1 Peter 1:3-7
“We are being guarded by God’s power THROUGH FAITH.”
Os Guiness in his book “The Call” writes: “All truth in a fallen world is vulnerable to distortion. In fact, each truth has its own foreseeable distortion that are its shadow side. Each also has a sort of magnetic attraction to distortions prevalent in the people who believe the truth and the times in which they live.
What are some of the major temptations surrounding CALLING?
The closeness between calling and conceit is easy to see. After all, to be called is to hear God whisper three things to you in a hundred intimate ways – “You are chosen, you are gifted; you are special.” Let those three things sink in for longer than the first precious moments and you will inevitably hear another voice, honeyed and smooth: “Yes, you really are chosen…..gifted…..special.”
All to soon, if you are anything like most of us, you will find yourself saying in response to the devil’s echo of God – to yourself, of course, never out loud; I’M CHOSEN. I’M GIFTED. I REALLY MUST BE SPECIAL. And before you know it, the wonder of calling has grown into the horror of conceit. As the Old Testament insists, Jewish “chosenness” did not mean the Jews were better, wiser, or more deserving than others. It was a miracle of God’s love. Nor did chosenness bring or imply any special privileges and benefits for the Jews alone. It was a summons that brought A HIGHER TASK, A HEAVIER BURDEN, AND A STERNER JUDGMENT. The purpose of Israel’s choosing is universal. Israel’s significance is FOR ALL MANKIND.
The temptation, however, is inescapable – for us as much as the Jews. During World War II, Winston Churchill’s governing coalition included, as president of the Board of Trade, Sir Stafford Cripps. Cripps was also a strong Calvinist and, in Churchill’s eyes, Cripps’s sense of the providence of God had seeped across into his own sense of self-importance. His self-regard, we might say, was a trifle high. One day, Cripps left the cabinet room and Churchill turned to the others and said: “THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GOES GOD.” Such expressions of pride and vanity are not uncommon among people with a profound sense of calling.”
The GREEK word for ‘trial’ is ‘PEIRASMOS’. This word can refer to TEST’S that challenge the moral integrity of one’s faith. This is what Peter had in mind. But it can also refer to ‘temptations,’ things that appear to our sinful tendencies and challenge our moral integrity.
Chuck Swindoll once said: “Like unwelcome guests, they (trials and tests) burst into our lives unannounced and stay too long. Trials may be frequent and frustrating or epic and life changing. We can never predict, yet they HAVE A PURPOSE.”
Michael Heiser “The Unseen Realm”
“Why would the Spirit compel Jesus to go into the desert to face the devil? The answer takes us back to the Gospel’s presentation of Jesus’ baptism and revival of God’s kingdom as a new exodus event. In the Old Testament, Israel, the son of God (Exodus 4:23), passed through the sea (Exodus 14-15) and then ventured out into the wilderness on the way to Canaan to -re-establish Yahweh’s kingdom. But ISRAEL’S FAITH AND LOYALTY TO YAHWEH faltered (Judges 2:11-15). They were eventually seduced by the hostile divine powers “demons” whose domain was the wilderness (Deuteronomy 32:15-20) Jesus, the messianic son of God and real representative of the nation, would succeed where Israel failed.”
R.T. France, GUARDED
“The most significant key to the understanding of this story is to be found in Jesus’ three scriptural quotations. All come from Deuteronomy 6-8, the part of Moses’ address to the Israelites before their entry into Canaan in which he reminds them of their forty years in wilderness experiences. It has been a time of preparation and of proving the faithfulness of their God. He has deliberately put them through a time of privation as an educative process. They have been learning, or should have been learning, what it means to live IN TRUSTING OBEDIENCE TO GOD……. NOW another “Son of God” is in the wilderness, this time for forty days rather than forty years, as a preparation for entering into his DIVINE CALLING. There in the wilderness he too faces those same tests, and he has learned the lessons which Israel had so imperfectly grasped. His Father is testing him in the school of privation, and his triumphant rebuttal of the devil’s suggestions will ensure that the filial bond can survive in spite of the conflict that lies ahead. Israel’s occupation of the promised land was at best a flawed fulfillment of the hopes with which they came to the Jordan, but this new “Son of God” will not fail, and the new Exodus will succeed. Where Israel of old stumbled and fell, Christ the new Israel stood firm….The story of the testing in the wilderness is thus an elaborate typological presentation of Jesus as himself the true Israel, the ‘Son of God’ through whom God’s redemptive purpose for his people is now at last to reach its fulfillment.”
It was in the prison camp when undergoing treatment and surgery for cancer that Solzhenitsyn came to turn from atheism to fully embrace Christianity. A poem recorded in his
book The Gulag Archipelago reflects his new faith:
I look back with grateful trembling
At the life I have had to lead.
Neither desire nor reason
Has illumined its twists and turns,
But the glow of a Higher Meaning
Only later to be explained.
And now with the cup returned to me
I scoop up the water of life.
Almighty God! I believe in Thee!
Thou remained when I Thee denied…
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn “The Gulag Archipelago”
“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”