Dear Brethren,

Warning!  Christianity may be more difficult than it appears.  Why is the life of a Christian so challenging and hard?  There is no way that a novice in the faith can accurately evaluate the complexity of the trials and tribulations he will experience during his course of conversion.  But for those of us who have been around a little while, it is good that from time to time we be reminded of what a Christian’s life entails.  Jesus said:

“If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20)

“... exhorting the disciples to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”  (Acts 14:22)

The Kingdom of God does not come without great price.  Jesus tells us to contemplate the difficulty of the Christian challenge before we even get started.  In other words the price a Christian is going to pay is far in excess of what can be imagined when one is first called.

“What glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.  Hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”  (1 Peter 2:20-21)

We do not know what the future holds – only God knows.  Even the apostles did not fully realize what they were getting into, and how demanding their future would be.  [Jesus said] unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.  (Matthew 20:23)  That meant that their lives would be plunged into affliction, persecution and martyrdom – just as Christ’s was.

Before one makes the greatest commitment of their live by surrendering to God and being baptized, it is important to try to realize the severity and critical nature of the course which is about to be embarked upon. Each must make a extraordinary pledge to stay the course no matter what impediments, obstacles and hurdles are encounter in the quest for the Kingdom of God.

Living the Christian life is more difficult than an unconverted person is able to imagine.  In fact, it is so challenging that without God’s continuous support through His Holy Spirit, it is impossible to succeed. “All who will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)  Jesus tells us to decide whether or not we are able and willing to bear our cross and endure unto the very end (Mark 13:13).  God expects our firm determination to never depart from His Way, knowing that He will by no means forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Jesus said the demands of Christianity are immense, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)  God’s way comes first and foremost, above all things.  The Christian life demands that we enter into a total commitment to battle to the end, knowing the tremendous personal sacrifices that must be made.  God’s Way is more important than family or security because it involves our eternal life.  Jesus tells us to be sure that we will be able to finish what we begin:

“If any man comes to me, and does not love-less his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.  (Luke 14:26-27)

Knowing that our goal is eternal life; do we have the spirit and resilience it takes to stick it out to the end?  Have we thought it out?  Have we made the commitment in our mind and heart that we will seek God’s Will and Way above everything else in life – regardless of the consequences we must endure?”

How many of us signed on to Christianity for the long haul – through suffering, persecution and to death if necessary?  We are warned over and over that the life of every Christian is a very difficult pursuit.  The easy part of our calling comes in the next life:

“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 5:11-12)

As Christians we covenanted with God to accept the changes in us that come with conversion, though we may be tried by fire, and faithfully accept the consequences with joy that come our way, knowing: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)

Sermon:  "Warning"