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Sheep Among Wolves

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Review: Messengers of Peace

We are :
We are :
Authorized representatives of our King
Proclaimers of His message of peace
We are sent to invite the lost sheep
Our task is to accurately represent Jesus by:
Proclaiming the Kingdom
Freeing people from darkness
Loving in practical ways
Our motivation is not for our gain:
We freely give what was given to us
We work to please King Jesus as we represent Him
We are to represent the King before:
Everyone
Especially those who listen and welcome our representation
We move on from those who reject us

How should Christians handle opposition?

Matthew 10:16 CSB
“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.
Be smart enough to stay innocent
Those who represent Christ the King will face opposition!
Some will try to silence us
Some will try to outsmart us
Some will try to find fault with us

REJECTION REACTION #1: Fear & Retreat

Fear & Retreat
Some will try to silence us
The Gospel suffers!
Retreating and submitting
Conceding defeat
We can concede they are too smart for us
Fearfully giving up
But if we practice fear and retreat, Christ the King is not represented!

Jesus Taught Us to be Cunning!

“Try your best to make goodness attractive. That's one of the toughest assignments you'll ever be given.”― Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers
Bad news covers our headlines, good news is suppressed:
Fort Leonardwood (Population 38,000)
FORT LEONARD WOOD – More than 2,000 soldiers and trainees at the U.S. Army base here have professed faith in Christ, according to Southern Baptist Chaplain (Capt.) Jose Rondon.
As reported previously in The Pathway, Rondon began to track what has been called a “spiritual awakening” on the military base in March, when he reported that more than 200 professed faith during chapel services on the base on March 11 and March 18. By June 24, that number had risen to 880 professions of faith and has continued to rise throughout the summer – reaching 2,077 on Aug. 19. (6 months, 5%)
In a Facebook post earlier this summer, Rondon wrote that the “key” to seeing so many people come to Christ “is summed up in one word: INTENTIONAL.”
“To be intentional is to be faithful to Christ and obedient to His Great Commission,” he later said, according to an Aug. 14th Baptist Press story. “But we will not succeed in making disciples until the lost make the first step to follow Christ as their Savior. To be intentional not only means to preach Christ’s Word in the chapel, but to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to share His message of reconciliation if, and when, the time fits.”
Rondon has served as a chaplain at Fort Leonard Wood since early this year. Originally from Venezuela, he came to faith in Christ in the 1990s through the witness of an International Mission Board missionary. Later, he immigrated to South Carolina, where he attended a Southern Baptist college – North Greenville University – and then worked on master’s and doctoral degrees at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He became a United States Citizen in 2010 and later joined the military as a U.S. Army Chaplain. To learn more about Southern Baptist military chaplaincy, visit the North American Mission Board (NAMB) website at https://www.namb.net/chaplaincy/military.
On this NAMB website, Rondon urges Southern Baptists to pray for military chaplains and for members of the military.
“Please, pray for us Chaplains, that God will give us: focus to see the lost as He sees them; fervor to pray and know that this most powerful God can bring the greatest soul awakening to our military and society at large so millions upon millions will come to bow down to the One Who is worthy of all praise, Jesus Christ; favor with those who will hear the gospel as He enables us to speak clearly and with the Holy Spirit’s power,” Rondon wrote after citing . “I believe that our nation, our churches and our military are on the verge of seeing God like we have never seen Him before. All glory to Christ alone!”
Retired Major General Doug Carver, NAMB’s executive director of chaplaincy, says what is happening at Fort Leonard Wood is not an exception. Right now there are reportedly 1,348 military chaplains in the Southern Baptist Convention at work.
“Our troops, who are increasingly hungry for truth and relevancy in their lives, are finding a faith that works through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ,” Carver said. “The current spiritual awakening at Fort Leonard Wood is indicative of a great move of God taking place within the Armed Services today.”
Consider the following, Carver reported:
• More than 2,000 troops gathered in Doughboy Stadium at Fort Benning, Ga. this past Easter to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
• Army chaplains are currently baptizing an average of 70 soldiers every basic combat training cycle at Fort Jackson, S.C.
• The U.S. Air Force Chaplaincy recently rolled out a new program called FaithWorks, which is a collection of evidence-based programs and materials promoting spiritual resilience for airmen and their families.
• The military has built more chapels since 9/11 than any other period of American history except for World War II.
In the past two years, Southern Baptist military chaplains have reported there have been tens of thousands of professions of faith and thousands of baptisms.
“Historically, God has often used the military as a catalyst for revival,” Carver said. “Many attribute the spread of Christianity in the first century to Roman soldiers deployed throughout the Roman Empire. The Lord is answering our prayers for revival within our military communities. I’ve prayed for over 40 years for our troops and their families to experience the reality of Jesus Christ in a new and fresh way.”
(Picture praying)
Romans 16:19 CSB
The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.
We must be fearlessly cunning to represent Christ! Fear and retreat is not an option!

REJECTION REACTION #2: Anger & Evil

Anger & Evil (Christ the King is not represented!)
The Gospel suffers!
Persecution can be seen as an opportunity to proclaim
Some will try to find fault with us
Reacting in anger
To avoid fear and
The Gospel goes out!
Trying to make the opposer look bad
Using their fear tactics
SO: We must be smart enough to not be silenced and yet innocent enough to preserve the gospel message.
But if we do, Christ the King is not represented!
Romans 16:19
Romans 16:19 CSB
The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.
WBC 1 PIC
WBC 2 PIC
Arguing PIC
Representing Jesus isn’t just about proclaiming the right message; it’s about proclaiming the right message the right way!
We are representing Jesus the PERSON in whole, we are the body

Jesus Taught Us to be Innocent!

