pt1. Personal Safety.
“O Timothy! keep that which is committed to thy trust,” (1Tim 6:20).
Last week we looked at an overview of 7 things we ought to protect. These next 7 articles will dive deeper into each of those items.
The first one is about PERSONAL SAFETY.
Can a child of God protect, preserve, save their life? Is it always necessary to die for the cause of Christ? Yes and no, it depends on the situation.
We have several examples from the life of the Apostle Paul. Let’s learn from his example when his life was under threat of imminent death.
On his way to Jerusalem the Apostle Paul said, “for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Upon arriving to Jerusalem and entering the Temple he was arrested. Paul was ready to die.
At first, he was going to be scourged by the Roman guard. “The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him” (Acts 22:24). Paul was ready to die.
But Paul said, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned” (v25)? Upon further questioning, they discovered that Paul was a natural born Roman citizen. They became afraid of what they were about to do to him and they backed away. “Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him” (v29). Paul was ready to die.
We conclude that while it is important to be ready to be beaten for the cause of Christ, it’s not necessary if you can lawfully avoid it without denying your faith in Christ. He did not violate Matt 16:25, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Paul was ready to die.
Later, during this same arrest event, a plot was discovered to assassinate Paul. “And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul” (Acts 23:12-16). Paul was ready to die.
Upon learning of the plot Paul did this, “Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him” (Acts 23:17). The plot was told to the chief captain, “But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee” (22:21). The chief captain then sent Paul that night along with two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred (v23). Paul was ready to die, but it wasn’t necessary, and he did not deny the Lord in the process.
We conclude that a Christian ought to be ready to be jailed, beaten, and even die for the cause of Christ (Acts 5:4-41). However, if there is a lawful means of protecting your life without denying the Lord that bought you, then do it. We could cite other such examples from Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 9:25; 2Cor 11:33; Acts 16:35-40), in all Paul was ready to die.
If the means necessary to avoid persecution is to deny the Lord, then we’ve violated the command, denied the faith, and are in jeopardy for our soul. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 10:33).
Paul was ready to die, arrest, beatings, and eventually did die. All for the cause of Christ (2Cor 11:23-33; Phil 1:20-22; 2Tim 4:6-7).
“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).