Our Job Description: Paying the Price

This is what we are called to do – even if we must pay a price for it:

If you were asked to explain what a main calling of the Christian is, what is a crucial task we are to perform, what our purpose in being here is all about, there would be many answers forthcoming. Let me offer one answer. It is not the sole answer, but it seems to be a good part of why we exist as believers, and what we are meant to be doing.

My answer comes from some verses I just read again in the book of Isaiah. They popped off the page as I was reading through this part of Scripture, and as is so often the case they acted as a stimulus for another article! The two verses come from Isaiah 42:6-7:

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
     to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

Before going any further with this, let me point out a few things. Each biblical text has a primary interpretation (which we must seek to discover), but it may also have a secondary application. So as we consider any text we must first determine what exactly it is saying, relying on a historical and grammatical hermeneutic. That is, what did the original author intend to say with a given passage?

Once we have done that, we can then look for any broader applications and messages to believers today. It is the same with this passage. It has a context which we must be aware of, and a primary interpretation. But we can also get derivative messages and application.

As to the original context, Isaiah 42 is one of the so-called servant songs. There are four main servant songs: 42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12). Isaiah 42:1 makes it clear that the passage under consideration has to do with the Servant of the Lord:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.

So the text is dealing with the servant – not you and me as such. But the question has long been asked: Just who is this servant? Does it refer to prophets, or to kings? Both are referred to as servants in Scripture. Or does it refer to the nation of Israel? Or is it referring to a messianic figure, such as Jesus?

That is a large debate which I will not fully enter into here. But I believe these passages certainly do pertain to Jesus. And a main purpose of this article is to look at the secondary application for Christians. Obviously we know that Jesus is involved in giving sight to the blind and setting the prisoner free. As we see Jesus saying in Luke 4:18-19 (quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2):

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And as an extension of the ministry of Jesus, Christians also have a role to play here. As we share the gospel and biblical truth, as we pray for people, and as we minister in Christ’s name and in his power, we too can see the blind given sight – certainly the spiritually blind at least. We too will be involved in setting the captives free.

So that is part of the Christian’s job description. It involves so many areas. Obviously getting people right with God is a crucial aspect of this work that we are called to do. This certainly means seeing people transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

It means setting people free from the bondage of sin. It means transforming people’s lives by delivering them from the sinful addictions and enslavements they are stuck in. It means a whole new way of life in other words. That is what Christians are meant to be involved in.

All this entails the following truth: we must be bold in proclaiming the life-changing gospel and not shy away from it. We must believe that those in sinful lifestyles can be set free if they want to be. We can say to the drug addict that real change is possible. We can say to the homosexual: ‘you don’t have to be gay.’

Paying the price

Of course to affirm the life-changing nature of the gospel is always going to be costly. We will pay a price for doing so. The early church knew all about this. They paid the price big time as they saw countless lives transformed because of the risen Christ.

As but one example, we read in Acts 19:21-41 how a riot broke out in Ephesus because of Paul’s preaching. Those who made shrines for idol worship were threatened with loss of income because Paul was declaring that Christ came to set people free from the worship of false gods.

It is the same today. Increasingly the law is being used against Christians and others who have ministries helping those struggling with various sinful behaviours, including various sexual sins. In Victoria for example the recently passed ‘anti-conversion’ laws now makes it a crime – punishable by ten years in jail – to merely offer counsel or prayer to someone struggling with their same-sex attraction.

The radical anti-Christian state of Victoria keeps getting worse in this regard. Consider new legislative developments in another area. The Church and Nation Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria has sounded the alarm on changes to working-with-children laws that will negatively impact on Christians and others who affirm traditional moral and sexual values. Their new update on this says in part:

The Commission for Children and Young People has announced that all Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities for children must implement new ‘Child Safe Standards’ by 1 July 2022. This includes Churches, religious schools and youth ministries amongst many others. Penalties for non-compliance include de-accreditation, fines, and increased liability and likelihood of lawsuits….

