THE LAST TEST

 
THE LAST TEST

The trying of our faith and why it is not the mere belief that there is a God or that His only begotten Son gave His life to save you from your sins. Even Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Mat 7:21.

I am in the place I am right now, hoping that my faith has substance.  I still believe there are a few people out there that realize the futility of their lives in this world, it’s not pointless if totally given over to God, but senseless if living for yourself.  Loving God selectively and learning what we choose, and why truth is ignored or opposed, is the result of loving self more than God.  Consider this passage:

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  Rom 8:12-14.

It is my firm belief that no matter what face you put on for the world, when you are alone and your conscience returns, you are still convicted by the sins you willfully commit. What we are experiencing today in the world, primarily through mob mentality, is an effort to remove this conviction (to remove God) even further from our selfish desires which we know (deep down when we're alone) come against whole heartily loving God and dying to self.

Although it is not total apathy (yet) on the part of the church, they do speak against some sins.  However, most professing Christians are alright with what is happening in the world if they can keep living their comfortable lives and maintain their individuality.  What they have failed to realize is that their individuality and misused liberty is being stripped away at a much faster pace than ever before.  When the comforts you love so much, and the self-gratifying sins your conscience convicts you of are gone, will your faith have substance?

The primitive church sacrificed everything they owned in the world in order to follow God perfectly.  In fact, the Bible is a complete testimony of the kind of life we are expected to experience and live in this world.  The world will hate you, your friends, family, and kin will hate you if you truly follow God.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Joh 15:19.

The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.  That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.  The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.  Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.  For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.  Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.  Mic 7:2-7.

Your perplexity is coming, will God hear you?  Why should He, you spent your life living for yourself and enjoying the pleasures of the flesh.  But you say, God wants me to be happy.  Happiness is an emotional state subject to the satisfaction of your desires.  That is why you cannot find one verse in the Bible that says God wants you to be happy.  You can find this, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  1Ti 6:6.

Faith is followed by mercy on God’s part.  I have seen the rich, the well off, and those living after the rudiments of the world praise God for His mercy; yet, I wondered what they were talking about.  To be sure, I am not talking about those who praise God for delivering them from some complaint or weakness; but those claiming they are saved, and this is counting your chickens before they are hatched; or as Paul said:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Php 3:13-14.

I have experienced a different grace and mercy.  I saw it as forced upon me many times and I would be a liar if I said I did not struggle within but in the end, I accepted it seeing the hand of God.  I was not without biblical reference, as I said, the Bible is a complete testimony of the kind of life we can expect if we are walking in the true faith.

Consider Abel, who for his faith received murder; or Joseph, who at the hands of his brethren was sold into slavery and yet held to his faith.  King David loved his son Absalom, and the world would have justified David if he chose in the beginning to fight against Absalom to keep the kingdom, but David saw the hand of God in the decision which eventually purged David of his adulteries.  And Daniel stood strong trusting by faith in God when the world cast him into the lion’s den, as well as Jeremiah who was cast into a pit.  And while I cannot list them all, Jonah received much grace and mercy knowing that he was being asked by God to go preach to a people that would soon destroy Israel. 

You are going to suffer in the world if you walk with God.  I did not voluntarily lose my family, my kin, jobs, lands, or worldly means; but they chose to go the way of the world.  And while I did not want it to happen, God showed me that it was their choice.  Many times, I could have made decisions that would have allowed me to continue on a worldly course as well, but that would have meant forsaking God.  If you want to walk in the true faith of the Bible you are going to have to make these choices.

Overcoming the world is the last test.  The last thing the Lord said before praying for His disciples and going to the garden was:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  Joh 16:33.

Overcoming is a grand scheme of the gospel, but what we are seeing today is those overcome by the world making excuses for the flesh and calling it faith.  I will remind you of the passage under consideration, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Rom 8:13.  The Bible is in complete harmony with this teaching, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” Mar 8:35.

You only fail the last test if you die in a state of unrepentant sin, because the blood of Christ no longer applies when you perish, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.  1Co 15:50. 

I am the passing shadow, I am the withered grass, I am the breath, the tale that is told; and as the flower fades and I depart, let me too say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished  my course, I have kept the faith:  2Ti 4:7.

