We are told to have faith even unto death. In some cases people are asked to deny Christ and take another faith. True faith will not allow someone to deny Christ, they would rather die and leave this world. This is the classic martyr. I know you already know this. Many people give their life to Christ but never face death the way I just described. It is easy for some sitting in their chair surrounded by laws and armies that protect them. I have to wonder just how many would face death for what they believe? I know millions have given their lives in Christ name over the years. But not here in the States. How quickly some lose their God given sight.
1 Cor 13:13 And now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Indeed faith is important, but faith in what? What Christ are we not to deny?
Christ as defined by other men, by religions? Christ is we find evidence for? The Christ of doctrines, opinions and ideas?
There is a difference in giving up our life for Christ, and giving up our life to prove how much we think we are right? Do you see the difference?I will die for you God because I think I am right!
Is this martyrdom? There are lots of people in this world, suicide bombers for example, who are willing to die to prove how much they think they are right, and if we are dying to prove ourselves right, we are dying to prove others wrong. Is this love? Is this hope?
What does faith that walks with hope and love look like?
The faith that the Bible calls us to is much greater than this, and it only grows, or flourishes, develops, with hope and love. And in the end only faith, hope and love remain. And so if we walk towards martyrdom without these, what will remain as we die? Nothing, at least this is what Paul teaches, yes? And without love, it is all just noise, distraction. So if we die without love, we have died in vain. For no reason at all.
Without love, our faith is nothing, it is merely noise, and giving our life for empty faith is not martyrdom.
So what is this faith that walks with hope and love?
Hebrews 11 gives us a wonderful discourse on faith.Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
The faith that scripture speaks of is faith in things that are unseen. It is not faith in ideas about God, or doctrines, or religions or prophets, or faith in any evidence of our ideas about God. We cannot prove our faith to others with anything that is seen in this world. The only proof of our faith is love.
The outward manifestation of our faith is love, the inward manifestation is a devotion and focus not on this world, but on things unseen.
Those who have faith are not walking focusing on this world They are not focusing on events that unfold in this world or what all the evidence in this world is pointing to.
The faith that we are called to is inexplicable. It rises from within. It is a trust, a knowing, a certainty, that all is and will continue to unfold according to God's will, no matter how things appear in this world. And so in such faith, such trust, we can simply love. We do not need to prove ourselves, or stand up for ourselves or our beliefs, we just love, no matter what happens in this world.Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Head in the clouds, feet on earth. Focusing above, on Christ, walking here in hope for all beings - that all will receive the promises, loving all as though they are our self. This is the Key.
Faith, hope and love are the only things that remain, the only things that will bring us into the Kingdom, for these are the Kingdom, the greatest being Love. And if we do not love all, walk in hope for all, walk in faith of God's Power and Ability to heal all, to save all, to redeem, no matter how things appear here, we will not remain. If we do not have hope and love for all things, faith in all things, full faith in God, then we will fall away just like everything else that is temporal in this world.
We must become as that which remains. We must become Love, Hope and Faith.
Colossians 3If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
When our focus is on Christ, when we love fully, we offer ourselves fully to Christ, to be used in this world to benefit others. So it is not that our life is taken from us by those who are wrong or evil, but that we willingly lay down our life, we do not resist others who wish us harm, loving all, trusting God.
As it was with Isaac. Did you know that he was 35 when Abraham took him up the mountain to sacrifice him? Isaac went willingly with his Father, fully understanding what was unfolding, trusting as Abraham that God would indeed provide all that was needed, meaning that if God called for Isaac to lay down his life, it would not have been a sacrifice, Isaac loving fully in self offering, understanding that if God wanted his life, he himself must not need it anymore.