Every Christian must have what it takes to bring the power of God into fruitful, effective, uncaged use! You know Old Testament heroes had it. You know Christians of old had it. Well, YOU CAN HAVE IT, TOO! HERE'S HOW!
JOSHUA and Caleb were willing to take to the field and battle it out with the fierce, giant inhabitants of the promised land. Even though towering giants stood between them and possession of the land, they did not cower in fear. Where did they get such courage? Years later that same land was invaded and threatened by a huge host of Philistines. But the stripling youth, David, challenged, fought and killed the most fearsome warrior of the day. And the Philistine armies fled back across the border. Why? Where did David get such all-conquering power? Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel and the other prophets, were able to repel invading armies, close the very mouths of lions, put out furious fires that threatened to burn them alive, and escape what seemed to be imminent death time after time. They found the strength to overcome their every weakness. Some of them nearly single-handedly put huge foreign armies to flight. How did they do it?
The BIG Picture
The basic reason they succeeded, arid you have often failed, may be quite simple — once you see it clearly. All these men had the BIG PICTURE, and BELIEVED in it! They saw the KINGDOM OF GOD. They had vision and proper perspective. They responded valiantly and moved forward to secure the kingdom. All these men had deep and abiding BELIEF, and through it dutifully served their God and nation. They knew the kingdom God had promised Israel was REAL and worth any effort or price. They had the BIG PICTURE and so they did everything possible to establish the KINGDOM. However — if you have not seen the big picture and the REALITY of the Kingdom of God, that may explain why you have not overcome problems and have found yourself coming up short.
Disobedience and Disaster
Now let's look at the other side of the picture. Whenever Israelites failed to believe God, lost sight of the goal and disobeyed, they began to die like so many bugs. They died because they rebelliously stiffened their necks. They set their wills to a wrong end. They lost sight of the big picture. They started in pursuit of their own goal. The kingdom was forgotten. Some of them died naturally. But usually their deaths were gruesome and frightful. They died swollen, suffering, screaming because of venomous snake bites. They died in battle gasping out their last breath through bubbles of their own blood. They suffocated under the crushing, juice — spurting weight of the earth as it swallowed them in earthquakes. God provided a physical kingdom for Israel so they could have the happy safety, satisfaction, and success for which they had so feverishly longed during their slavery in Egypt. God promised them every physical blessing if only they would move to the land He had chosen and accept His government. All they needed to do was believe God and see the reality of the plan He was working out in their behalf. Joshua and Caleb saw the plan in reality. They comprehended it. They really BELIEVED it! Those Israelites who BELIEVED GOD, were able to overcome all of the obstacles and trials which beset them during that 40 years of miserable wandering on the Sinai Peninsula. They moved steadily toward the goal. Nothing stopped them! Continuously they looked toward the promises which had been given them. Nothing took their eyes from the kingdom. And so they won! They were rewarded! They received and had the power to make the trip and obtain their inheritance simply because they believed in the kingdom God had promised.
Promise of Power
When you and I come to realize the plan of God — when we SEE the Kingdom, then we, too, can make it! Look what Paul says in Romans 1:16, "... THE GOSPEL... IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH." Christ's entire ministry was centered around and concerned with preaching the GOSPEL. He said we must BELIEVE this good news (Mark 1:15). Let's apprehend how awesomely powerful is BELIEF in this Gospel. The Gospel, as you know, is the good news of the Kingdom which God soon is going to set up. Those who BELIEVE in this Kingdom are going to be saved! But we must give due CREDIT to the promise. We must have an utmost mental PERSUASION that the goal is there and can be reached. The plan of God must become real REALITY to us! We must view the Kingdom as if it already were! We must KNOW that we know about the Kingdom of God. We must be caught up in the pursuit of the Kingdom. You and I must come to yearn, crave, long for, yes, burn and ache for the Kingdom! The goal — the Kingdom — must become the very reason for our existence! As we see the grand magnificence of it our very being will be changed. We will become motivated with the accomplishment of God's plan. We will be entirely enthusiastic about doing the Work of God. We can't do this without believing it.
Bigness of Belief
The word "believe" is a BIG, STRONG word. It means to have FAITH, conviction, confidence, TRUST, to be persuaded, to be CERTAIN! In defining the Greek word which is translated "belief," the staid Thayer's Lexicon uses such pithy and impressive phrases as this: "Holy FERVOR born of FAITH and conjoined with it. "CONVICTION that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. "Strong and WELCOME conviction. "Conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative." Maybe you haven't yet seen and comprehended and realized the depths to which the faith of God plumbs! Faith and belief are not little words that nibble weakly on the edge of hazy notion or fantasy. They are not concerned with superficial opinion. They are not acquainted with dainty sentiment. They have no double meaning or supposition. They leave no room for theory or mere impression. Faith and belief in the Kingdom encompass all that mind, intelligence, thought can muster and contain or explain about this most important concept. These words crash thunderously, unstoppably to the very root — tips of all thought concerning the promises of God. They unabashedly, unequivocally gather all reason and purpose concerning certainty, reliability and positive persuasion and they simply must result in action! When you say, "I believe the Gospel of the Kingdom" you go to the very heart and core, the very bottom of the reason for being. Belief is of God and has the very certainty of "I AM THAT I AM!" Faith leaves no room for equivocation, vacillation, variance or doubt. Faith is the substance of things not yet seen. Faith already sees God as He is. Faith will force us to respond as Christ did! — as God does! — as growing Gods are expected to!
Be Like Christ!
