John Bunyan could no longer speak freely in England. A resurrence of the monarcy and Anglicanism in 1660 found John in prison for “pertinaciously abstaining” from Anglican services and for holding “unlawful meetings.” Because he could not promise them he would hold his tongue, his 3-month sentence became eventually 12 years. Much like the Apostle Paul, John Bunyan wrote a number of works while in prison including his spiritual autobiography Grace Abounding to the Cheif of Sinners. (Read it here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/bunyan-grace-abounding/)
In this work he speaks to this issue of perseverence. He wrote:
“I am for going on, and venturing my eternal state with Christ, whether I have comfort here or no. If God doth not come in, thought I, I will leap off the ladder even blindfold into eternity, sink or swim, come heaven, come hell, Lord Jesus, if thou wilt catch me, do; if not, I will venture for thy name.”
I hear the same spirit here in Romans where Paul declares: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Paul has not yet visited the jail in Rome, but he will. He will also face shipwreck, beatings, other imprisonments and many heartbreaks. (2 Corinthians 11:23-33) But he was “for going on.” cashing in everything including his freedom for the sake of the Gospel. He made it his goal to be most clear in his life about explaining salvation to all. We can learn from the boldness of these two men.
I found a website with a group of people sharing their stories of “Not Being Ashamed of the Gospel.” One story by a man that went by the name AWRETCHLIKEME was very powerful.
Posted March 28th, 2010 at 4:57PM
One of the first issues I first had to deal with as a new Christian was what others would think of me. It wasn’t as big of a problem for me while I was in the Marines. But when I was discharged I soon discovered that what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is true: “The man without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” I hadn’t completely stopped the party scene. I still wanted to be around my old friends even though I knew I would have to stop engaging in the life style I had been use to. And can you believe it, I found that my friends didn’t care to hear about my new found faith in Jesus.
One evening I became painfully aware of how my faith in Jesus would cause problems in my social life. My cousin was having a party. Me and another friend decided to go. We were in the kitchen with a few people sitting around the table. I suppose the word was out that I had “found religion”. I’m not sure how the conversation got started but the people around the table where asking me about the “End Times”- what the Bible says about the end of this world as we know it. I did not realize that other people could hear me.
Before too long my cousin came to me and asked me and my friend to leave. She said that our discussion was upsetting everyone at the party- that we were spoiling the mood. My friend started to get angry. He was not a Christian. He did not understand why we were being asked to leave. I did. I knew that what I was saying about the Bible and Jesus was convicting others. But it did feel strange -being kicked out of my own cousins home. I soon began to keep my mouth shut- to avoid loosing friends.
But despite my attempt to put Jesus on the back burner of my life, He did not go away. One night I was sitting in a bar. I wasn’t even drinking. I was just sitting there thinking about my life. A friend from high school came in and sat down beside me. His name was Rusty. He started pouring his heart out to me. He was having difficulties in his life and for some reason he wanted to tell me all about it. He actually said at one point that he wished he was like me, cause I had it all together. I almost laughed! He had no idea the amount of inner turmoil I was going through because I knew I wasn’t living for the Lord.
As I was sitting there listening to Rusty tell me about his problems there was a little voice that kept telling me to “tell him about Jesus”. But I refused. I felt like a hypocrite. I couldn’t see how I could tell Rusty about Jesus. What would he think? So I didn’t say a word. I left the tavern that night without sharing with Rusty that which could have made all the difference in the world.
The next day I stopped by the bank on the way to work. I over heard someone talking about the accident. It was a two car accident- a head on collision with two men in one car and two men in another car. Both carts left that tavern the night before headed in opposite directions. Then both cars turned West and went about a mile out of town. They then turned toward each other- not knowing it. They meet each other in the middle of the road at the top of a hill. Two young men died that night. One of them was Rusty.
I could not stop thinking about Rusty pouring his heart out to me the night before, and that voice that kept telling me to tell him about Jesus. I was probably the last person who had a chance to tell him about how Jesus can save us from our sins- so that we don’t have to fear death. But I wouldn’t do it because I was ashamed. I felt terrible.
I attended the funeral. There were a large number of young people also there-young people who don’t expect to die. We were all tragically reminded again that day that we are just one heart beat away from eternity. And I knew that I had to do something different. I knew that the Lord was telling me I needed to wake up.
I went home that day and fell down at the foot of my bed, broken. The guilt from my from my failure to share with Rusty what I knew about Jesus and from the way I was living my life was too much. I cried out to the Lord. I didn’t know what to do. I was still a new Christian. As I was knelling there by my bed I grabbed my Bible in desperation and opened it up. My eyes fell on these words of Jesus from Matthew 10:32&33 which says: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven . But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I confessed my sin, and I determined that with Gods’ help, I would no longer care about what others might think of me because of my faith in Jesus.
The interesting thing is, shortly after that day I was able to completely stop the use of drugs and alcohol- something that had been dogging me for the past 6 years of my life. And despite my failure, I felt free- free from the need to get high. I began to realize that I didn’t need an altered state to have “fun”, what a discovery! I truly began to experience a joy that I could not explain!
How about you? Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Or are you ready to go on and venture for his name?