While doing my devotions this morning I read; “The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God, nor is it stained with the ‘blood of the Lamb’ (Revelation 12:11). It is not marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit as being genuine, and it has no visual sign that causes people to exclaim with awe and wonder, ‘That is the work of God Almighty!’ Yet the New Testament is about the work of God and nothing else.” *
This statement was originally made over 80 years ago and it still stands true today. Many will teach on the blessings of God, but not many teach on the sufferings of Christ. If one is to call him or herself a Christian then one must also embrace the truth that being a Christian will include trouble, hardship, and other sufferings (see Romans 8:31-36).
If someone were to talk with me about their faith and not be able to at least recognize and even identify with the suffering I would find it hard to believe that they really understood what they were testifying to in the first place. Now, I am not saying that someone who hasn’t experienced hardship doesn’t have faith. What I am saying, however, is that their faith isn’t all that it has the potential to be, until it is tested.
Paul said in Philippians, ” I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffers, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).” Paul knew that to know Christ meant to also know all that He experienced (see 2 Corinthians 4;8-18, Romans 5:1-5).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a preacher/pastor/teacher during the 1930s and 1940s in Germany. He taught Biblical truth, not propaganda from the Third Reich. He was arrested in 1943 and hung in 1945 after being connected with a failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Bonhoeffer said in his book The Cost of Discipleship, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves…cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without repentance….Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Bonhoeffer then compares it to “Costly Grace” by saying,” Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for which a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Above all it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son…”
Faith and Grace are like the peanut butter and jelly of Christianity. One cannot grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) if they do not have the Faith that He is worth getting to know in the first place.
As believers we are called to stand when others will bow to the powers and enticements of this world. We are called to have a faith that will stand the tests that will come in this life. The phone calls that tell of bad test results, the phone calls and letters that tell of a loved one’s unexpected death. The unforeseen changes in household dynamics. If one does not have a strong faith, one that has been tested, one that has been proven, how will one be able to stand when the really tough stuff comes?
The radio station I listen to has been playing a song lately that calls all of us to be more than we have been and to become more than we are right now. It is from the movie COURAGEOUS and it has become my anthem as a believer.
“We were made to be courageous
And we’re taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight
The only way we’ll ever stand
Is on our knees, with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous
Walk humbly with your God”
~Casting Crowns, Courageous
The song challenges men to take a stand where they once were observers in their own households and become the men of God they were created to be. For me as a woman; I still take that challenge. I am called to be all that God created me to be.
I do not want a faith that will not be able to stand when tough times come. I need to be, I ache to be, strong, courageous and faithful. I don’t want cheap faith. I want faith that will last (see Romans 8:37-39).
*My Utmost for His Highest November 29th, (c) 1992.