Walking with Christ through Dangers, Toils, and Snares
With poetic beauty John Newton made it clear in his famous hymn, Amazing Grace, that there are many dangers, toils and snares for those who choose to walk with Jesus. He eloquently depicted suffering as being an integral part of the past, present and future reality of the journey of life. These dangers, toils and snares come from the battles that rage against us through devils, other people, or even our own flesh.
The third stanza of Amazing Grace tells the story,
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”
Newton presented in this hymn some practical, everyday theology. If you read his life story, you will find that he wrote this heartfelt hymn through the agony of personal experience. Not only did he know the perils that accompanied a sailor’s life in the natural, he also knew what it was to face the “dangers, toils and snares” of the spiritual realm. He suffered before coming to Christ because of his sin and then suffered after coming to Christ as a result of his pursuit of God.
Life would be easy if we didn’t have to face all these trials and temptations. Yet ever since Adam and Eve’s terrible rebellion this has been the world in which we live. The idea that we will face many “dangers, toils and snares” is Newton’s concise way of communicating some of the ways that Christians will experience suffering. They may come through persecution, spiritual attacks or the inward battles we face in dealing with our sinful nature.
Sometimes our suffering is little more than an irritant; other times it has the potential to be devastating. Yet in each danger, toil and snare there lies an opportunity to grow a little more like Jesus. This isn’t how most Christians think in America despite the fact that trials and tests are an integral part of developing a Biblical faith.
Before Paul came to Christ, he persecuted the church and even thought that he was doing service for God. When the Lord confronted him on the Damascus road, he was terrified by the divine encounter, especially after the Lord declared that he was literally fighting against God.
For three days Paul was in agony of soul and mind through the knowledge that he had been self-deceived into believing that it was God’s will for him to persecute Christians. The Pharisee was slowly being purged of his Pharisaism through the gift of repentance.
After three days of deep conviction the Lord sent to Paul a disciple named Ananias. The Lord told Ananias that He would show Paul “how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16). The Lord didn’t paint a rosy picture to Paul by telling him that his new life with Christ would be happy and free from trouble. No, the Lord told him the truth because He wanted Paul to count the cost to be a disciple.
In today’s church culture many want to remarket Jesus by sanitizing Him of all the supposed negativity that surrounds Him. They want to scrub Him up and make Him look relevant to this modern culture. There is one major problem with this—such thoughts are not based in truth, but an incorrect knowledge of God and man’s great need. Mankind has not changed in six millennia—we are still sinners in desperate need of a Savior.
Many people would like to erase what Paul told the believers in Philippi because it doesn’t fit today’s motivational preaching where people want a happy religion. He wrote, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” (Philippians 1:29). How many pastors have preached from this verse? How many self-professing Christians even know this verse exists?
The fact remains that Newton was right in stating that we will go through many dangers, toils, and snares until we see Jesus face to face. Paul knew what it was to suffer for Christ, and this became part of his preaching. An example of this is found in Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Notice that Paul was encouraging the disciples with the message that they must go through much tribulation before they get to heaven. The importance of this message is lost in the watered-down motivational talks that many pastors give today. People need to be prepared for the trials and temptations we are sure to face—not with the psychobabble that comes from so many pulpits today, but with the truth that a victorious Christian life comes by dying to self and living totally unto Christ.
We cannot help people live triumphant over sin, self and the world by giving them cutesy sayings, funny antidotes and sugar sweetened coined phrases that are void of substance. We all need to hear the truth, even when it hurts. To sugarcoat the truth to make it palatable to more people is to turn the truth into a lie.
The apostle Peter told us that “…the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10). Here we see the wonder and mystery of how God works in our fallen world. If we will submit to Jesus through loving obedience, then He will make all the dangers, toils, and snares work for our temporal and eternal good. They will help purify our faith so that we can hear our Savior’s joyful “Well done” when we stand before Him.
This life is a journey through many temptations, challenges and trials. When it’s all said and done, what will life’s journey reveal about our time on earth? Come and join us April 26-27, 2019 for a weekend of seeking the Lord for His grace and strength as we endeavor to go victoriously “through many dangers, toils and snares.”
Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.
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