Date: April 2, 1967
Bible Text: 2 Timothy 4:2-9 | Dr. John R. Rice
Series: Transcribed Sermons
In II Timothy 4, Paul said, “Timothy, I’m about ready to go now, so I’m giving you some farewell advice.” And this is it: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (vs. 2).
Now beginning with verse 5, “but watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me” (II Timothy 4:5-9)....
The secret of the Lord is with those who trust Him. God tells His secrets to them. So God said, “Paul, get ready.” Paul said, “Amen, Lord. Oh, I’ve been looking forward to it; now the time is about here. I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” Isn’t that a wonderful, wonderful story? Now he says, “The time of my departure is at hand. I am now ready to be offered. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up a crown of righteousness for me.”
I want us to think about this wonderful story of this good man who kept the faith. This is the farewell of a fighter...
Paul had had some pretty hard times. He had been tried. He said, “When I came on trial, you may have heard about it.” He said, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me: of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” He said, “When my trial came, nobody stood up for me. That is all right; God has been good about it.” He said, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica” (II Timothy 4:10). No doubt Demas thought, “I can’t stay here. Paul is in jail, and I’m liable to be in jail, too, if I stick around”—“Demas hath forsaken me,…Titus has gone to Dalmatia.” He said, “Crescens has gone to Galatia. Only Luke is with me.” He said, “Timothy, I hope you will come soon, and bring that cloak, and some books to read, if you will. And Timothy, try to get here before winter. The time of my departure is at hand. I have finished my course, I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, and so now there is a crown of righteousness waiting for me.”
Paul, over yonder in jail, said, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works. And Hermogenes and Phygellus quit me. They wouldn’t stick up for me. And Demas forsook me, having loved this present world. Lord, I’m happy I’m soon going home to heaven. I’m about to depart. I am now ready to be offered.” Now ready? He has been ready a long time, a long time... Paul said, “I die daily. I die daily.” Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ.” He said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live…”
When I hear a Bible college student or Bible institute student quote that, it makes me feel bad—someone who has never lost a dollar for Jesus, someone who has never been fired, never been spit on, never had a door slammed in his face, nobody ever called him a nut or a fool, never lost his job, never lost a friend; and yet he says, “I am crucified with Christ!” How dare you say that beside Paul the apostle! If you are going to quote “I am crucified with Christ,” then you get some of the beatings, the trouble, the persecutions, the hatred and slander, the marks in your body! And you will have some of that if you are crucified with Christ. And you will also act like a crucified person. “I am crucified with Christ,” Paul said, and “Christ lives in me”....
Notice further what Paul said: “I have fought a good fight.” You say you don’t believe in fighting. I do. “But doesn’t the Bible say to contend earnestly for the faith?” Yes, but some say, “Don’t be contentious”? That’s like saying, “Tell the truth, but be sure it’s a lie.” That’s like, “Preach the Gospel, but preach a lot of heresy with it.” Don’t twist words around; the Lord says to “contend.” We should be contentious if that is contending for the faith.
Paul said, “I fought a good fight.” Paul talked that way a good deal. Back in First Timothy he mentions it again and again.
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare” (I Timothy 1:18). Might war a good warfare? That is what Paul did all the time.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:12). And he said, “Timothy, thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).
I am sorry for you sissy-britches preachers, you nice little preachers who have to have a soft bed to sleep on. I am sad for all you people who have to have the finest in food. Paul said, “Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:3, 4).
He said, “Timothy, fight the good fight, and endure hardness like a soldier.” That is how Paul preached all the time. “I’m a fighter,” said he. “I’ve fought a good fight.” In First Corinthians 9, Paul said about this, “That is why I run this race. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” Boy, sock him right on the snoot. Come on now, Paul, right in the solar plexus. Knock the daylights out of him.
Paul said, “That is the way I always fight. I’m not playing church at this business—I’m not fighting as uncertainly.”
You don’t think a preacher ought to fight? Well, you and Paul differ. And you are going to die a good deal differently from the way Paul did. When you think of going to Heaven, you won’t have the fun about it that Paul had, because Paul had fought a good fight, and he was glad to meet the One he had been fighting for, the One who chose him to be a soldier.
