14 Dec 2013 by Jason Law CM –
In last Sunday’s worship service at FGA KL, the church was blessed by the teaching of the Word by Jose Philip. Philip is part of Ravi Zacharias’ team from his renowned apologetics ministry, RZIM, and specializes in Apologetics, Christian Ethics, and Gospel & Culture, teaching them at various colleges and seminaries like the Singapore Bible College, Baptist Theological Seminary and Bible College Malaysia. A Christian since he was fourteen, Philip was the first student in the history of the Singapore Bible College to have secured two masters simultaneously. He completed both his Masters of Divinity in Biblical studies and his Masters of Theology from Singapore Bible College in May 2008.
Jose Philip opened his message by sharing the verse from Hebrews 12:10, and inviting us to think about what it means. One of the central questions Christians need to ask is the issue of what it really means to rely on God. Philip based his main message on the text of Isaiah 50, a chapter which has much to teach us about this issue.
10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.
The simple answer to the question ‘What do we do when the darkness does not leave?’ is to trust God. The problem is many Christians struggle with this. They want to be overcomers, but don’t have the courage to overcome anything. They want a safe faith where God takes them out of every trouble without any growth process on the parts of themselves. While God is the one who leads us to victory, often times what He wants most from His children is that we grow in our faiths and not remain as spiritual babies. This often requires discipline and refining.
In fact, Hebrews 5:8 tells us concerning Jesus Himself that
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Most significant chapters of faith are written when people go through pain or the crucible of agony. Jose Philip shared that the difference between a charcoal and a diamond is the pressure each had undergone. Both charcoal and diamonds have carbon as the base material. It is the high heat, pressure, and time that makes up diamonds and differentiates them from charcoal. In the same way, the reason why God sometimes allows us to go through difficulties is because we are precious in His sight and He wants to take us from one level of faith and growth to another.
So, the question becomes, ‘How Shall We Stay/Journey in that Crucible of Pain?’ Jose Philip shared that while the specifics in Isaiah 50 speaks about Jesus, and is unique in that context with Christ, it also has another level of significance. As Christians, we are to emulate the example of Jesus. There is a pattern throughout this chapter that Christians are to follow if they want to live a fruitful life.
1. Servant of God Instructed by God
Philip shared that there are four main lessons we can learn from the text. The first is that we find that the Servant of the Lord was instructed by God (v4).
“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
One of the primary importances of seeking instruction from the Lord is so that we are able to sustain the weary, not just ourselves, but others too within the body of Christ. It is the Word of God, within the interrelationship between Christians, that build each other up and sustains us during difficult times. Philip shared that line 5 in this verse, in particular, speaks about being awakened by God morning by morning. This communicates not just discipline, but also delight in that discipline. It is how the Lord instructs His servant. How much do we want God to instruct us?
Philip pointed out that the only relationship that always gets a ‘yes’ is a transactional one. In such a relationship, as long as all conditions are met in a contract, both parties have no choice but to obligate on their parts. God doesn’t operate that way with us. He is always concerned with us on a deeper level. There are times when God says ‘no’ because He knows what such concession would bring in the long-run. On a daily human level, imagine if a child asks us for candies when he has already overindulged in them. As a parent, we know that giving that child more would be an irresponsible act, possibly bringing the pain of a later stomach upset. If we love that child, we would abstain for that moment.
In a genuinely loving relationship between a Father and a Child, the Father always disciplines the Child when there is a need to. If we’re not disciplined by God, we’re not His. The most precious thing to us is to follow His heart and delight in His discipline. Being instructed by God will take us from mere fleeting feelings in our relationship with God, to a genuine relationship of lasting faith.
2. The Sovereign God Rules Over His Children
The second thing to note is that the Sovereign God rules over His children (v5).
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away.
Verse 5 of Isaiah 50 states that the Servant of God did not turn away. He gave God his undivided attention, permitting no distraction. Obedience to God is not an option if we want to be fruitful; it is necessary. Jose Philip pointed out from verses 4-9 of Isaiah 50, we find God being referred to as Sovereign 4 times.
Jesus opened the way and made us righteous so that we can come into his presence. That is a privilege that cannot be compared to anything else in this world. As Christians, we need to come before the Lord in true worship. True worship transforms us where we come humbly before God as weak sinners, but leave with God’s mark on our lives. We’re called to be the light of the world and sheep among wolves, and this is only possible if we make God the top priority in our lives.
The Servant of God found what it truly means to rely on God, and in the process, learned
- What differentiates lasting faith & fleeting feelings.
- What it is to come before God as weak sinners and leave with God’s mark
Apart from these two lessons, there are 2 additional lessons we can learn about relying on God though Isaiah 50:
- How to celebrate the Salvation and Sanctification given by God
- How to live a life approved by God.
References for pictures: