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Ready Faith                   3 AUG 14

1 PET 3:13 An important promise is made in (1 Pet 3:12 RSV) "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil."" Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs in his Studying Life and Work Lessons, July-September 1980, page 82 wrote "Assuming that the Lord watches over his own, who can “harm” them? … “The one doing evil” renders a future participle. So the possibility of such is still in the future. This suggests that the readers were not at the same time actually being persecuted, but the probably was there - maybe threatening at any time.”

Note that Peter addresses spiritual harm. God never promised physical protection. But naturally we want physical protection. No normal person wants to be physically hurt. Dr. Hobbs, page 82 “However, he qualified the idea with a condition. The “if” clause expresses a condition not yet fulfilled but with the possibility that it will be true….”Followers” renders the word for “zealots” (zelotai).” Thus a growing Christian will not be spiritually harmed. But a babe in Christ might be. A case in point is Acts 5. But Eternal Security is not negated. (Eph 1:13-14 RSV) "In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."

1 PET 3:14 Dr. Hobbs, pages 82-82 “This may be read better as “but even if you suffer.”… The “if” clause here expresses a condition which had not happened and likely would not happen…. Peter assumed that in the future his readers would be zealots for the good, but was less certain that they would suffer for it. However, even if they did suffer for the sake of righteousness living - “happy!”… “Happy” translates the word rendered “blesses in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:2-12). Should persecution come, Christians had in Christ all that was necessary to meet it. In such cases, Christians are not to be overcome by fear or to be “troubled.””

            Note what is going on in Iraq at this moment in time: This is by Gregory Tomlin, a writer based in Fort Worth, Texas for the Baptist Press posted online on Jul 24, 2014. [Red is my emphasis]

            Islamic militants have eradicated virtually every trace of Christianity from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said on July 23.”

"There are no Christians left in Mosul," Shea told CBN News. "They have all been driven out. They have been told to convert to Islam or die, or to leave."

Shea also said she saw reports of ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] militants destroying or defacing ancient Christian sites, such as the supposed tomb of the prophet Jonah, fourth century monasteries and churches. She added that militants tore down crosses in the city and burned ancient Christian manuscripts.”

"There is zero tolerance for the religious other on the part of this group," Shea said. "They are rabidly bigoted against Christians. They hate Christians. They are eradicating every trace of the 2,000 year history of Christianity in every area they have conquered, including in Iraq's second largest city, the center of Christianity in Iraq, which is Mosul."

            At this moment there are no public Christians in Mosul. As far as ISIS knows, all have either fled, been killed, or have converted. So how can we apply Dr. Hobbs statement “Christians are not to be overcome by fear or to be “troubled””? Talk is easy. As some ex-Christians in Mosul may have done {my speculation], they have pretended to convert. Is this correct? Should they have fled or stayed and been martyred? Consider (2 Ki 5:18-19a RSV) "In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant [Naaman]: when my master [the king] goes into the house of Rimmon [the god of Damascus] to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter." {19} He said to him, "Go in peace."" Certainly when Naaman “bowed himself in the house of Rimmon” all in this house (temple of pagan worship to Rimmon) thought Naaman was really worshiping Rimmon. Technically he broke the Law, most notably the First of the Ten Commandments: (Exo 20:3 RSV) ""You shall have no other gods before me." The Hebrew means for before Me. Literally, in My sight (i.e., either in addition to Me or in opposition to Me). God will not share His worship with another. But Naaman did not do (Deu 8:19 RSV) "And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish."

            Who are we to judge these Iraq Christians? We have not real personal reference. Would they be sinning if they lied about worshipping Allah? Could we give them assurances as Elisha assured Naaman that God would understand? What is Ready Faith but a faith that is 1 PET 3:15? No Christian is to fear losing his/her salvation and of going to Hell. How can we not fear bodily harm when Jesus said (Mat 26:39 RSV) "And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."" It was because the cup was all the suffering involved in the sinless Son of God taking upon Himself the sin of mankind for all of time, including the necessary, though temporary, separation from God (MATT 27:46). Jesus naturally shrank from this, though He willingly submitted to it.
1 PET 3:15 Dr. Hobbs, page 83 "In the best Greek texts the reading is not "Lord God" but "Lord the Christ." There is no article with "Lord." So it reads "the Christ as Lord."... "Sanctify" means to set apart" Jesus is the Lord Christ. A ready and TRUE witness can only come from this base.

Dr. Hobbs made a vital point on page 84: "Your word of witness will be no stronger than the example of witness found in your life-style." If you are not living as one actually following Jesus as Lord, your witness will have poor quality. Dr. Hobbs, pages 83-84 wrote “Later in the first century, Christians did exactly this during the persecution by Domitian around A.D. 95. The issue involved emperor worship in which people were to declare “Caesar is Lord.” [i.e. Caesar is a divine god.]  Christians refused, instead saying “Jesus is Lord.” For this they underwent terrible persecution, some even unto death. Since the worst of this persecution centered in the Roman province of Asia (see rev. 1:11), one of the areas to which this epistle was sent, we may see here the element of cause and effect…. And they set apart Christ as Lord in their hearts, a place which neither Domitian nor anyone could usurp.”

It should be noted that the majority of citizens and non-citizens went through the verbal acknowledgement of saying “Caesar is Lord” but they did not believe it and did not practice any worship to Domitian. So why did not the Christians do the same? Consider again 2 Ki 5:18-19a. And note the comment of Dr. Hobbs on page 84 “Your word of witness will be stronger than the example of witness found in your life-style.” Respecting another person’s religious beliefs does not mean you condone or endorse them. How does 1 PET 3:15 apply to Naaman and the Iraq Christians of today?

1 PET 3:16-17 Dr. Hobbs, page 84 “A “good conscience” may read a “positive attitude.”” Christians have every reason for a positive attitude because of Eternal Security. The matter of evil doers being “ashamed” may not happen until the Second Coming and White Throne Judgment, as Peter pointed out earlier. This makes the issue of suffering very hard to take. You may die and never see as a evil person being made ashamed.

1 PET 4:1-2 Dr. Hobbs, page 85 “”Arm yourselves” is a present middle (reflexive) imperative form. It is a command to take up arms for battle.” It is not God who will do it for you. You have the action and responsibility to fight the spiritual battle. Paul agrees. (Eph 6:14-18 RSV) "Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, {15} and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; {16} besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. {17} And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. {18} Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"

What is this “same mind”? It is the dedication to service to whatever God calls a person to be and do and to do so against all odds and all persecutions. The key words are “Stand therefore, having girded your.” It is your responsibility and duty to grow up! (1 Pet 2:2 RSV) "Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation;" This puts to practice (Phil 2:5 RSV) "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," Jesus showed the ultimate Ready Faith. We are to mature to attempt to do the same, if we are tested to remain opening faithful.

 

Marvin Ganote, Hobbs Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at: http://dma1.org/~ganotemd/lesson.htm  or http://academic.udayton.edu/MarvinGanote/Bible/lessn.htm