 

Superficially, the latest Victorian Child Safe Standards appear somewhat neutral, for example the phrase ‘the organisation pays particular attention to the needs of … lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children and young people’. However, the interpretation of the new standards by government departments and government recommended accreditation agencies (whose ‘expertise’ are used in Court to help measure guilt in civil cases) demonstrates that Christian organisations in Victoria (and any that do not condone transgenderism) will find themselves outside the law.

 

For example, harming the wellbeing of a child does not only involve clear cases of abuse and neglect, but harming a child’s ‘sense of identity’ or ‘feelings of belonging.’ Unfortunately, refusal to affirm, celebrate or teach the validity and morality of homosexuality and transgenderism are now listed as signs that an organisation has failed to create a ‘child safe’ environment.

Increasingly those who need and want help to change are being denied that right, and those who seek to offer life-transforming ministry to needy people are more and more becoming criminals in the once free West. This certainly makes for challenging times for Christians who believe that Jesus transforms lives.

Although it is becoming ever riskier to do so, Christians must continue

“to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

That is our job description, and we dare not shy away from it.

[1302 words]

16 Replies to “Our Job Description: Paying the Price”

  1. Amen! What about lockdowns for churches? Are churches essential services? There has been successful pushback in the US.

    Intercession ranks high in the job description too. I’m learning to trust that God will fight for me and I hold my peace and to stand back and see Him fight… a challenge for me. I see that the work of God is to believe on Him whom He hath sent. Mary hath chosen the better part. Lord help us find the balance and only speak when we are spoken through. I’m learning.

  2. Dear Bill,
    You are the faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ and of us.
    Thank you for your work, particularly mentioning Vision Christian Radio another faithful servant of God and us.
    For me, just a few, if I may be so bold who have written in to you and I have most benefited from their words :
    Susanna Balfor, David Skinner, Paul Wilson, Mark Wong, John Abbott, Philip Impey, Michael Weeks, Gail Foster, David Catchpoile, Alex Witham and others, may our Lord and Saviour Bless you all, may the Holy Spirit guide you all, and may the angles protect us all through this time.
    Mark Bryant

  3. This is so good, every Christian needs to know about this as do the unbelievers. It saddens me that the New Age know more about our constitution than we do and try to seek protection under it. It saddens me even more so that the carnal minded are using it to get out of fines etc.., thereby really missing the truth behind it. However what saddens me the most is that the Christians are either blinded to it or choose to ignore it. The Lord says my people perish through lack of knowledge, they all need this knowledge. They need to know that our Lord has their backs covered.

  4. For me it is:
    Fear God: which is to hate evil Psalms 82:6
    Love God and Jesus with everything I have
    Keep his commandments.
    When I am converted, strengthen by brethren and sistren.
    Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ through my good works and if that fails, say something.
    Oh and love my awesome long suffering wife.
    Yep, that about covers my busy schedule, which must account for why I don’t have time to get into too much mischief. mistake sins and ignorant sins are another subject all together, but I have pretty much gotten rid of most deliberate sins out of my interactions.

  5. In the quest to do what’s Godly and right, we can’t be distracted by the minions of progressivism. One person on social media says we don’t have to have everyone on our side, but enough for the powers that be to take notice and step back from enforcing the “new world order”. I would strongly suggest that other readers of this page take some time and read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship”. It is NOT an easy or comfortable read, but essential to today’s Christians in a decidedly secular society.

  6. Brilliant article! Thank you again, Bill.

    So the “servant” is whoever does the will of the Father with the perfect example being Jesus.

    Before our eyes we are seeing how cultures who turn their back on God and embrace sexual immorality plunge into debt and delusional stupor. How anyone could even use the terms “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children” without realising they are involving themselves in the sexualization of children and supporting paedophilia, absolutely beggars belief.

    How is it that people have become so stupid?

  7. Rules and laws often have to be written neutrally to get passed. An anti Christian law or rule would face uproar, however a neutral one rarely does. Of course laws are interpreted by courts and rules by bureaucrats and both tend to lean to one side on the good vs evil debate.

