Kings and commoners, skeptics and scholars, professors and pundits and even lowly shepherd boys all cling to certain ideas as sacred to life itself. Everybody, even unbelieving atheists and doubting agnostics, believes something. Morality accepted widely today is soon rejected as outdated, and tossed in the garbage heap tomorrow. What do you believe, Christian? How certain are you in your beliefs? Do you change your mind like you change your clothes? Would you die before you would give up certain beliefs and ideas? Are you thoroughly grounded, fully persuaded, in your faith?
by Jerry Gentry
"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).
The Bible is written, "for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1Cor. 10:11). The Bible presents us with a system of ideas and beliefs claimed to be from the mind of God himself, designed for our enlightenment and benefit.
What we do with the Bible can be equated to what we do with life itself. There is no other book under heaven whereby "every man [may] be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom. 14:5) of what is called absolute truth.
The patriarch Abraham gives us an example of a man who knew what he believed, even under adverse circumstances: "Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be" (Rom. 4:18).
"And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb" (v. 19).
"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God" (v. 20).
"And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (v. 21).
"And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness" (v. 22).
Such was the heart of Abraham. Yes, Abraham simply "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Gal. 3:6).
Abraham was a man who knew what he believed, and believed what he knew to be true. He lived as a man fully persuaded. In all the world where the Bible is read and revered, men know Abraham as the father of the faithful. Do you know what you believe? Yes? Then how thoroughly do you believe what you know?
King David was "a man after. . . [God's] own heart, which shall fulfil all my will" (Acts 13:22). He was a man who knew what he believed, and believed what he knew to be true. He was fully persuaded. "My heart is fixed," he declared, "O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise" (Ps. 57:7). He repeats: "O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory" (Ps. 108:1). Is your heart fixed, today? And if so, then what is your heart fixed upon? Do you believe and openly acknowledge what you know to be true? Are you fully persuaded? Could you defend what you believe if your life depended upon it?
Of a good man, the Psalmist declares, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD" (Psa 112:7). Is your heart "fixed, trusting in the LORD?" If not, what exactly are you trusting in? Will you "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1Pet. 3:15)?
As a general rule, do you "prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1Ths. 5:21)? Do you know what you believe? Are you fully persuaded? Christian, Have you proved the armor God has given you?
There is a story in the Bible about a young boy who was given armor for a great battle. It is the well known story of the boy David, who later fought with a giant named Goliath.
"And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail" (1Sa 17:38).
"And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him" (v. 39).
The boy David "took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine" (v. 40).
And "David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine" (v. 48).
"And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth" (v. 49).
Christian, you cannot do battle with another man's sword. You cannot fight the enemy successfully with armor you have not proved. You cannot expect to win the war against the Goliaths called the world, the flesh, and the devil, with weapons you are unfamiliar with. The Bible gives us, not Saul's coat of mail and breastplate of brass for our warfare. Instead, we have "loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness" (Eph 6:14).
"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (v. 15).
The Bible gives us not Saul's brass shield, but "the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (v. 16). The Bible gives us not Saul's brass helmet, but "the helmet of salvation." The Bible gives us, not Saul's spear, but "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (v. 17). These comprise "the weapons of our warfare [which] are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (2Cor. 10:4). All these are our defensive weapons, whereby we protect our citadel of truth against the world.
The Bible gives us our full armor and more. It gives us "five smooth stones" in a shepherd's bag and a "sling," that we may run into battle, invade the enemy's kingdom and take ground for the truth.
The shepherd boy David chose him "five smooth stones out of the brook." Every Christian must choose and take "five smooth stones," offensive weapons, by the unmerited grace of God. Among these "five smooth stones," one stands out above all others. These begin with "faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (1Cor. 13:13). Brotherly love, or charity, is that one single smooth stone, that pierces the darkness of unbelief. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Charity, the "unfeigned love of the brethren" (1Pet. 1:22), hits the mark, even when faith of "the just upright man is laughed to scorn" (Job 12:4), even when our shattered hopes and dreams must be rebuilt. God knows better, even when we do not, and charity pierces the foreheads and conquers our worst enemies. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1John 4:7). Who is offended when we give flowers? No one. Who is angered with our kind word? Not a soul. Who feels threatened when we give affection, brotherly love, charity? No even one.
