Wise precaution, or morbid fear?

By Pastor James Bell

Editor Note: Pastor James Bell has been pastoring Southside Baptist Church in Gallatin TN for nearly 50 years. He sends a weekly newsletter and I am a recipient of it, even though I am not a member of this Tennessee congregation. Pastor James Bell is an example of one of the many, many pastors who labor faithfully in unknown corners of the world, shepherding, teaching, evangelizing persistently. The Lord has many like him, and I take encouragement from that fact every time I read one of his newsletters. I also take encouragement from its contents, always solidly Christian and quite encouraging. The newsletter material below is excerpted. It is Volume 48, No. 32, which means it is the 48th year of this newsletter and the 32nd week is August 15, 2023.

Again, the church is Southside Baptist Church / P.O. Box 1594 / 1028 South Water Avenue, Gallatin, TN 37066 (615) 452-5951.

Grow in grace newsletter!

Poisoned arrows! The Lord’s supper!

I. Faithfulness to Jesus; regardless of poisoned arrows! Years ago, missionary John G. Paton, was warned not to take the gospel among the ‘head-hunters’ in the New Hebrides! Why? They killed with poisoned arrows and had a reputation of never missing their targets! Paton remained focused on taking the gospel to these lost souls! Paton, obviously, believed that living and spreading the gospel must not be stopped because of difficulty or danger!

Trusting God alone and in bold humility, Paton proclaimed: “I am invincible until God calls me home!”  so, Paton went to the New Hebrides; he arrived and proceeded inland! The poisoned arrows began to fly— but all of them missed their target! The head-hunters were so stunned that they listened to the gospel; and the kingdom of God was advanced.

II. What was it— now 3 or 4 years back? We had to deal with a virus, called covid-19. We were bombarded with 24 hour per day ‘official’ information from select elite sources— mostly from ‘authorities’ who were not on the front lines of actually treating patients! However, they and the many who supported them screamed: “Do what we say or you will die; or you might cause others to die!  The positions of Dr. Fauci; CDC, (and others who agreed with them); and the media who was their 24/7 mouth-piece must be believed. All other positions are extreme, radical conspiracy theories. Moreover, these demi-Gods warned: “we will delete your information, which is different from ours; and block you from information which is different from ours.” as a result, many lived in daily fear and isolation!

Iii. There was and still is a virus; and some are warning of worse ones to come! Wake up— history is filled with the accounts of diseases and plagues and much more! Jesus warns of more coming. In the midst, Christians, we have a high calling!

Iv. Faithfulness with the gospel!

Regardless of various diseases, wars, persecutions, financial troubles— Jesus will continue to build his church. [the religious harlot who loves the world and is loved by the world is not what Jesus builds!] The church   which Jesus is and will be building will be built by those, (like John Paton), who know that they/we are free to go forward, advancing the gospel— because, we are “invincible until God calls us home!” the apostle Paul labored with the same spirit: acts 20:21-24!!

Questions I must ask myself:

[1] am I, in all honesty living in morbid fear: forsaking the local church to which I say the holy spirit has joined me— forsaking gathering to worship; forsaking the encouragement of fellow saints; and forsaking going out to proclaim the gospel— because I fear I might die? (or because I fear I might lose friends?)

[2] or… Am I going to go forth in submission to Christ… And in love for Christ and his church; and resting in the reality that I am safe on this planet in the will of God— until Jesus calls me home?

Point number [2], above … Does not mean that God wants you or me to be a ‘dare devil!’ rather, do as most of you have always done: you take personal responsibility. You investigate. You seek to learn and to apply truth. You take precautions, like or similar to those we print every week on the last page of this newsletter.

What ‘point number [2] does mean is that in the same spirit with the apostle Paul, I confess:
and see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the holy spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 but none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:21-24).

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