“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Passion (Robert Hudson)
2) The Faith of Barak (Derek Long)
I ask you to think for a moment on this question: What is your passion? What are you passionate about? This very question is one that would often be misunderstood, one that would very often only be considered from an illicit sexual standpoint. This is an injustice to a very strong and thought-provoking word. The word can be defined in many ways and the most common is that which we will examine in this article. Webster states that passion “usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect.”
With this in mind let us again ask ourselves what has this strong effect in our lives, our thoughts, our direction in life? Is it God? Well it should be; nothing should change us more than the influence of God in our lives. How many of us can see the impact of God in the lives of those around us? We need to feel this impact so strongly in ourselves, in our day to day living that there is no doubt or question when we proclaim that our God and his word is our passion.
In Philippians 3:8 Paul writes, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” The words of the apostle here are most applicable to our train of thought; he had changed what meant the most to him, thereby he changed his passion. He was no longer driven by that which once had been his motivation, in fact he had laid that down, left it behind, and viewed it as worthless and even as trash which he had no desire or use for.
This concept of changing our passion or finding a new motivation is one that is developed throughout the ministry of Christ and continued in each of the books of the New Covenant. Peter clearly informs us that we must change in 1 Peter 2:1-2, “Therefore laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.” We recognize that the evil works listed by Peter all have tremendous motivational powers. It is not unusual at all to see someone whose passion is that of envy, and that envy takes over all direction and guidance of his life until he ends up warped and twisted shells of the person that he once was. The apostle tells us to change what is directing us; in essence he says, “Turn from passions of evil to passions of righteousness.”
We often refer to patriots or martyrs as men of passion. Why? Because their conviction is so strong that they are willing to die for the cause. They demonstrate a high level of visibility concerning what they believe in, what they stand for. This is viewed as an honorable trait, and we need to develop this same degree of intensity in order to be pleasing to, and effective for our Savior and God. I guess the whole point here comes down to one rather simple question, how much does God mean to you? As easy a question that this is to ask, it’s much more difficult to honestly answer. Are we passionate about our service to Christ?
One of the most dramatic illustrations of passionate service and dedication to God is found in the death of the Judge over Israel, the man of God Eli. This is recorded in 1 Samuel 4:12-18; for reasons of space I shall set the context for you. The children of Israel had just lost a major battle to the Philistines, the army had fled, many people had been killed and the ark of God had been stolen by the enemy. Eli, who was 98, heard all of this from a young man who had escaped. Not only did this young man bear this news of great defeat and destruction, he also informed Eli that two of his own sons had died in this battle. Let us notice what Eli’s reaction was to all this. “Now it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years” (1 Sam. 4:18). What news had the most impact on Eli? Find that and we find his passion. It wasn’t the fact that the army had fled, or that many had died. Yes, these hurt him; his own children had been killed and he would see them no more. What hit this man of God the hardest was that the ark of God had been taken by an ungodly people. He cared about all of these other things, but he cared most about God. God was his passion.
Eli is not the only example of a passionate servant that we find in the Scriptures. Time after time we see men and women who were willing to die for, and most importantly, live for their Father and God. The question that needs to be addressed at this time is where did their godly zeal and passion come from? The writer of the Hebrew letter after discussing many of these impassioned men says, “all these obtained a good testimony through faith.” All spiritual direction and guidance, all righteous motivation, all godly passion must be grounded in faith. After all how can one truly be devoted and given to that which does not have his total trust and conviction? With faith comes a degree of passion and, as that faith grows, passion grows with it.
Our passion for God is predicated by our level of knowledge. We have all heard of a vicious circle, some set of unfortunate events that demand all the strength that only God could supply. What made Jesus rise up and walk to a quiet place to talk to God? The same thing that will make you get up earlier, or stay up later, or watch one less TV program so that you may pray to your Heavenly Father, a true passion for God.
Intensity and depth, love and devotion, strength and discipline, these are the elements that form the passion for God that all of us must have in order to please God, to serve him, and to bring others to him. Passion is such a misunderstood and yet powerful word; does it dwell in your heart as far as your God and Savior is concerned?
— Via Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 4, pp. 117, 120, February 15, 1990
The Faith of Barak
During the days when Deborah was serving as a prophetess and judge in the land of Israel, we are introduced to the individual named Barak (Judges 4:4-6). Deborah commissions Barak to go to Mount Tabor against the forces of Sisera with ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun (Judges 4:6-7). Barak will demonstrate for us the type of faith we must have to be acceptable and pleasing to God. The Hebrew writer calls our attention to the faith of Barak among others in Hebrews 11:32. He writes, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” What are some important lessons we can learn from the example of Barak?
* Like many people who are mentioned in Hebrews 11 as examples of faith, Barak was not immediately confident or sure perhaps. Judges 4:8 says, “And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!’” Perhaps Barak shows he was not someone who was simply confident in himself to be able to go up against Sisera all alone. Deborah was a prophetess and perhaps he wanted to know God was with him and thus wanted God’s spokesperson with him. Because of Barak’s statement Deborah tells him there will be no glory for him but Sisera will be given into the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9).
* Barak’s faith can be seen in the fact he obeys the instructions given by the Lord through Deborah. Deborah instructed him to take ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and Judges 4:10 says, “And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; he went up with ten thousand men under his command, and Deborah went up with him.” A second example of Barak’s obedience to the instructions given to him by the Lord is in Judges 4:14. Judges 4:14 says, “Then Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has delivered Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?’ So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him.” God, through Deborah, tells Barak to go up to the battle and Barak goes. People who have the type of faith which results in salvation are those who are willing to hear and heed God’s commands. Do we have such a faith?
* Judges 5 records for us a song sung by Deborah and Barak after the defeat of Sisera’s army. Notice what they say about the victory Israel had just had. Judges 5:4-5 says, “Lord, when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the earth trembled and the heavens poured, the clouds also poured water; the mountains gushed before the Lord, this Sinai, before the Lord God of Israel.” Judges 5:13 says, “Then the survivors came down, the people against the nobles; the Lord came down for me against the mighty.” The song ends in Judges 5:31 by saying, “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.” The song Deborah and Barak sing after their victory ascribe their success to God and not to themselves. Faith in God leads us to see ourselves as servants of God. Faith in God leads us to see our efforts as being made prosperous because of the Lord. Faith in God allows us to praise God for the things He does through us.
Barak may not be as well-known as someone like Abraham but he provides us a good example of faith for us to follow. Do we seek to have a type of faith which allows us to please God (Hebrews 11:6)? Do we seek to learn from the example of the faith of others who lived by their faith in God?
— Via the bulletin of the Oak Grove church of Christ, Jennings, Florida, July 14, 2019
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)