~ Part 9
Confidence, a Warm Heart and Compassion
WITH THIS ARTICLE we are bound to continue in the enhancement of our discipline in praying. This follows closely upon the previous article A Discipline Enhanced by the Holy Spirit. In it we laid out eight principles of praying that influenced the Apostle Paul in his communion with the Lord. We begin here with Principle Five. He held a confidence toward God in behalf of the people for whom he was praying. Six, seven and eight will follow.
CONFIDENCE, A WARM HEART, AND COMPASSION are all good qualities even when they are born of our own soul’s effort without the help of the Holy Spirit. But without the Spirit’s enhancement upon them, they fall short as qualities that will work in Christ’s Kingdom. They will not endure the day of His judgment. The confidence produced by our own soul will shrink before the last-days tactics of the enemy. The naturally-warm heart of many will wax cold when iniquity reaches its final stage and judgment is demanded for sin. The compassion that comes as the result of our natural feelings will wear thin and be revealed that it is born out of a conditional love that holds its own judgment as to who should and who should not receive it.
But when the Holy Spirit produces these same qualities in us, they last. They will endure the fire of the last days and come through purified for the Kingdom. This month we will continue to ask the Lord to work in us these powerful commodities of Kingdom life and make us fit vessels for His purposes, especially for the last days.
Phil 1:3-8 is the passage from which we have drawn the eight principles of praying we found at work in Paul. We’re to verse 6 now. I first laid hold on this verse as a personal point of spiritual development for myself. It became a strong point of confidence for me that what the Lord had begun in me He would continue. That was over fifty years ago. What Paul said in that one verse has been a settled fact with me through all these years. But Paul wasn’t speaking it with regard to himself, he was speaking with regard to those he was holding in prayer. Let’s see it now in that light.
He said in effect, "I’ve been doing some strong praying for you. And I’ve done it with joy, particularly because of the communion we’ve had in spreading the Gospel. And now, there is a persuasion in my heart that the work the Lord has started in you He will carry on to its perfection with a view toward His final Day of Judgment."
Like many statements from Paul, Phil 1:6 is a loaded verse. Its words are pregnant, ready to burst with the life of Christ’s Kingdom. They point to truth and light for that Kingdom. Let’s look at it again, emphasizing terms that draw our attention now.
• Being confident of this very thing, that
THERE IS NOTHING MORE VALUABLE as a spiritual quality in our lives than confidence. But this is not the self-confidence Mary Martin or Julie Andrews extolled in The Sound of Music when they sang, "I believe in me." This is a confidence that takes us before God’s Throne. It is born in us of the Holy Spirit and makes us of value in the Kingdom of Christ.
This kind of confidence is of particular value for us who minister the Gospel of Christ. We have given ourselves for the advancement of His Kingdom in the lives of people. If we hold not a confidence before God for them that what He has started in them He will continue, then our ministry becomes weak. It is here discouragement finds its way in us as we wonder why so little spiritual growth is evident in them. But confidence born of the Holy Spirit can overrule the shortcomings we see in people. It holds them before the Throne till their deliverance and growth becomes evident.
This powerful Kingdom commodity is not only for us who minister publicly, it is for all who hold any spiritual concern for others. It is especially important in the life of an intercessor, a person who prays for others.
Being confident is a beautiful and powerful term that describes a wonderful condition for the heart of an intercessor. When this kind of confidence is firm in the spirit of a person who prays, then his or her prayer carries a weight with God that sees results. In Phil 1:6 confident is from the New Testament Greek word peítho which means to be persuaded, or to be thoroughly convinced regarding a matter. It is the root word from which faith (pístis) comes. Faith is a persuasion, a confidence of mind and spirit that sees God and regards a matter as settled.
Since we cannot get all matters settled within ourselves or through our own initiatives and strengths, God gives us what is necessary for the beginning of our confidence. This is the faith that brings us in before Him. Paul says this faith is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8). As we grow in our relationship with Him, faith develops. It is helped on by the Word of God, by the Holy Spirit, and by experiences of life in which we see His hand revealed. And, it is helped by the testimony of others and by the faith-building word that comes from ministers of the Gospel. We inevitably come to the place, however, where our own developed faith is not sufficient. This can be a good thing. It is here we look back to God to gain the faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:20).
