Rise Up, O Men of God

Written by Phil Sanders

March 12, 2023

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul, and strength To serve the King of kings.

William P. Merrill’s festive hymn from the nineteenth century calls for God’s people to rise up to the occasion. They must “have done with lesser things” and give themselves fully to the service of the King of kings.

Scripture calls us to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).

Keeping the main thing as the main thing proves for many a challenge. Distractions can lead us into unproductive or irrelevant pursuits. They can waste our time and weigh us down with unneeded encumbrances. We need to spend our time on what really matters in our faith and “let the dead bury the dead.” The lesser things do not matter; they may get in the way of the real work God has called us to do.

This is not the time for retreat or for endless analysis; it is time for men of God to rise up! The lazy man will have an excuse (Prov. 22:13). The doubter will fall into fear since he is unstable in all his ways (Jas. 1:6-8). The critic will continue to discourage and complain, not realizing his criticism reveals more about the critic than it does about what he criticizes.

The Lord Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). We must fortify our faith, rebuild our resolve, collect our courage, double our deeds, and take our stand with the Lord. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Colossians 3:2

If we are to rise up, we must do it with uncompromising faith. In recent days some brethren have flirted with the doubt arising from negative higher criticism. They have argued there are “no unequivocal, specific predictions of the coming of Jesus Christ and/or the church in the Old Testament” (Willis, 66).

Yet the Lord says, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). The risen Lord upbraided some disciples on the road to Emmaus for not believing all the prophets have written. “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 14:25-27). When an interpretive model leads one to deny what the Lord affirms, one should stop trusting the model instead of the Lord. The Lord is unerringly and utterly true.

Brethren must build their faith in the Lord and in His Word. One cannot claim total trust in Jesus as Christ and Lord while holding his word is full of errors and contradictions. One cannot be ashamed of the words of Jesus and think Jesus will approve when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26).

Brethren need to restock their resources with reasons to believe in God, in creation, in the Bible, and in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is not the time to believe the doubters and critics; it is the time to arm ourselves with answers and speak out.

If we are to rise up and save our country, we must do it with humble repentance. Prayer is essential, but prayer alone is not the answer to America’s woes. Our founding fathers realized that God’s blessing of any nation closely follows whether it promotes righteousness or error. They knew God’s blessing was essential to their success as a separate nation. They took to heart God’s words in Jeremiah 18:5-11 and his call to Judah to repent if they wished to avoid disaster. More than once, our founding fathers, during the revolution, called for a day of prayer and fasting, including a call for humiliation and the penitent confession of their sins. Their prayer was to be a call for forgiveness “through the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ” (The Continental Congress’ Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, November 1, 1777, as printed in the Journals of Congress).

Should we not also give thanks to God and call for penitent confession of our sins if we expect God to bless our nation, our congregations, our homes, or our personal lives? The grace of God is abundant, but we see no promise of bless- ing outside of repentance. Let us follow the ways of Ezra, who gathered the people of Israel at the house of God, making confession, casting themselves down before God, and weeping bitterly over their breaking of faith with God (Ezra 10:1-5). Ezra “spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness” of the people (10:6).

If we are to rise up and win the world for Christ, we must get busy evangelizing! We must speak to all we can as often as we can wherever we can. This is not the time for rest but a time for harvest, because the fields are white (John 4:35). We must be willing to spend and be spent in the service of the Lord (2 Cor. 12:15).

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