Said Paul, “I’ve fought a good fight.” When that man Paul got converted, straightway over in Damascus he preached Christ. Paul went up there to kill Christians, to arrest them, to drag them down to jail; but he got converted, so he began preaching. There is this about Paul’s preaching: always if they did not get converted, somebody got mad, somebody raised Cain and started a riot, a revolution, or persecution. Nobody stayed neutral around him. He was a controversial figure all the time. Some good friends let him down in a basket from the wall in Damascus; he got away with the soldiers grabbing at his shirttail. They almost got him there!
At the next place he started preaching. They there tried to kill him, down at Jerusalem. He went to Lystra, and there some Jews stoned him and drug him out of the town like a dead horse; but God raised him up, and he went back again to preaching. Then he went to Ephesus, and they got out yonder before the courts and began shouting, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” They would have mobbed him here but for the disciples who kept him from rushing into the theatre. “Why, you are hurting our business!” So at Corinth they brought him down to the Bema, the judgment seat, and said, “He teaches us things that are not lawful for us Romans to observe,” and they wanted to try him there.
Everywhere Paul went he was a fighter, and he got in trouble. God bless his memory! Oh, for some preachers with guts and a backbone! I’m glad I played college football; glad I got my nose broken. I’m glad I had a few rough knocks in college. Thank God, I have gotten a few rough knocks as a preacher, too.
I am thinking about the time when the mayor of Plainview, Texas, after I preached so plain on the dance and named him and his tribe who had a dance at his house and brought a bunch of Baptist young people—when he took out his knife and threatened to cut me in two. He didn’t, and I’m still in one piece.
Preachers, the right kind of preachers, are going to have a battle. Paul fought a good fight. If you don’t believe in fighting, then you are different from Paul. Paul did. His preaching had fight in it.
He started out on a missionary journey; “they being sent forth of the Holy Ghost, departed into Seleucia.” And over across the Island, Sergius Paulus was the Deputy; and Paul started to get him saved. Paul was always busy about getting somebody saved. But Bar-jesus the sorcerer interrupted and tried to draw away the Deputy, Sergius Paulus, from being saved. And Paul turned to him and said, “Thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” He said, “You’re going to be blind for a time. People are going to lead you around by the hand till you learn some sense.” (Read it in Acts 13:10, 11). So the Lord struck him blind. Paul ended up getting the fellow saved. We need more preaching like that.
Paul learned that from Stephen. That got the oxgoad sticking him, from which he couldn’t get away. And Stephen on his dying day, with face like an angel, said “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye.” Then Paul started out to be that kind of a fighting preacher. I don’t mean because he was cantankerous, but it came with a holy zeal and burden. And nobody ever went on those foolish Crusades of the Middles Ages as enthusiastically and zealously as a man ought to go to win souls and preach the Gospel. Nobody ought to be any more zealous than a Christian trying to keep people out of Hell.
Paul is a fighter. So he says, “I’ve fought a good fight.” You don’t like that term? Well, it is in the Bible. Talk to Paul about it. You may get in trouble with old Paul if you do, because he is not going to take it too lightly. You challenge him on that. But if you don’t like it, when you get to Heaven you talk to Paul about it.
Paul said, “I have fought a good fight. I am not just beating the air. I am not just running uncertainly. I have finished my course, and have kept the faith. I have fought a good fight.”
We ought to have good fighting. Paul fought sin everywhere. He plainly told people everywhere, “You are guilty of the blood of Jesus.”
He fought the compromisers, too. In Galatians, chapter 2, he was down at Antioch with Peter. And Peter said, “Now listen, Paul, I’m the one who preached to the Gentiles first, but now the brethren up at Jerusalem don’t like that too much. They are coming down here now; so we won’t eat with the Gentile converts. We’ll just pretend that they are not fit to be Christians. We’ll eat only with the Jews for the time being, and when these others are gone…”
What was Paul’s response? Paul stood up and rebuked Peter openly, Peter who had already led Barnabas astray, and some others. So Paul got up “and withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11).
