40.Day.Week4

JULY 24

UNSUNG HEROES

HEBREWS 11:35-38 | But others were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Faith suffers great things (JOHN CHRYSOSTOM). Without missing a beat, the Preacher drops his tone from the thrill of triumph to the agony of defeat: But others were tortured, refusing to accept release.

He is referring to the seven Maccabean brothers and their mother who were martyred in the second century BC (2 MACCABEES 7). The Greek King Antiochus offered them freedom and his friendship if they would convert from Judaism to the Greek way of life. Flanked by instruments of extreme torture, these brothers boldly confessed their faith in God and their hope in the resurrection. One by one, from the eldest to the youngest, they were flogged, scalped, dismembered, and pan-fried. The mother stood by and encouraged each son when his turn came. Then, before the guards could touch her, she threw herself into the flames.

Why does the Preacher end his glowing account of faith-exploits on such a gory note? He does so because he’s not a naïve triumphalist with an over-realised eschatology. He knows as well as we do, especially in this pandemic, that the faithful do not always escape physical pain.

Faith suffers great things. The victory of the victims in Hebrews 11:35-38 is equal to, if not greater than, all the other triumphs of faith put together. All had faith, victors and victims alike. All are approved by God (:2, 39). All are winners, but in different ways.

We often stop reading Hebrews 11 on the high pitch of victory in the middle of verse 35. How many sermons have you heard on the rest of the paragraph? Others were tortured…. Who wants to identify with that? Let alone preach it?

We have a problem. It’s called triumphalism—a hyper-identification with super-saints who win every battle and take all the awards. We seldom sing the praises of the suffering saints. But the author of Hebrews does. He confers on them a badge of honour unequalled in antiquity: Of whom the world was not worthy.

Can God say the same about you?

UNSUNG HEROES

HEBREWS 11:35-38 | But others were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Faith suffers great things (JOHN CHRYSOSTOM). Without missing a beat, the Preacher drops his tone from the thrill of triumph to the agony of defeat: But others were tortured, refusing to accept release.

He is referring to the seven Maccabean brothers and their mother who were martyred in the second century BC (2 MACCABEES 7). The Greek King Antiochus

 

JULY 24

offered them freedom and his friendship if they would convert from Judaism to the Greek way of life. Flanked by instruments of extreme torture, these brothers boldly confessed their faith in God and their hope in the resurrection. One by one, from the eldest to the youngest, they were flogged, scalped, dismembered, and pan-fried. The mother stood by and encouraged each son when his turn came. Then, before the guards could touch her, she threw herself into the flames.

Why does the Preacher end his glowing account of faith-exploits on such a gory note? He does so because he’s not a naïve triumphalist with an over-realised eschatology. He knows as well as we do, especially in this pandemic, that the faithful do not always escape physical pain.

Faith suffers great things. The victory of the victims in Hebrews 11:35-38 is equal

to, if not greater than, all the other triumphs of faith put together. All had faith, victors and victims alike. All are approved by God (:2, 39). All are winners, but in different ways.

We often stop reading Hebrews 11 on the high pitch of victory in the middle of verse 35. How many sermons have you heard on the rest of the paragraph? Others were tortured…. Who wants to identify with that? Let alone preach it?

We have a problem. It’s called triumphalism—a hyper-identification with super-saints who win every battle and take all the awards. We seldom sing the praises of the suffering saints. But the author of Hebrews does. He confers on them a badge of honour unequalled in antiquity: Of whom the world was not worthy.

Can God say the same about you?

Prayer Track

■ Faith suffers great things. We don’t like to hear it because many of us have fallen for an over-realised eschatology. This is the notion that the blessings of the future reign of Christ are up for grabs here and now (1 CORINTHIANS 4:8). This form of triumphalism rejects the call to suffer for Christ and replaces it with a feel-good way of doing church that is alien to Jesus’ model of discipleship. Naïve Christians taken in by such triumphalism will fall away when persecution arises (MATTHEW 13:21). In these troubled times, we desperately need a revival marked by cross-bearing discipleship and the preaching of Christ Crucified. Make this your quest and your cry. Watch and pray.

