The Grace of Suffering

“Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.  But the end of all things is at hand: you be therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.  Yet if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if first at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Therefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.  1 Peter 4:1-19

REFERENCES: 2:20; 3:19; Ezekiel 9:6; 44:6; Acts 10:42; 17:30; Romans 12:13; 14:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 5:11; 24:13, 45; Proverbs 10:12; 1 Corinthians 3:13; James 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; Isaiah 10:12;

Christmas Day 70

What do I want for Christmas today?

Those of us at the Cassville R-IV School District had a great work associate, and friend pass away suddenly yesterday.

I want for peace, comfort, encouragement, grace and mercy to permeate his family, that every need they have will be met in their loss; and want us all to pray for them in the days to come.

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:15

Perspective

Byway Blessings

I have always enjoyed driving! I guess that is why when I was blessed with a job about 30 minutes from home, I really didn’t mind. Most of the time I listen to music when I am driving along, but that was not the case today. Silence reigned in the car and I was very deep in thought on my drive this morning when I focused on the road ahead I noticed it looked like mountains in the distance. Now I know there are not any mountains in Southwest Georgia at least not since last Thursday. The clouds were arranged in the sky in a way that made it look like the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. For a moment in time my eyes were playing tricks on me. My perspective was tainted; I was seeing something in a different way.

In my walk with God, I often see…

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Excellent in Power and in Judgment

“Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear Him: He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.” Job 37:23-24 (KJV)

The three friends of Job have spoken. Job has finished his speaking. Now a fourth man; who is the younger of the other four; now speaks. Job 32-37 covers the speeches of Elihu.

We know nothing much of him except he was a Buzite, of the kindred of Ram. Does not tell us much. We can tell that he is ignorant of the events of heaven in chapters one and two. We know this because he is still accusing Job of unrighteousness which God has not.

One thing I like about Elihu is that most of what he says seems to exalt the Almighty, as in these final words of his speeches.

Reminds me of some of the apostle Paul’s words that God is not a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25), and that of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:17).

Elihu, though young, and verbose reminds us that this story in Job’s name, and these events are not really about Job; but about the Almighty God.

The events, challenges, trials, friends, enemies, good times, bad times are not about me; they are about the work of God in me. He is working to make me more into His image and likeness (Romans 8:29). The likeness of His Son Jesus Christ who bled and died on the cross for our sins.

Plead For Your Neighbor

“O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!” Job 16:21 (KJV)

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had come to Job with good intentions. Their silence for those first seven days was more comforting, caring, and supportive than any of the words they spoke thereafter. Job even states in verse 2; “Miserable comforters are ye all.”

Job’s words in the text is as a man, or a woman could stand before God; like in a court; and plead for their friend or neighbor. Job’s thoughts were pleading for a reprieve from suffering, judgment, pain. If the shoe was on the other food, that is what Job would have done; if it were possible.

Can we make a plea to God in behalf of our friends, neighbors; even our enemies? If we can should we? The answer is yes on both counts.

Because of the wondrous grace of God through the cross of Jesus Christ we have access to the very throne and presence of God. Those who have come to God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the priests of God; therefore we can come before Him with our pleading, supplications, prayers, and petitions.

We come before the court of our LORD, and plea for our neighbor’s salvation; their health which may be failing; their wealth; their family; and any other thing or need they may have. It should be a privilege, honor, and duty of love to do so. Even if your neighbor is an “Enemy” we still must pray, and plead for them.

Chastisement, Correction or Testing?

“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: for He maketh sore, and bindeth up: He woundeth, and His hands make whole.” Job 5:17-18 (KJV)

These words are from the first speech of Eliphaz the Temanite; one of Job’s three friends who had heard of Job’s plight, and came to comfort and encourage him. They had sat with him for seven days in silence, never saying a word. Maybe they should have remained silent; but that was not to be.

The words of the verses above are true. It is a blessed, a happy thing to know that God chastens those He loves (Hebrews 12:7-8). However, Job was not being chastised for any evil, any wrong he had done.

Job, nor his friends knew to the scene that had taken place in heaven. God was placing trust in Job, and his faith.

Remember when you are disciplined by the Lord that He loves you. That is a great encouragement. Let us also remember when it comes to the trials of another that silence is sometimes the best encouragement and comfort that we can give.

We are too prone to the fallacy of thinking that goodness never suffers; and evil always suffers.

We can be encouraged by the fact of knowing that when we err in sin, as one of His children, He chastens us; but all trials, and suffering are not the result of sin.