If Paul were here now, Paul would have said, “You Southern Baptists, you have no business having that fellow Buttrick, that dirty infidel, at New Orleans Seminary last June. And any of you Southern Baptists who give a dime to support the Co-operative Program are compromisers, and you ought to be branded publicly, as I branded Peter.” He actually would have rebuked them publicly and in print in THE SWORD OF THE LORD, if he were alive in this age.
You say, “I don’t like that”? But the Lord likes it very well. That is the way Paul did it. And he was glad to meet Jesus. And if you preached like that you would be enjoying looking forward to meeting Jesus. And some of you are not nearly as anxious to meet Him. Some of you are going to be awfully ashamed when you look in those piercing eyes of Jesus!
And you fig trees with no figs, you withered trees, you raging waves of the sea, you wells without water, you people who never stand up for Jesus—you are not going to enjoy facing Jesus Christ! But Paul says, “I’m sure glad to see Jesus. I’ve fought a good fight.” Paul here gives the farewell of a warrior.
Old Paul was crucified, and he said, “Timothy, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” Reprove? Rebuke? Yes. That’s good preaching. You don’t believe in making anybody mad? If you never make anybody mad, you will never make anybody very glad. Preaching should sometimes dig and burn and cut, like old Paul couldn’t get away from the face of dying Stephen. God said, “Paul, it is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” When the oxgoad sticks the old oxen, he kicks. You have a pole; you stick him again and he kicks. Paul said, “I just can’t get away from that face. That is the face of an angel.” That was the face of Stephen when they stoned him to death.
That is the kind of preaching we ought to have. It ought to keep people awake at night. It ought to make Felix tremble, as it did when Paul reasoned to him of righteousness and sin and judgment to come. So Christians ought to tremble.
We need preaching in this country on conscience, on the sin question. I’m so glad any time anybody preaches the Gospel. But I don’t have much joy over any so-called revival that doesn’t bring a moral revolution and doesn’t change people’s ways, that doesn’t cause husbands and wives to go back together, and people to repay what they stole, and stop a lot of divorces. If you don’t change the sin question, you haven’t got much preaching. No, a preacher ought to be a conscience in this country.
You preachers listen to me. All this wilderness, these 30,000 young people down in lewdness and blasphemy at Fort Lauderdale over the Easter vacation; the mobs at Berkeley campus; the lewdness on your TV screens and in your movies; the necking and petting; the 65 percent of the girls 17 already pregnant before they are married, does not speak well for the preaching and preachers in this country—Preachers, heed it! Preach about it!
Why all this sin and worldliness? Because of the kind of sissy-britches preachers who don’t have a conscience. Nobody stays awake at night. You don’t turn anybody out of the church because of sin. You don’t split any churches over infidelity and modernism. You don’t make anybody mad. You pat all members—good and bad—on the back. Nobody is throwing rocks at you. Nobody is spitting at your kind of preaching. You can’t save the world. America is going to Hell with the kind of preaching that doesn’t make anybody mad, that doesn’t fight sin. We ought to have the kind of preaching that fights sin.
Paul said, “I have fought a good fight.” I think he told Jesus, “Jesus, You know it.” I think Jesus said, “Yes, Paul, I’m so glad! And when you get here, I’ll take you in my arms and hug you and pat you on the back.”
Paul said, “I have fought a good fight.” Paul was against sin, and said so. He was against modernism, and said so. He was against false doctrines, and said so. “I have fought a good fight.” I like that. Paul said to the people, “Those teachers who misled you over in Galatia, and taught you salvation by works, and said you ought to go back and keep the Mosaic law, I wish they were cut off; I wish they were dead.”
You said, “I don’t think a preacher ought to say that.” You tell that to Paul when you see him, and see if he changes. I doubt if he will. We need more preachers like that, who preach against sin.
