Faith—All the Way

Hebrews 10:38   (KJV)   38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Hebrews 10.38 - Faith - All the WayOur greatest pleasure is pleasing God. Praise God for faith with which we please Him. As people who are forgiven, our lives are characterized by faith; that’s our lifestyle. We understand that drawing back from the faith—falling from grace displeases Him. That’s the last thing we want to find ourselves in.

There are reasons others draw back. There’s the allure of sexual pleasures; there’s the pull of power; there’s the enticements of material accumulations. Some pursue riches and are shipwrecked. Some can’t stand the scorches of hardships unique to believers.

We persevere. Nothing compares to the glorious life of faith. It brings inexplicable miraculous exploits only God-empowered people experience; it also causes a lot of sufferings. Through all, we’ve learned to be content and to rejoice. Who can equal to such a life?

 

Today, We Prepare

Hebrews 3:13   (KJV)   13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

One glorious day, we will be meeting our long-awaited beloved Lord, beholding Him with our very eyes, to spend time with Him and with our God for eternity. That will be one day, and we pray, one day soon. Today, we prepare.

exhortPart of our proper preparation is urgently exhorting and warning each other daily to be passionate about our God and His Word; to be watchful and vigilant against the insidious tactics and hideous attacks of our enemy.

God has powerfully set us free; we live in freedom. We don’t unwisely subject ourselves again to the cruel sin overlord. In freedom; we’re repeatedly commanded to be careful, to guard our hearts, to make sure our hearts don’t get hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and cause us to turn away from God.

We aim to be faithful to our Lord, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith, to trust Him as firmly as when we did at first—even more. We don’t make light of the admonition for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to strive with the power of God’s Spirit that’s continually working in us to will and do what pleases Him. These we restfully do—in freedom, in His grace.

Fall Not

2 Peter 1:10   (KJV)   10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

2 Peter 1.10 - Fall NotWe are humbly grateful to the LORD our God and heavenly Father for giving us assurance of our salvation. We don’t have to guess; we don’t have to doubt; we rest in it. We don’t take this lightly; instead, we “give diligence to make our calling and election sure.”

How do we do that? Praise God, he makes it very clear: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Diligence as a believer is of tremendous importance. Resting in Jesus isn’t the same as being lazy and passive. We bear the Spirit’s fruit by diligently working out what He’s working in. We’re told repeatedly by people not to doubt our salvation; we’re also admonished by the Scriptures to test whether or not we’re in the faith, and to confirm our calling and election. By doing so, through His empowerment, we stand strongly and walk faithfully.

Restoring the Soul

James 5:20   (KJV)   20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

To bring back a believer who wanders from the faith is to save a soul from death. There is a possibility for Christians to err in their ways, to wander from the truth, to come to a A Helping Handpoint where their souls are in the state of death.

It’s of paramount importance that we don’t leave them without any help and any hope of restoration. They can be restored; they can be saved; their multitude of sins can again be forgiven.

We don’t give up that easily on those who turn away from God. We run after them with all our love. There are those who are obstinate for just a short time; they repent when they’re confronted about their errors. Some may take more time and effort. But we give it our best. Souls are incalculably precious to God; we won’t allow the devil to have them in his grip just like that. Each one is worth fighting for, and fight for our brothers and sisters, we will.

Warning!!!

Hebrews 3:12   (KJV)   12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

We as believers—those of us who are a part of God’s family—need to pay sincere and serious attention, and need to be very careful. Not doing so results to the terrible condition of having “an evil heart of unbelief”—hearts that become hardened through Hebrews 3.12 - Warning!!!continuous conscious decisions and actions of disobedience and rebellion—which inevitably leads to departure from the living God.

This Scripture is a point of contention among believers despite the clarity of the statement. But instead of adding to an already excessive arguments and counter-arguments from both sides of interpretation, I choose to just do what the Scripture directs us to do—to heed the encouragement and warning.

