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Commitment To The Way

 

We’ve recently begun a new year according to the calendars on our walls. We are soon to begin a new year according to God’s calendar in a little over a month from now. In the time between the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall and the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in the spring, we shouldn’t let the time lull us into any sense of aimlessness. Sure, it’s easy to become caught up with the duties and frustrations of our hectic world; but we need to re-dedicate our lives to focus on godly goals.

 

If you were to ask most people about their goals in life, you would probably receive answers showing preoccupations with daily sustenance and just making ends meet. Indeed, among the most basic of needs is the necessity of providing food, clothing, and shelter for oneself and one’s family. In many countries of the world that, in itself, is an overwhelming duty and a goal which can be hard to fulfill on an everyday basis.

 

In many people’s lives, God is not connected with such mundane tasks. They do not see God as being intimately involved with the daily lives of his human creation. Therefore, God is not real to most people. We, however, should not view life in the same way as most people in the world. God should be more real to us because we have the additional gift of his written word to bolster our confidence and to give us insight into the more intimate details of his concern with his creation.

 

 

Doubt

 

Sure, there are probably times of doubt that beset us, as well as others; but when those doubts come, we have a source of confidence upon which we can rely. Doubt comes to all people at times, just as it occasionally did with King David. Asaph, the chief musician appointed by King David to preside over the sacred choral services recorded such doubt for us in Psalms 73. Along with the doubt, however, also soon came the clarity of the answer.

(Psa 73:1-5 NASB) (A Psalm of Asaph.) Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! {2} But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. {3} For I was envious of the arrogant, As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. {4} For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat. {5} They are not in trouble as other men; Nor are they plagued like mankind.

Skip down to verse 16.

(Psa 73:16 NASB) When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight {17} Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. {18} Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction. {19} How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! {20} Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form. {21} When my heart was embittered, And I was pierced within, {22} Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before Thee. {23} Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. {24} With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. {25} Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. {26} My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. {27} For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. {28} But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works.

Asaph came to the proper conclusion. His former feelings of doubt and depression were based on his envy of the unrighteous. He observed the prosperity of the wicked at the same time he saw the plight and trouble of the righteous. His distress led him to brood over the apparent inequity. It all came into proper perspective, however, when he came into the sanctuary of God and "perceived their end."

 

What about us and what about our daily lives? Do we just rush along in doing our daily duties acting as if worldly materialism and the accumulation of wealth were our only goals in life? That certainly appears to be the way most people around us live their lives, always seeking more and seldom being satisfied. Stop for a moment and examine your daily actions. Ask yourself if God and his righteous laws and judgments are incorporated within the way you live your life or are they merely stuffed into a handy "closet" that you only occasionally open to view at a distance.

 

 

The "Way of God" is a Way of Life

 

Look at what Jesus taught his disciples. Matthew 22:15 shows it was well known among even his adversaries that Christ taught the "way of God."

(Mat 22:15-16 NASB) Then the Pharisees went and counseled together how they might trap Him in what He said. {16} And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.

What is the "way of God" that Jesus taught? The Greek word translated way is Strong’s number 3598 hodos and the New American Standard Bible Dictionary defines hodos as a way, or a road. Jesus didn’t teach about a "sometime" way, though. He taught "the way of God in truth." So, truth is a key important element embodied in the way of God. Christ got right to the heart of the "way of God" in Matthew 7:12 where he talked about acceptable behavior in the sight of God.

(Mat 7:12-14 NASB) "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. {13} "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. {14} "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

In another place Jesus was asked by Pilate, "what is truth." Though he didn’t answer Pilate at the time, in John 14:6, Christ did disclose the answer privately to his disciples.

(John 14:6-10 NASB) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. {7} "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." {8} Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." {9} Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, 'Show us the Father'? {10} "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

We know that God the Father is the source of all things. If Jesus taught the way of God in truth, and he clearly stated that Christ is "the way" and "the truth," then it’s logical to deduce that our only access to the Father is through Christ. In fact, Jesus even said that in the same verse, "no one comes to the Father but through me."

In Ephesians 2:13, Paul acknowledged the same thing.

(Eph 2:13-18 NASB) But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. {14} For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, {15} by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, {16} and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. {17} AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; {18} for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

So, there is no longer a barrier between us and the Father. While Gentiles formerly were separated from Jews and cut off from the knowledge of God, through the sacrifice of Christ, both Gentiles and Jews now have equal access to the throne of God. Read it again.