■ Faith suffers great things. We don’t like to hear it because we forget that suffering is actually at the heart of the Christian story (TIM KELLER). We forget that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 TIMOTHY 3:12). Face it. Our godly stand for heterosexual marriage will put us front and centre in the line of fire. Face it. There are Christian brothers and sisters who feel the pangs of same-sex attraction. But they have chosen to live holy lives as commanded by God and they are being bullied for it. Their TrueLove.Is stories are at risk of being ‘cancelled’ by those who are intolerant towards the biblical standard for sexuality (IAN TOH). We must safeguard Singapore’s moral future. Stand tall with our persecuted story-tellers. Stay true to God’s truth at all cost. We will not hide our face from mocking and spitting (ISAIAH 50:6). For Christ’s sake, we have been granted the privilege not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him (PHILIPPIANS 1:29). Pray!

■ Faith suffers great things. No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Jesus, they will certainly persecute us (JOHN 15:20). Persecution is a daily reality for more than 260 million Christians (OPEN DOORS USA). In India, some bible schools require their graduating students to take the Martyr’s Oath publicly before they can receive their diploma. Radical? No. Simply cross-bearing discipleship. Are you ready to pray likewise?

Today, I stand as a dead man. I declare that in Jesus Christ, I am saved by his blood. Thus I am dead to sin and no longer dead in my sin. Today, I stand and declare that I surrender my will and my life to his will and his life. I shall go where he sends me without asking questions. I shall go to whomever he sends me without seeking fame. I shall preach to everyone, even if they hate me. I am an Ambassador of the Cross, and must deliver the Message. I shall pour my life out to reach my family, my friends, my neighbours, and my city. I embrace the shame of the Cross, and I fear nothing but God. I welcome suffering, shame, persecution, beatings, imprisonment and death, but I will not be silenced. If I am killed, I pray that my blood should be a harvest for souls. This is my city. I dare not do less (TRENTARWINE.COM).

Prayer Track

■ Faith suffers great things. We don’t like to hear it because many of us have fallen for an over-realised eschatology. This is the notion that the blessings of the future reign of Christ are up for grabs here and now (1 CORINTHIANS 4:8). This form of triumphalism rejects the call to suffer for Christ and replaces it with a feel-good way of doing church that is alien to Jesus’ model of discipleship. Naïve Christians taken in by such triumphalism will fall away when persecution arises (MATTHEW 13:21). In these troubled times, we desperately need a revival marked by cross-bearing discipleship and the preaching of Christ Crucified. Make this your quest and your cry. Watch and pray.

■ Faith suffers great things. We don’t like to hear it because we forget that suffering is actually at the heart of the Christian story (TIM KELLER). We forget that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 TIMOTHY 3:12). Face it. Our godly stand for heterosexual marriage

will put us front and centre in the line of fire. Face it. There are Christian brothers and sisters who feel the pangs of same-sex attraction. But they have chosen to live holy lives as commanded by God and they are being bullied for it. Their TrueLove.Is stories are at risk of being ‘cancelled’ by those who are intolerant towards the biblical standard for sexuality (IAN TOH). We must safeguard Singapore’s moral future. Stand tall with our persecuted story-tellers. Stay true to God’s truth at all cost. We will not hide our face from mocking and spitting (ISAIAH 50:6). For Christ’s sake, we have been granted the privilege not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him (PHILIPPIANS 1:29). Pray!

■ Faith suffers great things. No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Jesus, they will certainly persecute us (JOHN 15:20). Persecution is a daily reality for more than 260 million Christians (OPEN DOORS USA). In India, some bible schools require their graduating students to take the Martyr’s

Oath publicly before they can receive their diploma. Radical? No. Simply cross-bearing discipleship. Are you ready to pray likewise?

Today, I stand as a dead man. I declare that in Jesus Christ, I am saved by his blood. Thus I am dead to sin and no longer dead in my sin. Today, I stand and declare that I surrender my will and my life to his will and his life. I shall go where he sends me without asking questions. I shall go to whomever he sends me without seeking fame. I shall preach to everyone, even if they hate me. I am an Ambassador of the Cross, and must deliver the Message. I shall pour my life out to reach my family, my friends, my neighbours, and my city. I embrace the shame of the Cross, and I fear nothing but God. I welcome suffering, shame, persecution, beatings, imprisonment and death, but I will not be silenced. If I am killed, I pray that my blood should be a harvest for souls. This is my city. I dare not do less (TRENTARWINE.COM).