Fourth in a series on keeping our eye on the goal (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not see are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Establishing a mindset and focus for the Corinthians, Paul brings to a close his encouragement for endurance in the faith for every child of God in every generation and in every place, not just for those in Corinth.
It is with a sharp and obvious contrast that Paul brings those things that are important into focus: the things that are seen are the materialistic, temporary things of the earth and the things that are not seen are those beyond this life—those things that last for eternity.
His emphasis is on the things that are eternal because that is the part of our future that will have the most meaning—it will never end. Successfully focusing now will result in our receiving “the crown of life.” That will make it all worthwhile as Paul points out in this series of verses.
A word study in 2 Peter 1:5-11
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
“to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,”
(2 Peter 1:6).
“Perseverance,” translated “patience” in the King James Version, has a broader meaning than we understand when we use the word patience today. It means “stedfastness, constancy, endurance.”
More specifically, this word has reference to the way a person reacts when he undergoes some trial or affliction in life—it is one’s reaction to such things as hurt, pain, conflict, humiliation, or even persecution. The question is: How does one’s faith or Christian commitment hold up under such negative circumstances?
Throughout the New Testament, we are admonished to endure no matter what happens to us in life; and certainly, Jesus left a supreme example of perseverance. We, then, must persevere, regardless of negative life experiences, because we have never suffered as severely as Jesus did.
“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!” (Jeremiah 18:6).
Having been instructed to go to the potter’s house so that he could better understand the message God wants to communicate to His people, the prophet Jeremiah obeys and there observes the process of a potter molding clay. The potter doesn’t press down on the clay; rather he continuously lifts it up and shapes it as it spins on the wheel.
Actually, God wants His people to get the point that He can do for them whatever needs to be done so that they will be successful, but they must be pliable and responsive. He can mold them into the kind of people He wants them to be only if they allow it to happen by giving up their rebellious and idolatrous ways.
While God doesn’t work in miraculous ways today as He did among the Israelites, He has placed us on the “wheel of His word” and His foot (so to speak) is on the wheel. Through that word, He has the power to turn and mold us into a people who can achieve great heights spiritually. But we, too, must be pliable and responsive enough to allow it to happen.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
Throughout scripture, Christianity is presented as a life that can never remain status quo: either one is moving forward or he is regressing. That is the case with the Hebrew Christians in this wonderful book.
The writer has promoted the concept of growing in the first part of this chapter, pointing out that these Christians should move forward and build on the foundation they have laid rather than abdicating their faith and returning to their former way of life and worship under the Law of Moses.
“For,” he says, if they abdicate after experiencing the joys and benefits of being a child of God—if they turn their back on Jesus—they can reach a state where they will never be willing to return. So, the writer is warning them against carrying through with their inclination to forsake Jesus.
This poignant warning has rung down to every generation since the time it was written. If we ever contemplate forsaking Jesus and returning to the ways of the world, we are well warned that we can reach a point that we don’t want to return.
First in a series of two studies from Hebrews 12
“Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Determination in the midst of adversity is the message the writer of Hebrews has for his discouraged Jewish readers in this passage—that is, those who have recently been converted to Christianity.
In an attempt to encourage them not to leave the Lord because of discouraging circumstances, the writer has just written about the faith of many great people.
With these people of faith in view, the Hebrew Christians should be encouraged to stand strong and not let any discouragement or disappointment drive them away from the Lord.
Rather they should persevere—that is, stay with the Lord—so as to be successful in running the full course of the Christian race.
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” (1 Peter 3:13).
After addressing different categories of people, the Apostle Peter here addresses everyone (vs. 8) by encouraging them to be in unity in Christ and to have compassion for one another.
In this verse, he provides an interesting perspective on the Christian life. He is not saying that no problems will come to those who do good—he is not saying Christians will have no problems if they live the good and pure life he has just described.
What Peter is teaching is that what happens in this life is inconsequential in comparison to what will happen to the faithful Christian in eternity. Those who “love life and see good days” will receive great and wonderful spiritual benefits in the long run. This encouragement should motivate us to be determined not to waiver in our faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
When Jews living in the first century left Judaism and obeyed the gospel, they evidently felt all of their problems would be over and they would have a life of perfect bliss. When that didn’t happen, some of them became discouraged and went back to Judaism; others were about to leave.
The writer of Hebrews writes to encourage them, insisting they should practice endurance instead of giving up their new-found faith if they want to receive the reward God ultimately has for all the faithful.
We today sometimes need this same kind of encouragement when life throws us “curve balls,” and we have difficulties and hurts to deal with. The message is the same for us: we should never give up Jesus and our faith because that is what will take us into eternity in good standing with God.