There was a little girl in my Dallas church years ago, a pretty young girl, a young teenager. She got a job at the Texas theater selling popcorn out front. It wasn’t very long until she thought these Hollywood harlots were nice folks, and she liked that kind of songs. Her mother, heartbroken, talked to me. Then I got to studying, and wrote that book, What’s Wrong With the Movies?
In Kentucky a young man read that book, and so stirred was he by it that he went over to Cincinnati, across the border in Ohio, in his home town, with all the sex and lewdness and crime, went to one of the picture show men and said, “This is wicked. Why don’t you give it up? Don’t show these dirty, filthy things.”
The manager said, “There’s money in it. I can’t choose the films. They send them to me from Hollywood. I’m under contract.”
So the young man went to the City Council and tried to get them to act against it.
They said, “Everybody wants these films, so we will continue.”
He made appeals; he wrote letters to the newspapers; he talked to preachers; but couldn’t get anybody to do much about it. So he took an axe, went up to a picture show house, went upstairs to the projection room, and chopped to pieces two projection machines worth $3,600 each. He was put in jail for two years. Every time I think about that, I say, “O God, I don’t know if that is the way to do it, but I wish I were that good a Christian!”
Somebody ought to get some bumps for Jesus. Somebody sure ought to get put in jail for Jesus. Somebody ought to be hated because of his stand. Carrie Nation in Kansas took a hatchet, and went to the bars and broke the mirrors, and smashed the bottles. She cleaned the places out. I don’t know whether that is the way to do it; but, oh, we need somebody to hate sin until he can’t be quiet about it.
Paul was a fighter against sin.
You say, “Amen” here, but you don’t take a stand back at home. You don’t whip your children. You don’t take a stand about dancing in the schools.
When I was pastor here in Dallas, years ago, my wife and I stood out here on the sidewalk by Adamson High School and gave out bulletins announcing that I was preaching on the dance sponsored by the PTA in this town. Police were brought out to get my wife and others off the high school grounds. I spoke on it here in the tabernacle. That night we had 22 people saved when I preached on the dance. And that sermon is still in print.
God knows, somebody ought to hate sin and fight it. Paul says, “I did. I’m a fighter.” He said, “I fought a good fight; I am not ashamed.” I’m glad Paul had some scars to show for it. “I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus.” They say he fought there in the amphitheater. I don’t know; maybe so. Paul said, “I’ve got the marks in my body.” Did some wild beast claw Paul before Paul got his sword in him, over there in the fight? I don’t know. Was it when he was beaten, and the marks of those long purple stripes down his back when he was beaten and stoned and left for dead? I don’t know what it was, but Paul says, “I’ve got the marks in my body.” I envy Paul.
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., said his dad was in the Civil War. And he said one neighbor man got one leg shot off. He said his dad was always envious of that one-legged man. He had something to show that he had been in the war. He had a leg shot off.
When I get to heaven, I am going to have a talk with Stephen. “Stephen, tell me how it was when you preached, and your face shined like an angel, when you told them plainly of the sins of the nation. They came and gnashed on you with their teeth. They grabbed you. They ran you out of town. They yanked off your clothes and you heard them shout, ‘Everybody get you a brick! Come on, get you a rock!’ And Saul said, ‘Here, boys, I’ll hold your coats; come on.’ Saul held their coats, and they pounded you, Stephen. Others hit you in the head. Somebody cracked your ribs. Finally you fell, and kneeling down, your face was like an angel’s, and you said, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’ And about that time somebody hit you in the mouth with a rock, and somebody knocked you over. Stephen, tell me about it!”
I am going to ask Paul, “Paul, when they stoned you, and dragged you out of town like a dead horse, and then when you were beaten with stripes so many times, and fought with the wild beasts at Ephesus, and were shipwrecked in the Mediterranean storm, and finally over yonder in that little dungeon till you had your head cut off—tell me about it.”
Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake. I want to talk to them, too.
