Summary: This is the fifth in a series focusing on the need for God’s people to learn the importance of bearing up under opposition and trials so that God’s Kingdom might be established in us and in the world.
How To Run The Race (Pt. V)
Sermon – August 21st 2005
As children of God we are called to live our lives on a higher plane than the world around us.
The world goes by the tangible things that one can touch – we are told to walk by faith and not by sight.
The world will tell you that you need to look out for ‘number one’, we are told to consider others better than ourselves and to be the servant of all.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
We are not told to follow God’s ways only when it seems prudent to us – we have to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
We have to make God’s ways our ways – in every area of our lives.
Sometimes God’s Word calls us to things that are pretty difficult.
What Is Faith?
FAITH is dead to doubts—
dumb to discouragements,
blind to impossibilities,
knows nothing but success.
FAITH lifts its hand up through
the threatening clouds,
lays hold of Him who has
all power in heaven and on earth.
FAITH makes the uplook good,
the outlook bright,
the inlook favorable,
and the future glorious.
—V. Raymond Edman
When we look at the circumstances of life through the lens of faith everything appears to us in a very different light.
(Brief review of Pt. 4)
1. Watch Your Days –
16 Watch your life… closely.
2. Watch Your Doctrine –
16 Watch your…doctrine closely.
3. Watch With Diligence –
Persevere in them (life and doctrine), because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Here is an example of the need to look at life through the lens of faith! Genuine faith is a tested faith.
1. Perspective –
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds
The word for joy in this text is unambiguous – it means joy or gladness.
Notice we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials. It does not say “be joyful”
Another way you could say this verse is…
“When trials occur in your life consider it a circumstance in which to be joyful.”
We need to see trials as opportunities for God’s work to be displayed in our lives.
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Paul and Silas had the right perspective…
The issue is not that they were necessarily joyful for the trials they were enduring but they were joyful in the midst of them.
They were joyful because of the fact that the gospel was advancing as a result of their suffering as well as the fact that they were maturing in their own faith.
We also see the principle of perseverance at work here…
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As they persevered together God gave them endurance and encouragement and a spirit of unity – they had the right perspective.
Martyrdom Of Polycarp
Polycarp, venerable bishop of Smyrna was a personal friend and pupil of John the Apostle. When he was age 86, he was urged by the Roman proconsul to reproach Christ and be set free.
“Eighty and six years have I served Him and He never did me any injury. How then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
The proconsul said: “I have respect for your age. Simply say, ‘Away with the Atheists’ and be set free.” Polycarp solemnly said, “Away with the Atheists”—pointing to the pagan crowd.”
He joyfully went to the stake, thanking God for counting him worthy to be numbered among the martyrs.