(Eph 2:14 NASB) For He Himself [that is, Christ] is our peace, who made both groups [Gentiles and Jews] into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

In Old Testament times, the priesthood was held by the sons of Aaron and, specifically, by the High Priest, the cohen gadol. The book of Hebrews, especially chapter nine, is devoted to explaining the proper standing of Christ as our new high priest who has opened to us the way of direct access to the throne of God through the blood of his own sacrifice.

(Heb 9:1-15 NASB) Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. {2} For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. {3} And behind the second veil, there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, {4} having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant. {5} And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. {6} Now when these things have been thus prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship, {7} but into the second only the high priest enters, once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. {8} The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, {9} which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, {10} since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. {11} But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; {12} and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. {13} For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, {14} how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? {15} And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

We need to remember our former state. We, left to our own devices and under the sway of Satan, were voluntarily alienated and cut off from our Father, God Most High. In Ephesians 2:1, Paul, speaking to the gentile Ephesians reminded them of that fact.

(Eph 2:1-13 NASB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, {2} in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. {3} Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. {4} But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, {5} even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), {6} and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, {7} in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. {8} For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; {9} not as a result of works, that no one should boast. {10} For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. {11} Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- {12} remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. {13} But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

 

Back in chapter six of Hebrews and verse 19, we can see the connection, in fact the inseparable dependence, upon which our hope rests in the new direct access to the throne of God. That access was only made possible through our Master, Jesus Christ, and the way he opened to us through his sacrifice.

(Heb 6:19-20 NASB) This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil [that’s the curtain which separates the holy place from the Most Holy Place, where the throne of God is portrayed atop the Ark of the Covenant], {20} where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek [and the Hebrew word for order is Strong’s #5010, taxis, and it means a regular arrangement, that is, a fixed succession].

 

 

The Bedrock of our Hope

 

If we have as our anchor a sure and steadfast hope, just what is that hope? Peter addressed that subject in 1 Pet 3:13.

(1 Pet 3:13-15 NASB) And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? {14} But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, {15} but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

If we are to be always ready to make a defense of that hope, we must be grounded and sure of the hope we have. Are you sure? Could you explain it to someone who asked you? What are the traits of the hope we have and what is the source upon which we can depend?

In Romans 15:4, Paul tells us the source to which we can go to find encouragement for the hope we have.

(Rom 15:4 NASB) For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So, we must continually use the Scriptures given us by God to bolster our hope and support our confidence. We must, however, never lose sight of the real source of the revealed knowledge in the Scriptures. In 1 Tim 4:10, Paul makes it clear that the ultimate source is our Father, God Most High.

(1 Tim 4:10 NASB) For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

In Romans 8:22, Paul puts things into proper perspective by linking our redemption with the essence of our hope.

(Rom 8:22-25 NASB) For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. {23} And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. {24} For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? {25} But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

That just makes sense. Read verses 24 and 25 again: "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? {25} But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."

 

What is it we wait eagerly to receive? In Titus 1:1, Paul specifically ties our hope to the promises of God.

(Titus 1:1-2 NKJV) Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, {2} in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

That hope of eternal life is again mentioned two chapters later in Titus 3:7.

(Titus 3:7 NKJV) that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

In the past, we have noted there are two kinds of righteousness: righteousness by works and righteousness by faith. In order to be in right standing with God, though, our evil deeds of sin must be forgiven and we must be justified. We just read in Titus 3:7 that, in order to "be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life," we must be "justified by His grace." In Romans 5:1, Paul shows the righteous connection between faith, justification and hope.

(Rom 5:1-6 NASB) Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, {2} through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. {3} And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; {4} and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; {5} and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given to us. {6} For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Remember also how we read in Ephesians "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;"

 

Clearly then, we cannot be justified by God without faith. The beautiful harmony of God’s plan, though, is our utter dependence upon our Father. We can be forgiven by the grace of God but we cannot receive the grace of God without being brought to a state of justification. In order to be justified, though, we must have faith in our elder brother and redeemer, Jesus Christ, and in the sacrifice that was made for us. We cannot conjure up the required faith on our own, however. Even the faith we need is a gift from God. What beautiful harmony and synchronicity!