We want to be careful and not careless. We have an internal enemy—the flesh, and we have external enemies—the world and the devil. They want to creep in and devour us completely. We’d rather live as more than conquerors than live as the conquered. We want to have good, believing hearts instead of evil, unbelieving, doubtful, confused, hardened, and calloused hearts.  We want to abide in God instead of departing from Him. We strive to fight the good fight, to run our race well, and to keep the faith.

God’s Goodness and Severity

Romans 11:22   (KJV)   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God is good and severe; God is loving and just; God is Father and Lord; God is gracious and holy; God is to be loved and feared. All facets of God’s nature are true; one ought to not be sacrificed for the other; one ought to not be rejected in preference of another. All Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliffof them have to be embraced. I’ve observed so many people becoming very passionate about one of God’s natures and in doing so undermining the value of another, perhaps unawarely.

“Behold;” take a look; observe it; notice: God is both good and severe. He is loving, gentle, kind; He is also holy, stern, strict, serious. His Fatherhood is a good, balanced Fatherhood. He loves and disciplines. He doesn’t rear spoiled kingdom kids.  It’s clearly explicit: “on them which fell,” to those who live in disobedience, He is severe. That’s not birthed out of thoughtless and angry emotion or passion. That springs forth from His wisdom and patience.

On the other hand, “if thou continue in His goodness,” if we continue to live faithfully in the light of His goodness, He continues to pour out more goodness to us than we deserve. What God gives to us is always way more abundant than what our actions merit—He is gracious, that is. And it’s important that we heed these words soberly. He is more serious about it than how a lot of believers think and teach. If we fall and don’t stay down, if we don’t continue in His goodness, we “also”—which could mean it’s been true to others already—“shalt be cut off.”

Instead of being quick to interpret those words away to fit our emphasis on the doctrine of love and grace, my loving encouragement is that we please consider the severity of those words more than we probably have been willing to before. In the first place, our loving and gracious God included them in His recorded Words for loving and gracious reasons. He’s not hating on us in recording those words.

Fire for the Lukewarm

Revelation 3:20   (KJV)   20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

It’s always gratifyingly comforting to know that our precious Lord Jesus wants to be constantly with us. He gave us His word: He will never leave or forsake us: He will be with us to the end of the age. People don’t always have the same level of appreciation for this. revelation-3-20-fire-for-the-lukewarmThere are those who don’t believe His existence; there are those who prefer Him not to exist; there are those who pursue morality, but they reject Christ.

Then there’s the church. In the church, we find those who still make wrong decisions and who pursue wrong priorities. Our best will still fall short. God will always be true and faithful; the church wants to be but isn’t always. There are those who lose their steam, their fire, their passion. Somehow, they get taken over by different interests, like material possessions, or even immoral desires.

Ungodliness belongs to the world, not the church. We fall; God knows and understands we will; He knows our frame; He knows our weaknesses. But He’s not pleased when we sit (stay) in the seat of the scornful. He’s particularly clear about this: He spews out the lukewarm. We don’t ever want to find ourselves in this dangerous state; we don’t want to face the Lord and realize that we’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Our eyes our set on true riches: the Pearl of Great Price. And our feet are set on the straight and narrow.

For those who humbly find themselves in this fearfully risky stage of lingering in wrong priority and desire, linger no more; there’s hope. Jesus, in His amazingly enduring patience and love, is knocking. It’s best to open the door, let Him come in, and let Him take His rightful place seated on your life’s throne. He will kindle the fire of your godly passion once again.

Seed of Holiness

1 John 3:9   (KJV)   Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Our heart deeply yearns that we glorify our holy God in the way we live. What a great honor to be instruments of our Master’s praise. It’s a wonderful privilege showing people that there are real believers—people who truly follow Him. Our treasured relationship with Him goes beyond cerebral; it totally involves our hearts; it plainly shows through the 1-john-3-9-seed-of-holinessindisputable way we live. Our confident confession and our visible actions are in harmony with each other. God has made us righteous; we show it well.

