|Vol. 14 No. 9 September 2012||
D. Gene West
There is something winsome and beautiful about the word “faithful”! “Faithfulness,” also known as dependability or reliability, is one of the most sought after and admired characteristics known to man. All desire it in their mates, their teachers, their friends and other relationships. Treason is nothing more than unfaithfulness to one’s country. Failure in faithfulness brings all kinds of disappointment, hurt and sorrow to people every day. However, there is a Being in our universe that will never be unfaithful to His people. Even if people become unfaithful to Him, He is still always faithful to them, and He is there awaiting their return to His love and protection – that Being is, of course, our God.
God is faithful in calling people to Himself through His Son, Jesus the Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:9 Paul wrote, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” From the Day of Pentecost to the present, God has continually called men to Himself by the telling of the rich story of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Paul told these same people that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus make up the fundamentals of the Gospel of Christ. The old, old story of salvation from sin and the giving of a hope of heaven will continue to be told as long as the world stands, for the Lord commissioned it (Matthew 28:18-19). This calling will never cease as long as time exists.
God is faithful, dependable – unswerving in aiding Christians when we are faced with the vicissitudes of temptations, trials and tribulations of this life. These all test our mettle, so to speak, and God is there to see that the metal does not fail under stress. To the Corinthians, Paul wrote a statement of comfort and consolation: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Trial, testing, tribulation and the desire to sin are common to the human race, and Christians are no exceptions. However, the Christian has a deep desire to triumph over all these, but frequently he does not have the strength. He should never lose hope or feel abandoned for the Holy Spirit declared that God will always be there through every temptation of whatever nature and make a way of escape that we may be able to bear it, or bear up under it. He is faithful to do so, but not miraculously. His aid is in His Word. When due to the duress of the stresses of life, the Christian falls prey to sin, or the desire to abandon God – He is there. John recorded, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We need never fear that God will abandon us when we sin. If we will admit to those sins, God is there to forgive and cleanse His penitent child. Oh, the blessings that flow from our faithful Father!
A recent news item reports that Iran’s Supreme Court has charged an evangelical preacher with apostasy, and could be executed if he doesn’t recant his beliefs. Human rights groups say apostasy isn’t even codified in Iranian law. Yousef Nadarkhani converted to “Christianity” as a teenager, and has converted an unknown number of people in Iran. While the Iranian regime doesn’t look favorably on personal conversion from Islam, Nadarkhani’s converting others is what really has set this chain of events into motion. Those who know Nadarkhani say he is not likely to recant, and if he doesn’t, his fate is unclear.
While this individual is not a New Testament Christian, you can’t help but admire his zeal and conviction for what he believes. His actions show not only his sincerity, but that there are hearts that can be changed, even under oppressive governments and the most difficult of situations. If there are those willing to listen to his message, would there not also be good and honest hearts willing to listen to the complete truth of the Gospel? As Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
Beyond all this, such reports should cause us to pause and ask ourselves about our faith and our commitment to the truth. Just how much of an influence does the Gospel make in our lives? While we may wonder about the direction our nation is headed, we still have the freedom to believe, live and teach others the message of salvation. What impact does it make in daily living with the liberties we have? Do we take faith in Christ seriously, so that it is reflected in what we say and do? Do others see Christ living in us? Are we seeking opportunities to tell others the truth that saves? We are not being persecuted. We are not being arrested for being New Testament Christians. No one has threatened to execute us for what we believe, or demanded we deny our faith to spare our physical lives.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). He also said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). If one finds it difficult to live the Christian life in a time of ease, what would be the measure of one’s commitment and faith in a time of distress and persecution?
We are privileged to live as we do, and blessed to know the truth as we do. The circumstances Yousef Nadarkhani faces should cause each of us to examine just how important Christ is to us. Is Jesus Christ important enough for us to live for Him and His will every day? “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).