 

 

The New Testament "Way"

 

Earlier we read that Christ taught "the way of God." Even after Jesus’ death, the Church he established continued in that "Way." In Acts 9:1, we can see that the New Testament Church of God continued in "the way" taught by Christ, despite persecution from the Jews.

(Acts 9:1-2 NASB) Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, {2} and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

 

Later, in Acts 19: 23, after Paul’s conversion, the Church of God continued teaching "the way of God" and persecution continued against the members of the Church because of "the way."

(Acts 19:23-26 NASB) And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the Way. {24} For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; {25} these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. {26} "And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.

Even the demons recognized that the followers of Christ in the New Testament Church taught "the way of God." In Acts 16: 17, the demon-possessed girl followed Paul, proclaiming the truth about what they taught.

(Acts 16:17 NASB) Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."

So, in proclaiming "the way of God," they were proclaiming to people "the way of salvation." When he was taken prisoner before the governor, Felix, in Acts 24:10, Paul made his appeal by stating the facts of his case and freely admitted that he was a member of the so-called "sect" known as "the Way."

(Acts 24:10-16 NASB) And when the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: "Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense, {11} since you can take note of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. {12} "And neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city itself did they find me carrying on a discussion with anyone or causing a riot. {13} "Nor can they prove to you the charges of which they now accuse me. {14} "But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets; {15} having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. {16} "In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.

Later, in Acts 26: 6, when Paul was standing trial before King Agrippa, he testified of the hope that he had.

(Acts 26:6-7 NASB) "And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; {7} the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews.

Not only did Paul teach "the way of God" and testify to others about that encompassing way of life, so did Apollos. In fact, Acts 18: 25 shows us that even one as fervent as Apollos was able to grow in the knowledge of God when he was taught more accurately by Priscella and Aquila.

(Acts 18:25-26 NASB) This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; {26} and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

 

 

Commitment and Diligence

 

We’ve now seen that both Christ and his followers in the New Testament Church of God taught and lived according to the "way of God." It is a life’s philosophy and dedication to the way of life that’s pleasing to our Creator. In Psalm 37, David spoke of the peace and calm that comes from a life committed to the way of the Lord.

(Psa 37:1-6 NASB) (A Psalm of David.) Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. {2} For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb. {3} Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. {4} Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. {5} Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. {6} And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday.

What of other Old Testament men of God who led lives committed to God’s way of life? What can we learn from their examples? The eleventh chapter of Hebrews reviews the lives of the men and women of God. The Complete Jewish Bible shows that living a life of faith in God and his ways means living a life of deep abiding trust and dependence on God.

