - going to worship God, or because of their faith, or the going out of love for the Lord mentioned. My mother in law has often said that she loved to go to church.

4. A humble prayer life will prompt it. He to whom we pray will motivate us to putting our lives at risk for him. Prayerlessness won’t. A good talk with Jesus will empower us to do many great things in his name. It is there we get the power.

5. A sincere desire to obey Christ’s commands may do it. "If ye love me, keep my commandments.’

6. A realistic burden for the lost who are going to hell might do it. It is a noble thing when people do things to help save others at the risk of their own lives. But have we even prayed for any unsaved person recently? Rom 10:1 "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved."

Have we forgotten the immortality of their souls? The body is only temporary. The soul is of the greatest value because it is never dying. Folks we must do what we can for the elects sake that they might be saved.

Then should we not risk more of ourselves in the name of Jesus that precious souls might be rescued from sin and from hell? Jude 1:22-23 "And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."

Ought not we believers give more attention in our personal lives to the yielding of ourselves towards influencing others to Jesus? 2Ti 2:10 "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

The impact of the text then is this: make a difference or make a mistake!

Yield ourselves to His will, that’s the point. Taking risks, laying all at the feet of Jesus, offering our time, talents, tithes. Devoting our lives and loves to Christ supremely. We need to do this. Those who do will make a difference.

Let’s not talk about casting our crowns at Jesus feet in glory when right here on earth we hold back our tithes and offerings? Let’s not speak about laying our crowns at His feet then if we won’t bow at his feet here on earth asking, "Lord what wilt thou have me to do." Let’s hear no talk about that when right here on earth some church members can’t make up their minds whether or not church attendance is important.

Insurance companies are involved in assuming risks. But they won’t insure a person who is a poor risk. Will one insure the life of a 95 year old person with heart disease? They want your premiums not your risk! They don’t want to take any risk when they insure us. They want to insure those persons who are not likely to require any future claims from the policy.

Do we expect to have the Lord’s blessings without assuming any risks, without having to face any hazards? Do we expect our lives to be ones of smooth sailing and no threatening storms? Or are we willing to assume the possible risks involved because we know that in the end we are in good hands with Him.

It is a fair question, what do we expect in return if we are committed to hazarding our lives for Jesus? Mt 19:27, 29 "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me,... And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

If you know of any investment of yourselves with no risks and better returns at the end than is.... you’d better get it. But, you know there isn’t. Nothing else pays eternal, everlasting wages that fade not away.

1 Pe 1:3-5 "Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, {abundant: Gr. much} To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, {for you: or, for us} Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

 

 

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