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PAUL’S TRIUMPHANT FAITH

Tuesday Morning Bible Study –July 14, 2015, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom, a Preacher

 

The mighty heart of the Apostle Paul stirred the pulses of the world.  The fire and passion of His faith continually stir our hearts from generation to generation.

 

When he wrote these passionate words of faith, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day(2 Tim. 1:12); he could not have conceived that his letters and epistles would become 14 books of the New Testament and part of the testimony of the New Covenant.

 

Next to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, this chosen vessel was prepared by grace to be the wisest and greatest among men during the establishing of the infant church.

 

Even so confirmed Peter (2 Peter 3:15) “…the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you.”

 

He is to remain in prison to wait the final trial as the leader of a sect, whose doctrines were in direct hostility to the national faith, involving treason against the Emperor of the Roman Empire.

 

Today we are fast approaching a time when the Holy Bible will again be considered treason against the revised Roman Empire which is in formation world wide.

 

“At his first trial”, says he, “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me”.   From his encouragement to Timothy, to not be ashamed of his chains and his complimentary reference to Onesiphorus, “He was not ashamed of my chains,” by implication there were others who were ashamed. 

 

Craven-hearted, they had apparently tried to appeal to the old prisoner’s fears.  Surely he would renounce the hated creed, and pay homage to Caesar.  Nothing else, nothing less, could save him.  Nero demanded the offering of sacrifices in his name and to be addressed by the title of “Lord”.

 

When this Demas-throng saw the giant power of Rome arrayed against the infant faith---that faith itself, apparently, a mere ‘bubble among the breakers,’---a brittle reed, with no human possibility of surviving the persecution.

 

Why perish in the flames or by the sword?  NO! would be Paul’s reply.  Clinging to that faith in which he lived, and for which he was now ready to die is no act of willful, blind or reckless fanaticism. 

 

He had a grander confidence in the majesty of truth than to suppose it can be crushed and overthrown by the base tyranny and hostility of man.  God who sent His Angel to me in the midst of the storm will not leave me now.  My enemies may do their worst.  Nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

 

What have you committed to the Lord?  I know that all my faith and labors have not yet seen the fruition of what the Lord has promised.  But neither had Paul’s; if he looked at the circumstances, the infant church was being totally destroyed by the Roman beast. 

 

May the Apostle’s creed and triumphant faith be ours knowing that all our labors, faith, and deposits of love will produce a harvest and all that we have committed to Him will produce that for which the Lord purposed.

 

We have three promises in this scripture:

 

  1. A joyful assurance regarding the present.
  2. A happy persuasion regarding the future.
  3. A glorious prospect of a Day of final triumph.

 

I know whom I have believed”.  The apostles does not say, “I know what I have believed, but I know whom I have believed.  He is speaking of his and our Living Lord.  It is not even Christianity he boasts of, but Christ.  Christianity through the doctrines of men can vanish before your eyes into intellectual vapor.  Christianity is non-existent apart from Christ; it centers in Christ; it radiates now, as at the first, from Jesus Christ.  Our personal relationship is with a living person.  To me to live is Christ,”---Christ my life.” 

 

On Sunday evening, we have begun studying the five love languages as presented by Gary Chapman.  As Christians and ministers, in addition to our primary love language, we must be able to minister in the other four love languages as a secondary language.  We should become proficient in all five languages.  As I pointed out, one of my weaker love languages is spending “quality time” with people.  As a preacher and exhorter, I am stronger in “words of affirmation”.  The grace of my calling flows freely in this.  I am also a reformed work-aholic, who freely works and serves.   Even with the Lord Jesus Christ, though I am in conversation with Heaven all day; and certainly with Him in continual proximity, which is not the same as just sitting in His Presence for no reason except to spend quality time with Him.

 

I serve Jesus full time.  I minister to His people as a preacher and exhorter. I willingly serve others.   I love Jesus with my primary love languages, but I need to exercise spending “quality time” with Him for no reason except to enjoy Him.

 

I already knew this, but I needed a refresher course because my primary love languages can be my motivating force.

 

Paul’s personal relationship with Jesus was the cleaving, trustful homage of a devoted heart to our Redeemer as absolute Lord and ever-present King.  His personal and intimate relationship was tried and true.  He, therefore, rejects with scorn the appeals of his timid and treacherous advisers to purchase immunity from suffering by a base denial of Jesus.

 

Paul loved Jesus so much that he left everything for him, home and family.  He forfeited all he loved and valued on earth.  He had counted the cost.  He had proved this “Stone laid in Zion;” he had found Him “a tried stone, a sure foundation.”  Neither hell, evil men or demons could separate Him from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

 

Remember a couple years ago, just before we moved from Little White Church, the Lord spoke to me and asked me if I loved Him as much I loved Don when I left everything and followed Don.

