Let the record show that Paul hits every criteria for being a true Christ-One / Chosen One / Messiah spoken into being by YHVH’s Savior.
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come;
- glorify / give victory in battle to thy Son
- that thy Son also may glorify / give victory in battle to thee…
- I pray for them…which thou hast given me; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
- that they also may be one in us:
- that / this is how the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
- And the glory / victory in battle which thou gavest me
- I have given them;
- that they may be one, even as we are one:” (John 17)
“Saul / Paul is a chosen vessel unto me,
- to bear my name before the Gentiles…
- and the children of Israel…
- he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)
Paul’s inclusion of suffering as a standard of ministry is in marked contrast to the typical minister of the gospel.
“we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only,
- but also our own souls,
- because ye were dear unto us…
- labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you,
- Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:” (I Thessalonians 2:8-10)
And some days after [their first missionary journey when thy experienced stoning and threats of death] Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia [after the acutely stress-filled campaign had culminated with Paul being stoned and left for dead in Lystra} , and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed.” (Acts 15:36-40)
Military discipline and training are as elementary to joining forces with YHVH to retake dominion over the world as they are to winning a political war, especially when the battle intensifies.
“Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice…Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away…
- And Simon Peter followed Jesus,
- and so did another disciple: that disciple…went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple…and brought in Peter.
- and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
- And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
- And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man.
And immediately the cock crew…And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” (John 13:36-38; 18:15-27, Matthew 26:69-75, Luke 22:61-62)
When Christ Jesus became the judge instead of the judged, Peter and the other disciple most certainly received the things done in their bodies.
“after that he was risen from the dead…Jesus saith to Simon Peter…when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me [to crucifixion].
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following…saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” (John 21:14-24)
There is are straight line connections between
- Peter betraying the Lord out of fear of being crucified with him, and his death by crucifixion
- and John risking being crucified with Christ by identifying himself as his disciple at his trial and crucifixion, and being the only apostle who did not experience a horrible martyr’s death.
Peter’s form of death was not a punishment.
It was probation.
Can we not recognize that the Lord gave Peter a second chance to live up to his boast that he would follow him to the death of the cross? The Lord is truly longsuffering. All the disciples except John failed to follow Jesus to the end, and they all were given another chance to qualify for leadership.
If we put ourselves in a militaristic mindset we will understand how essential qualified leadership is in a battle. Perhaps we can catch a glimpse from Winston Churchill’s inspiring words as, in 1940, he convinced England to face the overwhelming might of Germany and its Axis, alone.
the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.” [Emphases added.]
Wow. How does one develop that inspired leadership, convincing an entire nation to follow him into a war with such high odds of failure but still to risk everything dear to them – their fathers, sons and daughters to face death or permanent disability, loss of their homes and all their belongings in the Blitz, impoverishment of the entire nation to pay for weapons of war?
“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. ” (John 12:21-33)
By dying? Yes. Winston Churchill convinced the British to be glorified through willingness to die.
Overlay that thought with Jesus’ words.
“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? but for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12:23-27)
Most people know Winston Churchill by…the way he led the United Kingdom with the Allies to victory in World War II. He is one of the most quotable people of all time and books continue to be written about him [like Jesus.]
What most people do not know is that Winston Churchill was considered an incredible failure by the age of 40.
It’s easy to canonize Winston Churchill because of his successes. But, pay closer attention to his failures that made him who we know him today.
During the First World War, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and the chief proponent of the invasion of Turkey now known as the Gallipoli campaign. His strategy was to create a southern link to Russia, their ally. The Turks were a skillful and determined enemy, repelled the allies, and the campaign costed the lives of many young Australians and New Zealanders (ANZAC troops). Perhaps not solely responsible for the tactical defeat on the ground, the campaign was never the less Churchill’s idea and it crippled him politically for years…
Churchill entered the political wilderness, dug in his heels, and marched back to eventually become Prime Minister during World War II.
So what do we learn from Churchill’s first half of life?
Churchill said it best,
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
We may not live life with the type of drama that Churchill lived but we do share the ups and downs of life. Which honest person hasn’t had setbacks in life? We all have taken a punch or two to the face and even have fallen. It hurts admitting it but it is part of life.
“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
Churchill’s life has taught us that failure is part of our journey and we become better because of it.
For that, we can keep getting back up and moving forward because victory in life is found in how we respond to the punches.
Judas is the prime example of a man who won’t face his failures.
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:1-5)
Peter had the guts and humility to face up to his failure not only against the Lord Jesus but his peers. More than once. Peter is definitely my discipleship role model.
“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.” (John 20:1-3)
“when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” (Galatians 2:11)
But no-one exemplifies the call to suffering for those who identify with the Christ and his chosen people Israel than the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul.
“what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge [unity] of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:7-10)
“whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more;
- in labours more abundant,
- in stripes above measure,
- in prisons more frequent,
- in deaths oft.
- Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
- Thrice was I beaten with rods,
- once was I stoned,
- thrice I suffered shipwreck,
- a night and a day I have been in the deep;
- In journeyings often,
- in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
- In weariness and painfulness,
- in watchings often,
- in hunger and thirst,
- in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
- Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
If I must needs glory...The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. ” (II Corinthians 11:21-30)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve a got a good life on this earth and I’m happy and at peace. I am loved by my family, I have more friends than I can keep up with, I make a very comfortable living and have a fulfilling career. I’m in no rush to have it end. Unlike untold millions of other people throughout history, I am not calling out for Jesus to save me from persecution or death.
I have to admit that redemption – of God’s People, of all Creation – is delayed by the lack of his people’s interest in it.
What will it take?
Absolutely not the prosperity gospel.
The right response to tribulation. God forgive us, we are not finding in church.
I’ve heard it on Audible.
Voices filled my ears. Thousands of whispering voices whispering secret, obscene things, vicious poisonous lies, horrible truths…I felt the pressure of those voices coursing into my head like ice picks…and there was nothing, nothing I could do to stop them. I felt a scream building…
And then a strong hand slammed down on the crown of my head, and a deep voice thundered [Clean what is unclean!”]
I opened my eyes to find Michael kneeling over me…His eyes were closed and his lips were moving…he murmured, “Lord of hosts, be with this good man and give him the strength to carry on.’
I didn’t feel anything mystic, there was no surge of power, or magic…just Michael’s quiet, steady strength, and the sincerity of the faith in his voice…I clenched my jaw…and pushed away the memory of those tiny, horrible words…the stinging tears…
“All of you, hear me,” he said quietly. He stood between them – fallen angels, monsters, and mortal fiends – and me. “You think your power is what shapes the world you walk in. But that is an illusion. Your choices shape your world. You think your power will protect you from the consequences of those choices. But you are wrong. You create your own rewards. There is a judge. There is justice in this world, and one day you will receive what you have earned. Choose carefully.”
He was in that moment a messenger, and no-one who heard him speak could doubt it.”
(From Skin Game, The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.)