Having Done All, Stand Firm: David Michael
It is my joy to send you out with a word of encouragement. What is it that we want you to have ringing in your ears as you leave? My parting word to you at the 2009 Children Desiring God conference was 2 Corinthians 4:1: “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
This year I want you to leave with one word: Stand.
My prayer and vision is that you would stand. My prayer for your children, and the children you influence, is that they would stand. I pray that they may put on the whole armor God, that they may be able to stand (Ephesians 6:11).
Why are we standing?
We are standing to oppose the power of the devil. Satan means to do us harm. Nothing but your eternal damnation and the damnation of your children will satisfy Satan and his army. Against this we stand. Consider Ephesians 6:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places….In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
This devil is a formidable enemy; this is not a child’s war, and he must be met with strong weapons. If we were struggling against mere flesh and blood, against false teaching, against men, against cultural influences, then human armor would do. But we are coming against the spiritual powers.
Satan will do all he can to oppose truth, and those who speak truth. Satan is the challenger of truth: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). Satan is the twister of truth (see Matthew 4:6). Satan is the father of lies: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44).
Satan hates all truth and those who love the truth. Satan hates Jesus Christ, and He hates those who love Jesus. He is a liar and a deceiver. Among his many schemes, he is scheming to undermine the truth.
I often think of Satan’s schemes as two rockets, that appear headed in the same direction. One is truth, the other is his scheme. Satan does not shoot his rocket in the opposite direction, but just tips it a little. It looks so right and biblical, but it’s just a little off. Only after you have taken off down Satan’s path do you realize how wrong it is.
Satan’s aim is to marginalize truth. The concern is that it is a very small step from being seeker sensitive to deemphasizing the truth. A truly Biblical ministry must hold forth absolute truth.
In our efforts to reach the seekers, or our unchurched neighbor and his children, we often have not only failed to reach those outside the church with the gospel, but also have failed to reach those within the church with the gospel.
Satan is also scheming to undermining the authority of God’s word. Today’s authority is the self. Children are taught that questioning authority is good.
What does it mean to stand?
1. It means standing in the day of judgement. See Malachi 3:2-6. Who are those who will stand in that day? The Bible tells us in many places, such as Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD…
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
The wicked will not stand in judgement, only the righteous will. See also Matthew 25 and Revelation 20. We are labouring with our children so that when the role is called at the end of the age their name will be in the book, and they will hear their Father say “Come, enter into the kingdom.” We want our children to be numbered among the worshipping multitude in Revelation 19:6:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.”
We desire that our children be at the wedding feast of the lamb, not to be thrown into the darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22). That is why I’m labouring for the next generation. That is why I’m laboring to stand.
The implication of this is that our efforts with children ought to be characterized by a sense of urgency and a healthy fear of God. These children will either soar into heaven or sink into hell. We should tremble, but not without hope! In Christ we have obtained an inheritance. Let us storm the gates of heaven, appealing for the souls of our children to the one who delights to answer the prayers of his people even more than we delight to pray.
2. It means standing for faith. If you don’t take a stand, Jesus will not deal with us. If our children do not take a stand, Jesus will not deal with them. In Ephesians six it talks about the flaming darts of the evil one. Those darts are aimed at the souls of our little ones. If all our affections are rooted in the world, we will not stand when the earthquake or tsunami comes. For “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17).
3. It means standing firm and holding fast.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)
Also: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). And: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Stand even when opposed. Stand even when it means being vilified. Stand when others falsely accuse you. Stand when you feel your prays are not getting past the ceiling. Don’t go back, this truth is worth dying for. Cling to that truth will all your might. Remember: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
4. Standing means to endure.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.
I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.
But the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
Let him come near to me. (Isaiah 50:5-8)
5. Standing means following Jesus. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Look at Jesus and follow his example of standing. Look at the multitude of standing saints that have gone before us (for example Hebrews 11, Foxes Book of Martyrs).
What Are We Standing On?
The gospel. The full authority of Jesus Christ. The full sum of His word.
[David Michael ended this message by reciting numerous passages expounding the gospel and the hope we have through Jesus Christ.]