    Language is the key. What is safe, what is love, what is secure. Even the most innocuous words have been twisted into meaning something different if not completely opposite what they really mean.

    There is far more to Christianity than reading the Bible singing hymns and holding pot lucks. Either Christianity shapes your view of the world OR the world shapes your view of Christianity. If the former you change the world the latter you change Christianity. This ISN’T a social club we don’t coast through life discussing meaningless things never getting involved in anything then get a pat on the back by our savior. Too many Christians seem to be asking how little can I do and still be a good Christian. The first few hundred years Christians faced DEATH, and a painful death at that, for preaching the full gospel and showing Christ’s sovereignty over ALL aspects of life. Too many today won’t risk being unfriended! Too many today who CLAIM Christ are unworthy of him. But he did warn us “many will say Lord Lord did we not…”.

  8. G’day Bill,

    It is not just the Andrews Labor government in Victoria. The Berejiklian Liberal/National government in N.S.W. is heading in the same direction.

    They are proposing a Bill, ‘The Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill. Originally it was to be read with their official ‘The Implementation Guide’. The Bill, read with the Implementation Guide establishes a new level of accountability and oversight for children’s religious organisations, with the Office of Children’s Guardian seeking to be involved in the day-to-day running of religious children’s and youth activities, including the content of their teaching.

    The Bill goes beyond the welcome and legitimate concerns of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses Child Abuse.

    The Bill was to be found here: Draft bill – https://www.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-12/child-safe-scheme-bill-consultation-draft.pdf

    The ‘Implementation Guide’ with the Bill sets Child Safe standards for religious groups. Many are unexceptional and commendable. However, Standard 4 includes, ‘Equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account.’

    Under a listing of “barriers” to religious groups implementing the Standard: “Some people in faith-based organisations do not accept sexuality and gender diversity.” (Implementation Guide p 19). And on the same page “Discussion of ‘healing’ can have a negative impact on people with disability.” The Guide encourages religious groups to “Contact LGBTIQ+ community organisations to build relationships and look for opportunities to work together” (Implementation Guide p 20). An example is “an apology to LGBTIQ+ friends and to all who have been adversely affected by the teachings and behaviour of Christians and their churches” (Implementation Guide p 21).

    It is not hard to see where this is going. A Christian youth group or school that decides, in a programme on sexuality, to raise their Biblical concerns with LGBTIQ+ issues and behaviour may come to the attention of the Office of the Children’s Guardian. For failing to uphold equity and not taking diverse needs into account the group could be, under the Bill, warned and leaders required to undergo re-education by the Children’s Guardian. Substantial financial penalties could be imposed.

    The unseen bureaucrats of the Office of Children’s Guardian are clearly intending to influence and require affirmation of LGBTIQ+ sexuality and gender diversity issues; contrary to the expressed understanding of the Bible for Christians and the Quran for Muslims. The Guide and the Bill establishes LGBTIQ+ sexuality and gender diversity rights over religious freedoms and rights.

    Thankfully, as a result of opposition from many, the ‘Implementation Guide’ has been withdrawn and is no longer on the government website. No doubt the bureaucrats are thinking of ways to do what they want to do another way.

    It pays for Christians to be alert!

    Goodonya Bill

    Andrew Campbell

  9. The statement “harming a child’s ‘sense of identity’ or ‘feelings of belonging.’ Unfortunately, refusal to affirm, celebrate or teach the validity and morality of homosexuality and transgenderism are now listed as signs that an organisation has failed to create a ‘child safe’ environment.” should be read with alarm. I can easily envisage LGBTI activists seeking to entrap Christians by sending their progeny along to Sunday School and then launching court cases for our failure to teach the sins they practise. Even if they have to pay their own court costs, they’re wealthy enough and have plenty of backers to make that irrelevant.

  10. Andrew, and Bill, is taking children from Christian parents next??? All in the name of love of course.

    “Nanny loves me this I know for the school system tells me so”.

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