“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (Matthew 7:13)
It is true that during the times of Jesus, those who wanted to follow Him had to choose between conviction and convenience. Their faiths were put to the test every day.
On the surfaces the masses of people who came to Jesus, mostly were flowing with the crowd. It wasn’t a bad thing as the whole nation was expecting the Messiah. Besides, Jesus was a person of respect and honor in society. Jesus was regarded as a great teacher among those who heard His sermons – ‘they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.’ (Mark 1:22)
There were circumstantial issues which may proof unfavorable to follow Jesus. For example the case of a rich young man who struggles with his conviction of giving away his wealth – ‘When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.’ (Matthew 19:22)
There were those who were enforced by outside influence against public confession of Jesus. For example the case of parents who were not able to rejoice with their own son’s wonderful experiences of being healed by Jesus – ‘His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.’ (John 9:22)
Ultimately it will be down to a personal choice if we want to follow Jesus, regardless of all outside influences and situations.
In real life situations we go through all the good times and bad times. Some of us may have experienced cases of spiritual darkness and injustice but the very thing which will carry us through the darkest hour is
What do you really believed in? What is the truth deep within your heart?
Regardless of what this pastor said or that preacher preached about, but what are you really convinced about? Is our hearts in-tuned to the Holy Spirit?
As we will stand before God to be judged we must be prepared for that personal testimony. We won’t be able to have a printed Bible in our hand or show our mobile tablet or e-reader and says ‘here’s my testimony!’ We need to present the truth from our hearts.
For some, confession of Jesus can be a real life and death situation. Stephen had his stand alone sermon based on his convictions of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:1-58). It was a long speech as God was never short on lectures, especially when the audiences gave full attention. The Holy Spirit who searches the hearts of men knew what the people needed to hear.
In recent weeks, those who believed in Jesus are going thought very difficult moments in Iraq. Let’s join our hearts in prayers and in considerations for those who are enforced by circumstances to reject the faith. These are moments of real dangers and stumbling.
It is the will of God for the Gospel to be preached and made available to all nations, tribes and tongues. Salvation belongs to God and the words of Jesus Christ will be magnified. Those who willfully shut the door of the kingdom of God against God’s will, eventually creates spiritual stumbling and chaos.
In such moments of life threatening dangers, we do have the testimonies of the Early Church for proper guidance –
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)
The key purpose to endure and continue our faith is all about ensuring our entrance into the kingdom of God. We don’t endure for the sake of endurance, neither for worldly and material credibility.
We endure because we have our Father in heaven to look up to. We endure because we have our place in the kingdom of God assured by Jesus Christ. We endure because Jesus is expecting us, in a sense of receiving us and honoring our faith in Him. Those who caused troubles and stumbling against believers do so due to their ignorance of the kingdom of God. Thus for those who endured, it will be a living testimony for Jesus and the kingdom of God.
Situations can be extremely difficult but God is faithful.
We endure as according to the faithfulness of Christ, not of our own strength. We endure as according to the vision God have for us – to be sons and daughters of God.
Our testimonies in times of trials and testing are all about Jesus and the truth of the Gospel, nothing to boast of our own human achievement. We testify that Jesus is risen and Jesus will return again.
We believe and stand firm that salvation is of the Lord and Jesus is the Messiah. We believe in the convictions of the Holy Spirit that Man sinned against the will of God and therefore repentance is our duty and our ways back to the Father.
We anchor our faith in love and hope as according to the grace and forgiveness Jesus had provided for us on the cross when He died for our sins. Without grace without hope there would be no meaning to forgiveness. We live as according to the grace of God.
When Jesus died on the cross He said –
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus was no hypocrite when He prayed for forgiveness. Jesus knew His full rights to victory against powers of darkness. Who was blind but those who refuse to forgive and reject the will of God?
Darkness belongs to those who reject the truth of God’s word. Jesus the true light of God leads the path to real eternal life. As we walk with Jesus we walk in the light of our God and we know we are headed towards the kingdom of our Father.
Jesus our Master and Savior had led by example of His suffering and endurance for the truth and grace of God. Likewise in times of trials and testing we bear witness with acts of compassion and forgiveness over-powering the force of darkness.
Our Lord Jesus rose triumphant as according to the faithfulness of the Father and we entrust our victory as according to the will of God.
May the grace and truth of Jesus Christ be with us forever.
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