 

“Alone! Yet not alone! ---“The Captain of the Lord’s host” was with him---“The Lord”, he says, “stood with me and strengthened me.”

 

It was not in vain that the time had come for the consummation of his life-long act of “being poured out as a drink offering” on God’s altar.  The Angel of the Lord was there, to accept the offerer and the sacrifice.  Perfumed with the divine grace of Christ, the incense-cloud went up with acceptance before God.

 

What are the grounds of this confidence?  It is a personal love relationship with a living Savior. 

 

All of his once boasting of his righteousness is like the yielding ice beneath his feet.  It melted before the blaze of God’s throne of love and holiness.

 

As with all of us, just as the soul is about to wing its eagle-flight to Heaven, we are all sinners saved by grace.  We all cast ourselves from first to last on the merits and righteousness of our Surety-Redeemer.  While “justice and judgment” are the habitation of God’s throne, “mercy and truth” go continually before His face. 

 

We share in the Apostle’s joy in experiencing a personal, living, loving Savior.  Christ bending over us with tenderness and in the absolute fullness of perfect love, drawing near in all the dark experiences of life whispering the calming words, “It is I”, “be not afraid.”  “I am the Living One”.  “As many as I love, I am the rebuking One and the chastening One (Rev. 3:19).

 

He is ever with us.  When the gates of the morning are opened until the gates of evening merges and melts into twilight.  He is there!  By the lonely sickbed, and amid the bustle and changes of life, He is there.

 

“Fear not, I am he that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore.”  Fear not: for I have redeemed thee.  I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burnt; neither shall the flame kindle upon you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

 

The Apostle’s happy persuasion regarding the future is that Jesus is able to keep that which he had committed unto Him.

 

Christ has loved and carried him in the past.  He rejoices in Christ’s love in the present; and now the future with all its unrevealed secrets, he is safe in.  He is able to keep.  Christ the Keeper of His people; their Shelter, their citadel, their Stronghold; where He keeps us “in perfect peace.”  Through all eternity, there is no limit to this deposit.  All that belongs to us, he asks for us to cast all our cares on that grace of faith.  “He keeps us as the apple of His eye;” what touches us, touches Him.

 

With an unknown future before us, it is known to Him, and in His hands, we can joyfully leave it.   At the time Paul wrote this, his future was a limited one.  He was living at any moment expected the summons, “Come up hither”.  Not only is Christ “able to keep”, we know Him who is the Keeper.

 

He knows them that trusts in Him(Nahum 1:7).

 

The Apostle knew before him was a glorious day of triumph.  Against that day”. 

 

Are we ready to echo the exulting words of the Psalmist--- “let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof.  Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth”?

 

The Holy Word repeatedly tells us that the Lord will come as a thief in the night.

 

1 Thess. 5:2: “You know perfectly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night.”

 

2 Peter 3:10: “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

 

(This is why the spirit of anti-Christ is so threatened by global warming---He knows him and his works will be burned – in that day).

 

Rev. 3:3:  Remember how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.  If you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come upon you.”

 

Rev. 16:15: “Behold, I come as a thief, Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, less he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

 

(The “sign of the times” of the shame of public nakedness is blatant in our day.)

 

It is “at midnight” the cry will be heard, “Behold, the Bridegroom comes,” the hour He is least looked for and least expected. 

 

How is it with us?  Can we say with St Paul in this same Epistle, “I am now ready”?

 

Behold he comes! Yet a few more days to be assured our loved ones will be saved from the flaming fire. 

 

God grant that all of us may be able to “know whom we have believed” as Christ the Savior, and then we shall not be ashamed to meet Him as Christ the Judge. 

 

I have been the one who has been the blessed over this study of the final days of St. Paul.  I would like to know more, study more, but the Lord chose those words which are to remain. 

 

It seems that Luke, Timothy, Clemens, Linus, Pudens, Onesimus, Tychicus, and Aristarchus were with him on that final day when Roman soldiers marched him to his execution. 

 

Clement, who was believed to be one of the seventy and a contemporary of Paul, wrote, “So he departed from the world, and went to that holy place, having shown himself the noblest pattern of endurance.” 

 

A glorious sun had set, ---vanished behind the horizon in golden glory; but the mountain-peaks of all ages are still lit up with its undying radiance.”

 

“The pains of death are past;

Labor and sorrow cease;

And life’s long warfare closed at last,

His soul is found in peace.”

 

“To me to live is Christ, and to die is Gain.”

 

We know he is seated near the throne of the King, where the cherubim sing the glory; and the seraphim are flying.  There we shall see Paul, as a chief and leader of the choir of the Saints, and shall enjoy his generous love.”

 

Now to Him that is of power to establish you according to My gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ; To God only wise Be glory, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.”

 

Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Scripture from K.J.V. I entered into the labors of John Ross MacDuff, Saint Paul In Rome.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of Rev. MacDuff.

 
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