In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul perfectly describes the attitude which we must have: "So by whatever appeal there is in our relation to Christ, by whatever incentive there is in love, by whatever participation there is in the Spirit, whatever affection and sympathy, make me perfectly happy by living in harmony, with the same attitude of love, with the same feeling and purpose. Do not act for selfish ends or from vanity, but modestly treat one another as your superiors. Do not take account of your own interests, BUT OF THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS as well. Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he possessed the nature of God, he did not grasp at equality with God, but laid it aside to take on the nature of a slave and become like other men. When he had assumed human form, he still further humbled himself and carried his obedience so far as to die, and to die upon the cross. That is WHY God has so greatly exalted him and given him the name above all others, so that in the name of Jesus everyone should kneel, in heaven and on earth and in the underworld, and everyone should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, and thus glorify God the Father.... For it is God who in his goodwill is at work in your hearts, INSPIRING YOUR WILL AND YOUR ACTION.... "Brothers, I do not consider that I have captured it yet, only, forgetting what is behind me, and straining toward what lies ahead, I am pressing toward the goal, for the prize to which God through Christ Jesus calls us upward. Let as many of us therefore as are mature have this attitude. If you have any different attitude, God will make this clear to you. Only we must live up to what we have already attained. "Follow my example, brothers, all of you, and notice those who follow the pattern we have set you. For there are many who live, as I have often told you, and tell you now with tears, like enemies of the cross of Christ. They are doomed to destruction: Their appetites are their god; they glory in their shame; they are absorbed in earthly matters. But the commonwealth to which we belong is in heaven, and from it we are eagerly awaiting the coming of a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will make our poor bodies over to resemble his glorious body, by exerting the power he has to subject everything to himself" (Philip. 2:1-11, 13; 3:13-21 — Goodspeed Translation). Christ demonstrated and proved His great love for humanity when He willingly left the very throne of God and His high position in order to become a mere man. He was willing to die — and because He was willing to die — He was again made very God. He returned to the Kingdom, which He so easily left because mankind needed a help. He saw the big picture. He saw that in the end all mankind could be in the Kingdom. All of us who repent and believe in the Gospel can be kings and priests with Him as very God. He took the opportunity to preach the Gospel to the world in order that all of suffering humanity could have the peace and security which Godship provides.
You and I have the sound mind of God and can view the whole panorama of human history and the world today just like Jesus Christ. We can see the importance of saving humanity. We can see the good that will come out of the salvation which God extends. We can see the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control that men can benefit from if they will only follow Jesus. If we have the big picture we will want all men to participate in this indescribably magnificent wonderfulness. But we must see the end of the matter. We must know that it really can happen. We must realize that it will happen. Understand that we are not just to obtain something for ourselves. We have been drafted to help and teach others. We are engaged in the working out of God's plan. We have the same goal as Christ. We think like Christ. We want to give all goodness to all mankind. Read John 14:12-28; 16:7-11 to see what Christ had to say about this. FORGET YOURSELF! The point is, we must become thoroughly involved in the work that Christ has started! We have been given an understanding of what the truth is. We know what the end of the matter is. We know that the Kingdom is the really important thing. Like Caleb, Joshua, Gideon, David, and all the prophets, we must do all possible to finish the work of Christ and assist in setting up His Kingdom. In the letter to the Colossians Paul says, "If, then, you have been raised to life with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are where Christ is, above, seated at God's right hand. For you have died, and your life now lies hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our true life, shall make his appearance, then you also will appear glorified with him. "So treat as dead your physical nature, as far as immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed are concerned; for it is really idolatry. It is on account of these things that God's anger is coming. And you once practiced them as other do, when you lived that old earthly life. But NOW YOU TOO MUST PUT THEM ALL ASIDE" (Col. 3:1-8 — Goodspeed translation).
Christ had the power to subdue His human nature and do the will of God because He saw the big picture. It was real to Him and He died in order that it could be real for us. When we comprehend the reality then we will be motivated, just as Christ was, to do all that needs doing. We will be able to subdue our nature. We will be able to overcome the lusts of our flesh. We will be able to give our bodies and our lives that the rest of humanity may have the benefit of God's Kingdom. Out of necessity we will be willing to suffer, to resist the sin in our natural inclinations. Yes, our senses will become wearied; we'll crave things which we ought not. We will be pained, even outraged, in one way or another. But we can ride over the natural inclinations to give up, to quit, to forsake the job which we have been given to do. Do you see the vision? Do you grasp the Big Picture? This is how you can have the power to conquer every obstacle in the Christian path. This is the way you can really BELIEVE, and see the REALITY of the coming Kingdom of God. Just like dauntless Joshua and Caleb who did not fear the hulking giants in the promised land. Just like David and the other mighty and valiant men of old who faced grave and deadly dangers without flinching and without despairing and losing hope or courage. Just like Jesus Christ who gave His all, in the face of the must paralyzing dangers and persecution, to bring this Big Picture — the goal of the Kingdom of God — to each one of us. You too can OVERCOME every tendency to slide into sin and cave in to your weaknesses. This is the way you can receive real spiritual POWER through the Holy Spirit of God to resist the flesh and bring it into subjection. Trials and problems, difficulties which used to overpower you and lead you as a cringing slave into sin, will no longer hold you fast in darkest captivity to the flesh. Remember this lesson of the Bible and the wonderful examples recorded there for you. Keep these examples uppermost in your mind. Like these men of old — dedicate your being to doing all you personally can to bring SOON the Kingdom of God to the earth! Let Jesus Christ live His life fully, wonderfully, in you. Get the BIG PICTURE! We have the Spirit of God to empower us IF we have the big picture. We will bring our bodies and minds into captivity and make them do what needs doing. If the Kingdom is actually real to us, if God is true and the reward as great as we say we believe, we will be motivated as Christ was and then we CANNOT FAIL — WE WILL WIN!