Most of us live where we still have to reach for faith. It remains elusive, always running from our grasp. It is something hard to maintain, a quality of Kingdom life that has a tendency to leak out, particularly if our life is like a pot with a crack in it, as is the case with so many of us. The same is true with regard to the confidence we may hold for others for whom we are praying. If we see some fault in them, a crack in their vessel, our confidence may slip away and our faith in praying for them becomes what Jesus called little faith. The next step down from this is worry, which tends to do more harm than good.
So, we present ourselves before the Lord, asking that our confidence in praying will be made strong so it does not falter when the answer we hope for is not immediately evident. A confidence before God’s Throne causes us to see right on past the faults of those for whom we are making supplication. We see, instead, the power and light of the Throne. Seeing this, we learn to hold them before the Throne till its power and light reaches into them.
When Paul discovered what he called the faith of the Son of God, he said, "I live by it." It kept him in the presence of the Lord and, apparently, enabled him to hold a firm persuasion for those for whom he was praying.
FAITH AND CONFIDENCE are made of the same spiritual material. Confidence is faith carried to a higher degree. While our faith sometimes reaches feebly and is unstable, confidence has arrived and has a stability about it that nothing shakes.
Jesus had to deal with the little faith of his followers. It usually had to do with what touched upon them personally. When the matters He addressed are settled with us, we can move with a confidence through life and are better able to obey Him. And it may seem a strange thing, but when we have these matters settled, it becomes easier to give ourselves to intercession for others. It is because we have confidence God will move in them as He did in us. And too, we’re not distracted by troublesome issues of life that try to claim all our attention.
See these statements from Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. We can let Him deal with the same points in us that He dealt with in His early disciples.
These are basic fears and concerns for life. They touch our personal selves and reveal weaknesses that, if not settled into points of firm persuasion, will leave us weak and vulnerable before the enemy. So, we are asking the Lord that these matters might become settled with us so we can give ourselves to greater matters in His Kingdom. HERE IS an interesting thing—and, I believe, enlightening—with regard to confidence. In the Greek New Testament Paul used four entirely different words to speak of it. He was fond of them all. They show different dimensions of confidence.
• First there is peítho. It means to be persuaded, or convinced; to be brought to the point of utter belief. This is the word Paul used in Rom 8:38 when he said, lam persuaded... He used it six times in Philippians—1:6; 1:14; 1:25; 2:24; 3:3; 3:4. This is the root word upon which faith (pistis) is built. It is seff led confidence, a firm persuasion of faith not to be shaken.
• Second, there is tharréo, which means to be courageous, able to make a bold move. Paul used this word mostly in II Corinthians—5:6,8; 7:16; 10:1,2. It also occurs in Heb 13:6. I think he liked this word because the Lord used it when He spoke to him in Ac 23:11 and said, Be of good cheer. "Be courageous, Paul. Maintain your confidence, even while you’re in this trial for your life." It is the confidence of courage under fire.
• Third is hupóstassis which means to have a substructure that is firm and stable. We find it in II Cor9:4 and 11:17; also in Heb 1:3:3:14 and 11:1. It is the confidence of having a strong foundation.
• Fourth, there is parrhesía, which means bold freedom, both before God and before man. Paul used it in II Cor 3:12 and 7:4; Eph 3:12 and 6:19; Phil 1:20; Col 2:15:1 rim 3:13. It is of unusual significance in Heb 3:6; 4:16; 10:19; 10:35. John used it in I John 2:28:3:21:4:17 and 5:14. It is the confidence of bold supplication and action, both before man and before God in prayer.
• There is also pepoíthesis which is a Noun built on the Perfect form of the Verb peítho. This means it is a confidence that has been tested and perfected. It is a persuasion that will not give in under pressure. Only Paul used it in the NT. We find it in II Cor 1:15; 3:4; 8:22:10:2; Eph 3:12 and Phil 3:4.
• Some of these passages need explanation, but most of them are ready to release light and strength into the one who hungers after the Word of God, even without knowledge of the NT Greek.
THE CONFIDENCE Paul held with regard to the people he addressed in Phil 1:6 was that God would bring the good work He had begun in them to its perfection. It is a good thing for anyone who ministers the Gospel to hold this attitude. And too, it is a powerful things for intercessors to hold. But, a doctrine that so many hold works against this. I mean the doctrine that allows that one may fall in and out of grace. Paul didn’t seem to be holding on to this idea when he made this Phil 1:6 statement.
Look at this again, carefully. Paul said, "I am confident that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Will perform is from the Greek epiteltéo. It means to bring a work to its finished end. In the olden days of English, "perform" carried that same meaning. Now it means to do something for others to see. This does not convey the meaning of what Paul said. We can best understand his statement as "God will carry on to completion what He began in you when you gave your all to Him."