And as I think about it, an awful thought strikes me. O God, what if Paul says, “Now, John, show us your scars.” What if Stephen says, “Did they gnash on you with their teeth? Did they hate you? Beat you? Try to kill you?” What will I say? How terrible I will feel! I don’t belong in this company. It will be bad to get to Heaven and have no fellowship with martyrs. Some sing, “We shall overcome.” You can start Freedom Marches if you want to, but you won’t be a first-class citizen in Heaven unless you get against sin and say so, and win souls.
And Paul said, “I fought a good fight! I fought a good fight!” O God, put some iron in somebody’s blood, to go home and start a good fight...
The Lord Jesus said, “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you!” (Luke 6:26). Oh, you nice preachers who speak at the Kiwanis Club and the Chamber of Commerce and high school commencement—you are hot stuff! Everybody likes you. You don’t make anybody mad. Like one woman said, “Brother Rice, we have the dearest little preacher. He never meddles with religion or politics either.”
That fits some of you sissy-britches with lace on your panties. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you got to be an anointed prophet of God and went home and started a holy fight? And have somebody bop you in the head? Have people hate you? And some try to turn you out of the church? and maybe they would succeed? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:11). The Lord Jesus said that.
Blessed! In the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 there are a lot of “blesseds.” “Blessed are the pure in heart.” I used to think I would rather have that than anything. But I got to studying. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” The Lord says, “I have one Boy, my Son Jesus, who is such a Peacemaker.” So He said, “If you are peacemakers, I will call you sons of God, children of God, too.” That is wonderful!
But I read on down. In one Beatitude there are nine words; in some, ten words; in one, twelve; and in one Beatitude there are fifteen words. But down at the climax where it is, “Blessed are they which are persecuted,” God takes 63 words to tell how blessed are they. Being a real Christian in the Beatitudes, you get persecuted for Jesus’ sake.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”—Matthew 5:10-12.
O God, give us some Pauls who will fight. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.” Here Paul says, “I have finished…I haven’t quit”....
Paul said, “I didn’t stop. When old Simon Peter got up there and compromised, I just faced him openly and told him he ought to be ashamed; he couldn’t lead my buddy Barnabas wrong, and he ought not to do it, and I faced him with it, and I stayed on the track.” Paul said, “I finished my course.”
Too many preachers retire. Many preachers start out to be evangelists, but the going is pretty hard. The average life of an evangelist in America is about two years. I have introduced literally scores of men who wanted to be evangelists. Some have lasted a year; some not that long. They get out in the field. Then, they don’t make as much money as they thought. They find this traveling all night, and staying in motels and hotels, sleeping on trains and planes, is not as glamorous as they thought. Then their wives say, “Look here. I can’t raise these boys alone; you ought to stay at home and help me.” And the mother-in-law says, “Look here. You took my girl; now you ought to make a good living for her.” So after a while, he feels the call back to the pastorate where it is easier.
Maybe it isn’t that. Maybe it is something else. Many people don’t finish what they started. Paul said, “I have finished my course. I went straight down the middle.”
In the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, I made God a vow. After I won a drunken bum to the Lord in 1921, I said, “Lord, if you will let me, I’ll do this the rest of my life. Lord, I can’t preach like some people. I don’t have the voice Dr. Truett has. I fear I don’t have the dramatic instinct that makes great preachers. But I promise You, Lord, I’ll preach it down the middle. I won’t cut any corners; I won’t be bribed; I won’t be bluffed; I won’t be scared; I won’t be out-talked. I will preach it clear. Oh, God help me to stay straight on the track.”
Paul said, “I finished just like I started. All right, Lord, you can cut my head off. I have finished my course.” Paul said, “I preached in Jerusalem and they ran me out of there; I nearly got killed there. I preached at Antioch; then preached at Caesarea where I stayed in jail two years. I preached to Agrippa and Felix, and the other kings and queens there. Then on the road to Rome, I stopped at Malta. I preached over at Philippi and Thessalonica and Berea and down at Athens and at Corinth, then back to Miletus and Ephesus, and back to Jerusalem; then over here at Rome.” Then Paul said, “And then I got out, and as I promised, I went back to Philippi, and went over to see Philemon; and went over to Spain and preached the Gospel.” Now I guess Paul said, “Lord, I’ve hit every big spot in the Roman Empire; and I thank God that I’ve set the Roman Empire on fire. I have finished my course.”
