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"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath
great recompense of reward."—Hebrews 10:35 .
WITH VERY MANY of God's people, as well as with the world's people, the ideal Christian life is one of constant peace and tranquility. They have never learned that "the peace of God which passeth all [worldly] understanding," promised to the Christian, is to rule in and keep his heart (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15), but does not apply to his outward life. They forget, or perhaps never learned, that our Master's words were, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me ye shall have peace" [in your hearts]. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of His household?" "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus [in this present world, or dispensation], shall suffer persecution." It is of a wicked class, and not of the saints, that the Prophet declared, "They are not in trouble as other men."—John 16:33; 15:18; Matt. 10:25; 2 Tim. 3:12; Psa. 73:5.
Only to those who have some knowledge of God's great Plan is His dealing with His people understandable and readable. The world marvels that those whom God receives into His family, as sons by redemption and adoption, should be required or even permitted to suffer afflictions. But to the well-instructed saint the Apostle says, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that shall try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (I Pet. 4:12.) And this saint may now clearly discern the object and utility of present trials, afflictions and persecutions. He sees that these are in fullest accord with his high calling, his heavenly calling—to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ our Lord, "if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."—Rom. 8:17.
(1) Severe trials and testings of our love for God and for His Truth, and of our faith in Him and in His promises, are only a wise provision on God's part, in view of the very high honor and responsibility of the great office to which He has called us. If it was proper that our Lord and Redeemer should be tested in all points as to faith and obedience before His exaltation to the excellent glory and power of the divine nature, much more so it is fitting that we, who were once aliens and strangers, far from God, and children of wrath even as others, should be thoroughly tested.
We are not tested as to the perfection of our earthen vessels, for God and we well know that in our fallen flesh dwelleth no perfection; but tested as to our new minds, our consecrated wills, whether or not these are fully consecrated to the Lord, firmly established in the love of truth, purity and righteousness in general. We are also tested to see whether we will compromise any of the principles of righteousness for worldly favor, selfish ambition, or for any of "the pleasures of sin for a season." Those who love righteousness and hate iniquity, who develop positive characters, these are the "overcomers" who shall, as members of Christ, inherit all things. The undecided, the lukewarm—neither cold nor hot—are far from having the spirit of the Kingdom class, and will surely be rejected—"spewed out."—Rev. 3:16.
(2) A share in the coming glory is dependent upon present sufferings, for the reason that the coming glories are to be bestowed only upon those who have the Spirit [R5095 : page 276] of Christ, the spirit of holiness. And whoever has received this Holy Spirit, or disposition, and has been transformed by the renewing of his mind, or will, so that no longer selfishness but love shall rule over his thoughts and words and deeds, that person, if in the world at all, could not avoid present suffering. His love for God, his zeal for God's service and people, his faith in God's Word and his uncompromising attitude respecting everything relating to these, would be so greatly in contrast with the prevalent spirit of doubt, selfishness and compromise that he would be thought peculiar, called an extremist and a fanatic, if not a hypocrite.
Evil surmisings, out of hearts not fully consecrated, will attribute every good deed to some selfish or evil motive, and, therefore, "Ye shall be hated of all men for My [Christ's] name's sake"; for "the world knoweth [understandeth] us not, because it knew Him not." (Luke 21:17; I John 3:1.) The reason for all this is evident: it is because "the god of this world hath blinded the eyes" of the vast majority of men; because the faithful, who appreciate the Truth, who have new hearts (wills) and the right spirit on these subjects, are but a "little flock."
These conditions will not be changed until the testing of the "little flock" is finished. God will permit evil to be in the ascendancy until that testing, sifting, refining and polishing of the Bride of Christ is fully accomplished. Then Satan shall be bound for a thousand years, and not be permitted to blind and deceive the nations during the Millennial Age of blessing; but, on the contrary, the "little flock" of overcomers, with Christ, their Lord and Head, will bless all the families of the earth with a full knowledge of the Truth.
