Purchased for God
I was at Bible college with a Welsh missionary candidate named Mary Fisher. She was studying the Shona language so that she might teach young boys and girls in Zimbabwe. Within a relatively short time after her arrival there, there was a terrorist raid on the school at which she was teaching. Along with many other teachers and children, Mary did not survive; her life was snuffed out in that attack. Yet while her death was tragic, her life had testified to the all-surpassing joy of serving God, not only here but also in eternity.
In the song of the elders gathered around the Lamb in Revelation, we are reminded that the purpose of Christ’s death was so we might be ransomed by God. We have been set free from the sin that held us in its grip in order that, having been purchased by His blood, we will live for Him. Our praise is for God. Our service, like that of Mary Fisher, is for God.
As believers in the first century looked around and saw some of their friends taken into captivity for their faith, they tried to make sense of Christ’s triumph over death, the victory of His ascension, and the reality of His return. In light of the tribulation they faced, these Christians were able to find encouragement in the reminder that even as Jesus made atonement for our sins, His focus was always on the Father. He purchased us for God.
How else do we make sense of the tragedies told in missionary biographies or explain the apparent rampant chaos represented in the death of martyrs? The last recording of Mary Fisher offers clarity. As a singer and guitar player, she was teaching the children in her class lyrics of a song based on Paul’s words to the Philippian church: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Walking His path and holding His hand, the song states, is the way of peace and joy.
That song is nothing but empty rhetoric unless Revelation 5 is absolutely true when it tells us that Jesus went to the cross in order to purchase us for God. And Revelation 5 is absolutely true; and so, even if all of our breath were to be squeezed out in His service, even if all of our life were to be trampled over for His name’s sake, still it would be time and energy and life well spent. You have been ransomed by God so that you might praise Him today and enjoy Him for all eternity. Whatever your day holds, be sure to walk through it with that as your greatest passion and highest purpose.
The Advance of the Gospel
12I want you to know, brothers,5 that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard6 and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word7 without fear.
15Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
To Live Is Christ
Yes, and I will rejoice,
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