Ephesians 2:1-10 Genesis 3 Genesis 6 Genesis 11 Genesis 12 Jeremiah 1:4-5 Jeremiah 29:11 Acts 17:22-31
We all recognize this man named Apostle Paul. We have heard of him and read his incredible letters that are a part of the New Testament in the Bible. But what do we know about this man? We know that he was and still is an amazing teacher, a colossal figure of the first century world. No wonder some churches and Christian denominations have assigned sainthood to this humble yet greater than life man.
I would venture to say that no other person in the Bible, aside from Jesus Christ Himself, had a more profound influence on his world and ours than this man, the Apostle Paul.
He was a powerful witness of God’s faithfulness. But he was not always that witness of God’s faithfulness. We sometimes forget that all human being, no matter how great an impact they had during their lifetime on this earth, CAME FROM THE SAME PLACE; A WORLD OF SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS AND PHYSICAL BRUTALITY.
Saul had a great upbringing. His parents were Pharisees, members of the party most fervent in Jewish nationalism and strict in obedience of the Law of Moses. He was a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city.
Saul grew up in a very controlled Jewish environment. Friendship’s with Gentiles was not allowed. Greek ideas were despised. His parents made sure that Saul could speak Greek, Latin and Aramaic, a language of Judea, a derivative of Hebrew.
Saul and his parents looked to Jerusalem as Islam looks to Mecca. Saul grew up in a home where he constantly was reminded that they are the People of Promise to whom alone the Living God had revealed His glory and His plans. By his 13th birthday, Saul had mastered Jewish history, the psalms and the prophets.
“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”
In the World, but not of the World!
These are hard sayings and for many of us difficult to understand. Yet, at the same time, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the words spoken by our Savior Jesus Christ during His great intercession recorded here in the Gospel of John.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly a witness of God’s faithfulness. Whatever He said, whatever He did on this earth, it always pointed to the Father’s faithfulness.
Let me explain a very difficult subject regarding glory. When we seek glory, we do so at the expense of the glory of God. Not so with Jesus, because the glorification of the Son is the glorification of the Father. In other words, when the Son is exalted, so is the Father, because they are ONE. Here in this prayer, Jesus simply asked the Father for His glory back because He knew that He must be lifted up on the cross in order to be lifted up in the sight of the angels.
Jesus was ready to go home to be with His Father once again because His work on earth for which He came was about to be finished. He was the witness of the Father’s faithfulness without exception. He finished the work the Father has given Him.
According to Jesus own words found in verse 17, sanctification comes through the Word of God. The Word of God is the instrument God uses to separate us from this world system we are living in. It is that truth that eventually defines godly relationships. Or saying it another way, you cannot have godly relationships without being in the truth. And you cannot understand what a godly relationship looks like without understanding the content of the Gospel, the Word of God.
Neither can you and I understand what it means to LIVE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT BE OF THE WORLD apart from understanding the Word of God. It is the Word of God that will separate us, that will sanctify us, that will protect us from the Evil one.
This world may call us whatever they want, but a Christians true IDENTITY is not found in this world, but is FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE. We may live in spiritual Babylon today, but we are not OF SPIRITUAL BABYLON.
Understanding and Obeying the truth, the Word of God, will sanctify us, will separate us, will protect us from ever becoming a part of spiritual Babylon, becoming a part of this world. Daniel understood this and so should we. We are living in this world to glorify God. We can endure all things THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS US. Daniel could endure, so can we. Daniel never compromised the Truth, instead he studied and obeyed the truth.
The book of Joshua follows the first 5 books of Moses. In those 5 books we find a great amount of God’s promises that are the foundation of Joshua’s faith in God Almighty. Without those promises, there would have never been a Joshua. Yet, God prepared, protected and also provided for this man everything necessary to become a mighty witness of God’s faithfulness to not just the Hebrews, but also the entire world.
Joshua must first know what the law which Moses wrote down is all about. You cannot observe what you do not know. And if you don’t know what God commanded, you cannot be a witness of God’s faithfulness.
God also commanded Joshua to MEDITATE IN IT DAY AND NIGHT. This was not a weekend course. It was not “when I have time left I will look into it”. Joshua exemplified what Paul wrote later in the book of Romans.
