The Messengers - Part 4Posted: Fri. Jul, 15 2016
The Messengers, part 4.
I have become fond of the New Living Translation over the last few days and so I decided to use it for this blog.
The goal of any Bible translation is to convey the meaning and content of the ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts as accurately as possible to contemporary readers. The challenge for translators is to create a text that will communicate as clearly and as powerfully to today's readers as the original texts did to the readers and hearers in the ancient biblical world. The NLT is easy to understand, while also accurately communicating the meaning and content of the original biblical texts. It was first published in 1996 and shortly after the committee began an eight-year process with the purpose of increasing the level of the NLT's precision. This second generation was introduced in 2004, with minor changes subsequently produced in 2007, 2013, and 2015.
MAT 10:26 "But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household! If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."
The power of men ceases with the death of the body. As soon as we are dead, any power anyone has had over us is ended. Three times Jesus encourages them to "not be afraid." Their sufferings and their preaching will soon become public. They are not to do their preaching in a closet or in secrecy, but publically. Their intimate talks with Jesus in the gardens, on the road, in the camp, etc. about the truth of the kingdom of God will soon be shared with the world, and due to this, their suffering, which so far has also been very private, will become public. You will preach from the rooftops and they will try to push you off.
To fear men is not to fear God. It is obvious that God can do much more to us than a man can. God can so easily prevent or allow a person's drive to persecute a believer, but no man can say that he can do the same to God. To properly and reverently fear God is to not fear man. Our ultimate danger does not lie with the judgment of man but with God who can destroy not just the body but the soul in the Lake of Fire. Since all believers have avoided that final judgment, still the judgment upon the good that a believer produces in this life rests solely with God and never with man. When Christ inspected the fig tree, He found no fruit and caused it to wither. The Christian life will wither within the child of God who bears no divine fruit. Only God can make a spiritual life wither or flourish. It is only with Him that we have to do. MAT 7:17-19 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.
HEB 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
The power that any men enjoy for their brief time on earth has been known by God from all time and has been allowed by God. Power corrupts most men and few have been able to have the capacity to handle it well and wisely. "Sir, there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money." [Ben Franklin]. Since Satan lusts more for power than anyone, he naturally promotes those who lust for it as he does, and since he abhors Christianity and is currently, for a time, the god of this world, the stage is set for powerful men to persecute God fearing Christians. The seething evil in the men who do so in our nation is that they attempt to veil it with a message that it is for the good of all. Yet, the same God who sees no sparrow fall to the ground without His knowledge and will, allows nothing to happen unless it be for the good of His people and the cause of His own glory. To Him, we are much more valuable than all the sparrows combined and yet He takes care of each sparrow as a loving Creator. 1PE 4:19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
So then, we must manifest Christ everywhere, and without fear or apology. We must preach the word when called to and share the gospel when the opportunity shows itself. God is with us and all things will work together for good to those who love Him.
Human history is short but eternity is long. It is in this brief, flashing history that we find the time for decision - will we proclaim Him before men without fear of their retaliation and persecution or will we only speak of Him in secret chambers, in whispers with eyes gazing to the right and left, lest the whispers fall on any ears? The time will actually come on the earth when angels will be zooming around the atmosphere proclaiming the gospel, untouchable by the great anger and annoyance of man. REV 14:6-7 And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. So then, why not now with us?
The wonderful juxtaposition of confessing Christ is that when we confess Him before men, He is always silently with us and will come to our aid from within, giving strength and resolve. If we are faithful in this then the roles are changed; as we remain silent, He confesses us before the Father and all the elect angels. REV 3:5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
The cross is the sword that God wields on earth. Either this sword will bring people together as Christian brothers in arms or it will create division, even in the family bond dynamic. The Christian will find enemies where he least expected them, in his own household. He then finds his heart being pulled in two completely different directions. The family thinks he's being a bit too fanatical. They will allow him his bit of religion, but please, not to such an extent as full devotion of life. They claim that something exists that does not, something they claim to know well, but haven't a clue about - compromise. Man has a great tendency to have his part of the way devotions or devotions for a time, from which there is departure when boredom sets in. If we cling to this we will lose the ability to live the Christ life in time. Christ will have none of this and He makes sure that we don't go away with any notion of it. There is no compromise. "If you love anyone more than Me then you are not worthy of Me." It is said directly and in simplicity. There can be no confusion about the matter.
It is hardly surprising that the harbinger of God's love has been accused of hatred of the human race. Christ's words, on the surface, seem to say that He desired this end. "I have come to set a man against his father…" Is He the Prince of Peace or of division? He came bringing love and life and these demand devotion from the one upon whom they are bestowed. Who better to demand love and devotion than the Savior of mankind? Christ fully knew when He came into the world that some would accept Him and others would reject Him, and that when this happened, especially with blood relatives who would feel that devotion was taken from them, division would occur. If Jesus didn't bring the love of God then He wouldn't have brought division, but when free-will exists in fallen man, you can't have one without the other. And He knew well that the many, many divisions that did result would range from the very minor to actual wars and that the resultant persecution would range from harmless familial separation to being burned at the stake. But He said, "Do not fear them, for every detail about your life, including the numbers of hairs you have, are known to God and He will be with you, now, and until the end of the age."
MAT 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries