Ours is Endurance and Faith

“When we live in a world of violence long enough, it is easy to adopt violent means ourselves, especially when we know that our cause is righteous and the opposition is evil. Religious faith, especially when zealous, is no stranger to the exercise of violent force. And so St. John, having set down his counsel to endure, yokes it with a warning to not defect into violence. That would be just as bad as defecting into cowardly compliance. Had not Jesus, in as violent a scene as any of us will find ourselves, said, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword’? (Matt. 26:52). Killing the opposition is the sea beast’s [Revelation 13:1-10] way of solving its problems. It is not ours. Our is endurance and faith.

“This combination, endurance and faith, is not dumb passivity … The Christ-followers had learned something profound about sacrifice and death: endurance and faith are aggressive forces in the battle raging between God and the devil. It requires high energy to meet the sword with willed suffering, with embraced sacrifice.”

(Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder, p. 125)

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God is in Control

“Christians cannot promise that life on earth will get better as time goes on; we have no assurance that it will. It is perfectly possible that our civilization will decline as ancient Rome did, and that our descendants will live through another dark age. The sinful passions of fallen man have not been defeated, and Satan is still active. We may be caught up in things that defy our imagination, and it is perhaps better that we do not know what will happen to us or to our children in this life. But what we can say for sure is that God is in control of events, that whatever happens will resound to his glory, and that no power in heaven or on earth can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:39).”

– Gerald Bray’s Augustine on the Christian Life (p. 210)

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What is the Gospel?

Galatians 1:1-10

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ

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God Our Provider

(Philippians 4:14-23)

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

INTRODUCTION:

In these difficult times, we are prone to worry about basic necessities. Some of us have lost their jobs, our businesses have closed down, our income has taken a huge hit. And we ask: Will we go hungry or will we be provided for?

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Contentment

Philippians 4:10-13 ESV

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. [11] Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. [12] I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. [13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

INTRODUCTION

In times like the one we presently face, we are prone to be discontented. Our circumstances are not only unacceptable, they are intolerable. Our inability to be content serves only to exacerbate our misery.

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Thinking and Doing

Philippians 4:8, 9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So much of our lack of peace is the result of wrong thinking. We focus our minds on the things that discourage us instead of the things that encourage us. We think of things that lead us away from God instead of things that draw us nearer to him.

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The Peace of God

Phil. 4:6,7

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Because of the present pandemic, we need peace more than ever. The troubles we face – physical, financial, emotional – are beyond our control. We are prone to worry. What shall we do? The Bible wants us to realize these three things.

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Blessed are the Persecuted

Matthew 5:10-12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

INTRODUCTION

Those who belong to Christ will be persecuted. If the Master himself was persecuted, his disciples will be persecuted too.

1. PERSECUTION IS INEVITABLE (John 15:18-20).

(a) Persecution in the workplace.

Such was the experience of a committed Christian who tried to set things right in the corrupt government agency she worked in. She was ostracized and given a desk in a corner of the workplace where in virtual isolation she practically had no choice but to be left alone and to leave others alone.

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Enemies of the Cross

Philippians 3:17–21

[17] Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. [18] For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. [19] Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. [20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (ESV)

INTRODUCTION

While there are those who faithfully serve Christ and persevere in righteousness (whose example we ought to imitate), there are those who oppose him, especially his work on the cross. These are the enemies of Christ’s cross.

(a) They oppose Christ’s righteousness (Gal. 2:21).

Instead of proclaiming the good news that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, they teach that we can be saved by our own strength and good works, contrary to what Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:8-10. In effect, they devalue what Christ did on the cross for us. On the cross, Jesus cried, “It is paid in full!” There is nothing more we can add to the work of salvation which he accomplished for us. Ours is simply to receive by faith the free gift of salvation.

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Wildfire

His sorrows spread like wildfire
Through land that’s lush with trees;
An angry conflagration
Consumes the boundaries.

Whereas before the music flowed
Through vibrant life of green,
Now scorchéd earth is what remains
Of dreams that might have been.

Oh, guard your heart and let not grief
Destroy the future too!
The present flames that purge the soul
Are not the end of you.

Copyright 2020. Dennis M. Cortes

(Photo by Joanne Francis on Unsplash)