By Michael Baggett
That there are cowards in the church is no new discovery. Paul, the apostle had many friends among the brethren until “the sun was up, and when they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matt. 13:6). Such were Phygellus and Hermogenes: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Tim. 1: 15); and Demas: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia” (2 Tim. 4:10). And at Paul’s first answer before Caesar, he said, “No man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (2 Tim. 4:16). “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Tim. 4:17). Men with frail back-bones are certainly not new discoveries in the Church. It is a shame, however, that a preacher often learns who his “spineless” brethren are when he has already come “under fire” for standing up for the truth!
When I was in the “liberal” church, “out on a limb sawing off my support for my family” by proclaiming the truth concerning the work of the church and the invasion of human organizations into the treasury of the church, some of my good brethren said, “We will stand with you,” but backed down in the heat of the fire! One couple whom I had recently helped restore to the Lord said, “What you are teaching is the truth; there is no Bible authority for local churches to support human organizations to do the work the Lord has assigned to them.” They said I was teaching the truth! Yet, they let no one know they were on my side! Another family said, “We will go with you if the church fires you. ” They too, ducked down and hid themselves from the heat of battle! One of my best friends, who had helped me secure this work in the first place, agreed with what I taught “privately,” but denied me in the heat of combat! He simply sat by while the brethren in the meeting decided what my fate would be! The sad point of it all is that these brethren knew I had taught the truth on the issues but were too “spineless” to stand with me in support of the whole truth of God! However, two fine sisters did leave with my family. They are now worshiping with us at Laws Hill. These two women have more true backbone than any of the “men” left behind!
Recently, a good preaching friend of mine, and brother in the Lord, fought the “continual cleansing” error, which had erupted in the congregation where he preached, almost single-handedly! Instead of the so called ‘!faithful” brethren backing him up, most of them left the congregation! What a bunch of “men “! It is easy just to leave! But it takes real “backbone” to stay and face false teachers face to face! This congregation which was a year ago “60” strong, fell off to around “25” people in less than a year. In fact, some of the members fled to the large “institutional church” across town! Why all of this cowardice? Because there are some among us that can’t stand a little discomfort, and a little heat! Learn this: when you become a Christian, there is going to be a little fire from time to time! Note: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Those who will not endure “the rising of the sun” will not “endure unto the end”! “And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mk. 13:13). These, therefore, will not be saved. God’s promises of eternal life are only to those who will stand up under the “pressure cooking” sometimes associated with living the Christian life. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
God demands soldiers who are able to “endure hardships.” “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). God requires his soldier to take up the “spiritual sword,” and the whole “armor of God,” and do battle against Satan, darkness, and all forms of error (Eph. 6:10-18)! “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is in the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Are you a soldier for Christ? Do you have the “backbone” to fight a spiritual warfare?
Paul, the apostle, wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” This language describes a courage soldier. A soldier whose eyes are open and alert to all signs of danger; a soldier who has his feet firmly planted in the faith, who doesn’t move from the front lines of the battle. He is a soldier who “acts like a man” (Young’s – “quit”), and is “strong.” He has backbone!
We need servants of God today, who, like Joshua and Caleb will declare: “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it”, and: “Only rebel not ye against the Lord neither fear the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not” (Num. 13:30; 14:9)! We need men like Paul, who declared at death’s door: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Are you a soldier with this kind of backbone? Then always stand up and be counted when the truth comes under fire!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 7, pp. 213-214
April 4, 1991