The Apostle Paul wrote those words while imprisoned in Rome shortly before he was killed for his faith in Jesus. During his first trial, nobody came to stand up for Paul. All the other Christians abandoned him. He was going to be fed to the lions, but the Lord delivered him that day. Paul ultimately was not eaten by lions. He was beheaded with a Roman sword. Paul’s faith in the midst of such persecution is comforting. He knew no matter what happened to him the Lord would bring him home safely and he gave God glory.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
2 Timothy 4:16-18
I have endured many attacks in my walk with Jesus and the Lord has rescued me from every one of those evil attacks. Whether it be legalistic Christians slandering me and my faith, legalistic Catholics, insane leftists, muslims, literal Nazi people, atheists, cult people (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and even the Brethren), or any other attack the evil one has thrown at me, the Lord has rescued me every time! I look up to Paul and I respect him for the suffering he endured for Jesus. Many times while in the trenches of battle, I have thought of Paul and all the first century Christians and what they suffered. From crucifixion to feeding them to lions to burning them at the stake, they suffered greatly and they deserve to be remembered.
If anybody tells you being a Christian is easy, they are lying to you. The Christian walk is not an easy road to travel. It is narrow for a reason. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and He is the only way to Heaven (read John 14:6). The Lord promised that those who follow Him will be persecuted like He was. Some of us even give up our lives to the point of death. Even now in our time there are missionaries who are killed all over the world in nations hostile to the Gospel.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14
Most American Christians cannot comprehend the kind of violence that Paul and his brothers and sisters faced in Rome. There are Christians in Islamic and Communist countries that can though because they face the same kind of violence today. Can you imagine standing on trial for your faith? What would they say about you? Would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a follower of Jesus? Can you imagine being tied to a pole and burned? Can you imagine being put in an arena with African lions? It is just too horrible to even imagine it let alone live it!
When we get squeezed we get to see what comes out of us. Persecution for our faith does that. Will we bend and retreat when we are put under pressure or will we rise and stand firm? These are questions we don’t truly know the answers to until we are tested. God is in control of everything and no matter what persecution comes our way He will bring us safely into His Heavenly Kingdom!
As that sword came down on Paul’s neck, I wonder what He was thinking about. I trust with all my heart that he was in perfect peace and filled with great joy knowing that in the very next moment, in a flash, he would be home with His Lord and Savior forever! All the pain he endured from torture was gone and he walked with Jesus in perfect peace to the place Jesus had prepared for him!
I am very much looking forward to that glorious day brothers and sisters! May we keep our eyes on the Lord and remember that our brothers and sisters around the whole world go through the same battles as we all follow Jesus. The evil one loves to attack us, but Jesus Christ is Lord and greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world!
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:9-11
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4
Stand firm in Christ!
Grace and peace to you all!