Therefore, dear brethren and sisters, let us give heed to the Apostle's words, and not cast away our confidence—confidence in God, in the outworking of His great Plan, and in all who trust in the precious blood and are bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit in their daily lives—meekness, patience, brotherly kindness, love.
With some of the Lord's people, however, there is a tendency to become discouraged, to think that they may have been unfaithful and thus to lose their peace of mind. In some instances, this feeling of discouragement leads to such fear and distress that the Second Death is apprehended. The Apostle seems to have in mind this condition. We are surrounded with imperfection of both judgment and conduct; and those who have a proper estimate of themselves must know that they come far short of the Divine standard and of their own vow of consecration. This knowledge should tend to make all very humble, and very generous in considering others, but not to discourage us.
St. Paul exhorts all such, saying, "Cast not away your confidence." Let such remember that the fact that they have received this Divine favor is an indication that their offering has had Divine acceptance. Faith, or confidence, in God and in the "great and precious promises" is the very basis of all Christian endeavor. Without this faith one cannot fight a good fight. In proportion as the promises are before our minds, in that proportion we have strength and courage to run the narrow way.
If a follower of the Lord has been thus discouraged or has felt that his expectations have not been realized, he should not be weary in well doing. He should go to the Lord in prayer and renew his vow of consecration. He should rise from the ashes of discouragement and lift the cross with renewed zeal. He should endeavor to walk on a higher plane than ever. If he lose confidence, lose faith, he will easily be overcome by the Adversary.
The very ones whom God will approve are those who walk by faith. The rewards are for those who hold the faith even unto death. We must beware of everything that tends to weaken or destroy our faith. The Lord deals graciously and generously with us. He will do for us whatever is right. Knowing this we can have confidence in God, even though the decision of Divine Justice should bar us out of Divine favor. Those whose hearts are right are submissive to the Divine will. The Lord wants us to have a faith that will continue in sorrow and in sunshine; that will trust where it cannot see, that will continue under all the leadings of Divine providence.
In Hebrews 10:32-39 the Apostle clearly shows that there are two ways of enduring the afflictions of Christ: (1) to be made a gazing-stock both by afflictions and reproaches, and (2) by avowing our sympathy for the reproached ones and thus sharing their reproaches and afflictions. For if one member suffer, all the members of the Body of Christ suffer with it.
"Call to remembrance the former days," and note that your afflictions and trials came principally after you had been illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord; and that they have increased as the light of Present Truth has increased with you. It is not difficult to discern the reason for this. The great Adversary is not interested in disturbing those who are "asleep in Zion"; but he is ever on the alert to mislead and entangle those who are awake. And the more active we become in the service of the Lord and the Truth, and, consequently, the more actively opposed to Satan and error, the more he will fight against us. And the more faithfully and vigorously we fight the good fight, as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, the more we shall have of the Master's approval now, and the greater will be our reward in the Kingdom.
No doubt there are many and more severe trials just before us. From God's standpoint, having been blest with greater light, we should be able to endure greater trials and afflictions. From Satan's standpoint we, as a Gideon's band, armed with the Truth, are more injurious to his cause than all others combined. The only wonder to us is that he has not assailed us still more fiercely in the past. Perhaps he was hindered; perhaps he will be granted yet more liberty to buffet us, as the night draws on. Such is our expectation, based upon the direct statements and the types of Scripture.
But such reflections should bring us no sadness, no fear; for He that is on our part is more than all that be against us. (I John 4:4; Rom. 8:31.) His promises, as well as His providences, are walls of salvation and protection on every hand. What shall separate us from the love of God in Christ? Shall tribulation? No! it shall but cause us to draw closer to Him; and under His protecting care we shall rest. His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made manifest in our weakness. When we feel weak in ourselves, then we are strong in Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
"Watchman, what of the night?" "The morning cometh, and also the night."—Isa. 21:11,12.