O God, raise up somebody else like Paul! I made a vow to God in the Roseland YMCA on the south side of Chicago, years ago, while in a conference in the big Bethany Reformed Church. I said, “Lord, if You will help me, I will bring back citywide campaigns in America. I will, God helping me, if I die in it.”
And I set out. I didn’t know I would soon be called to Buffalo, New York; to Cleveland; to Seattle; to Miami; to Winston-Salem and Durham and San Pedro, California; to Everett, Washington, in great citywide campaigns—and in Chicago. But I was. I made a vow. I have had letters from 13,000 people telling me, “I was saved through your literature in the English language.” Oh, there are thousands of others in Japan and foreign countries—35 languages; but 13,000 of them saved through books and pamphlets and sermons in THE SWORD OF THE LORD. O God, don’t let me stop! Don’t let me be tricked into settling down.
I want to be able to say, like Paul, “I’ve finished my course. Go ahead and cut my head off. Lord, I’ve preached to the last. I’ve just hit the ball all the time. I have finished my course.”
We need somebody who will stay on the job. Just stay with it, popular or not popular; happy or not happy; whether you eat or whether you starve; you just go right ahead.
Paul said, “I have finished my course.” Then Paul said, “I have kept the faith.” There is a shout of triumph; here that is rather remarkable, unless you read between the lines and see it. Paul said, “I didn’t budge on a thing. Timothy, the time is coming when people will have itching ears. They will listen to false teachers. Not me; I’ve kept the faith.”
Paul wrote to the people of Philippi and said, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). And he said, “We have been striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
“The faith of the gospel.” The faith is a set of doctrines, the essentials of Christianity. What is the faith of the Gospel? “It is the gospel by which you are saved.” Paul said. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3, 4). So the virgin birth, the deity, and the perfect life and the sinless atonement of Christ, and His bodily resurrection after he died for our sins, and His coming again is the Bible doctrine about Jesus.
Paul said, “I’ve kept it, I didn’t waver. I’ve kept it, every bit.” Oh, Paul was jealous about the Gospel. So over yonder at Galatia he wrote to them and said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). The Greek word is “Anathema.” Paul was jealous about the Gospel, and I’m surprised that some of you people feel so complacent.
You say, “I give to the Co-operative Program, and there are a lot of good things in it.” You don’t mind a little arsenic in it if you have a little sugar, do you? You don’t mind sending a few people to Hell, if you get a few to Heaven, do you? You don’t mind if people spit on Jesus and the Bible, just so they support the program, do you? Paul didn’t feel that way about it. Paul had a holy jealousy. He said, “I wish they were cut off.” Paul said, “I have kept the faith.”
That is to “earnestly contend for the faith.” That is in II John, where the Lord said that many will come and say that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh, no literal coming of God Almighty in human form. And Paul said, “If anybody comes to you, and if he abides in the doctrine of Christ (the Bible doctrine about Christ), he is in the Father and the Son.” But he said, “If anybody abides not in the doctrine of Christ (the Bible teaching about Christ), he hath not God. He is not saved.” He said, “Don’t you receive them in your house. Don’t you bid them Godspeed.” Paul is talking about that faith. Paul says, “I have kept the faith.”
If you don’t like my kind of preaching, O. K. But will you grant me this, I’m for Jesus Christ and the Bible? I challenge anybody, I dare anybody, to stand up against me on that. I’m for Jesus and the Bible. “Well, you cause dissension!” Yes, I do. I’m going to cause some more if I can. But, I’m standing up for Christ and the Bible. “Well, you’re not tactful.” I know I’m not tactful, but I try to be truthful. I try to be true to Jesus.
And so Paul could say, “I have kept the faith.” When Paul said one time, “I am the chief of sinners,” I have often wondered what he meant. He said, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” ...he knew some things about himself that you and I don’t know. He said, “God wouldn’t let me tell that wonderful thing. I’ve got this thorn in the flesh to keep me straight, because I would be haughty if I didn’t.” The Lord said, “I’ve got to keep you down, Paul.” Paul knew something about himself. That is why there is such a triumph here.