The answer is that in blessing and in pain rejoice in the LORD, and be a blessing to His name. Praise Him

Receiving From God

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Job 2:8-9 (KJV)

Job was a blessed man with a large family, loving wife, much land, cattle, camels, sheep, oxen, donkeys, and many servants who were loyal to him. He was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived.

The book of Job is believed to be the oldest of the Old Testament books. He is believed to have lived around the time of Abraham, and possibly sometime before. The book was written sometime before Moses wrote Genesis and the rest of the Law. Job believed in God, and he believed God.

Satan, the devil, that old serpent sought to cause Job harm by seeking God’s permission to cause Job suffering, loss, trial, and pain. Just a thought here to the child of God: Satan can never touch you unless he gets God’s permission first; and if God gives him permission to touch you it is because God knows you can handle it.

Notice this about Satan. He is always going from the presence of the LORD (1:12; 2:7).

I said Job had a loving wife above. She did not enjoy the pain and suffering that had come to them. She was suffering too with the loss of their children, all their wealth; and then the skin diseases with boils, and such. It was, she thought, more than she could bear; so she said to Job, “Curse God and die”.

Job understood her pain. He also had a heart for God, and believed that the blessings he had lived with were from God, and that the suffering was allowed by God.

Are you suffering today? Think about Job. Think about God’s goodness, grace and love. When you love God there is nothing that can cause you to curse God; but thank Him, praise Him, love Him; because there is no other who can hold you and keep you.

God loves you. He has proven that love by the cross of His Son Jesus who suffered, beatings, mocking, rejection, and loss. He was put on display to show the wondrous love of God.

Searching In The Fire

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” 1 Peter 1:10-12

The prophets of the Old Testament had spoken and written of this great salvation. Isaiah the eighth century B.C. prophet foretold both the first coming of Jesus in the fifty third chapter of his writings (Isaiah 7:14; 53), and the second coming of Jesus in glory (Isaiah 11). That salvation which was previously mentioned (v. 9) is the salvation which Jesus is working in us, and will complete at His appearing.

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit we see that the prophets inquired and searched diligently into the matter of this glorious salvation. The salvation that was paid for with the blood from the body of God who had become human, that He might die. Did the prophet Isaiah realize he was writing of the death of God become flesh as he penned down Isaiah 53? I have a strange notion that he had a suspicion of it, and this is one of the areas which the prophets searched and inquired.

Some more questions I can think of concerning the search of the apostles: Did they see the types, the shadows, the pictures of their Messiah in the writings of Moses? Did they see Him in the sacrifice God made to clothe Adam and Eve? Did they see Him in the fire that guarded the gate to Eden after the fall? Did they see Him in the genealogy of Seth? What about in the Ark? What about as Abraham went to Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God? In the sacrifices of the law of Moses? The sabbaths, and/or the Sabbath? I personally believe many of them did, especially since we are told that they “searched diligently”. A diligent search of Scripture will show us these things.

It seems by looking at verse eleven that they were wondering when these events were going to take place and whom they would be for. We know the answer to this today. He came at the appointed time, to His own people, but was rejected by His own. The person who came was the Messiah/Savior/Lord/God/King to sit on the throne of David for ever and ever.

The prophets wrote of His coming, His suffering and His glory. It is because He came and suffered for us that we have the strength, and power to stand strong and suffer for His name’s sake when we have opportunity. That is right ‘Opportunity’ is the word I used. If the early church people counted it a joy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41). The suffering Jesus suffered for us is what He came to do. It was His very purpose in coming. To make it clearer; God sent His Son Jesus to become a man, in order to take on Himself all the sins of mankind, lay His life down as a sacrifice for our sins, be judged by the Father Himself, and the Father pouring all His wrath out on His Son, thus judging sin and putting the judgment away forever, never to be done again; the burial of Jesus takes that sin away never to be seen again, and the bodily resurrection is the seal of approval of the putting away of sin, and God’s seal of approval for the work of His Son. By the resurrection of Jesus we have the assurance of eternal life with Him, when we trust the work He accomplished on the cross.

Now, why shouldn’t we count it an opportunity to suffer for the name of Jesus? Not that I am going to go out looking for someone to kick me around, or boot me out a door. The suffering will be there when the time calls for it. When we do suffer for the name of Jesus we will rejoice that we were counted worthy to do so.

