WE CAN TAKE HEART AND BE COURAGEOUS
We need not lose heart in the last days; instead we can take heart and be courageous and confident in God. Why is this so?
GOD IS OUR GOD
Surely it is because of the awesome and amazing revelation and appreciation that the triune God is our God and we are His children. The great “I am”, the almighty, unchanging everlasting triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is our God because we have been accepted in the beloved.
We have the wondrous privilege to call God ‘our Father’ and to come into the very holy presence of the Father through the blood and sacrifice of the Son. God is so majestic and holy that the average Israelite dared not even mention His name. Yet, the reality is that, if we believe in Jesus, we are the children of the great all knowing Creator and God of the universe. In church history, believers, in different periods of time, tend to emphasise and focus on one person of the Godhead.
For instance, some believers focused on the ministry and person of the Holy Spirit. Christians today become over familiar with the Son such that we forget that He is one person of the Godhead, God Himself. Over familiarity leads to the loss of reverential fear of the Son of God. Instead of praying to the Father, many believers pray to Jesus most of the time and the Father becomes so distant and almost forgotten in their consciousness. This is also not helpful in our wholesome worship of God.
GOD IS THREE IN ONE
The truth is that God is three persons in one and each person of the Godhead has a wonderful role and ministry in our lives. As we ponder over this, we can rejoice and grow in confidence and courage even though, for a short while, we may need to face tribulation, trial and suffering in this world.
GOD THE FATHER
As we think of the Father, we picture Him sitting on the throne, sovereign and majestic “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8: 28
In the “sermon on the mount”, we notice the many references to the Father by the Lord Jesus.
“…so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5: 45
“Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5: 48
“So do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Matthew 6: 8
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Matthew 6: 14
“…so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who sees what is done in secret and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Matthew 6: 18
We see references to the Father also in the epistles of the various apostles.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
1 Peter 1: 3
As we look at these various passages, we see several aspects of the role and ministry of the heavenly Father.
He is the one who is our heavenly Father – to Him we make our petitions and prayers and He knows what we need even before we ask Him. He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions. He provides for us our daily needs; He delivers us from evil; He forgives our transgressions and all power and glory belong to Him (see Matthew 6: 9-13 in the Lord’s prayer). He is the one who caused us to be born again.
He is perfect – perfect in all His ways; perfect in all His goodness, His sovereignty, His mercy, loving kindness, holiness and love. We can rest in these wonderful truths and because He is perfect, He does not make a mistake. He can overrule and undertake such that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God the Father works through the evil and negative intention of man and causes the outcome to be good for His people. We see this wonderfully illustrated in the life of Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongly accused by his master’s wife and imprisoned. Through a series of events, Joseph was elevated to be ruler of Egypt, next in power only to Pharaoh. Subsequently, when his brothers asked him for forgiveness, Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50: 19-20)
Joseph’s brothers’ intention was evil; the master’s wife’s motive was evil, but God worked through the evil to bring about good in Joseph’s life and in the lives of God’s people. Being perfect, God the Father is completely faithful and reliable, unchanging and truly dependable in all His ways. Being holy, He would judge wrong doers and reward those who please Him. Such indeed is our heavenly Father. As we encounter trials, we can rest in the sovereignty and goodness of the heavenly Father and we need not lose heart even though we do not fully understand all the issues involved.
JESUS THE SON
The second person in the trinity is the Lord Jesus. He is risen and seated at the right hand of the Father, and from there, He is constantly interceding for us. He is our advocate before the Father, defending us and declaring us justified and righteous in Him.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Hebrews 4: 15
Jesus understands us and our struggles and He sympathises with us in our weaknesses. He knows what it means to be tempted and to be assailed by sin and the pull of the world. He identifies with us in all our struggles and pain. He is our mediator and He brings us back to God the Father. Truly, we are blessed to have the Lord Jesus as our high priest who understands us in all our sufferings and tribulations. He prays for us from the throne of grace and comes to our aid in all our troubles. As we face adversity and distress, we can consider Him who has suffered so much on our behalf and we need not lose heart, for our sufferings cannot even be compared to what the Lord Jesus had endured for us on the cross. He knew what it meant to be wrongly accused; He experienced abandonment by those closest to Him; He bore the misunderstanding and tauntings of His earthly brothers and fellow Jews; He was scourged; He was unjustly condemned and He bore our sins and the sins of the world on His shoulders at Calvary as He agonizingly cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me”? He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (see 2 Corinthians 5: 21).
Jesus knew we would have tribulations in this world. Yet He assures us, saying, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world”. Because He overcomes, we too can overcome in Him.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Lord Jesus requested the Father to send us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is given to us as a pledge (see 2 Corinthians 5: 5), like a down payment or deposit – we were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance (see Ephesians 1: 13-14).
The seal and pledge assure us that our full inheritance in Christ Jesus is guaranteed personally by God Himself. The third person of the Godhead is our helper, our teacher, our comforter and our guide. He brings to our remembrance all that Jesus had taught and He magnifies the Lord Jesus in His ministry (see John 14: 16-18, 26). He helps us in our weaknesses and He teaches us how to pray, interceding for us (see Romans 8: 26-27).
He strengthens us and gives life to our mortal bodies and if we learn to walk by the Spirit consistently (in dependence on Him and in continual fellowship with Him), we would experience the victory in our Christian walk. We are not fighting against flesh and blood and our enemy is a formidable foe. However, by the Spirit, we can put to death the deeds of the flesh and by the Spirit’s enabling, we can be more than conquerors through Him who loves us. We certainly need not lose heart in such a context.
The Holy Spirit is principally the one who does the work of transformation in our lives. As we depend on Him, cooperate with Him, even in the midst of pain and tribulation, we can grow in the Lord and experience the deep work of transformation in greater measure. In fact, God can and does use sufferings to help mould us in our Christian lives. All the help we need to overcome and to live godly lives comes from the Holy Spirit and all that we need to know and understand in our Christian walk is taught by the Spirit of God. As we look to Him, scriptures become alive and relevant to us and we begin to understand more the desires of God for us. He lives in us and He prompts us, enables us and strengthens us as we learn to listen to His voice and obey Him continually.
BLESSINGS OF BEING GOD’S CHILDREN
The triune God is our God and we are His children!
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ?…”
Romans 8: 31-35(a)
Yes, indeed, we need not lose heart in the last days even though trials and tribulation may increase in intensity. Instead, we can take heart and be courageous and bold, growing in confidence in the Lord as we face eternity with hope and with deep assurance and conviction in the triune God. Increasingly, perhaps, we can begin to identify more with the psalmist in Psalm 73, when he complained about the prosperity of the wicked and the apparent uselessness of keeping oneself pure, as he concluded,
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth, My flesh and my heart may fail. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73: 25-26
And, wonderfully, we can concur with the psalmist in Psalm 16 when he declared: “…In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
The Lord, the triune God, is no killjoy. He, in His lovingkindness and goodness, desires the best for His people. The world and the evil one can only offer fake, unsatisfying and destructive joy and pleasure that lead to death, physical and spiritual; but God, the triune and Holy one can and will offer to all those who cling to Him true, lasting and eternal fullness of joy and pleasures in Him.
To Him, the only wise God, belong all honour, glory and praise now and forevermore!