Stand firm, God followers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 2010

In the mid 1800s, George Duffield wrote the words that became the hymn known as “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus.” Let me remind you of the first stanza of that hymn – “Stand up; stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.”

Connect these words with Ephesians 6:13: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against evil.” It was in the year 53 that Paul went to Ephesus for the first time. He stayed a short time and when he left, two who were traveling with him remained there.

Two years later, he returned and stayed for two years. For a description of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, read Acts 19 and parts of chapter 20. It was nearly 10 years later when he wrote the section of scripture titled “Ephesians.”

Almost 1,800 years later, Duffield wrote the words that included “Stand up, ye soldiers of the cross.” And now, more than 150 years later, those who are believers need to stand up and stand firm for we face the same source of the problems of Paul’s and Duffield’s time.

I came across an article where a three-judge panel of the U. S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that crosses that memorialized fallen Utah state troopers must be removed. The program, started in 1998, places a cross as near as possible to the officers’ places of death. Each cross has the trooper’s name, rank, badge number, the year of death, biological information and a picture. The crosses are privately owned, funded and maintained.

This article reminded me of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, “For the preaching of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, (Isaiah 29:14) I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world.” (1 Corin. 1:18-20).

Verse 18 begins a section of scripture on the power of gospel verses and the weakness of man’s wisdom. The key word in this section of scripture is wisdom; it is used 8 times. The key idea that Paul expressed is that we should not mix man’s limited wisdom with the depth of the knowledge of God’s revealed message. Throughout this section there are a number of contrasts between the revealed Word of God and the wisdom of man. “The Jews require signs, the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified; to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness. But to them which are saved, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God.” (1 Corin. 1:22-24). In these verses there are three different attitudes toward the cross.

First, some stumble at the cross. It is those who, like the Jews of Paul’s day, seek miraculous signs. The Jews looked for a Messiah who would be a mighty conqueror and defeat all their enemies. Many people today are like the Jews. The cross is a stumbling block for them.

Next, others are foolish about the cross. This was the response of the Greeks. To them the cross is foolish. The Greek culture emphasized wisdom, but their wisdom had made them foolish. There are those today who have put much effort into increasing their knowledge and have learned much, but the cross is foolishness to them.

Finally, there are those who believe and experience the truth of the cross. Paul did not alter the message of the importance of the cross when he addressed the Jews or the Greeks. The invitation is the same to all. The cross refers to the price that was paid for sinfulness that separates us from God.

These three groups are in Utah – the judges who stumble about the cross, the group who filed the suit who see the cross as foolishness, the people who erected crosses to honor the lives of fallen troopers who believe and experience the truth of the cross.