AM I A SOLDIER OF THE CROSS?
Isaac Watts, 1674–1748
Endure hardship with us like a good solder of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:3, 4)
The Church founded by Christ has been built on the blood of martyrs. It has been estimated that at least 50 million persons have had a martyr’s death since the crucifixion of our Lord. Even today, in our 20th century civilized culture, large numbers of believers live under conditions of harassment and persecution.
According to historical tradition, many of Christ’s disciples and followers were persecuted by enemies of their Master with the following fates:
Matthew—suffered martyrdom by being slain in the city of Ethiopia.
Mark—died at Alexandria, after being dragged through the streets of that city.
Luke—hanged on an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
John—put in boiling oil. Afterward branded at Patmos.
Peter—crucified at Rome with his head downward.
James the Lesser—thrown from a pinnacle of the temple, then beaten to death.
Andrew—bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died.
Jude—shot to death with arrows.
Matthias—first stoned and then beheaded.
Barnabas of the Gentiles—stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul—after various tortures and persecutions, beheaded at Rome by Emperor Nero.
In Isaac Watts’ time, much persecution was inflicted upon the English Dissenters—those who had split from the official, state Anglican church. Stalwarts such as Isaac Watts became resolute and fearless in their proclamation and defense of the gospel. “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” was written in 1724, following a sermon by Watts titled “Holy Fortitude or Remedies Against Fears.” These words are still a challenge for us today:
Am I a soldier of the cross? A foll’wer of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flow’ry beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed thru bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign—Increase my courage, Lord! I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word.
For Today: 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10–20; 1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 3
Even now, pray for those who are suffering for Christ and the work of the gospel in difficult areas around the world. Reflect on these musical questions—
Osbeck, K. W.
- Watch ye: stand fast in the faith: quit you like men, and be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
- Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the assaults of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against the worldly governors, the princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, which are in the high places. For this cause take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and having finished all things, stand fast. Stand therefore, and your loins girded about with veracity, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. Above all, take the shield of Faith, wherewith ye may quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray always with all manner prayer and supplication in the spirit: and watch thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all Saints. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to publish the secret of the Gospel, Whereof I am the ambassador in bonds, that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10–20
- Fight the good fight of faith: lay hold of eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12
- Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, to exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the maintenance of the faith, which was once given unto the Saints. Jude 3
This song contains lyrics but cycles through a collection of our brethren martyred for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A needed reminder that our faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ may very well require our eyes be shut momentarily here and opened for eternity when in the Throne Room He our eyes behold.