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37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “ You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?
(John 18:37-38 NASB)
If there is a more tense or peculiar exchange in all of scripture than John’s account of Jesus before Pilate, I cannot imagine what it might be. They both knew why Jesus was there, and both knew what the outcome would be. Yet rather than discussing it openly, they both understood that the pretext of trial and a defense must be honored if Jesus was to be crucified.
If you have any doubt as to whether or not both men understood what was going to happen, you need not look any further than Pilate’s response in verse 38. Truth, to him, was relative, and ultimately irrelevant in service to the “greater good” of keeping peace.
But Jesus’ response is no less nuanced; brought by lawless hands before Pilate, He gives the Governor an answer that could, in fact, assure that Pilate could be justified in putting Him to death without a second thought. “I have been born for this purpose, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.”
In our present distress, when truth to so many is relative, and appeasement to avoid conflict is the rule of the day, even the most steadfast Christian might find himself perplexed, overwhelmed, and wondering how these things came to be. Things have grown undeniably darker, and yet I wonder if it’s possible to gain some measure of reassurance?
We Are Born For THIS Purpose
When Jesus answered Pilate, was He saying He had been born a king, born to die, born to testify of the truth? Was He telling Pilate that things were happening that Pilate did not understand, and would not understand and that a power greater than all the might of Rome was working? In short, Yes.
Might I suggest that we also were born for this purpose, and for times such as these? (Esther 4:9-14) We’ve been witness to a great many upheavals, as principalities lurch further from truth in order to appease the godless. Perhaps we’ve wondered why God would allow such things to come to pass, or how long He will continue to allow our nation, or world, to stand? Whatever God decides is His place and not ours, but rest assured we have been called for times such as these.
James would say “count it all joy (James 1:1-4),” and Peter would speak of our faith being perfected in the fire of the refiner ultimately proving “more precious than gold. (1 Peter 1:3-9)” In fact Peter would even go onto say that this is exactly the purpose that we have been called to, as we are Christ’s royal priesthood, holy nation, and chosen generation. (1 Peter 2:9-20) I hope you’ll take the time to read those passages before continuing, because now more than ever, they reassure us that we are not, as the Hebrew writer boldly proclaims, those who will shrink back to perdition. (Hebrews 10:39)
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously
(1 Peter 2:21-23 NASB)
Our purpose is to give an answer to a world that will likely not receive it, and to give that answer in such a way that God and Christ are glorified in our lives and before a world that wants to see us break.
14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
(1 Peter 3:14-16 NASB)
If Christianity was made for times such as these, is it possible that it could even thrive? Unequivocally yes.
If we remain unhindered spiritually by what the world does to us, they will notice. If our faith thrives when others are working to silence us, they will see. If our conviction remains steadfast when under assault, some will admire. If we continue to speak the truth in love when we are only answered in hate, some will, at last, hear.
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:6-11 NASB)
Our struggles are not unique to our time. In fact it is in times like these that the church has always flourished, but only when her members remain steadfast in the faith. What does this mean for the daily life of God’s child today?
Live peacefully—Romans 12:18
Do not be overcome by evil—Romans 12:21
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad—Matthew 5:11
Let your light shine—Matthew 5:13-16
We were born for times such as these.
Rev 22: 1-21
Rev 21: 1-27
Rev 20: 1-15
Rev 19: 1-21
Rev 17: 1-18, 18: 1-24
Rev 15: 1-18, 16: 1-21
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“ Today if you hear His voice,
DO not harden your hearts, as when they provoked ME.” (Hebrews 3:12-15 NASB)
What is the value of a day? I guess it would depend on the day, but anyone who has found themselves on the wrong side of time and chance, as I’m sure we all have, almost certainly knows what it’s like to wish for just one more day. Maybe it’s one more day to right a wrong that destroyed a trust, or one more day with someone whose absence can be felt to the core of our very being. Or maybe it’s not the day that we lament, but rather the moment that we wish we could take back. A word spoken in haste that hurt more than we anticipated, a moment of selfishness that tarnished a reputation, a moment of weakness that destroyed the trust of a parent or spouse; these are the moments that speak to us because in some ways our regrets define our sense of self.
That’s why an idiom like “strike while the iron is hot” is seared into the collective consciousness. I know no blacksmiths myself, but there isn’t a single person who is old enough to be accountable for their actions that does not understand the sentiment. We see the image in our heads. The red-hot billet, pulled fresh from the flame laid upon the anvil, and the hammer that crashes upon it drawing it out and shaping it to the will of the smithy. His work is quick and must be, or else back to the kiln it must go until the moment it is again hot.
For all the things in life that pretend at true urgency and bellow with tyrannical need, very few actually are of any real significance. Yet it is this seemingly unending stream of urgent needs that Satan uses to hide those things that are truly worthy and even needful of our attention.
I would direct your attention to the passage we began with. (Hebrews 3:12-15) Is there no urgency in the sentiment of brotherly encouragement? Or in 2nd Peter chapter 1 and verse 5 where he urges them to give diligence to the task of growing their faith. We see urgency by the Apostle Paul when he beseeched the church in Rome (Romans 12:1-3) by the mercies of God to be transformed in renewing their minds, and to present their bodies as living sacrifices. It is there again in the 13 chapter of the same epistle (Romans 13:10-14) when he urges them to consider that the hour of their salvation is nearer than when they first believed.
With so many beggarly things pretending at importance is it any wonder that we become distracted. But this is not the moment for laments and commiserations over the difficulty of our walk. Now is the time for us to make some tough choices.
Who are you?
14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord (YHVH) and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:14-15 NASB)
The trouble with Joshua’s words is that we have read them too often, but we’ve not read them deeply. This is not the carpe diem of scripture. Instead he is telling them what it means to truly be the people of God. The relationship of God to His people is not one of mere convenience; it’s one of conviction based on love, fear, trust, and obedience.
Fear Jehovah and serve Him in sincerity and truth. Sincerity comes from the heart of a man and Truth comes from the Lord, but any obedience must begin with deciding who we are. We cannot obey God if we do not fear Him first. Fear Him to the putting away of those things that would define us as something other than His people. And while we do not believe ourselves to be those who serve other gods we need to ask whether or not our actions say otherwise.
The one who fears God does not take what belongs to the Lord. (Romans 12:1-3) By our choices, our language, our behavior do people see in us the image of one who is in complete and total surrender to his God, or are we still serving those gods that we bowed before on the other side of the watery grave of baptism?
Whatever else or whoever else we are, we must be those who live as citizens of Heaven. (Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:13-16) If we can lead by no other means we can lead by example, and rest assured the eyes are watching. Our spouses, our children, the world around us they see our behavior. They see what we value, and it may well be that the only one fooled about the god that they serve is you and me.
We must ask ourselves, and honestly so, when did honoring God become giving the best of what’s left over? What are we saying if we do not live in sacrifice so that others see that we truly do fear God? Do our actions look like those who have hope fully vested in God’s eternal kingdom and in the blood of Christ?
Brothers and sisters it is time once again to put away the foreign gods that are in the camp, and we must do it while it is still called today. Whatever hinders your example and obedience, for the sake of your very soul, put it down and never pick it up again.
Rev 13: 1-18, 14: 1-20
Rev 11: 1-12, 12: 1-17