About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Great Faith in a Surprising Place

(Article for publication week of 10-9-2014 AD)
"When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, 'verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel' " (Matthew 8: 10). We have been considering the Roman centurion as an example of "great faith." The whole account is found in Matthew 8:5-13, and Luke also records this incident in Luke 7:1-10. We noted in the two previous articles of the Narrow Way that this man's faith was marked by humility and complete confidence and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. We also noted that this faith was found in an unlikely and surprising  character, a Gentile.
Now, let us note well that this faith is also surprising in that it is found in a soldier. Our Lord found greater faith in this Gentile Roman than He did in the Israel of His day, including (apparently) His Own disciples. This was  surprising, but equally surprising that it would be found in a professional military man. Saving faith is always a rare thing (Matthew 7:13-14), but it is especially rare in the military. Soldiers are more noted for their drunkenness, profanity, gambling and whore-mongering than for faith in Christ and a holy life. There are of course notable exceptions, like Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson who were men noted for piety and led their men in the worship of Christ as well as in battle. Another notable exception would be Oliver Cromwell who led the Parliamentarian Army in the English Civil War. The Roman Centurion is an example of God's sovereign grace that often surprises us. God sometimes saves the most unlikely characters (in our eyes at least).
Our lesson is a good place to point out that our Lord never commanded us to be pacifists. If it were a sin to be a soldier, this would have been a good place for our Lord to rebuke the centurion and command him to resign his commission. By our Lord's silence concerning the man's earthly station, He gives His approbation of men serving in the military. Not only was our Lord silent regarding the man being a soldier, but He commended him for his faith which was "great." Another example of a military man who was saved by grace and became a Christian was Cornelius in Acts 10. Peter baptised him, but did not command him to seek to get out of the Roman army. Many other scriptures (in both Testaments) and examples of Godly men who were warriors could be cited, along with the text before us show us that the scriptures do not require pacifism.
But, I must also point out that while the military may be a lawful calling, it is a dangerous one. I mean it is dangerous spiritually, for the military life exposes a man to many temptations. Our Lord taught us to pray for deliverance from temptation, not to run headlong into it. It is one thing to join the army when your home is invaded as our Southern Forefathers did, but it is quite another to join the army as a mercenary to fight in unjust, unconstitutional, undeclared wars on other continents. When I have been asked , I have advised and urged the young men with whom I have been associated to stay out of the military. And I will continue so to do. Being in the military is a spiritually dangerous life (though lawful) in the best of situations. But the fact is that the US military has not been engaged in a lawful war (at least) since the Second World War. That was the last war that was constitutionally declared and the politicians who were and are active and passive in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and innocent civilians abroad will give an account at the Day of Judgment to receive in their bodies the just recompense of their reward. I hope the congressman from this district is reading.

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