We see a second group that is mentioned in this text. That of “Angels”. It must surprise them that God could love us so much; but then again, maybe it doesn’t surprise them, but amazes them. You know “Amazing Grace”. I am not going to get into a long thing concerning angels, but I will say that they do exist. I mean the Bible says so. Angels came and ministered to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when He had prayed. He mentions that He could call legions of angels to aid Him, yet, He doesn’t.

The prophets realized that Jesus was not coming in their time, but for another time, and that their writings were going to be used to minister to others. The disciples, apostles, the early church, you and me; and all who know Christ Jesus.

The prophets were successful in their search. The Holy Spirit gave them assurance of the completion of it. How else could Isaiah have peace when he is told that the people he is going to preach to will hear but not obey? The Spirit of God confirmed the message. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of Jesus’s coming (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the power of wisdom. He is the means of knowledge and understanding. He is the means to a holy lifestyle. He is the one who points us to Christ.

Let us; like the prophets of old continue to give diligent search to know this man named Jesus who is the Christ of God, the Son of God, and who died to save us from sin, and to clothe us in the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus God has declared us Just, by his own righteousness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Preserved Through the Fire

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” –1 Peter 1:3-5

There is certainly assurance in these words of God’s ability to keep us for Himself and His own glory. That assurance has been called “Blessed assurance”. It truly is a blessed assurance when you know that Jesus died for your sins, that He was buried – carrying all our sins away; and that He arose from death. Not only was sin conquered, and carried away, but it was defeated. It can no longer condemn the redeemed.

By the mercy of God He has given us a new birth, and that birth is by a heavenly see. His mercy is an abundant mercy which is based on His everlasting love. The love of Jesus Christ is seen for us, in that he allowed vile, evil and wicked men to beat, whip, mutilate, and nail Him to a wooden cross for our sins. It is by grace through faith in Jesus that we are “Born again” to spiritual renewal and life.

It is a “Lively hope” or ‘living hope’ given by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I was once asked the question, “If Jesus’ life was a gift given on the cross for death; how can that continue to be a gift if He rose bodily from the grave?” My answer to that is – He gave His life as an atonement for sin; He died and in His death He took sin with Him; in rising again, bodily, from the grave He shows that sin is done (sin’s bondage, condemnation, death is done), but life continues through Him. I do not know it that is clear enough, and it most likely involves much, much more; but I think that gives us a good message. Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave there is absolutely no hope for anyone – as Paul the apostle said, “We are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). It is because of Jesus’s resurrection that we are assured of eternal life; and eternal life begins with faith in His finished work – by His grace.

This resurrection life in Christ has an eternal inheritance. The inheritance is massive. It is this – what ever Jesus has is ours. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” Romans 8:16-17 (KJV). You will notice that in these verses of Romans that we inherit His suffering and that is the only thing mentioned with the exception of, “Also glorified together”. Suffering with Him and His glory are very closely related.

We often think of “Inheritance” as great wealth, riches, comfort, etc., but that is not the case when it comes to Jesus. The so called “Word of Faith” people would have us believe we are to inherit it all right here and almost right now. The Word of God tells us suffering is part of our inheritance, then glorification with Him. The inheritance we have in Jesus is “incorruptible” meaning that it will not rust, rot, mildew, or decay; and it is forever. We are also told that it is “undefiled” – it is clean, holy, pure – nothing can defile it. Also it “fadeth not away” – this inheritance is never wasted, spent up, or bankrupt. It is reserved in heaven for all who belong to Jesus. It is reserved in your name, by God, and that makes it the most sure thing you or I have going for us. It is more sure than your next breath of air.

Those who follow Jesus are “kept by the power of God” for the salvation we have to be revealed in that latter day. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we are moving closer to the completion of our/His salvation. That work of His on the cross is complete, there can no more be done for our atonement, but the sanctifying of the Spirit is at work, right now, fitting us for His Kingdom, and His presence. Even when we sin and our fellowship with Him is broken He still holds on to us, and by His Spirit and His Word He moves us back into His will. By the sanctifying work and the power of the Spirit of God we are PRESERVED THORUGH THE FIRE.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Prognosis By Fire

In this study I will endeavor to show that through suffering we are prepared for glory.  In the life of Jesus He was preparing for the cross through the things which He suffered, and endured ever faithful to the Father.  It is hard to imagine suffering in order to endure more suffering, but that is what Jesus did; “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;” Hebrews 5:8 (KJV).

To begin this it will be a review of First Peter, and on this article we begin with verses one and two. 