(Heb 11:1-40 CJB) Trusting is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see. {2} It was for this that Scripture attested the merit of the people of old. {3} By trusting, we understand that the universe was created through a spoken word of God, so that what is seen did not come into being out of existing phenomena. {4} By trusting, Hevel [Abel] offered a greater sacrifice than Kayin [Cain]; because of this, he was attested as righteous, with God giving him this testimony on the ground of his gifts. Through having trusted, he still continues to speak, even though he is dead. {5} By trusting, Hanokh [Enoch] was taken away from this life without seeing death – "he was not to be found, because God took him away" – for he has been attested as having been, prior to being taken away, well pleasing to God. {6} And without trusting, it is impossible to be well pleasing to God, because whoever approaches him must trust that he does exist and that he becomes a rewarder to those who seek him out. {7} By trusting, Noach [Noah], after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting. {8} By trusting, Avraham [Abraham] obeyed, after being called to go out to a place which God would give him as a possession; indeed, he went out without knowing where he was going. {9} By trusting, he lived as a temporary resident in the land of the promise, as if it were not his, staying in tents with Yitz’chak [Isaac] and Ya’akov [Jacob], who were to receive what was promised along with him. {10} For he was looking forward to the city with permanent foundations, of which the architect and builder is God. {11} By trusting, he received potency to father a child, even when he was past the age for it, as was Sarah herself; because he regarded the one who had made the promise as trustworthy. {12} Therefore this one man, who was virtually dead, fathered descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and as countless as the grains of the sand on the seashore. {13}All these people kept on trusting until they died, without receiving what had been promised. They had only seen it and welcomed it from a distance, while acknowledging that they were aliens and temporary residents on the earth. {14} For people who speak this way make it clear that they are looking for a fatherland. {15} Now if they were to keep recalling the one they left, they would have an opportunity to return; {16} but as it is, they aspire to a better fatherland, a heavenly one. This is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. {17} By trusting, Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz’chak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, {18} to whom it had been said, "what is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak." {19} For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him. {20} By trusting, Yitz’chak in his blessings over Ya’akov [Jacob] and Esav [Esau] made reference to events yet to come. {21} By trusting, Ya’akov, when he was dying, blessed each of Yosef’s [Joseph’s] sons, leaning on his walking-stick as he bowed in prayer. {22} By trusting, the parents of Moshe [Moses] hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was a beautiful child, and they weren’t afraid of the king’s decree. {24} By trusting, Moshe, after he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. {25} He chose being mistreated along with God’s people rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. {26} He had come to regard abuse suffered on behalf of the Messiah as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes fixed on the reward. {27} By trusting, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered as one who sees the unseen. {28} By trusting, he obeyed the requirements for the Pesach [Passover], including the smearing of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Isra’el. {29} By trusting, they walked through the Red Sea as through dry land; when the Egyptians tried to do it, the sea swallowed them up. {30} By trusting, the walls of Yericho [Jericho] fell down – after the people had marched around them for seven days. {31} By trusting, Rachav [Rahab] the prostitute welcomed the spies and therefore did not die along with those who were disobedient. {32} What more should I say? There isn’t time to tell about Gid’on [Gideon], Barak, Shimshon [Samson], Yiftach [Jephthah], David, Sh’mu’el [Samuel] and the prophets; {33} who, through trusting, conquered kingdoms, worked righteousness, received what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, had their weakness turned to strength, grew mighty in battle and routed foreign armies. {35} Women received back their dead resurrected; other people were stretched on the rack and beaten to death, refusing to be ransomed, so that they would gain a better resurrection. {36} Others underwent the trials of being mocked and whipped, then chained and imprisoned. {37} They were stoned, sawed in two, murdered by the sword; they went about clothed in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, mistreated, {38} wandering about in deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground! The world was not worthy of them! {39} All of these had their merit attested because of their trusting. Nevertheless, they did not receive what had been promised, {40} because God had planned something better that would involve us, so that only with us would they be brought to the goal.

 

Continue in the next chapter.

(Heb 12:1-2 CJB) So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment – that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement – and keep running with endurance the contest set before us, {2} looking away to the initiator and completer of the trusting, Yeshua [Jesus] – who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In Hebrews 6:9, we can see that committed lives led according to the righteous standards of God are not empty lives. God does not overlook our diligence and commitment to him, if we do what is pleasing in his sight.

(Heb 6:9-12 NASB) But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. {10} For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. {11} And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, {12} that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

So, we have as encouragement the examples of the stalwart people of God written for us in Scripture. Hebrews 10:19 then links the nobility and implications of the sacrifice of our new High Priest with the hope that we have in the promises of God and the love and good deeds which we now perform as outward expressions of that hope.

(Heb 10:19-25 NASB) Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, {20} by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, {21} and since we have a great priest over the house of God, {22} let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. {23} Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; {24} and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, {25} not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Finally, in 1 Peter 1:3, Peter goes even a step beyond by connecting the mercy of God with our hope, as well as the continued building-up of our faith through trials and testing.

(1 Pet 1:3-8 NASB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, {4} to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, {5} who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. {6} In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, {7} that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; {8} and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Earlier, we talked about doubt. Even the patriarchs of old were subject to doubt and depression at times. They overcame it all, however, by subjecting all their own fears and weaknesses to an even greater fear: that is, the fear of God. Their doubt and depression were conquered by the fear of God that comes through faith, trust, and dedication to God and to his way of life. So, too, should we prevail over our weaknesses. We should continually be encouraged by their examples, as well as by the many implications of our redeemer’s sacrifice for us. We should be committed to continually examining ourselves to lead lives dedicated to pleasing our great Father through continually seeking to do his will. We should each be daily increasing in our commitment to the Way.

 

 

Sermon given by Philip Edwards

February 2, 2008

 

Copyright 2008, Philip Edwards


 

 

 

       Church of God Most High 

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