This preparation starts at birth. It is God’s doing. Joshua’s lineage had everything to do with God’s choice. His parents were slaves, experiencing the bitterness of bondage. However, Joshua’s parents never lost faith in God’s promises. They somehow believed that God is faithful even if the circumstances for 400 years pointed into the opposite direction.
At birth, his parents named this newborn boy HOSHEA, meaning SALVATION. In other words, this young boy was nurtured in an atmosphere of HOPE. Still in bondage to the Egyptians, his parents from the tribe of Ephraim, a tribe that comes from Joseph, the very son of Jacob that was sold into slavery by his own brothers.
God prepared Joshua for future battles. How did God prepare him? By example of others who are not fighting with him in the physical, but in the spiritual realm. THE BATTLE IS THE LORDS.
Joshua was alongside Moses for 40 years. He witnessed most of what God did during Moses wilderness wandering. He was taught to KNOW GOD and by observing Israel he was taught to KNOW MAN. Also, Moses’ tent was Joshua’s college.
What can we learn from that? This truth contains the very essence of the Gospel. God’s plan of redemption is very clear throughout the Bible, Old and New Testament.
The law brings no one into God’s heritage. Was Moses could not do Joshua was prepared to accomplish. If you and I want to enter into God’s inheritance, we must turn from Moses (from the law) and look to Joshua.
Just as Joshua was prepared by God to live under the law, under the authority of Moses, so have we been prepared by God to live under the law for a season. It is this preparation that brought us eventually into the promises of God. And people who have not gone through that process cannot be witnesses of God’s faithfulness. God has prepared a way for us to experience His promises. And once we experience them, we become true witnesses of God’s faithfulness.
I believe that the church in America as a whole is misunderstanding the importance of being witnesses of God’s faithfulness. We may be involved in evangelism, involved in church activities, involved in Bible studies, or involved in preaching and teaching. While all such activities are good in general, they are no prove that we are witnesses of God’s faithfulness.
We live in spiritual and physical dangerous times. This world is changing with lightning speed not to the better, but to the worse. Once again, the Lord “sees that wickedness of man is great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil all the day.” (Genesis 6:5)
So, how should we live as followers of Jesus Christ? Is there any hope? Can the church in America be turned around? Can the society in America be changed?
The answer to all these questions depends on THE WITNESSES OF GOD’S FAITHFULNESS AND THE RESPONSE OF THE PEOPLE.
God spoke to those who are witnesses of His faithfulness through His Word, that was written down by men MOVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. Everything you and I need to know that pertains to life and godliness is revealed in His word. Notice that we are hearing what God speaks to us because WE KNOW HIM. And because we know Him, we take His word for what it says. We can hear God speak to us through His word.
Warning: A witness hears God speak and as accepted a FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH:
God’s way is better than my way;
God’s truth is better than my truth;
God’s promises are better than my promises;
God’s word is better than my ideas.
We have plenty of examples in the Bible alone of witnesses whose confidence in God and His promises was unshakable.
• Refused to be deceived by their 5 senses. Their confidence was not in what they could see, taste, touch, hear or smell.
• Refused to put any confidence in the latest news reports.
• Refused to give up when the promises of God did not come to pass immediately for they knew God is faithful.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, they believed that God is 100% trustworthy. His timing is always perfect. In other words; seeing is not believing. This is a lie from the enemy of our soul.
During Noah’s time nearly all people were drugged one the fumes of their egos. Wickedness has become the number one, all-consuming human addiction. So, Noah was listening to God. Noah also had an unshakable confidence in what he heard from God. Noah’s faith in God was uncontaminated. But such faith needs to be tested. And surely, Noah’s faith, Noah’s confidence in God’s Promises would soon be challenged. By whom? By God!
Noah’s acceptance of this mission proved one thing beyond a shadow of doubt. This man had an unshakable confidence in God.
This was not a weekend project, or something he worked on in his spare time or in the evenings. No one to hire, no power tools, no chainsaws, no sawmills, no cranes, no Menard’s or Lowe’s. It took 120 YEARS to build. He did not give up. What a witness of God’s faithfulness.
Are you fully convinced of the faithfulness of the promises of God for your life? Remember, the promises of God are just as faithful, just as powerful, just as reliable and just as true as they were in the days of Noah or the days of Peter. If you have heard him speak to you today and have an unshakable confidence in God you are a witness of God’s faithfulness, moved by the Holy Spirit to bring glory and honor to God alone.