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The Secret of the Test and The Tests Faced by Believers in the Gospel

Believers Struggle with Their Lives and Chattels on God's Path

"Tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me [for the approval of God] and the Gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Mark, 10:29-31)

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me [for the approval of God] will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew, 16:25-26)

[Jesus:] And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake [for the approval of God] will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life [paradise]. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew, 19:29-30)

Then He [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself [renounce the world]... and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me [for the approval of God] and for the Gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark, 8:34-17; Luke 9:23-25)

For none of them needed anything, because everyone who had land or houses would sell them and bring the money received for the things sold and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. (Acts, 4:34-35)

[Jesus:] "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake [for the approval of God]  will find it." (Matthew, 10:39; Luke 17:33)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians, 4:1)

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life [paradise]. (John, 12:25)

But I don't place any value on my life, if only I can finish my race and the ministry that I received... of testifying to the Gospel of God's grace. (Acts, 20:24)

The promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day... (Acts, 26:7)

... Honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ [while spreading the words of Christ for the approval of God], risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me. (Philippians, 2:29-30)

So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1 Peter, 4:19)

... We were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but [for the approval of God] our lives as well... (1 Thessalonians, 2:8)

Unbelievers Torture and Imprison Believers for No Just Reason

[Jesus:] "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged... On account of me [because you obey me to gain God's good pleasure] you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the Gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of God. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me [because you obey me to gain God's good pleasure], but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Mark, 13:9-13)

[Jesus:] "... When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to... prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name... You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life." (Luke, 21:5-19)

... [They] came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people [the revelation of God] and proclaiming... They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. (Acts, 4:1-4)

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem... Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts, 8:1-4)

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. (Acts, 16:22-26)

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, "This is John the Baptist... Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison... Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet. (Matthew, 14:1-5)

This is the Gospel I tell others. Because of it [for the approval of God] I am experiencing trouble, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. However, God's word is not chained. (2 Timothy, 2:8-9)

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness... and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God... We are honest, but they call us impostors. (2 Corinthians, 6:4-8)

[Prophets] who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies... Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews, 11:33-38)

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews, 13:1-3)

... I know the slander of those... Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life [paradise]. (Revelation, 2:9-10)

Unbelievers Seek to Kill or Exile Believers

... [Believers] honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life [paradise] believed. The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. They [unbelievers] stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. (Acts, 13:48-50)

[Jesus:] "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me [because you obey me for the approval of God]." (Matthew, 24:9-10)

[Jesus:] "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to... prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name [because you obey me for the approval of God]... You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death." (Luke, 21:12-16)

[Jesus:] "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray... in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the God or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you." (John, 16:1-4)

... so that they [prophets] might gain a better resurrection [in the hereafter]. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews, 11:35-38)

The False Accusations and Oppression Directed against Believers

[Jesus:] "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness... Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me [for the approval of God]. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew, 5:10-12)

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the son of man [your obedience to Jesus for the approval of God]. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke, 6:22-23)

They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left... rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name [for Jesus for the approval of God]. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they kept teaching and proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. (Acts, 5:40-42)

[Jesus:] "Remember the words I spoke to you: ... If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also... They will treat you this way because of my name [because you obey me for the approval of God], for they do not know the One [God] Who sent me." (John, 15:20-21)

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. (1 Corinthians, 4:12-13)

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God Who justifies. Who is he that condemns?... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ [for the approval of God]? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake [because we obey Jesus for the approval of God] we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans, 8:33-37)

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when He judges the world. (1 Peter, 2:12)

That is why, for Christ's sake, [because you obey Jesus for the approval of God] I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak [in this world], then I am strong [in the hereafter]. (2 Corinthians, 12:10)

But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ [for the approval of God] may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter, 3:16-17)

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life [life devoted to God]... will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy, 3:10-13)

Unbelievers' Mockery of Believers

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking... (Luke, 22:63)

Some [believers] faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. (Hebrews, 11:36)

... They... mocked him [Jesus]. (Matthew, 27:29)

[Jesus:] "... You cannot serve both God and Money." The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's Sight."... (Luke, 16:13-15)

Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment. When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region. (Matthew, 9:22-26)

... When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. (Mark, 5:38-42; Luke 8:50-55)

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered... (Acts, 17:32)

How People Shun Believers

... And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. (Acts, 5:12-13)

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the son of man [because your devotion to Jesus for the approval of God]. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke, 6:22-23)

[Jesus:] "All men will hate you because of me [because you obey me for the approval of God], but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew, 10:22)

Believers are Tested on God's Path

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James, 1:2-4)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life [paradise] that God has promised to those who love Him. (James, 1:12)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter, 1:6)

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians, 10:13)

if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. (2 Peter, 2:9)

... We sent Timothy... to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. (1 Thessalonians, 3:2-4)

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints [those who devote temselves to God]. (2 Corinthians, 8:1-4)

They preached the good news [God's commandments] in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God [paradise]," they said. (Acts, 14:20-22)

Believers' Knowledge of the Secret of the Test and Their Courage on God's Path

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised... But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews, 10:35-36, 39)

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." (1 Peter, 3:13-14)

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Spirit of God and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts, 4:31)

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the Sight of God. (2 Corinthians, 4:1-2)

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life [paradise], we now turn to the Gentiles." (Acts, 13:46)

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God Who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves... so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God... (Romans, 15:4-6)

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord... (Acts, 14:3)

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God [hereafter]. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word [the revelation] of the Lord. (Acts, 19:8-11)

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God [hereafter] and taught about the... Messiah. (Acts, 28:30-31)

... much more that which remains is in glory. Therefore, since we have such a hope, we speak very boldly. (2 Corinthians, 3:11-12)

... With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians, 4:13-18)

Therefore we are always confident... We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians, 5:6-9)

For which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it [God's commandments] fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians, 6:20)

You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you His Gospel in spite of strong opposition. (1 Thessalonians, 2:1-2)

... May our... God... Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians, 2:16-17)

Those who have served well [lived for the approval of God] gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith... (1 Timothy, 3:13)

But he replied [to Jesus], "... I am ready to go with you to prison and to death [for the approval of God]." (Luke, 22:33)

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly... I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage... whether by life or by death. (Philippians, 1:14, 20)

He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God [believers] rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace... as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward [in the hereafter]. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Hebrews, 11:25-27)

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction [torment in hell], and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life [paradise], and only a few find it." (Matthew, 7:13-14)

... They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left... rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name [for the approval of God]. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. (Acts, 5:40-42)

 

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