This one always hits the mark, always defeats the real enemy, who hates charity above all other virtues. Because ultimately it is charity that conquers the world, for God wins in the end. And God is love, which encompasses all that charity can possibly be and more. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1John 4:20). For "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us" (1John 4:12).
But these are only three&emdash;faith, hope and charity, all smooth stones, all densely packed with the offensive power of God.
But we must choose two more smooth stones, that we may fill our "shepherd's bag," even our "scrip," "full of grace and truth" ( John 1:14). We must choose our stones carefully. For surely, there will come a day when we must pick up each of "five smooth stones," and sling each one well. Only two more stones are needed to fill our bag and assure our victory over every enemy. We must persevere and pray. With our Christian armor of defense in place, having "put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth" (Col. 3:9), represented by Saul's armor, we receive the grace of God. With our "five smooth stones" and "sling," we can be like the shepherd boy David, who "hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine." By the grace of God, we can run into the battle and persevere. By the grace of God, we find favor in His eyes, through fervent prayer.
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph. 6:18). "Pray without ceasing" (1Ths. 5:17), the Bible says. Yes, our cannons called faith, hope, and charity, along with prayer and perseverance, fill our shepherd's bag. We fire these weapons in the face of our enemy. We slay our giants and take ground from the enemy to the glory of God. Then we learn the greatest lesson of all: "that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you [our enemy] into our hands" (1Sa 17:47).
By "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God," "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2Cor. 5:7), amidst this defiant, faithless world. We "stand fast in the faith" and "quit. . . [ourselves] like men" (1Cor. 16:13). As true men of God, we shoot down "false witnesses [and] the blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law" (Acts 6:13), by announcing, "It is written. . ." We express our faith by witnessing "a good confession"(1Tim. 6:13), and good works, and the LORD gives us victory.
By "the word of God" we proclaim hope to a hopeless world, as Abraham, "Who against hope believed in hope" (Rom. 4:18). And by the "the word of God" we sling our smooth stone of charity, which pierces the giant's forehead of murderous hatred, and we become "kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" (Rom. 12:10).
By "the word of God" we persevere, "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Hebr. 3:6). And finally, by "the word of God," we pray. It is through prayer that we touch the heart of God. It is through fervent prayer that we "Endeavour. . . to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).
Do you know what you believe? Are you fully persuaded? More importantly, do you believe what you know to be true? Do you daily "put on the whole armor of God?" (Eph 6:11) in defense of the truth? Have you carefully chosen your "five smooth stones" from the brook, polished and made smooth through the action of the "the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26)?
Faith, hope, and charity, will keep you well. Perseverance and prayer will insure your ultimate success, but you must be fully persuaded. And what is persuasion that is not founded in truth of the Word of God? Such is the persuasion of men of this world. What is true today changes tomorrow. What is highly touted today is cast aside tomorrow. What is valued highly in the present is cast to the ground in the future. Such is the world which is not fully persuaded of anything. Such is the world we live in.
With your full armor proved and "five smooth stones," handled in a sling by a humble shepherd boy David anointed King over Israel forever, that right government is established. "Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth" (Luke 3:5). And how smooth these are&emdash;faith, hope, charity, perseverance and prayer. By these "five smooth stones" we become "lively stones, [who] are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1Pet. 2:5).
Are you fully persuaded? Have you put on your full Christian armor and proved it? Yes? Then have you also chosen out "five smooth stones" for your shepherd's bag from the brook, called the great "fountain of living waters" (Jer. 17:13), thoroughly washed and made smooth by "the washing of water by the word?" Then you know what you believe, and you believe what you know to be true. You are fully persuaded. And no one, not the president, nor parliament nor congress, nor even the beast or false prophet, can sway you with clever argument and lying wonders.
Know what you believe, and dare to believe with all your heart what you know to be true. You embrace faith, hope, and charity; with prayer and perseverance. Only then are you fully persuaded.