Faithfulness
Part 2

The Centurion

Why does the foundation of faith rest on one’s acceptance of God’s authority through governments, bosses, and husbands? The gospel account of the Centurion elucidates.

The Centurion had a valued slave who was dying. He heard about Jesus. He did not hear about some religion’s concept of Jesus, a mystery figure linked to pagan roots, rites, and pagan gods, but to the true Jesus, who called himself the son of man and who was the begotten Son of God. This Jesus, not some counterfeit or figment of imagination, could and would heal his servant.

The centurion had special insight into Jesus. He sent his friends to Jesus to tell him that in his unworthiness he would not presume to have Jesus come into his house. The man had such high regard for Jesus, his close relation to God, that he recognized his own unworthiness, even as a commander of a hundred men, an officer in the Roman army, an important Roman citizen. He realized how worthless he was compared to this man, who had authority
over sin, sickness, weather, and death. He understood because he ruled this enslaved country called Israel. He also realized how sinful he was and was humbled by Jesus.

Why did he act so meekly? — Because he understood authority. He was under the authority of the counsel and had authority over his soldiers, servants, and slaves. He knew what the Israelis, who were frothing for rebellion, did not. He accepted the delegation of authority. Therefore, he knew that Jesus had authority from God, not from himself, over disease (“by his stripes we are healed.”). For his dying slave had not been healed by the extensive means available to the Centurion, he humbly sought out the one who had the authority to vanquish the disease.

We learn that we must know who Jesus is, go to him humbly and determinedly, and have the proper attitude toward authority to have faith. Jesus said that the Centurion had the greatest faith in all Israel.

(See:
Matt 8:5-13.)

Jesus’s Authority

God gave Jesus authority over sin, sickness, death, the weather, gravity, food production, demons and all governments. He earned his godly crown of authority by his deeds. He always did God’s will. He never broke a commandment, a law of the slave state (Israel), or the laws of the Roman Empire. He, remember, even obey illegal laws leading to his death.
When Jesus was on Earth, he ruled everything but governments. After his death and resurrection, God gave him authority over the universe. God made him king of the Earth under Him, of course. Therefore, if you believe in Jesus, who is far above all rule and authority, then you believe that all governmental authority from the president, congress, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the IRS, the DEA, the EPA, the BAFT, the governor, state legislature, state police, city government, city police, to the boss and husband, all derive their authority from God through Jesus over us. Our thoughts are even to be brought into obedience of Jesus and those in his chain of command. That’s faith! — At least in large part.

(See:
Eph 1:15-23.)

Loyalty

Some like to think that Christians are aliens in their native country, because they are in the Kingdom of God. To a certain extent this is so; because we have become citizens of the Kingdom of God. But let us see how some men and women of the Bible acted toward their homeland.

First, what is loyalty and what does it have to do with faith? To have faith is to trust someone, certain facts, or dogmas. If one has faith, one becomes faithful to the person or Person, or to dogmas or the Word of God. James says faith without works is dead. Remember the vitamin analogy. If we believe that keeping the commandments show our love to God, we keep them faithfully.

If we believe that Jesus is the Lord from God, we serve him faithfully. If we believe all authority comes from God, we serve those in authority faithfully. The word loyalty seems stronger than faithful, or at least adds scope to its meaning. Should we serve those in authority, who are not godly, the way we understand godly? What about loyalty to a boss, who is not a believer, yet does no illegal acts? What about a wife’s loyalty to an unbelieving husband?

Daniel was a minister for Nebuchadnezzar and the government of Babylon. He served both loyally (Daniel 6:4). The only time Daniel disobeyed the Babylonian law was in a matter of idolatry, which conflicted with his first loyalty to God. No one has to obey a law countermanding the commandments; he must, nonetheless, take the punishment the state demands, even if it is death. Daniel, otherwise, showed perfect loyalty to a pagan ruler and state.

Queen Esther showed perfect loyalty and obedience to her unbelieving husband, in spite of Haman’s conspiracies and the danger to her fellow Jews in the realm. Her loyalty to her husband and obedience to the laws of the land saved the Jews.

Paul used his Roman citizenship to advantage. He never denied that citizenship or repudiated the Roman Empire. Even when he wrote about how the Babylonian Mysteries were being morphed into Roman Mysteries, which would eventually infiltrate and take over Christianity, he never indited Rome. We know these facts of the Babylonian Mysteries taking over the Roman religion of Paul’s time after the fact of history.

In all cases where we have believers living in various pagan nations, their loyalty was unassailable. Why? — Because if they were loyal to God, and they were, they knew His authority manifested itself in their nation, good or bad. No authority could harm a believer, except where God needed to show the readers of His Word certain lessons. Government, a country, a nation, a state is not against any believer or Christian but rather a tool of God for punishment, if necessary, or a blessing where appropriate.

So yes, our loyalty to America or any other country is also a show of loyalty to God. It is a further expression of our faith. Thus so, employees show loyalty to their bosses by hard work and respect, wives to their husbands by respect and obedience, and husbands’ loyalty to Christ by loving their wives.

God looks on with favor to those who are loyal. He preserves the ways of the faithful. Jesus says he (or she) who is loyal in small things will be given big things to do, loyally. Proverbs says loyalty is quite desirable. Finally, God returns our loyalty by faithfully guarding us from the evil one.

(See:
Daniel and Esther.)


Righteousness Leads to Trust

A component of loyalty to God is righteousness, which is a large subject in itself. Basically, righteousness is doing right, obedience to God’s way. Because we know God’s Word, which defines righteousness, we learn to trust God. God’s Word promises us the Kingdom of God. When we trust that promise and act on our faith, we are righteous.

