We Do Not Lose Heart
Noah did not lose heart. Moses did not lose heart. David did not lose heart. John the Baptist lost his head, and history suggests the apostle Paul lost his, too, but they did not lose heart. You must not lose heart (Lk 18:1; 2 Cor 4:1, 16; Gal 6:9; Eph 3:13, 21; Heb 12:3).
There is nothing in the Bible that suggests Christian life and ministry is easy. In fact, there would be fewer false professors of Jesus, if the Bible was taught more faithfully by us. There are numerous tests in a person’s life, for him to examine himself, to see if he is in the faith. The loss of a job, a house, a beloved grandparent, or one’s own child will force the separation of the silver from the dross of our lives (Prv 25:4).
Suffering afflictions and pressing on toward the mark of your high calling is proof positive you remain on the narrow way that leads to life (Mt 7:14). We suffer for the sake of God’s elect people (2 Tim 2:10), both regenerate and the yet unregenerate. We have a ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us (2 Cor 5:18), as a stewardship (1 Cor 9:17), for which we must give an account (Rom 14:12). We long to finish the race, hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful slave…enter the joy of the Lord (Mt 25:21, 23).”
Crucial to not losing heart is a proper orientation to who we were before Christ came for us (Rom 3:10–12). Now, we have received mercy (2 Cor 4:1), which means we deserved wrath (Rom 1:18). God hates sin and sinners (Ps 5:5; 7:11; 11:5). He judges all sinners, justly (Jn 5:30). Look to Jesus in His passion on the cross, with the sins of the whole world upon Him (1 Jn 2:2), and then consider God’s wrath poured out. This is what every Christian has merited in his or her flesh (Rom 6:23).
Receiving the Good News of what Christ has done for us, as our substitute (Rom 5:8), causes the Christian to be filled with humble gratitude. There is joy deep down in our hearts. We are forgiven of our sins (Mt 26:28), and guilt has been removed. We are free from the fear of death, judgment, and eternal punishment in fiery hell (Mt 5:22; 25:46).
We did not and will not receive what we deserve, but we have also received grace upon grace (Rom 5:17; 1 Tim 1:14). Grace is what God does for His beloved. Grace incorporates vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23), in the gracious ministry of the Spirit. God, through the apostle Paul, assures us that none of us is adequate as a minster of the Gospel mystery. He does promise to make us adequate, however (2 Cor 3:5–6).
This ministry is manifest through us (2 Cor 2:14). Like a fragrant aroma wafting to others near us, Christ Jesus is being made known. We have been made witnesses of Jesus because His Spirit has taken up permanent residence in our hearts (Acts 1:8; Rom 8:9, 11). As we grow in grace and knowledge of the truth (2 Pet 3:18), those in our company are either blessed or hardened because of His light and truth emanating from this ministry.
This ministry is glorious because it tells of the new covenant cut by Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, slain for us (Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 1:25; Heb 12:24; Rev 5:6, 12). In this covenant of grace, God promises to have mercy upon whomever He wills (Rom 9:15), and He promises to harden whom He desires (Rom 9:18).
Christians are not enslaved to a meritorious competition, although many teachers love to sin, by counting Christ’s flock. David made this error, and he was judged and suffered for it (1 Chron 21:17).
The proclamation of Christ and Him crucified is this ministry (1 Cor 2:2). We do not call people to morality, methods, or religious obedience. The ministry calls men everywhere to turn to Christ (Acts 17:30), as their right standing before God. We must be justified by the precious blood of Jesus and by no other means (Rom 5:9).
The ministry of righteousness, that is, Christ’s righteousness, tells people that God’s grace, alone, in giving them faith, is the only way of righteousness (Eph 2:8–9; 2 Pet 2:21). Theologians call this “imputed.” It is a silent, secret work of the Holy Spirit, who enters our hearts and pours out the love of God (Rom 5:5) and shines the light of the Gospel there (2 Cor 4:6).
Christ is manifest for us. He made Himself known to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), and when He opened Lydia’s heart to respond to Paul’s preaching (Acts 16:14). Jesus revealed God the Father to whom He willed (Mt 11:27), so the Spirit enters the heart of whom God wills (Rom 9:16). The wind blows where it will, and the Spirit moves in the same mysterious way (Jn 3:1–8), causing some to be born again (1 Pet 1:3), but not others. Jesus came to save God’s elect people from their sins (Mt 1:21), and He laid down His life for them (Jn 10:11, 15), those whom He loved (Eph 5:25).
God’s predetermined plan (Acts 2:23) and purpose in Christ Jesus (Eph 3:11) is eternally decreed, and that assures us that God will lose none of His chosen people (Jn 6:37; 10:28). He wills and does His good pleasure (Phil 2:13) for His own glory. God is perfect in His person and work; and at the consummation of the ages, His work for this creation will find its perfect end. Perfect success belongs to the Lord.
With this remarkable revelation, we have our hope for today, tomorrow, and until Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5). For these reasons and many more, we do not lose heart. God is faithful and powerful, to accomplish what concerns us (Ps 57:2; 138:8).
Christian, have you lost heart? Is your faith wavering? Are you in a dark place or time? Then, you must be revived. You must return to your first love. You must gain strength from God’s Word. The Bible is designed by God, taught to you by His Spirit, to give you light in the darkness, truth amidst the world of lies, comfort in the face of terrible loss, and life from the dead.
He who began this good work in you will complete it (Phil 1:6). He who positioned you in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:30), will not stop His plan to craft you into Christ-likeness (Rom 8:29). The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you, to make you holy, by His grace. He Himself will make sure you do not lose heart.
Spokane Valley, Washington
August 14, 2022