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The fundamental issue the gospel addresses is man’s sinful autonomy.  Everywhere we look in this world we see humans declaring themselves “strong enough”, “tough enough”, “resilient enough”, and “self-reliant”.  And we Christians must admit that too often the person staring back at us from the mirror is guilty of the same.

Recently, devastating tornadoes tore through Tennessee only a few miles from my home.  In the aftermath of the storms, we witnessed both the best and the worst of humanity.  First-responders and neighbors sacrificed to help those who had been battered by the winds.  But scammers and cheats came out of the woodwork too.

Unfortunately, the more subtle travesty of “hometown hashtags” began popping up everywhere you looked.  By “hometown hashtags” I mean people posting a hashtag followed by their city name and the word strong, such as  #_________Strong  (you fill in the blank).

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing much of the same.  We expect the world that lives independently of God to declare such things, but this should not be the Christian’s banner cry.  For followers of Christ, only one hashtag will do,  #TheLordIsOurStrength

Four weeks ago, at Grace Life Baptist Church, we began our study of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-20 where Paul begins the section with these words.

Ephesians 6:10—Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

We learned from this verse that Paul’s “be strong” is a verb in the present tense, passive voice, and imperative mood.  For all you non-grammar nerds, that simply means that Christians are commanded (imperative mood) to continually (present tense) be strengthened by (passive voice) the Lord.

The Lord is our source of strength in the spiritual battles we face.  Why would we think strength to face physical challenges and suffering would require anything less?  As we noted in our study, spiritual battles are spiritual but the effects of the battle will be experienced physically, mentally, and emotionally.

In this way, no one is #Strong.  God alone is!  And when a person comes to rely solely on the Lord Jesus through faith alone in Him, only  #TheLordIsOurStrength  makes any sense.  And this brings a whole new attitude on our part toward the many threats of suffering and death in our world like that of COVID-19.  Our thinking and attitudes will begin to sound more like Romans 14:8-9.

Romans 14:8-9—For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

The question is not, “Are you going to die?”  And the question is not, “Are you going to die in such and such a manner?”  The question is, “Are you ready to meet God in judgment?”  For “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb.9:27).  Our sin deserves the punishment of eternal death, but Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all who call on His name for forgiveness.

Therefore, the answer to the question, “Are you ready to meet God in judgment?”, doesn’t have to be “no”.  It can be “yes” if you believe on Christ.  “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb.9:28).  “Waiting for him” means the Christian waits on Christ in faith expressed in faithfulness in place of unbelief and disobedience.

Christ the Lord was and is strong on your behalf.  He alone is strong enough!  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31) from God’s eternal judgment and granted eternal life.

In Christ Alone,
Jeremy Vanatta

(*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations come from the English Standard Version)

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