Obey God or man?
From A Small Price to Pay (Part 4)
2: God provides
From Chapter 8
“Brother Mikhail, do you take part in preaching?” brother Greesha Alexandrovich asked me. I had gone with a group of young people to Sumy Oblast in Ukraine to gather with the believers there.
“Yes, I take a part in preaching if I am asked,” I answered. I was very active in my home church, even though the church was infiltrated with government agents reporting our activities to the KGB.
“Then I want you to be the second one to speak in this service,” Greesha said.
I don’t remember exactly what I spoke about, but one thing I tried to make clear. It was a truth that burned in my soul. We, the church of Jesus Christ, had to take every opportunity to preach the Gospel. Even in my youth, I realized how important it was for people to hear the truth of God’s Word, in both written and spoken forms.
For the last four years, I had read and studied the Bible. I had fellowshipped with other believers, and a group of us often prayed together. We all felt the message of Jesus Christ burning in our hearts.
One thing that burdened us was the mandate from the government, enforced by the church leaders, that children and young people under the age of eighteen were not allowed to attend church services. We felt this was wrong, and we questioned whether the authorities of the church should have agreed to enforce such a rule.
Even the believers were divided on this issue. Some felt that we should obey the government. “Obey them that have the rule over you,” was a verse they quoted often. Others, including our group of youth, felt that the government had no right to make rules about who was allowed to come. Thus, a rift was growing in the church.
Now I was here in Sumy... preaching. But something was missing. After the meeting was over, I approached the elder, Greesha Alexandrovich. I cleared my throat, “Brother, will you baptize me?”
His eyebrows shot high up his forehead. “Baptize you! How is it that you preach and are not baptized?”
“In our church in Leningrad, no one is baptized until he is thirty years old. I am only twenty-two.”
His blue eyes looked penetratingly into my face. “How do I know you? Do I know that you have repented and are a true believer?” I did not say anything.
“I listened intently to your message today. I can hear that you understand what it takes to be a believer.” Still, he seemed to hesitate. The crowd was dispersing. The summer sun was sinking toward the western horizon.
“Come home with me,” Greesha said. “I want to talk with you.”
It was midnight before we went down to the river behind his house and he baptized me. There were only a few witnesses.
As I came up out of the river, water streaming over my face, I felt the peace of God wash over me. True, I had experienced the love of Christ before, but now I felt complete. I had obeyed what Jesus had commanded: repent, believe, and be baptized. Gladly and willingly, I had done this to show God and the people with me that I had chosen the Lord’s way for my life.
I had said no to Satan and the world and yes to my Lord, Jesus Christ....
* * *
The next time the church remembered the death and suffering of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead by observing the Lord’s Supper, I went forward to participate. The elder handing out the broken bread and the wine looked sharply at me as I joined the line, eating the bread and drinking the wine.
“Mikhail,” the elder asked me after the service. “How is it that you participated in the Lord’s Supper today? Are you baptized?”
Looking straight at him, I said quite clearly, “Yes.”
He drew his breath in slowly, held it, and then released it as he asked, “Where?”
I smiled at him. “The place where I was baptized was in a river. After the baptism, we sang a song. Here are the words: "A talkative brook will tell my holy secret to no man.... If the river does not tell its secrets and tells no man where I was baptized, how can I tell you where I was baptized?”
“Yes, yes,” the elder agreed. “I was not wise to ask where you were baptized. God bless you for your decision.”
Then, after a little pause, he added, almost to himself, “Anyone who baptizes without permission can be sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. And we know almost no one lasts that long.”
I thought back to my own father. He had not been in prison two years before he was killed. (pages 75-77)
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment [in light of eternity], is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
In a world that is fast rejecting God's Word or twisting His Truth, we need to prepare for unthinkable challenges to our faith and families. This book will help us stand firm in Christ and gratefully "pay the small price" of suffering with Him! Like a beacon of light ahead of us waits an eternity of joy with Him!
I suggest you order at least ten of these books and share with your friends and relatives, so that they, too, may be encouraged and equipped for the times ahead. (That's what I did) The book is available through Lighthousetrails.com