When you and I sit and read the New Testament we are often overwhelmed at what amazing things those saints lived and did for God. In fact as I read over some of the more vivid parts of the New Testament some of the words that came to my mind were unbelievable, incredible and unattainable. Isn't that where most of us get to after a while? Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me!
What do I mean? Think over just a few lives in the New Testament.
ü The Apostle Peter was a stumbling, bumbling man who always was sticking both feet up to the knees into his mouth. In fact after the 1st Lord's Supper one servant girl in the dark scarred some hellish curses and denials of Jesus. Yet only days later he is standing up in front of 3,000 families, the murderous religious establishment of Jerusalem and the Roman army - totally fearless. He never wavers again and from that day onward he faces the inevitability of personal pain and martyrdom with serenity. Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
ü The Apostle Paul was beaten within an inch of death. He was neglected to the point of abuse, thrown into a dark, damp, bug infested dungeon, fastened down with iron and wood stocks and left to grow infection, burn with fever and perhaps die. What was the result? He started to quote and sing aloud from the Psalms. He was so convincing almost everyone who heard it wanted to become a Christian also! Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
ü The Apostle John was alone, imprisoned, troubled and for all he knew forgotten by God and man. He was on a baked rock in the middle of no where, kind of like an ancient version of an Alcatraz or San Quentin Penitentiary. He survived beatings, mobs, and jails and even lived with the scars that marked his body from the boiling oil torture the Romans had subjected him to. So what comes out of a wasted and scarred body? He is in the Spirit, worshiping God on a Sunday in nowhere. And, all alone on that island prison he gets the best look at Heaven's beauty even seen. Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
ü The galaxy of unbelievable lives goes way beyond the Apostles. There are countless 1st century saints who found their pathway colliding with the godless and belligerent Roman Society, whose lives ended in the sands of the arena, at the stake or in ghastly martyrdom. Yet history records they went to their end singing, radiant with joy and serenely. Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
Then for the past many centuries the heroes have continued.
ü Martin Luther in the 16th century stood alone at the Diet of Worms and in the face of excommunication and death by fire said, "Here I stand upon God's Word, I can take no other stand!" Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
ü In the 18th century two men stand out. Adonirum Judson worked 7 years in Burma without seeing even one soul converted. He was starved for weeks and left for dead in prison. Yet he never quit. William Carey of India faced the mental insanity of his beloved wife, the hostility of the Hindus and yet never quit until God's Word was translated. Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
ü In the 19th century CT Studd faced sickness, weakness and mortal danger among cannibal pygmies of Africa's darkest jungles. Yet 30,000 were saved, baptized, clothed and lived as saints in the devil's own dark jungles. Unbelievable, incredible, but alas, unattainable for me? Or is it possible?
Yes, the answer to the question of how to live an unbelievable, incredible life is found in our text. In fact, one word sums up Peter's life, Paul's life and John's life. This same word summarizes how the galaxy of 1st through 20th century saints has stood alone triumphantly for Christ. In fact, one word tells all there is about walking in the Spirit this morning.
It can be found in Ephesians 5:18-19, may we find the secret they knew and followed and like them, do the same!
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