Faith in Christ – Hebrews 11:35-38

No Servant is Greater Than His Master

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

Faith Followed

Are you being persecuted for your faith in Christ?  Rejoice!  You are in good company!  You have been found worthy!  Most of us, when reading about faith the book of Hebrews, want to dwell on the earlier portion of Hebrews 11.  But since Christ suffered for His faith, we shall suffer also.  Following Christ in many nations is worthy of the death penalty.

Here in America, a country founded on Christian principles (Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence), we embarked on an experiment in liberty that afforded to its citizens great freedom (especially of religion, not just worship) through the idea that people who are able to self-govern themselves through the belief in accountability to God don’t require draconian authority over them to live civilly in society.  When this occurs, the founding fathers of the United States of America reasoned, it was possible that such a level of freedom was achievable.  It should be very evident now, that in light of the people of the United States of America throwing off the yoke of Christ for the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, that such a government is untenable, the citizens will (and do) selfishly seek to codify in law government favoritism towards their particular desires, passions, and industries at the expense of the liberty of others.  As such, Christians are now being persecuted for living out their Christian faith in accordance with the freedoms that they were promised in their founding document of law.  But rejoice!  Here is how we should respond:

You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

Creating Character

Faith helps us to endure all of the trials of life.  And when we endure, we gain character:

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Sometimes it is tough when we are going through trials that test our faith (especially at night while we sleep).  But you can be confident that God will never leave you or forsake you, for His character is perfect.  And since God will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond your ability without providing a way, there is always a glimmer of hope – even if that means your release from trouble is when you go to be with Him in glory.  God may place circumstances in your life that overwhelm you.  However, this usually happens when He is trying to get your attention.  But let’s not forget that many have been tortured and murdered for their faith.  And in those trials, God can give you peace beyond comprehension to help you through the difficulty.

Faith Fortified

When we are suffering for our faith, we are told to rejoice!   For as we surrender to God in our suffering, it strengthens our faith in Him to be able to get us through it.  Jesus said that only a little faith is needed to accomplish mighty things:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

If only a little faith is required to move mountains, and that nothing will be impossible for us, what great and mighty things does God want to accomplish through us that would require the great faith and trust that comes through enduring our trials as we walk with Him?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Do I merely endure my trials, or does my faith mature in reverential trust and fear of God with joyful expectancy of what God will do next in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, my strength is failing as I wait expectantly for You to act in these dark and evil days.  Give me the strength to go on so that I will not faint as I wait for my character growth to be completed in the crucible of trials.  Help me to trust You as a young child trusts their parents, completely and without reservation, as these fleeting difficulties are worked out by You, for I know that You are sovereign, and nothing happens without your express prior knowledge and approval.  Help me to soar like an eagle, for I feel grounded, unable to even spread my wings.  Comfort me in my sorrows and difficulties, and guard my heart with Your peace, that no weapon formed against me shall prosper.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

The Truth of God – John 14:6

Truth and Lies Cannot Commingle

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Lethal Lies

Jesus declared Himself to be The Truth.  It is not just a state of being; it is a title:

  • the way (Greek hE hodos)
  • the truth (Greek hE alEtheia)
  • the life (Greek hE zOE)

In each of these, the word translated “the” is meant to signify a specific item, rather than a general item (such as, “a [one of many] way[s]”, “a truth”, “a life”. etc.).  This was done by the Apostle John to illustrate a specific truth – that Jesus, being God, embodies these specific characteristics that no other person can claim – they are singularly His.

In contrast to these, Jesus clarified that anyone who does not belong to God the Father belongs to the devil:

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Historical Revisionism (a.k.a., untruthfulness) distorts reality and not only detracts from the image of God (for we bear the image of God, being created in His image), but is now associated with murder!  Jesus links these two together here and makes an implied statement – Truth leads to life, and Lies lead to death (the murder of [The] Truth)!

Walk in the Way

Jesus, providing direction for any who would be His disciples, provided this very specific direction:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

As a three point direction, this is most interesting:

  • deny yourself (Greek aparnEsasthO heauton, an imperative command – Renounce [Die to] Yourself!) – An act of death to self and being made alive in Christ (“I am The Life”)
  • take up your cross (Greek aratO ton stauron autou, an imperative command – Take up the cross of you!) – Bear up under the burdens of sanctification (trials and tribulations – be an image-bearer of The Truth through hardship – “I am The Truth”)
  • follow me (Greek akoloutheitO moi, an imperative command – Follow me!) – akoloutheitO means to walk alongside, shoulder to shoulder, step for step, in harmony with the other person (“I am The Way”)

Failure to Follow

When we akolouthei Christ, we demonstrate to the the world that The Lord Jesus Christ is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life.  The Full Armor of God starts with the Belt of Truth.  In the Roman Soldier’s armor, the belt held everything together.  In the same way, Truth holds everything together.  When we fail to walk in truth, EVERYTHING falls apart…

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask the question – Am I walking in The Truth?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided us Your Son as our guide and example, for Jesus has said that if we have seen Him, we have seen You.  You are beautiful beyond description, and being in Your presence fills me with awe.  Examine and try me, and see if there is any wrongdoing in me.  Purge me of anything that does not conform to the image of Your Son, that I may walk in Truth and Righteousness.  Help me, Father, to be a better image bearer of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that all the world would see You on display when they look at me.  Help me to discard anything in my life that would even have the appearance of evil, that no one may claim that You are evil.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?