Belief that shares

I recall the certainty and conviction of belief I held when entering ministry life at the age of 22. I assumed I understood everything that needed to be understood. I also assumed that my beliefs were the right beliefs, obviously, because they were my only experienced beliefs. My youthful passion was often mistaken for truth, which I was unable to distinguish.

Belief That SharesTwo realities had yet to flood my young mind. First, God is sovereign, and He is not required to ask my permission before moving me into unimagined events, challenging and stretching my faith. Second, God’s Word is totally authoritative and sufficient, presenting God’s truths in God’s way for all of life’s circumstances. As I discovered my thoughts and priorities not aligning with Gods’, my young faith made many wrong assumptions about the correctness of my beliefs. I had yet to recognise the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in this area of my life.

In this regard, the Holy Spirit’s purpose for all believers remains constant, moving each of us “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Sanctification assures us of “the mercy of God” working within, therefore “we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). Sanctification is never comfortable; it constantly strives to challenge those things we resolve to be unchangeable and expose our heart’s vulnerability to self-deception (Jer 17:9; Pro 28:26).

However, don’t become disheartened when sovereign mercy reaches in to dethrone the idols of your heart (Eze 14:3-5). Realise that idols are by nature liars, determined to retain their position of authority over your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours. Intertwined within all this is the vulnerable activities of human conscience, which may or may not be speaking biblically correct words.

The apostle Paul speaks to this as he writes to Timothy. He reassures Timothy with truths outside of our normal thinking in times of change or challenge. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” (2 Timothy 1:8-9).

Paul calls Timothy to reject embarrassment and the temptation to distance himself from the Lord’s testimony or from Paul the prisoner. As no doubt Timothy’s emotions were influenced by the opinions of others, he had decisions to make. Procrastination was not to be his luxury. Paul calls Timothy to prioritise his heart with God’s “purpose and grace,” God’s priorities. Poor Timothy, uncomfortable at the thought of going against the challenging people around him, he would need the same deep resolve Paul had (Php 1:12-26).

Timothy was called to walk head on into “suffering for the gospel.” While suffering is foreign to the contemporary gospel of our age, it is normal for the “gospel of God” (Rom 1:1) throughout Scripture. So, Paul tells Timothy that suffering is not to be avoided but shared. This is how “the power of God” could be actuated in both their lives, through unashamed and mutual participation in each other’s lives and ministries for the gospel, regardless of the cost.

Forward to our time, our lives, and our churches, God’s “purpose and grace” remains unchanged. God’s mechanism for releasing His power into serving believers lives also remains unchanged. His Spirit’s goal for sanctification remains unchanged, moving us to a more Christlike mature faith, a humbler faith, and a more other-minded faith.

God’s sovereignty, and the authoritative sufficiency of His Word is put in motion as we unit together in Christ, confident in His “purpose and grace.” Here, there is no shame of each other or of the Lord’s testimony. This, God “gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”

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