During the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, small clicks could be heard across the French country side as tracer bullets light up the night sky behind the German lines. The paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne were responsible for the clicking noise. By pressing the edges of the golden rectangular box which had been nicknamed the “cricket,” the paratroopers sent out a click…click sound across the countryside every time they heard a twig break or noticed a shadowy figure in the distance. If the nearby person was an American paratrooper, he would respond with a click…click….click…click. Using the little cricket, the American paratroopers were able to locate each other and the move on to capture the bridges and other important locations that would prevent the Nazis from rushing tanks to the French coast and would guarantee the success the famed D-Day invasion.
Today, Christians find themselves living in a dark world behind enemy lines. Yes, Jesus has come and died and been raised again. Yes the kingdom of God is marching forward. But Satan still sits on the throne of this world. Darkness still touches every corner of the globe.
Within this context, believers struggle trying to find true faith. Yes, the click of the gospel has gone forth. But what does the response to the gospel sound like? What does true faith sound like? What is the click…click…click…click sound of the Christian faith? How do I know if I am a believer? How do I know if my children, friends, Sunday School teacher, and even my pastor loves the Lord? What is the difference between someone who pretends to be godly and someone who is godly?
Well the click…click…click…click of the gospel can be summed up we these words “Follow Paul!” The apostle writes in 2 Timothy 3:10-14:
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it
What does it mean to follow Paul? It means to be like Christ. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” To follower of Paul is to be one who believes the word of God. In short, Paul is saying follow me as I follow Christ as revealed in the Word. Because I love Jesus, my life is a miniature representation of Jesus. Thus, follow me as I follow Christ.
How do we do this?
We follow Paul’s teaching. Paul taught the gospel. He taught Christ crucified. There is no salvation apart from the gospel apart. No person can get to God through nature. Thus all who are true believers will recognize that the Bible is the word of God.
Next we follow Paul’s conduct. Paul loved the Lord and lived a life that was above reproach. Those who believe the gospel, those who have been filled with the Holy Spirit, and those who have been redeemed will not be content with Biblical knowledge. They will apply it to their life. They will repent of anger, lust, and pride. They will daily battle with sin as they grow in their understanding of the Word. True believers hear the word of God and then do it. The apostle John plainly states:
9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. – John 3:9-10
Good works do not save. But a lack of good works and the fervent practice of sin reveal that one is not saved. All who have been redeemed by God will seek to obey God.
Thirdly, we follow Paul’s aim in life or his life purpose. Paul lived to tell others about God. As the West Minister Shorter Catechism states: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” The believer has this mindset. The believer though a stay-at-home mom, a pharmacist, a farmer, or plumber exists to worship God. All that they do, they do for the glory of God. If someone is a believer, their life will be shaped by this aim.
Fourthly, the believer is faithful. They true Christian does not just worship God on Sunday. Most anyone can be nice to their neighbor an hour or two a week. We find being kind to our mother-in-law once a month, not stealing from our company during the 5 day work week, and listening to our spouse 7 days a week much harder. Yet, the true believer will do these things. He will be faithful day in and day out. She will love her friends even when they are unlovable. Religion is not an act or a performance, it is a lifestyle. The person who has been saved will be faithful.
Fifthly, they will be patient. They will endure with others. They do not hold grudges but extend grace and compassion. They have not limits. They do not love people as long as they don’t lie, or steal, or do something else deemed inappropriate. No, they are patient and enduring with all.
Sixthly, they are loving. They do not love those who share their lifestyle, college football team, and love for music. They love all. They put the needs of the enemies before their own. They are falsely attacked and accused and they respond with love and patience. The true believer is a biblical lover. As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Seventhly, they are steadfast. They true Christian remains a Christian even when their child goes to college, even when their wife dies, and even when they lose their job. If one leaves the faith, stops going to church, and decides they are done with God when they encounter some problem of consequence, they lack saving faith. Those who love Jesus remain with Jesus regardless of their circumstance. They are steadfast.
Lastly, the endure persecutions. They godly suffer for being godly. Again Paul is not talking about Christians who suffer because they spread gossip, tell lies, or steal from their company. Those men and women suffer for their sins and not their faith. Rather, Paul is saying the believer suffers persecution. They extend love to their wayward child and are robbed by their recovering alcoholic son. They are barred from tutoring children at the local high school because they shared their faith. They are uninvited from the family reunion because no one wants to hear about Jesus any more. Those who love Jesus will be persecuted like Jesus. And they stand with Jesus, choosing God over the love of this world.
The call of the gospel has gone forth. Has your heart respond in faith? Do you follow Paul’s teaching, his conduct, his aim in life? Are you faithful, patient, loving, steadfast? Do you endure persecution? Do you follow Paul?