We might miss the significance of hath begun were it not that in the original language Paul used a rare word (enárchomai) that had reference to the beginning of a sacrificial ceremony, particularly a "meal offering." This gives us light as to why he held this confidence with regard to those Philippian people. In effect, he was saying, "I hold a confidence for you because your life is like a sacrificial meal offering. You have offered it up to the Lord and I believe He has received it."
A little light from the Pentateuch will help us here. See this from Leviticus 2.
1 And when any will offer a meat ("meal") offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour;
and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:
I have concern for those who are reverting to the feasts and offerings of the Old Covenant, which are but shadows of the reality that is ours—every day—in Christ. But, in those shadows we can see powerful details pointing to the substance that is ours now. Note these details of the meal offering. It shall be of fine flour. There shall have been oil poured upon it. And there shall be frankincense thereon. The grains that go into it shall have been ground into fine flour, thus each one has lost its individuality to become part of the whole. The meal thus produced shall have been mingled with oil, foreshadowing the anointing that would ultimately come upon the Body of Christ. The sweet savor of the frankincense would point to the savor of Christ Himself in His Body.
If you will only see it, what was foreshadowed here in the preparation of the meal offering points to those ministries of Eph 4 who are set for the perfecting ("the bringing together" in One) of the saints.
Thus Paul was saying, "I perceive you as ground and mingled together so that each has lost his identity in Christ, anointed by the Holy Spirit, completed by the fragrance of Christ’s presence, offered to God as a burnt offering. I see God has taken you and will bring His purposes to pass in you. Thus, I have confidence before Him for you."
MAYBE I’M DRAWN to see all of this because somewhere back there when I was a young believer, I laid my life on the altar. We used to sing an old Gospel song that asked, "Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?" My Pastor preached that we should do this and my heart responded. I gave God everything. He received me and a work was begun that He is carrying, even yet, to its completion for His Kingdom’s purpose. Somehow—I believe born in me of the Holy Spirit—I was confident that, if I laid my life on the altar, He would take it up and I could not take it back. Whether everyone believes this way, or not, I thank the Lord for the Pastor who impressed this upon me. There’s been a lot to work on. Parts of me were a mess, but the Lord has not given up on me.
I’m not arguing the doctrine of "eternal security" here, but I do say it served me well in my early days of knowing the Lord. About a year after I had given my all to Him, I became discouraged and took on the idea that I might as well go back into the world as an unbeliever. But as I thought on it, it came to me that I couldn’t do that. So, I didn’t—and the Lord has kept me as His Own since the winter of 1947. He’s the Keeper; I’m the kept. Because of this, I have confidence He can keep you. I’d rather emphasize this and see His power and grace prevail, than to stress the doctrine that you might lose it all if you’re not careful.
Paul held this confidence for those people in Philippi. He had spent some good time with them and knew them. I would like to hold this same confidence for you, even though I have never met most of you who read this. At least, let us pray together.
Some of you are going to mean this and God is going to take you at your word. Well, let me tell you, I can have a confidence that He will take you on to the perfection He has ordained for you. He’s just that powerful. Some of your stubbornness may rise up along the way and you may go through some purifying trials, but you will see the grace and power of the Lord. He will bring what He has begun to completion.
Some of you are going to ask what about those who have failed after giving themselves to the Lord? What about those who have come to an ignoble end, having once served the Lord?
Let me say this: the confidence that God would bring His work to perfection in those for whom Paul was praying was his personal conviction. But, it can become ours also.
Many who failed never had anyone hold that conviction for them. It’s time for that t~ change. Let’s look at those who haven’t yet come to their end and hold them, with confidence, before the Throne of God—that they fail not.
PAUL’S CONVICTION for the people under his care reached for the day of Jesus Christ. This must be that day toward which Prophets pointed and for which our hearts yearn—His Parousía, His appearing, His revelation, His manifestation both in our midst and in the world for all to see. Volumes have been, and could be, written about this. The first articles I ever published all pertained to this matter. I believe the Holy Spirit is drawing us to sharpen our understanding regarding it. And I believe this: as that day draws on, probably the only ministry that can function for a while will be that of the intercessor. It is vital that we understand what lies beyond the gross darkness that will cover the earth before the dawning of His Day. Seeing this, and God’s Throne of Grace, we can better give ourselves to intercession, with confidence, with a warm heart, and with compassion.
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