PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D Pace
How Then Shall We Live?
A Christian’s Response to Days of Crisis
Thanks to the coronavirus, the world has been in crisis mode since March of 2020. You know the story: Churches, schools, sports, and stores were forced to shut down, scale back, or implement social separation practices.
Let’s pause and think for a moment. What words or phrases would you use to describe this global disturbance?
What about this phrase: “global power grab”? We’ve heard the government’s threat to “Submit or else!” This is what the Bible said would mark the Endtime. It shows power-hungry, even power-crazed people! It describes how the ultimate powerbroker—the Antichrist—will physically mark the inhabitants of Earth before they can interact in the marketplace. And the constraints will be especially laid upon Christians! The Endtime demands that people surrender their freedom.
Then, there has been overall disorderliness in government policy toward handling the coronavirus. At first, politicians said there was nothing to fear and mocked the need for masks. Then it pivoted left and said, “Masks are mandatory!” And since November of last year, “get vaccinated” has become the mantra of the elites.
We have to consider what government and the mainstream media have created: fear; apprehension; confusion; emotional disorders; loss of businesses, jobs, wages, and even bankruptcy.
Whether purposely designed or not, the CDC, politicians, and governments around the world have driven people into “Panic mode.” (Synonyms for panic include: alarm, anxiety, hysteria.)
Unfortunately, this global epidemic has driven some people into total, self-isolation—self-quarantining. They are terrified of public interaction. And much of it is due to the seven-days-a-week news cycling of the coronavirus. When people are panicked they wring their hands and say, What is the answer? What will I do?
I want to show you what all this can lead to: it can cause people to respond irrationally! A panicked person is willing to turn to someone, anyone, even a master-deceiver that boasts of an answer to a crisis. All that I have mentioned, is leading to what the Bible predicts will occur before the return of Jesus to Earth. Not many days hence, the Antichrist will wrest the world when it’s writhing with insoluble problems. And vulnerable, panicked people will be eager to submit to this infamous deceiver.
So, how then should we live? Do we throw up our hands and surrender to whatever the government demands? Do we follow the crowd and let the populace frame our thinking and determine our response? Do we acquiesce to the leadership of our political affiliation?
(Transition) For the next few moments I want to underscore the Bible’s advice for times of difficulty. And the first point I want to make is this:
Confront the Crisis and Work Out Your Salvation!
God has called us to confront crisis head-on! Don’t withdraw and cower into darkness. Confront your crisis, because God has a solution to your problem!
There is a perfect passage where Paul teaches this principle. It’s found in Philippians 2:12—16. Let’s read:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (14) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (16) as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
The phrase I want to highlight from this passage appears in verse 12 where Paul writes these words: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Let’s take a few moments to dissect what Paul is saying here:
First, Paul was addressing people that were already saved by faith, through grace in Christ Jesus. This is important, because some people have misapplied Paul’s admonition to “work out their own salvation.” They have wrongly suggested that Paul gave them permission to determine their plan of salvation and how they will get to heaven. This is totally unscriptural!
Listen to that phrase again: Paul says, “continue to work OUT your salvation with fear and trembling.” I’m sure you noticed that I emphasized the word O. U. T. “out.” Paul did not say, “continue to work “FOR” your salvation.” That’s what Jesus did in our behalf. He worked “FOR” our salvation and provided it for us on the Cross.
However, Paul is giving Christians a directive—a “Call to Action”—when he says, “continue to work OUT your salvation.” He wanted Christians to know that they have an obligation to participate with God in their walk with him. Once we have been “saved by grace” we must “work out” our manner of living for Christ in every circumstance we confront.
I want to give you the “Pace Commentary” for Paul’s instructions for Christians in Philippians 2:12.
Now that you are saved you have an obligation to God. It involves living out your place in his Kingdom. Be prepared for whatever life demands of you. Paul says, “I’m locked up in prison; but you’re free. I’m “working out my salvation” behind these bars by writing letters to the churches I founded. Conversely, you are managing businesses or working 9-to-5 jobs. Some are raising families. Others are grand-parenting. Regardless of your estate, you must “work out your salvation” appropriately.
Thank goodness we don’t have to “work out our salvation” like the first century Christians did when they were fed to lions!
I’m glad we don’t have to “work out our salvation” like Christians of the Dark Ages. During the Dark Ages, written texts of Scripture were rare and people depended upon their memory after hearing a minister read the Word.
I’m glad we don’t have to “work out our salvation” like present-day Christians of Pakistan, Cameroon, Mozambique, or China. These are nations that routinely torture or imprison or behead Christians.
But today, Christians are commanded to deal with issues of the 21st Century. We must “work out” everything that challenges us. We must “work out” how we will confront COVID—19. We must “work out” how we will deal with “Cancel Culture,” the loss of free speech, the marginalization of Christian values, and the maltreatment of Christian values at-large. Paul tells Christians to determine how to live victoriously regardless of what life presents!
With Fear and Trembling
And there is a specific way—a precise methodology—that Paul says we must implement to “work out our salvation.” Paul did not say, “Work out our salvation,” period (.). No, Paul put it this way: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
Throughout the Bible, it calls us to walk in the “fear of God.” Solomon tells us that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” We make our decisions, direct our course, establish our testimony, and anchor our souls . . . all in the “fear of God.”
We must know that one day we will stand before The Judgment Seat of God and give a full account of ourselves. He will review how we lived, spoke, and reasoned. Our entire life will be examined by the Living God! This is why we must work out our manner of living in the “fear of God.”
(Transition) How do we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”? I want to offer four simple steps.
1. Pray during days of crisis! And here’s a good prayer to utter: Lord, grant wisdom to my mind, guidance to my steps, and peace to my heart. In whatever manner You choose I ask for guidance through dreams, visions, impressions from the Holy Spirit, or even guidance from angels who You “sent to serve the heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
2. Second, it’s also important to talk with fellow Christians during days of crisis! This is what Solomon advises in Proverbs 11:14. He says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
When crisis appears, be eager to dialogue with spiritually mature Christians. This is where wisdom will provide paths of safety for Believers. Share your views. Listen to the insights of others. And here’s the rule everyone should adopt: Converse without condemning. Share your insights kindly.
3. Thirdly, ask the Holy Spirit for help when perplexity appears in life.
Here is what’s wonderful about the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit is the greatest gift Jesus could bestow upon Christians. Why is this so? It’s because the Holy Spirit is undiminished deity! As the third person of the Godhead he is fully God and that’s exactly who we need for times of crisis. And here is what the Holy Spirit—the Paraclete—provides for us: (1) unwavering allegiance; (2) unprecedented counsel; and (3) perpetual presence.
(Transition) This leads us to the final point. After praying, seeking the counsel of others, and listening to the Holy Spirit, that’s when you, thirdly:
4. Follow the Peace of God!
I cannot overemphasize how important the overriding peace of God is that the Lord deposits into your heart. It will never misguide you! And, you must consider this too: Whenever you are seeking God’s guidance and you are leaning in a specific direction, never ignore the lack of peace or the unrest that disturbs your heart. This is the Holy Spirit’s way of guiding you that will never fail!
I want you to listen to Paul’s words from the NLT found in Philippians 4:6—7.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (7) Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.