Firm in Faith

Sunday, March 19, 2017, 3:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 7:1-9 (ESV).

Waging War (vv. 1-2)

In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.

At this time in history, the Kingdom of Israel was divided in half. The northern half was called Israel or Ephraim, and the southern half was called Judah. Jerusalem was the capital of Judah. It was also the holy city where the temple of God was situated. Jerusalem was under threat of war from Israel (Ephraim) and Syria, and this made the heart of the king of Judah and his people shake with fear. So, how might we apply this to today?

Today the people of God are those who are believers in Jesus Christ. We are now his temple, for God’s Spirit now lives within us. We are heavenly Jerusalem. We, the people of God, are his holy city. We are spiritual Israel, the children of promise. The physical city of Jerusalem is no longer the holy city, but it is of Hagar, because she is in slavery to sin with her children (See: Romans 9:6b-8; Gal. 3:10, 16, 26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18). And, we (spiritual Israel) are under attack, i.e. we face continual threats of attack from our enemy, Satan, and from human enemies, as well.

Collectively, the people of God are the body of Christ, his church (spiritual Israel), and we, too, are a divided kingdom. Part of the church has joined forces with the ungodly, and are living worldly lives, and are following humans instead of following their Lord Jesus, who saved them from their sins. They have bought into the lies of Satan, and have thus diluted the gospel of our salvation in order to appease the world. And many of them are at war (spiritually speaking) with the true gospel and its messengers. They teach a false grace gospel which does not put sin to death in the “believer’s” life, but rather just gives it a pass, i.e. carte blanche (free rein) to continue in sin without guilt, without remorse, and without fear of punishment.

Last night I heard Max Lucado tell people, basically, that God’s grace merely means that Jesus took our punishment so we don’t have to pay for our sin, and that all we have to do is just receive his grace, and we have, in essence, bought our life insurance that guarantees we will never have to pay for our sin (1). Yet, there was nothing said about repentance. Nothing about being crucified with Christ in death to sin, or that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Lucado, instead, appeared to indicate that the whole purpose of “insurance” is so we can continue sinning without having our insurance cancelled.

He seemed to mock the whole idea of the importance of righteous living, and of walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh. I guess he forgot to read the part of the insurance policy where it says that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). He forgot to read Jesus’ words where he says that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25). I guess he also forgot Paul’s words where he said that if we walk (in lifestyle) in the flesh, to please our sinful passions and desires, that we will die in our sin, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, we have eternal life with God (Ro. 8:1-14).

Do Not Fear (vv. 3-6)

And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it.”

King Ahaz and his people shook with fear because of the threats of war against them at the hand of the king of Israel and the king of Syria. Yet, God sent a messenger to them to tell them to be quiet and to not be afraid.

And, God is speaking that same message to us today. We don’t have to fear Satan’s threats against us, or those of humans. In the video presentation I saw of Max Lucado, of which I don’t have a copy, he charged those of us who preach the full gospel message with teaching legalism. Many of those who are teaching this false grace gospel try to discredit the full gospel, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, by charging its messengers with teaching works-based salvation. Their goal is to get people to stop listening to us and to listen to them instead, and they have largely had temporary success. Many people are buying into their lies.

Yet, we are not to fear them or to be disquieted over their attempts to discredit the gospel of Jesus Christ and to lead others to follow their false grace message instead. Now, I will say here that not everything these teachers say is false, otherwise people would not accept it. They say things that are true, but they twist the truth to their own advantage, and they pull scriptures out of context to make them say what they want them to say while they ignore the bulk of the teachings on salvation in the New Testament. So, those who don’t know the Word of God will think they are preaching truth when, in fact, they are preaching lies (truth mixed with lies). But, they will not be successful in the end. They will disappear, but God’s Word will remain forever. So, we need to be students of the Word so that we are not easily persuaded by their lies, but so we hold fast to the truth.

Stand Firm (vv. 7-9)

Thus says the Lord God:

“‘It shall not stand,
and it shall not come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And within sixty-five years
Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.’”

This is not to say that our enemy will not be able to conquer us militarily, or that we will not face persecution, mocking, false accusations, mistreatment, rejection, abandonment, and the like. Jesus and his apostles warned us that, as followers of Christ, we will share in the fellowship of his sufferings. So, we need to be prepared to suffer for the sake of Christ and his gospel. We need to be prepared to be hated and mistreated and to be attacked because we hold fast to the Word of Truth. Yet, we don’t have to be afraid of any of this, because our Lord is with us, he will sustain us, and he will carry us through. He will give us all we need to stand firm in our faith and to not give way to pressure to compromise with the enemy in order to make peace with the world or to retreat (back down) in fear. God is absolutely sovereign and in control over all things. He has a plan and a purpose for everything which comes into our lives, and he will accomplish his purposes.

So, no matter the threats of the enemy against us, we must remain steadfast in our faith and hold firm to the Word of Truth and not run away in fear or compromise our faith in order to make peace with the world. Our God is in control! He is all powerful! He has a plan and a purpose for everything that is going on in the world, and he will come out on top! So, we just need to trust him, rest in him, and then follow him wherever he leads us. And, we need to go against our fears, and walk by faith and not by sight.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

(1) http://www.sermonillustrator.org/illustrator/sermon6/cancelled_insurance.htm

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