A Word of Encouragement for Believers.

I would argue that the most powerful force on the planet is the true church of Jesus Christ. I’m not speaking of a denomination or organization, but of the men and women, boys and girls who have devoted their lives to honoring Christ and living out His teachings and mission. Everywhere that followers of Jesus have gathered and lived out the teachings of Jesus, hope was given to those in despair, forgiveness was taught instead of revenge, love was emphasized over hate and the value of a human life was elevated.

You cannot help but see the influence that the church of Jesus Christ has made on the world. The first public hospitals were started by Christians around the 4th century. Albert Jonsen, a historian of medicine from the University of Washington states, 

“the second great sweep of medical history begins at the end of the fourth century, with the founding of the first Christian hospital at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and concludes at the end of the fourteenth century, with medicine well ensconced in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe.”

During this time, not only were the sick being cared for as Christ taught His disciples, but the most vulnerable and defenseless in society were also shown compassion, the unwanted children. Christians began collecting the discarded children and caring for them and thus the orphanage came into being. These early faithful were living out the conviction given in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” 

Granted, the church of Jesus Christ is made up of people and not all who claim to follow Christ truly do. The church has its scars from those who played the hypocrite, but the church has survived because of the devotion of the true believers striving to live as Christ taught and the church will continue until the day God calls us into His presence.  

As I have already stated, yes, I believe the most powerful force on the planet is the true church of Jesus Christ living out His teachings and mission. I know that for many this statement may seem old fashioned and outdated in our postmodern society. Today, we are witnessing many who once declared faith in Christ now denouncing that faith. In years past, those who apostated their faith simply walked away into the shadows of disbelief, but not now. With the availability of instant communication at the tips of our fingers, apostates are boldly going public with their desertion of the faith. The Apostle Paul spoke of these days in 2 Thessalonians 2, when he wrote that the day will come when there will be a great falling away before the rise of the antichrist (vs. 3). 

Others are so disillusioned with cultural christianity that they are “reconstructing” their faith. They tear apart the fundamental doctrines and theological principles and aim to reconstruct their faith where God and Christian morality reflects their own personal convictions. 2 Timothy 3:5 warns us from constructing a faith based on our own preferences. For when we do, we may well find ourselves with a form of godliness that denies the power of God. These are certainly dangerous and confusing times. So the question must be asked, should those who trust in Christ be discouraged in these days? The answer is no!

2 Thessalonians 2: 13-15 says, 

But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote.

Why you shouldn’t be discouraged if you trust in CHRIST.

First of all, you should not be discouraged because God Himself chose you for salvation and sanctification (vs. 13).

Dwell on that for a moment. God chose you first. Perhaps that is why the Apostle John wrote, “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.”  

The more you understand the depths of which God loved you and chose to invite you to receive His gift of salvation, the more confidence will grow in your heart.  Now, where did John get this truth?  He received it from Jesus.  Look at John 6:44. 

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). 

Not only did God initiate the invitation to you to come to faith in Christ, but He gives a promise to raise you up on the last day. At the end of the age when we will stand before God, you can have confidence if you have accepted His invitation and placed your faith in Christ as your Lord!

Second, you should not be discouraged because God isn’t done developing you (vs. 13).

Not only did God choose you to be a part of His family, but He has committed Himself to develop your faith so you will be like Jesus. He does this great work through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. 

Look at these great verses of instruction and encouragement.

Philippians 1: 6, I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

John 14: 26,  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 16: 13, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. 

As a child we sang, “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.”  That is so wonderful.  God is still working on you. As we start each day, our prayer should be to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and do the work on us that He desires to do. 

Third, you should not be discouraged because God called you to stand for Him during these days (vs. 14-15).

God has not made a mistake by calling you into His family, His ecclesia.You were chosen to be a part of His church, His assembly called out from the world to stand for Him. Like Esther, the ancient Jewish exile who became queen in Persia, God has chosen you for such a time as this to stand for Him boldly, confidently and gracefully. 

Stand firm on the convictions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In verse 15, Paul says to stand on the traditions you were taught. Now, he wasn’t referring to a style of worship, hymns over praise choruses, or a dress code or even a specific translation of the Scriptures. As stated earlier, don’t design your faith based on your personal preferences. Look at the Scriptures in context and allow them to construct your faith.  Here Paul is referring to the doctrinal truths of the Gospel.  

To the Corinthians, He would write, 

Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me (1 Corinthians 15: 1-8).

Don’t be discouraged. You serve a risen, living Christ! Stand firm for Him and proclaim His message and live out His teachings. You were chosen and called for this time to give testimony to Christ and His church!

 I’ve recently preached a series of messages at Connection Point Church entitled, “The Stirring.” This series was designed around two of the disciples who were walking down the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the first Resurrection Sunday. At first, they were discouraged. They felt everything they had believed in was gone. Jesus was dead and God didn’t make any sense to them at the moment.  However, by the end of their journey, they would meet up with the risen Christ and they would never be the same again. Those disciples were so stirred that they turned around and ran back the seven miles to Jerusalem and told the other disciples that they had seen the resurrected Jesus! As they were testifying, Jesus appeared in the room to the whole group.

When you read the book of Acts, you see the impact of their encounter with Christ.  They were stirred and no amount of pressure, apostasy, regulations or persecution could put out the flame that the Holy Spirit had lit in their soul!

May the Holy Spirit do that again in these days! May we who trust Christ be stirred to stand firm for Him and let nothing discourage us from the work He has called us to. 

2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17, 

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.

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