Many years ago my father had a swollen ankle, and my mother nagged him to go to see the doctor. He came back from the surgery with a tube of cream. A few days later my mother told him, "What's the point of going to the doctor's for a prescription if you don't use it?" His reply was: "What are you talking about; I rubbed the cream in and look - the swelling has gone down!"
My mother said, "Well, I don't know what you used, but the tube is still in the bathroom - the box is unopened." It turned out that he had mistakenly used a tube of Colgate dental creme, so it was his feet that received the "ring of confidence". [This was the advertising slogan at the time.]
If you used the toothpaste for swollen feet, I doubt if you could make a claim if it didn't work for you. Colgate's guarantee only applied to teeth! If you were putting your trust in toothpaste to cure swollen feet, your confidence would be misplaced.
The subject of this article is "The ekklesia's confidence in Christ". Not "The ekklesia's confidence in the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the President of Conference." It isn't even in such great Christian leaders as John Wesley or Martin Luther. Neither is it in any of the great Biblical heroes such as Abraham, Moses, king David, or the apostles Peter or Paul.
The reason is simple. We are not to trust completely in any human being, however much they deserve our respect. We can put our confidence only in Jesus Christ. Only Christ can be trusted 100%.
For us - the Body of Christ - to have confidence in Christ we must trust Him. And to trust him, we need to know Him. However, to have confidence in Christ, we need to know Him personally.
It doesn't seem strange to us, that before we can trust someone we have to know them.
But to know them, we have to see them, and hear them, (perhaps even smell them!), even if we don't speak to them. That is certainly true with ordinary human beings. but no-one today has seen Him or touched Him. In the flesh, anyway.
So how can we trust Christ, if we haven't seen Him or touched Him? There are only two ways we can get to know Him.
Firstly, by the Scriptures and secondly, by the holy spirit. There are no other ways. Jesus before his death told His disciples, "Yet whenever that may be coming - the spirit of truth - it will be guiding you into all truth....." (John 16:13)
Until Pentecost, the disciples weren't 'all there' - there was something missing, there was a gap in their understanding.
Thomas, the one who said, "Should I not perceive in His hands the print of the nails, and thrust my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will by no means be believing," was forced to say to Jesus, when He appeared to them, "My Lord and My God!" Jesus told him, "Seeing that you have seen Me, you have believed. Happy are those who are not perceiving and believe."
Part of Jesus's prayer the night before He died was: "My prayer is not just for My disciples here. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their word." (John 17:20). Continuing in verse 26, "Just Father, the world, also knew Thee not, yet I knew Thee. And these know that Thou dost commission Me."
Jesus at that time, could not say, "They know Me, really know Me." But they did know Him at Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost, when the Jews were cut to the heart by Peter's sermon, they asked, "Brothers, what shall we be doing?" (Acts 2:37). Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall be obtaining the gratuity of the holy spirit."
The receipt of the holy spirit was the key to knowing Jesus. It is only with Christ living in us, that we can know Christ and know that we know. Not just know about Christ.
When I did my national (military) service, the unit had an adjutant known as "Big John". I think even the colonel, the commanding officer, was frightened of him. I do know my barrack room was scared of him. But when we were discussing which officer we would choose to lead us through the jungle, our choice was "Big John". There were three reasons we chose him:
1. He had come through the ranks and knew what it was like to be an ordinary soldier.
2. He had already led men through the Normandy landings, and they had survived.
3. He was fair - he didn't have any blue eyed boys.
Jesus is the Captain of our soul, He will lead us through the jungle of our lives. Firstly, He knows what it is like to be human. He was made a little lower than the angels, but now He is crowned with glory and honour, because He suffered death so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
Secondly, He has already qualified to be our Captain. He has fought the battles with Satan and won.
Thirdly, God has no favourites, and it is recorded in black and white in Romans 2:11.
It also says in Galatians 3:26: "For you are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For whoever are baptized into Christ, put on Christ, in Whom there is no Jew nor yet Greek, there is no slave nor yet free, there is no male and female, for ALL are one in Christ Jesus."
When we are going through the jungle, Psalm 27 is a good one to read. Right now, I will just highlight a few verses.
verse 1 - "Yahweh is my Light and my Salvation. Whom should I fear? Yahweh is the stronghold of my life, of whom should I be afraid?"
verse 3 - "Though an armed force should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise up against me, in spite of this I am being confident."
verse 13 - "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of Yahweh, in the land of the living." [In other words - NOW; I will not have to wait until I'm dead.]
These aren't the only promises that our Creator has given so that we can be confident in Christ. Our Manufacturer has put His promises in writing to make sure we can know.
Here are just two examples:
"The Lord swears and will not be regretting it; You are a priest for the eon according to the order of Melchizedek." Because of His oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant (Hebrews 7: 21-22)
Human fathers may promise, but don't always deliver. Not necessarily because they didn't want to, but because they couldn't. God's guarantee is a no quibble guarantee. "Now He Who is confirming us together with you in Christ, and anoints us, is God, Who also seals us and is giving the earnest of the spirit in our hearts"(2 Corinthians 1: 21-22).
Yes, He anointed us, set His seal upon us, and put His spirit in our hearts as a deposit, as a guarantee. The best we can usually hope for if we buy something from a shop is a one year guarantee. But God's Word does not have a "sell-by" date. Whether we lived in the first century or the twenty first century, these guarantees are still valid. The Scriptures provide all that we need to have confidence in Christ.
One scripture that I find intriguing is the very last verse of the gospel of John: "Now there are many other things that Jesus did. if they were all written down one by one, I suppose that the whole world could not hold the books that would be written."
There are many things we would like to know about Jesus: what He looked like, what colour eyes He had, what He liked to wear, what He didn't like to eat. The sort of things we think would help us know what He was like, so that He could really know Him.
The previous chapter contains these verses: "In His disciples' presence, Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written in this book." So we only have the essential stories, for one purpose: "But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that through your faith in Him you may have life."
John's account was written so that we can be confident that Christ is the Messiah and that in Him we may have eonian life.
The ekklesia is right to have confidence in Christ. I have talked about Christ, but where does that leave us, the Body of Christ, today? Some believe that the Bible pictures the church as a woman, the bride of Christ.
The last chapter of Proverbs reads: "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies." The next verse reads: "Her husband has full confidence in her."
Oh that Christendom had full confidence in Christ!! Just like the Pharisee who was confident in his own righteousness, our confidence can also be misplaced. We can be looking for a cure for our diseased hearts in the wrong place. Christendom is doing just that. There are no effective guarantees anywhere else. If we really want to know Jesus, the spirit will lead us if we ask.
And the starting point to knowing Christ is through the Scriptures. Is it worth the bother? Does it matter?
The answer is simple: No other religion, no human being, can provide what God promises - eonian life. It goes even deeper and better than that, though.
In fact, the future awaiting God's people is so wonderful that human words cannot describe it. Paul told the Corinthian assembly in 1 Corinthians 2:9 "That which the eye did not perceive, and the ear did not hear, and to which the heart of man did not ascend - whatever God makes ready for those who are loving Him."
What no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love Him. Such are the rewards for those whose confidence is not in themselves,or in their own fame or fortune, or in other people, but in CHRIST.
PRAISE BE TO GOD!