When he wrote Galatians he said, “If I or an angel from…” Do you think Paul might sometime have gotten worldly-minded and modernistic and liberal, and not be true? Yes, Paul was afraid of that. And he said, “If I do, let the curse of God be on me, Anathema.” And down at the close he said, “I didn’t sell out! Thank God, I kept the faith.”
You, too, had better be watching about that. That is why I can’t be buddies with an infidel. I can’t have him on the platform with me. I can’t call him a Christian. I can’t say, “My brother.” I can’t give him a dime. Because I don’t want to get tainted with that dirty teaching of his against Christ and the Bible.
You had better not have friendship with him. “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4). “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1).
And Paul says, “I didn’t. I made old Peter mad. He thought I was too straight. I made a lot of others mad. There is Barnabas, my old buddy, he thought ‘Paul is too sharp on this…’” But Paul says, “I have kept the faith. Demas forsook me. He loved the ways of the world. He didn’t like this being in jail for Jesus.” He said Barnabas took John Mark with him to Cypress. He couldn’t stay with all this rock throwing. “I’m going home to Mama. I can’t put up with this.” And John Mark left Paul....
Paul said, “I kept the faith.” And so Paul said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” A crown. Homecoming time. Oh, to Paul, “to die is gain.”
One preacher has said, “If there wasn’t any God, if there wasn’t any hereafter, if there wasn’t any Heaven or Hell, I’m still glad I’m a Christian. I’m getting all my pay now.” But Paul couldn’t say that. He said, “If there is no resurrection, I am of all men most miserable” (See I Corinthians 15:19). Paul said, “I have lost everything, if there is no resurrection. I’m here in jail. I’m despised. My friends have left me. Winter is coming on, and I don’t have that cloak I left over at Troas. I don’t have anybody here to comfort me; only Luke is with me.” But Paul said, “I’m ready to go to Heaven. That is the payday”....A crown for those that are true!
Everybody doesn’t like it. You say, “I don’t see any reigning now.” No, it is not time for crowns now but for crosses. It is time to be crucified now.
Somebody said to me, “Brother Rice, why does Billy Graham run with infidels? Don’t you think he knows better? Why do you think he runs with all that crowd?” I said, “The same reason that you don’t like to be crucified; none of us do. Everybody likes to be popular; everybody likes to be on top, inside looking out instead of outside looking in.” Yes, that’s right. But Paul said, “I’m outside, but one day I’m going to be inside. I’m in the minority now, but I’m going to be in the majority one day.” So he said, “I’ve got a crown waiting for me.” Oh, just think of all those everywhere that Paul won. He’s sure going to have a good time in Heaven. He is having it now....
One of these days, when I get up yonder, there will be a crown of righteousness waiting. Jesus Christ has it ready. He is going to put it on those who suffer for Him, on those who fight a good fight, on those who finish the course, on those who keep the faith. “A crown of righteousness,” Paul said. Boy, I’m looking forward to that!
All right. Why don’t you get outside instead of inside of the worldly crowd? Why don’t you start a fight against sin and modernism? Why don’t you ask God to let you suffer for Him? Why not ask God to let you be like Paul, with some marks in your body? Why not say, “I’m going to ask God if He wants to make it so that Hermogenes and Phygellus will turn against me, like they did against Paul”? Why not say, “I’m going to ask God if He wants Demas to forsake me, like he did Paul”?
Somebody will if you are like you ought to be. Wouldn’t it be good if we could get some New Testament Christianity around here? with some riots, some getting in jail, and 3,000 or 4,000 saved at a time? Wouldn’t it be good if we got some New Testament Christianity? That goes with it.
If you are going to have the power, you are going to have to fight against sin. So many of you preachers, you’ve been teaching Acts 5:42. That’s good; “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” That’s good. But remember the thousands won were by those who suffered for Jesus.