 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:1-2

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”.  This is one who spoke without thinking.  John MacArthur describes him as the apostle with “The foot-shaped mouth” in his book titled TWELVE ORDINARY MEN, and the title of that chapter is “Peter – The Man With The Footshaped Mouth”.

Now here is an epistle through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration written down by Peter himself.  Originally called Simon, Jesus changed his name to Peter/Cephas meaning ‘rock or stone’.  Peter is not the Rock upon which the Church is built (Matthew 16:18 – “And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”).  Peter is part of the foundation (Ephesians 2:20 – “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;), but is not the Rock, upon which it is founded and built.

This letter was written in troublous times for the Christian. According to authorities in this area; the time is around the time that Rome was burned in which Nero set the fire and blamed it on the Christians and set the people of Rome to hating them even worse than before.  In a time of great persecution Peter wrote this letter to comfort and encourage those believers who were in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”  These Christians were “Strangers” and being that some were Jewish were dispossessed of their homeland.  The Gentiles and the Jews who had become Christians had also become “Strangers” to their families, friends, and work associates, because their home was now in Heaven.

Peter specifies to whom this letter is written.  The “Elect” or “Called” and as Paul wrote, “…Before the foundation of the world”.  This is an assuring thing – it is motivation to continue in faith.  Realizing you are the called of God has a strengthening effect on you.  To be chosen, called or the elect of God, and only so by the work of Jesus Christ on calvary’s cross.

“FOREKNOWLEDGE” is from the Greek word ‘prognosis’ which according to MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY is “a forecast esp. of the course of disease”, only God in His ‘prognosis’ is never wrong.  With God’s prognosis we know the outcome, and in Christ it is wonderful.

“Sanctification” is a process by which we are set apart, made holy in this life for the glory of God.  In sanctification the Spirit convicts us of sin, corrects us in our errors, and comforts us in our sorrows, and by and through the Word of God.  He puts us into “Obedience” and showing forth the sacrifice of Jesus in our lives.

“Grace” is Paul’s favorite word and filled his whole life.  It is also Peter’s.   He had experienced the grace of God extremely.  he denied the Lord three times, and was forgiven.  Where grace abounds there is peace. (Romans 5:1 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”; and then in Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which passeth all undestanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.)  In the midst of the fires of trials and tribulation there is always ‘Peace’ in Jesus.  Through Jesus you can have peace in the midst of the storm.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Living For the King

For the King

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 (KJV)

Jesus chose His cross for paying the debt of sin for the people of the world. His cross, His life was the only life worth the Father receiving for sins debt to Him. Jesus chose the way of the cross over His life. He chose the way of the cross over the love of the flesh; the desire to survive. The King chose to suffer for the people rather than to allow us to suffer for eternity.

Subjects of the King choose the suffering of Jesus Christ over the short lived pleasures of sin – “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” Hebrews 11:25 (KJV).

Disciples/Subjects of the King rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer for His name – “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” Acts 5:41 (KJV). It was for the joy that was set before Him that He gave His life (Hebrews 12:2). There is a much greater joy than the pleasures of this life.

When we are in Christ Jesus we are desiring to “Conform’ ourselves ‘unto His death”, and to “know the fellowship of His suffering”. This is choosing to no longer live for the flesh, and ourselves but for Jesus and His glory. This is all because of Him, for Him and through Him. In suffering we have a greater fellowship of identity with Him. We learn Him, know Him, and He knows us.

The MacARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY says, “A cross is the willing sacrifice of everything one has, including life, for the sake of Christ. It is something that, like the Lord Himself, a believer must take upon himself when it is thrust upon him by the unbelieving world because of his relationship to God.” Vol. 2, p. 233. Longing to be like Jesus even in His death. Counting this life loss for Jesus’s sake.

The Suffering King and His Subjects

 It is good to be back, and I had a great break away from blogging, but I am also glad to be back.  I will probably be posting writing from the Gospel of Matthew one week, then Genesis the following week, and posting other articles dealing with life, family, morality, legalism and such.  There will also be articles concerning Israel.  I had a dear friend who is with the Lord now who always said, “Keep your eyes on Israel”, and I have believed that too.

Jesus even told us, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28).  The Middle East is a place of war, and it mostly involves the nation of Israel.  Let’s be aware of what is going on there.

Now the message from Matthew’s Gospel:

King – Master, and Disciples

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Matthew 10:24-26 (KJV).

