Theology Driven Living
by Sharon Betters
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
Christians sometimes offer false hope to struggling people because their theology is skewed. Browse a Christian bookstore and check out the titles. Are you drawn to titles like these: You Can be the Wife of a Happy Husband, Ten Steps to Raising Godly Children, Depression Conquered, A Healthy Body God’s Way, Big Faith leads to Big Bucks? How do those titles explain these true stories?
Recently a dear friend died from that despicable disease - cancer. This man kept all the guidelines for living to a ripe old age. He exercised, ate only healthy foods, served the Lord with joy, and helped others find intimacy with Jesus. Yet, shortly after he and his wife retired he suffered a terrible death.
Friends of ours poured their hearts into their children, praying regularly, teaching them the Scriptures, making sure they were exposed to godly older people, gave them a Christian education. One of their children has rejected the faith of her parents, declaring that she can’t worship a God like theirs.
Any message that promises prosperity if we are just good enough is a false theology. Such theology leads to despair when life falls apart even when we follow all the “steps” that require God to bless us. What we believe about the character of God makes a difference in every day life and the midnights of life.
Thankfully, Paul and Silas based their worldview on the truth of Scripture, not empty lies. Their reaction to their false imprisonment might have been completely different if they had bought into the false theology promoted by false teachers down through the ages. Let’s review the story of Paul and Silas in
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Acts 16:16-24 ESV
Paul and Silas were on their way to a place of prayer when Paul performed a miracle that released a slave woman from the power of demons. Her owners realized that their source of income through this woman was gone and they blamed Paul and Silas. They trumped up charges and stirred up the crowd that attacked them. The magistrates stripped them and ordered them to be flogged – severely flogged. They ordered the jailer to make sure he secured them safely, so he threw them into the inner prison and put them in stocks.
Two men, faithful to God’s calling, pursuing intimacy with the Father through prayer, telling the story of Jesus wherever they traveled. Weren’t they doing God’s work?
How could this happen to such faithful servants of God? The Apostle Paul and Silas were in God's waiting room, but their response to this unfair treatment makes it clear that they both understood God’s purpose for each of them. Read Today’s Treasure again and take time to soak in Paul’s words. Paul’s purpose was to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, not to pursue prosperity or comfort. God’s plan was to display Jesus through His church, His people:
So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Acts 16:10 ESV
With a firm understanding and surrender to God’s purpose for his life, Paul declares that no matter the circumstances, we, God’s children can declare our faith with boldness and confidence:
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.
Acts 16:11, 12 ESV
Though Paul admitted the suffering he experienced was painful and challenging, he embraced it as part of God’s plan to fulfill His eternal purpose:
So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. Ephesians 3:13 ESV
He submitted his suffering to his God and he trusted God to use the circumstances of his life to achieve that eternal purpose. Tomorrow we will answer the question: What is our purpose on this earth as believers? If you are suffering right now, ask the Lord to open your heart and eyes to His eternal purpose for you and for the grace to surrender to His plans.
Lord, I pray for each one reading this devotional that these words act as a soothing balm that helps turn their hearts toward You.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “Finding Freedom In The Rough Pathways Of Life" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Renee Dixon compares her life as a widow, single mom, and small business owner with mounting bills to climbing a hard, rocky pathway filled with gnarled roots. She describes how she learned to grasp those roots as a means to pull herself along the hard road of life that sometimes felt impossible to travel. Those gnarled roots along the pathway helped shape Renee into a woman whose own determination, endurance and grit encourages the very people she is called to serve.