By: Scott Adkins, Sling ‘n Stone Ministry
Carter County Times
We continue our multi-part series, “Who Is Jesus Christ,” to learn more about the One who calls us to “be thou faithful unto death.” (Rev. 2:10). Revelation 1:6 identifies The Lord as Him who “made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.” But what does that identity mean, and why is that so significant to our enduring persecution, and if called upon, martyrdom?
I Peter 2:9 expounds on the Lord Jesus’s “mak(ing) us kings and priests(.)” Peter wrote that as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” we should “show forth the praises of Him who hath called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9). “Show forth” here means “proclaim.” But how do we proclaim praise to the Lord? According to the Lord Jesus, “praising” Him requires far more than singing on Sundays, or invoking His name throughout the week.
To that end, the Lord warned against those who “draw nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. (I)n vain do they worship Me(.)” (Matt. 15:8-9). How can we discern if one’s heart lies close to, or far from, the Lord Jesus? Jesus gave us the answer: “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” (Matt. 6:21). What did Jesus mean?
The Gospels’ sad account of the rich young ruler explains. The young man possessed vast wealth, political position, worldly prestige, and aspirations. The Lord offered this young man eternal life and riches if the young man would (a) sell all he owned; (b) give all proceeds to the poor; (c) pick up his cross; and (d) embrace the world’s ridicule to follow Jesus. (Matt. 19:16-24); (Mark 10: 17-22); and (Luke 18:18-27). But the rich young ruler would not. So, while he honored Jesus with his lips, see (Mark 10:17), his heart lay far from the Lord Jesus. When Jesus saw this, “He (Jesus) was very sorrowful.” (Luke 18:24). That’s the negative example. But Jesus, perfect in all His ways, gave us a positive example for anchoring our hearts in Him; and in so doing, proclaiming His praises as His royal priesthood.
Jesus walked by Matthew the tax collector “sitting at the receipt of custom,” (Matt. 9:9); Jesus beckoned Matthew: “Follow Me.” Matthew “arose, and followed Him.” Nowhere does Matthew’s Gospel indicate Matthew paused to pocket the day’s receipts. Matthew walked away from everything, never looked back, and ended up martyred for the Gospel. Likewise, when Jesus called James and John: “they forsook all, and followed Him.” (Luke 5:11).
Nothing less will anchor our hearts to the Lord Jesus and proclaim His praises, even to the point of suffering persecution or martyrdom. To be clear: singing on Sundays and invoking His Name throughout the week counts for less than nothing with the Lord if we commit less to Him than did Matthew, James, John, and countless martyrs have throughout the centuries.