When Thomas, who at first had doubted, finally recognized that Christ truly had been raised from the dead, Christ said to him,
“ Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. ” (John 20:29)
The Hebrew letter tells us that faith is “ a conviction of things not seen. ”
In the modern world, where mammon is god, the rule is: “ Seeing is believing. ” But God calls us to faith, to believe on
“ That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of JESUS CHRIST: WHOM HAVING NOT SEEN, YE LOVE; IN WHOM, THOUGH NOW YE SEE HIM NOT, YET BELIEVING, YE REJOICE WITH JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY. ” (1 Peter 1:7-8)
When we believe and obey the Gospel, there is no visible sign of our salvation, no voice from heaven saying we have been accepted. Yet we believe, because we have the word and promise of Christ. When we look at the world and realize that gross evil and corruption abound everywhere, it is by the same faith that we believe that Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and that all things will work together for good for them that are called according to (God ’ s) purpose.
It is apparent that God desires people who are willing to trust, not in themselves, but in Him, people who believe on Him in the face of all conditions to the contrary. Prosperity and good health are special blessings, and cause for thanksgiving, but their absence is no sign that God has ceased to care and provide. Faith is to believe that He is with us at all times, in want or in suffering, and that whatever the course requires, it is the means by which God will draw us close and conform us to His image.
When we face difficulties, we can exercise that faith, faith that
“ he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. ” (Ephesians 3:20)
We overcome, not by self-confidence, but by confidence in God who reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son Christ.
Therefore, in the early church, Christians were known as people of “ the Way. ” (John 14:6) Christ told His disciples,
“ Where I go, you know the way. Thomas responded, “ Lord, we know not where you go: how do we know the way? ” He answered, “ I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father ut by me. ” (John 14:4-6)
By “ the way ” is not meant a highway which will take everyone on it to the Father. Rather, the Way is the manner of our going. It is a way of living. It is the way of life demonstrated by Christ.
When Jesus said to enter in by the narrow gate, he was talking about the beginning of the journey, not the end. Unfortunately, the 20th Century Judeo-Christian church has painted the wrong picture of the Way. People are told to simply “ ask Jesus into your heart, ” and have overlooked Christ ’ s call to “ follow me. ” Like the bumper sticker that asks, “ Have you tried Jesus? ” the aim of many has not been to follow Him, but to use Him.
The Way is not all accomplished when one becomes a Christian. One may want to make the confession of faith, be baptized, and get it all settled and done as quickly as possible so he can get on with all the other plans for life. But to enter the narrow gate is to begin a life of following Christ. He said,
“ For narrow is the gate and straitened (difficult) is the way that leads unto life, and few are they that find it. ” (Matthew 7:13-14)
It is as if Christ were saying to us, This is the way we were created to live. It is not the way the world lives, so when you live this way you will be criticized, opposed and/or persecuted. If you want to be in the majority and in favor with the world, don ’ t follow this path. It will require sacrifice. You will have to give up many things that your peers think are necessary for a successful and happy life. Some may think you are a fanatic, a religious nut, or even an enemy of the State. Don ’ t be surprised if people hate you, because the way you have chosen exposes the evil of the way they live. But I will be with you, and in the end, you will be given life that is glorious and eternal, while those who took the broad way; the many ways of their own design, will be destroyed in the day of judgment.
JOY AND SUFFERING: The broad way that ends in destruction is crowded with the multitudes who think that the good life is to be found in seeking pleasure and self-gratification. Many Judeo-Christian churches are ready to accommodate them with programs to make them “ feel good ” and “ keep them entertained. ”
There is great joy in the narrow Way, but it is found only by those who learn the purpose and value of the suffering that accompanies it. It is a joy not found by seeking joy, but by seeking to know Christ and to be conformed to His likeness.
When things have gone wrong, when instead of pleasure there is pain, and instead of joy there is sorrow, one may be discouraged and say, “ God doesn ’ t hear my prayers. He hasn ’ t healed me, nor lifted my burden. He has left me to suffer while others enjoy peace and prosperity. I have devoutly prayed and served, yet I have suffered loss, while others have gained. I have had to struggle and suffer and toil for the bare necessities, while others prosper and have leisure for pleasure and rest. ”
We are challenged by the words of Christ to deny self, take up the cross and follow Him, and we would answer the call, only with certain disclaimers: denial must not include our favorite sports, nor our choice conveniences, and the cross is okay, so long as it doesn ’ t cause pain.