“Paul the apostle, which before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labours in promoting the gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero, and was beheaded.

Among his other manifold labours and travails in spreading the doctrine of Christ, he won Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus, to the faith of Christ: whereupon he took his name, as some suppose, turned from Saulus to Paulus. After he had passed through divers places and countries in his laborious peregrinations, he took to him Barnabas, and went up to Jerusalem to Peter, James, and John, where he was ordained and sent out with Barnabas to preach unto the Gentiles.

And because it is in the Acts of the Apostles sufficiently comprehended, concerning the admirable conversion and conversation of this most worthy apostle, that which remaineth of the rest of his history, I will here add, how the said apostle Paul, Acts xxviii., the five and twentieth year after the passion of the Lord, in the second year of Nero, at what time Festus ruled in Jewry, was sent up in bonds to Rome, where he, remaining in his own lodgings two years together, disputed daily against the Jews, proving Christ to be come. And here is to be noted, that after his first answer or purgation there made at Rome, the emperor Nero, not yet fully confirmed in his empire, and yet not bursting out into those mischiefs which histories report of him, he was at that time by Nero discharged and dismissed to preach the gospel in the west parts, and about the coasts of Italy, as he himself writing unto Timothy afterward, in his second apprehension, in his Second Epistle, chap. iv. 16, 17, witnesseth: "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." In which place, by the lion, he plainly meaneth Nero. And afterwards, likewise, he saith, I was delivered from the mouth of the lion, &c. And again, The Lord hath delivered me out from all evil works, and hath saved me unto his heavenly kingdom, &c.; speaking this, because he perceived then the time of his martyrdom to be near at hand. For in the same Epistle before, he saith, I am now offered up, and the time of my dissolution draweth on.

Thus, then, this worthy preacher and messenger of the Lord, in the fourteenth year of Nero, and the same day in which Peter was crucified, (although not in the same year, as some write, but in the next year following,) was beheaded at Rome for the testimony of Christ, and was buried in the way of Ostia, the seven and thirtieth year after the passion of the Lord. He wrote nine Epistles to seven churches: to the Romans, one; to the Corinthians, two; to the Galatians, one; to the Ephesians, one; to the Philippians, one; to the Colossians, one; to the Thessalonians, two. Moreover, he wrote to his disciples: to Timothy, two; to Titus, one; to Philemon, one; to the Hebrews, one.

As touching the time and order of the death and martyrdom of Saint Paul, as Eusebius, Hierom, Maximus, and other authors do but briefly pass it over; so Abdias, (if his book be of any substantial authority,) speaking more largely of the same, doth say, that after the crucifying of Peter, and the ruin of Simon Magus, Paul yet remaining in free custody, was dismissed and delivered at that time from martyrdom by God's permission, that all the Gentiles might be replenished with preaching of the gospel by him.

And the same Abdias proceeding in his story, declareth moreover, that as Paul was thus occupied at Rome, he was accused to the emperor, not only for teaching new doctrine, but also for stirring up sedition against the empire. For this he being called before Nero, and demanded to show the order and manner of his doctrine, there declared what his doctrine was: To teach all men peace and charity, how to love one another, how to prevent one another in honour; rich men not to be puffed up in pride, nor to put their trust in their treasures, but in the living God; mean men to be contented with food and raiment, and with their present state; poor men to rejoice in their poverty with hope; fathers to bring up their children in the fear of God; children to obey their parents; husbands to love their wives; wives to be subject to their husbands; citizens and subjects to give their tribute unto Cæsar, and to be subject to their magistrates; masters to be courteous, not churlish, to their servants; servants to deal faithfully with their masters: and this to be the sum of his teaching. Which his doctrine he received not of men, nor by men, but by Jesus Christ, and the Father of glory, which spake to him from heaven; the Lord Jesus saying to him, that he should go and preach his name, and that he would be with him, and would be the Spirit of life to all that believed in him, and that whatsoever he did or said he would justify it, &c. After that Paul had thus declared unto the emperor, shortly after sentence of death was pronounced against him, that he should be beheaded. Unto whose execution then Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They coming to Paul, instructing then the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.”  Foxe's Book of Martyrs.


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