Jesus hid nothing from His disciples. He let them know “right up front”, that the life of a disciple, a follower of Himself would suffer persecution. It is important that the disciple strive to be like his/her Lord and Master. It would be somewhat foolish of us to think that we could follow this One who gave His life for us, suffering for our sins, and us not suffer with Him or like Him.

It is good for the disciple to suffer like His Lord – “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:17 (KJV). If we were to assume that our Christian life is to be without persecution it would be an insult to the ministry of Jesus.

When the disciple of Jesus follows Him all the way to the cross there is nothing to fear, or dread. When they have called Him who is the essence of holiness, the embodiment of God who is Righteous, Just, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Immutable; Beelzebub, ie. the devil; then we can know too that we can be called that or worse. It does not matter what the enemy of God says about those who follow His Son. The truth will be revealed in the end, and those who hate the Truth will be seen.

Just as it will be revealed that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel; it will also be revealed who is vile, evil, and the God deniers, and God haters.

Jesus loves you and has shown that love by dying for your sins; and He desires that you come to Him, and receive eternal life.

The King, His Sheep and the Wolves

The King, His Sheep, and the Wolves

There are brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world today who are suffering beatings, losing their earthly possessions, losing their families, losing their jobs, and losing their lives because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Matthew 10:16-20 (KJV)

It is interesting the way our Lord uses the likenesses of “sheep” and “wolves”. Sheep our weak, always in need of protection, and need of a shepherd to lead them to the right place for grazing, ie. feeding. A flock of sheep without a shepherd will eat in a place until there is nothing left to eat, and then, starve. The wolf, on the other hand is strong and often vicious. The vicious temperment is the thing which Jesus is wanting us to see. They protect themselves, they hunt for food themselves, and in our case sheep is their food.

In our study here the disciples/apostles are the sheep. Those who would follow Jesus are likened to the sheep. It is said that Jesus upon seeing a group of people saw them, “as sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34). Jesus is our Shepherd. He leads us to still waters, green pastures, gives us peace and leads us through valley’s of death. His rod is used for our correction and our comfort. (See Psalm 23).

Anyone who would tell us, “O, the Christian life is a breeze. It is really easy. There is no difficulty in all the world for the Christian” is living in a fantasy land, and is deceived or out and out naive. The reason I included that last statement is because I preached a sermon in a church a few years ago, on the struggles of being a Christian, and following the message and the end of the evening service, one dear lady of the church came up to me, and quickly told me, “I have not found the Christian life to be difficult, but rather fulfilling, and a joy”. I think I told her that I could agree with the latter part of what she said, but that there was still difficult times being a Christian. Jesus is warning us in the text of just that. There are people who are going to hate, and despise us, because they hate and despise our Shepherd.

The wolves of course represent false teachers who would teach things contrary to the gospel of Jesus. They actully seek to destroy those who are true to Christ and the truth, and the Church of the Lord Jesus. They bring in the “damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1) which Peter the apostle writes of. These teachers/preachers know that what they say is not in keeping with Biblical/orthodox Christian teaching. At the least they have themselves been deceived by the enemy of Christ. This is why the true followers of Jesus Christ must be vigilant to present the gospel and the whole counsel of the Word of God (Acts 20:27).

When we are treated with such vehement hatred, and disdain we are to respond as Jesus would and did. Jesus tells us, “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”. As for the wisdom of serpents they do not seek the attention of men; but rather are prone to avoid attention. The following is commentary from John Gill from the e-Sword version of his commentary:

  • The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; and is so far to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as in them lies, they should be careful to give no just occasion of offence, or irritate, and provoke them to use them ill, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for them; and, at the same time, maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without rancour, malice, and wrath; not meditating and seeking revenge, but meek and humble in their deportment, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of their calling, though liable to many insults, and much oppression.

When we look at a dove we see a bird which is so quiet, peaceful, and genteel. The dove as most people know is recognized as the symbol for peace all over the world. For the Christian the dove is a symbol of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who is to rule our hearts, even when we are being persecuted.

There will be times that we will be delivered to the judges, and we should trust the Lord to give us the words to say. Trust Him completely, and not be worried about what the world says as we go about doing the will of our Lord and God. All Christians should count it a joy to be brought before kings and governors, because they need Jesus as Lord and Savior too. The Holy Spirit speaking through us does not come without us working at studying, reading, and applying the written Word of God in our lives. When the Word of God is needing spoken it will be there in our hearts and minds, only if we have hidden it there (Psalm 119:11).