HOW EASILY WE FORGET: God suffered for us. He gave His only Son that we might not perish. Christ suffered, the Godly for the ungodly,
“ leaving you an example that you should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. ” (1 Peter 2:21-24)
Suffering is the nature of the Way, but we remember Paul ’ s words:
“ For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. ” (Romans 8:18)
The Individual Way: To follow Christ in the Way requires that one be responsible for his own decisions and his own conscience. The trend of the age is to see that no one suffers guilt. For every failure and every sin the responsibility must be traced to some other element in society; one ’ s parents, or environment, or access to guns, or to drugs, etc. The individual loses his conscience as the responsibility is fixed somewhere else. The majority actually becomes the conscience. Atrocious acts are excused in on the basis that they were committed under the influence of a mob, or a gang, or in the confusion of war.
But before God, the majority, the mob, the gang and even the government all disappear. Each individual suddenly is confronted with his own conscience. Judgment is not concerned about your environment, or whether your neighbor tempted you; your neighbor will answer for that, but judgment will have to do with whether or not you yielded to the temptation. And remember that
“ There has no temptation taken you but such as man can bear; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that you may be able to endure. ” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Therefore, the false teaching “ God loves the sinner, but not the sin. ” is just that; FALSE. GOD DOES NOT LOVE THE SINNER NEITHER DOES HE LOVE THE SIN. For when the sinner stands before the Judgement seat of Christ he will answer for those sins he committed, and not his neighbor, father, mother, brother, sister, friend or anyone else. He himself will answer and receive punishment for his sins.
In eternity one may look for support and security from the crowd, but in vain. For in judgment each one stands alone, even as Christ suffered and died alone, as the one to undergo judgment and death in our place. For in judgment EACH ONE STANDS ALONE, even as Christ suffered and died alone, as the one to undergo judgment and death in our place. The judgment will consider whether you have transferred your responsibility to society, or if you have lived as a pilgrim of the Way.
In the end we will be judged by the means we employ, not by the things accomplished. One may serve humbly and faithfully every day, proclaiming the gospel, sacrificing all for the sake of the Kingdom, and yet never see one life submit to God, or any signs of accomplishment. But before God he has been faithful and has been transformed into God ’ s image.
Another, by cleverness and the power of personal charisma, may be able to manipulate people so that thousands respond to his appeal, and the world hails him as a great success because of his great accomplishments. But before God he must give an account of himself. Whether or not those who respond are saved will not be the issue, but before God he mus account for the means he has used. Those who buy into the smart marketing touted by the “ Church Growth ” experts might want to take a second look.
THE ONLY WAY: As someone has said, Christ doesn ’ t negotiate. This is The Way; there is no other. No matter what Billy Graham or any of the televangelist and false teachers in the pulpits of America say. Today one cannot read a newspaper or turn on the TV without being propagandized with the doctrine of multi-culturalism and religious pluralism.
The politically correct teachers and journalists are convinced that any way to God and any religion is legitimate as long as it makes no claim to be the Right Way. Exclusiveness is the worst kind of sin in the bible of the New World Order. This excludes the Way of Christ, who insisted that His is the Way and the only Way to God.
WITH CHRIST THERE IS NO COMPROMISE; we either walk in the Way or we don ’ t. It is not for us to alter it, to add conditions or make exceptions. There is only the one Way. We will stumble and fall. We may stray from it from time to time. We may make only slow progress, and maybe sometimes fall back. But we are never alone in the Way.
“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins...If any man sin, we have an advocate with the with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins. ” (2 John 1, 2)
WAY OF LIFE: There is significance in the fact that Jesus combined the three things: “ the way, the truth, and the life. ” The way to the Father is the Way to life. Contrary to the pagan belief that man is endowed with some kind of immortal substance, and therefore will survive death to live forever in one form or another, the fact is that mankind is mortal. (Job 4:17) Only God ha immortality. (1 Timothy 6:16) Christ warned that the broad way leads to destruction, for the punishment for sin is death, and at judgment that death, described in Revelation as “ the second death, ” will be eternal. (Matthew 25:47; Revelation 20:14)
The Way of Christ is the Way of life. The Bible contains no promise of eternal life for anyone except those of the Way.
“ For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholds the Son, and believes on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the lat day. ” (John 6:40)