Representing Jesus isn’t just about proclaiming the right message; it’s about proclaiming the right message the right way!
We are representing Jesus the PERSON in whole, we are His body
“As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” - Nathan Baxter
REACTION #3 to Persecution:
Be innocent
Cunningly, innocently see opportunities to Proclaim
The Gospel goes out!
Romans 16:19 CSB
The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.
“Try your best to make goodness attractive. That's one of the toughest assignments you'll ever be given.”
Fred Rogers
Romans 16:19 CSB
The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.
Be innocent
Romans 12:21 CSB
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Romans 16:19 CSB
The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.
Romans 16:19 CSB
The report of your obedience has reached everyone. Therefore I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.
SO: We must be smart enough to not be silenced and yet innocent enough to preserve the gospel message.

REJECTION REACTION #3: Be Cunning & Pure

Matthew 10:16 CSB
“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.
Cunningly, innocently seek opportunities to Proclaim
Cunningly, innocently seek opportunities to Proclaim
Persecution is actually a GREAT opportunity to proclaim Christ in a public forum.
Christ the King IS represented!

8 Strategies to Be Cunning & Pure:

1) Anxiety generates the fear and anger reactions. Deal with worry by trusting in God! ()

Matthew 10:19–20 CSB
But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

2) Remember they are rejecting the Jesus you represent, not you! ().

Matthew 10:22 CSB
You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

3) Aim for eternity, that is when you will be vindicated ()

Matthew 10:22 CSB
You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

4) Representing Jesus means representing Him in His suffering ()

Matthew 10:25 CSB
It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master. If they called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more the members of his household!

5) Let your fear of God be greater than your fear of people ()

Matthew 10:28 CSB
Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

6) Let God determine your value, not others ()

Matthew 10:29–31 CSB
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

7) Be proud of Jesus; He’s proud of you! ()

Matthew 10:32 CSB
“Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.

8) Know in advance what it costs to follow Jesus ()

Matthew 10:37–38 CSB
The one who loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; the one who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

This will turn persecution into opportunity to share Gospel

Matthew 10:17–20 CSB
Beware of them, because they will hand you over to local courts and flog you in their synagogues. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of me, to bear witness to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.

And the Kingdom will come

Matthew 10:21–23 CSB
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. For truly I tell you, you will not have gone through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

We must do it like Jesus did.

Matthew 10:24–25 CSB
A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master. If they called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more the members of his household!

16

In , the wolves are in sheep’s clothing; here, they have taken the costume off, open opposition.

Response

Sheep are helpless, , .
What opposition might there be if I completely, faithfully represented Jesus?
Cunning: Disciples are not to be dumb like sheep, self preservation as in is encouraged.
Do I ever have a fear and retreat response to representing Jesus? (Peer pressure, embarrassment)
Doves are always prey, never predator, vegetarians. Cunning is not for harming opponents but for preservation for the preaching of the gospel.
Do misrepresent Jesus by trying to overcome evil with evil? (Argumentative, belittling)
Wise about what is good, innocent about what is evil ()
What strategies will I use to represent Jesus more faithfully?
Dangers: 1) We would be stupid and let evil overtake us in persecution and become one of them, damaging the gospel work. 2) We would not be innocent, acting like them.
This takes smarts and innocence. Nice without naivete.

17

Floggings implies they will count you as guilty; this is the context we are to be innocent and cunning in.

18

Moving beyond the Galilee mission. In Acts, 3 governors ans 2 kings mentioned. ( ; ; and for “kings” see ; )
Persecution leads to the spread of the gospel, it creates opportunities to witness.
How can we use current opposition to Christianity as an opportunity to witness rather than becoming un-innocent, un-cunning in letting evil overtake us?

19-20

Don’t worry about responding to those who oppose you. Don’t sit wondering, “What clever reply could I take them down with?”
Not to excuse preparation in study of the word and prayer (Have a ready defense!”) The antidote to worry is the Holy Spirit’s sure guidance. The Spirit will also prepare us for the moments that come if we listen and grow.

21

Martyrdom first time introduced. Scale of persecution increases. Bigger than Galilean mission, Matthews audience. Not just apostles now.
“Put to death” word implies official offense and execution, Christianity illegal now.

22

Tacitus claimed Nero’s persecution was because “Thy were hated by the whole human race” (odium humani generis)
Hated because of Jesus, not us. Crucial to gospel proclamation is that we are hated for the right reason; not because we are evil but because we are His.
The world hates us because the world hates Him ((; ).
This is one side, some will accept, light of the world, salt of the earth, welcomed and listened to.
Will be saved: Not physically, but spiritually. (Security of the believer?)

23

Moving to the next town means fast spread of the message, not pearls before swine, Paul practices this several times (; , ; , )
is where we get “coming of the Son of man”. He comes before Go here to receive authority, authority is given in disciples lifetime in . In ascending then, Jesus comes before the Father as Daniel prophesied and receives power. This is also when the mission expands beyond Israel to all the nations. Jesus is now “King of Kings”, other nations, not just Israel! Matthew already establishes Jesus's legitimate authority as King of Israel, the scope expands!

24-25

Slaves: unique to Matthew in Gospels, apostles referred to themselves this way (; ; , etc; ; ; ). Comparison, not saying we are necessarily here.
Our expectation is not to have it easier than Jesus but to become like Him, suffering and receiving honor.
On becoming like the master: ,
We will be thought less of, accused wrongly, as Jeuss was, don;t be surprised (“I can;t believe you would say that ...”, offended so easily in shock)
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