Others say believers are total hypocrites; that’s quite understandable, but it doesn’t mean they’re right. Hypocrites show something different without an inch of inclination to change. True followers of the Lord Jesus aren’t perfect, but changes are happening progressively; we truly desire change, we passionately pursue change. We try our best getting rid of our sinful ways and anything that displeases our beloved Savior. If we show ourselves holy, it’s because God has made us holy and we want to be holy.

It’s our deep desire to have God’s seed in us growing and manifesting increasingly more. Personally, in my humble understanding of God’s Word, a true believer’s life and lifestyle is characterized with goodness and godliness; a sinful lifestyle and true Christianity is a contradiction. Yes, we’re not perfect; we still fail, sin, and fall, but we don’t make a habit and practice of it. It breaks our hearts when we do; we don’t glory in it. Our search isn’t on how to be better in sinning without being caught or exposed, rather, our journey is a continuous quest towards our Father’s greater pleasure. Positionally, He’s always pleased with us; praise God, He also gives us additional honor and privilege of pleasing Him practically.

Too Good for the World

Hebrews 11:38   (KJV)   38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

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Believers who are persecuted and whose very lives are threatened that they have to lose their homes, leave their communities, and forced to leave life’s comforts willingly undergo such experiences not because they are not worthy of this world—that they are below the world’s standards. The converse is true; it’s the world that’s not worthy of them. That’s why they would rather suffer than compromise with the world.

There is the world; there is us. Our precious Lord Jesus makes it clear: there is no “unequally-yoked” marriage between the two. The world utterly hates us because we love our Lord. The world hated our Master; much more so will it hate His followers. No sweat. We’re not missing out on anything. We’ve been blessed with everything we need for life and godliness; our super-gracious heavenly Father gives us everything for our enjoyment.

Others can’t comprehend this. We live in ironies—or do we? Whatever we give up for our Lord, He returns to us—thirty, sixty, hundredfold, and with them, suffering. We have nothing, but we have everything. We live by faith in God that can move mountains, shut the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, bring people back from the dead; it’s by that same faith in our God that we are tortured, cruelly mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawed, struck with the sword, beheaded, displaced, became fugitives. Ah, these are ironic in the world’s perception, but not with eyes of faith. We count all our earthly experiences for our Lord Jesus as honor and privilege; we see them working altogether for His sovereign purpose and for our best; we also see beyond all this bodily experiences–we see the glory awaiting. That’s why we don’t turn back.

 

Escape From Temptation

1-corinthians-10-13-escape-from-temptations

1 Corinthians 10:13   (KJV)   13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We are victorious over trials, temptations, and sin. We have God’s assurance from His Word: there’s no temptation that’s uniquely ours. Whatever test comes our way, we are confident that our good God and heavenly Father has already examined it, filtered it, and allowed it because it’s for our best. He’s strengthening us through it; He knows we can handle it. He makes sure that we have a way out.

Our precious Lord and Savior Jesus taught us to pray; He wants us to pray that God would lead us not into temptation—and God won’t. But temptations come; He allows them to come for purposes greater than we all can figure out. They attack from within us and from the outside of us. They come with power and allure that has dropped many of the saints. I’d like to repeat that: many of the saints… too many.

From times of old to now, God’s people have been struck down in staggering numbers. Millions of Israelites—millions died in the wilderness failing to enter the Promised Land—the land they looked forward to and longed for. Preachers, saints who have worldwide influences—powerful people of God through whom God moved and touched millions of people all around the world—failed to take God’s escape routes, gave in and indulged their sinful desires, and were destroyed in the process. We have more than enough examples to learn from. We are careful; even the strongest of us are aware of the fact that we can fail. We don’t have to learn through our own experience. When temptations come, we don’t fall; we rise higher.