The Kingdom of God is righteousness through the Holy Spirit. When we trust God’s promise, we have peace beyond understanding. Another aspect of peace is a respite from ordeals, a rest from the cares of the world, a quietness to hear the soft voice of God, and the Sabbath rest, which God gives to those who demonstrate their faith in Him by their actions.

Those who are trustworthy act righteously. Those who act righteously demonstrate trustworthiness. Everything fits like pieces of a puzzle.

(See:
Pro 22:19, 1 Pet 1:21, Isa 32:17, 30:15, Rom 14:16, Jam 3:18.)

Faith Working through Love

In English the root of loyalty is liege, which is rooted in love. Similar connections are evident in the Hebrew. The New Testament emphasized the point that faith cannot work without love. What is love? First, the love of God is keeping the commandments. Then Paul explains that if a person gives all he has and sacrifices to the point of death and has not love . . . Wait a minute isn’t love giving and serving? In part, perhaps, because most give and serve to get in return and sacrifice to appear holy (self serving). In other words, doing good must grow out of love of God, that is, faithful obedience to Him and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Corinthians 13 explain true love: patient, kind, not jealous or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not insistent on its own way, not irritable or resentful, not joyful in the wrong but in the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things.

Another root connected with love and faith is Truth, which is God’s Word spoken in love.

Since we are faithful to God, we love justice and righteousness. Therefore, we hate evil. We act in accord with God who loves justice and righteousness and hates evil and wrongdoing. When we are truly loyal to God, we begin to develop the mind of God.
After we are right with God, after we are loyal, the love that God pours into our hearts inspires us to give cheerfully and to do good.

Remember faith follows action because we act on what we believe.

(See:
Gal 5:6, Pro 10:12, 1 Pet 4:8, Rom 5:5, 12:9, 1 Cor 8:1, 13:1-13.)

Faith in Action

When a person finally decides that he wants to be a loyal follower of God through Jesus, he becomes determined to change his life by seeking God through Jesus with all his might, energy, intellect and wit. The paralytic found four men to carry him to Jesus. When they couldn’t get through the crowds, they laboriously hauled the paralytic to the roof of the building, they attacked the unyielding roof until they scraped open a hole and, then they painstakingly with rope burned palms lowered the paralytic down to Jesus through the opening. Think about the determination and effort it took for them to reach Jesus. Think about all the obstacles that they had to overcome. There were physical, psychological, predispositional, and human obstacles. God wants to know how determined we are. He wants to know how strong our faith in Him through Jesus is.

The woman with the flow of blood wanted to seek Jesus out secretly — just touch his robe. No, no! Jesus cannot be sneaked up on and then try to dissolve into the crowd. We must confront him and then he will confront us with our inner most selves, which he will reveal to us. But our determination to get to Jesus will have a result, a change in our lives — go and sin no more and become a new creature in Christ made in the image of God. Determination!

A father’s son was possessed. His faith was weak, but his love for his son was great. He sought out Jesus in spite of his wavering loyalty and said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief.” So even if our faith is weak and wavering, our determination, for whatever good cause, to seek out Jesus will be rewarded. There are no failures, the saying goes, only those who stop trying.

Now we learn why we must trust those in authority as a major part of our faith. We know Jesus is the Lord over sin, disease, demons, death, weather governments, bosses and husbands. So when we come to Jesus in faith, he commands the evil by exhorting us to act in faith.

Be loyal! Stand! Lazarus, come forth! Child, get up.

Jesus knows he is in charge — faith trusts the son of man, goes to him with full determination, and receives the blessings of faith. The Bible says walk by faith. It doesn’t say work up the faith. Respect authorities! Do something! Walk!

Sometimes Jesus would lay hands on people. His authoritative touch freed the person of his enslavement to rebellion, sin, demons, disease, or death. God determines what we need. Sometime our receipt of the blessings of faith takes time — perhaps our faithfulness needs strengthening or God’s delaying promotes some spiritual advantage to us. But once we come to Jesus for a blessing of faith, we have received it, whether we know it or not. So we thank God from the heart for His keeping His promises and wait and then praise and wait and then praise — with full determination that we have received the blessing.

Now not all will be healed in this life, not all will speak in tongues, not all will be healers, God determines, but He might determine by our determination.

Jesus was walking on water. Peter asked the Lord whether he could join him.

Come, Jesus commanded. Peter obeyed, but got frightened from the wind and began to sink. Oh, you of little faith, Jesus said as he grabbed Peter to restore his faith.

Fear not, Jesus tells us, he will supply our every need, including faith.

All things are possible for those who believe with unflagging determination as demonstrated in large part by loyalty to those God put in charge over us.

(See:
Jam 2:14-26.)

Word Study

Faithfulness

Strong's reference number: 571
Hebrew: 'emeth
Definition: stability; fig. certainty, truth, trustworthiness.

Strong's reference number: 539
Hebrew: 'aman
Derivation: A primary word.
Definition: prop. to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse; fig. to render (or be) firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent or quiet; mor. to be true or certain; once (Isa 30:21; by interch. for 541) to go to the right hand.

Authority

Strong's reference number: 3027
Hebrew: yad
Derivation: A primary word.
Definition: a hand (the open one [indicating power, means, direction, etc.], in distinction form 3709, the closed one); used (as noun, adv., etc.) in a great variety of applications, both lit. and fig., both proximate and remote.

— Gil Kovacs for the

Sabbath Christian Church
(e-mail) kov@mediaone.net

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