Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For those of whom the world is not worthy

"Believers were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated--the world was not worthy of them."
Hebrews 11:35-38

...we should lament that now, in gospel times, when the rule of faith is more clear and perfect, the number of believers should be so small, and their faith so weak. It is the excellence of the grace of faith, that, while it helps men to do great things .. it keeps from high and great thoughts of themselves. Faith ..has recourse unto God in all dangers and difficulties, and then makes grateful returns to God for all mercies and deliverances. By faith, the servants of God shall overcome even the roaring lion that goeth about seeking whom he may devour. The believer's faith endures to the end, and, in dying, gives him victory over death and all his deadly enemies ... The grace of God often fixes upon very undeserving and ill-deserving persons, to do great things for them and by them. But the grace of faith, wherever it is, will put men upon acknowledging God in all their ways ...Those are likely to grow up to be distinguished for faith, who begin betimes ... to exercise it. And faith will enable a man to serve God and his generation ...The interests and powers of kings and kingdoms, are often opposed to God and His people; but God can easily subdue all that set themselves against Him. It is a greater honour and happiness to work righteousness than to work miracles...Shall we be most amazed at the wickedness of human nature, that it is capable of such awful cruelties to fellow-creatures, or at the excellence of Divine grace, that is able to bear up the faithful under such cruelties, and to carry them safely through all? What a difference between God's judgement of a saint, and man's judgment! The world is not worthy of those scorned, persecuted saints, whom their persecutors reckon unworthy to live. They are not worthy of their company, example, counsel, or other benefits. For they know not what a saint is, nor the worth of a saint, nor how to use him; they hate, and drive such away, as they do the offer of Christ and His grace.
~ Matthew Henry

“As a soldier follows his general, as the servant follows his master, as the scholar follows his teacher, as the sheep follows its shepherd, so ought the professing Christian to follow Christ. Faith and obedience are the leading marks of real followers, and will always be seen in true believing Christians. Their knowledge may be very small, and their infirmities very great; their grace very weak, and their hope very dim. But they believe what Christ says, and they strive to do what Christ commands. Christianity like this, receives little praise from man. It is too thorough, to decided, too strong, too real. To serve Christ in name and form is easy work, and satisfies most people; but to follow Him in faith demands more trouble than the generality of men will take about their souls. Laughter, ridicule, opposition, persecution are often the only reward which Christ’s followers get from the world.”

~ J.C. Ryle

How is it that followers of Jesus Christ defeat the enemy within and without? Was it by worming their way into the acceptance of the world and her worldlings? No! Syncretism was the miserable and tragic flaw of Israel. Did they tame Satan and his demons by tolerating his plans to kill, steal and destroy? No! True Christians carried the cause AGAINST the enemy of God. How did believers overcome the world, their flesh and the devil? They believed in their heart and they testified with their lips. Their testimony, granted to them by the Blood of Christ, gave them victory over the beast.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,
and by the Word of their testimony;
and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 12:11

The servants of God overcame Satan by the Blood of the Lamb, as the cause. By the word of their testimony: the powerful preaching of the gospel is mighty, through God, to pull down strong holds. By their courage and patience in sufferings: they loved not their lives so well but they could lay them down in Christ's cause. These were the warriors and the weapons by which Christianity overthrew the power of pagan idolatry; and if Christians had continued to fight with these weapons, and such as these, their victories would have been more numerous and glorious, and the effects more lasting. The redeemed overcame by a simple reliance on the blood of Christ, as the only ground of their hopes. In this we must be like them. We must not blend any thing else with this.
~ Matthew Henry

I dedicate this to the dear saints who labor with me, side-by-side, in the field of blood. Week in and week out I have watched them endure being severely mocked, threatened, battered, spat upon. Year after year I have seen them give of their own resources, spending countless hours praying for and patiently walk women and their children through pregnancy and beyond. To my co-laborers in the gospel, I thank God for the way that He has given you a desire to live looking UPward and OUTward, not for yourself and your own comfort, but to make Christ famous.

I love you and consider it the greatest honor and privilege to serve Jesus in the gospel mission together.

Patte Smith
Sanctuary Ministries

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