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"Ascending in Faith: Insights from Saints and Scripture"

INTRODUCTION:

Good morning, and welcome. This morning, we will delve into the timeless truths of Scripture and the inspiring lives of the saints. Today, we embark on a journey of discovery, drawing wisdom from the lives of John Climacus, Sosthenes, Apollos, Cephas, Caesar, Epaphroditos, and Zacharias the New Martyr. Their stories echo through the corridors of history, inviting us to ascend the ladder of faith with unwavering resolve.


In Hebrews 3:12-16, we are urged to guard our hearts diligently against the deceitfulness of sin. At the same time, Mark 1:35-44 reveals the compassion and authority of Jesus Christ, healing the afflicted and extending the boundaries of His kingdom.


Join us as we explore the intersection of saints and Scripture, embracing the call to spiritual vigilance and drawing closer to the source of all light and life. Let's journey together, seeking insights illuminating our path and strengthening our faith. Welcome to a podcast where faith meets revelation and transformation begins.


SAINT STUDY

 

1.     John Climacus the Righteous: Also known as John Climacus or John of the Ladder, he was a 7th-century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai. He is renowned for his work "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," a spiritual treatise that outlines the journey of a monk from earth to heaven, using the metaphor of a ladder with thirty steps.

 

2.     Sosthenes, Apollos, Cephas, and Caesar were early Christian saints and may have been among the Seventy Apostles mentioned in the New Testament. Sosthenes is mentioned in the New Testament as a synagogue ruler in Corinth who was beaten by a mob. Apollos was a learned Jew from Alexandria who became a Christian preacher. Cephas is another name for Peter, one of the twelve apostles and a prominent figure in early Christianity. Caesar is a lesser-known figure among the Seventy Apostles.

 

 

3.     Epaphroditos: He is mentioned in the New Testament as a companion of the Apostle Paul. He was a member of the Philippian church and is mentioned in Paul's letter to the Philippians as a messenger who brought gifts from the Philippian Christians to Paul while he was imprisoned.

 

4.     Zacharias the New Martyr: Zacharias was a 13th-century Serbian saint whom the Ottoman Turks were martyred for refusing to convert to Islam. He steadfastly held to his Christian faith and was eventually beheaded.


These saints are remembered and honored for their contributions to the early Christian Church, their steadfastness in faith, and their examples of Christian virtue and endurance, whether through spiritual writing, preaching, martyrdom, or faithful service. Their commemoration on March 30th reminds them of their enduring legacy and inspires believers to emulate their faith and dedication.


Hebrews 3:12-16(NKJV):


12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but [a]exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:

"Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."


Failure of the Wilderness Wanderers

16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?


1.     Warning against unbelief and departure from God: The passage begins with a caution to beware of an evil heart of unbelief that could lead to departing from the living God. This emphasizes the danger of allowing doubt and disbelief to take root in our hearts, potentially leading us away from God and His truth.

 

2.     Exhortation for mutual encouragement: The author urges believers to encourage one another daily, emphasizing the importance of community and mutual support in the Christian journey. This highlights the role of fellow believers in strengthening and encouraging each other to remain steadfast in faith and resist the deceitfulness of sin.

 

 

3.     Call to steadfastness: Verse 14 underscores the importance of holding firm to our confidence in Christ until the end. This emphasizes the necessity of perseverance and endurance in the Christian walk, remaining faithful to Christ regardless of trials or temptations.

 

4.     Reference to Israel's rebellion: The passage references the Israelites' rebellion in the wilderness, particularly during the Exodus from Egypt. This example reminds believers of the consequences of hardening their hearts against God's voice and rebelling against His commands.

 

Parallel with Psalm 95: The passage references Psalm 95:7-11, which also warns against hardening one's heart against God's voice. Psalm 95 emphasizes the importance of worshiping and obeying God wholeheartedly, drawing a connection between faithfulness and entering God's rest. Hebrews expands on this theme, urging believers to heed God's voice and avoid falling into unbelief and rebellion.

In light of our theme, "Ascending in Faith: Insights from Saints and Scripture," we can draw parallels between the exhortations in Hebrews 3:12-16 and the lives of the saints mentioned earlier. Just as John Climacus and the other saints ascended the ladder of faith through steadfastness, mutual encouragement, and resistance to sin, we are called to do the same.


John Climacus, for instance, demonstrated unwavering faith and perseverance in his monastic life, ascending the ladder of divine ascent through prayer, humility, and obedience. Similarly, the early Christian saints like Sosthenes, Apollos, and Cephas encouraged and urged one another in their faith journey, serving as examples of communal support and steadfastness.

In our daily lives, this passage challenges us to examine our hearts and guard against unbelief and sin. It reminds us of the importance of community and mutual encouragement in our walk with Christ. Moreover, it urges us to hold fast to our confidence in Christ, remaining steadfast in faith even in the face of adversity or temptation.


Finally, in verse 16, the question posed—"For who, having heard, rebelled?"—calls for introspection. The implied answer, drawn from Israel's history, suggests that rebellion against God's voice leads to spiritual downfall. Therefore, let us heed the warning, learn from the examples of the saints, and embrace the call to ascend in faith, holding fast to Christ until the end.


Mark 1:35-44(NKJV):

Preaching in Galilee

35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a [a]solitary place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You."

38 But He said to them, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also because for this purpose I have come forth."

39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.


Jesus Cleanses a Leper

40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."

41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."


1.     Prayer and Solitude: The passage begins with Jesus rising early in the morning to pray in a solitary place. This highlights the importance of communion with God through prayer and finding quiet moments for spiritual nourishment and guidance.

 

2.     Mission and Purpose: Despite the crowds' demands to seek Him, Jesus maintains a clear sense of purpose. He intends to preach in other towns, emphasizing His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God and bring salvation to all people.

 

 

3.     Compassion and Healing: A leper approaches Jesus, demonstrating faith in His healing ability. Jesus moved with compassion, not only healing the leper but also touching him—a significant act considering the social and religious taboos surrounding leprosy.

 

4.     Instruction and Obedience: After healing the leper, Jesus instructs him not to tell anyone about the miracle but to show himself to the priest, following the prescribed ritual for cleansing as outlined in the Law of Moses. This instruction serves multiple purposes, including obedience to the Law, testimony to the priests, and maintaining order in Jesus' ministry.

 

 

5.     Divine Authority: Jesus' authority is evident in His ability to command physical healing and spiritual obedience. His words carry power, and His actions demonstrate His divine nature as the Son of God.

 

Parallel with Psalm 30:2-3, Psalm 30 speaks of God's deliverance from sickness and distress. The leper's healing in Mark 1:40-42 echoes the psalmist's gratitude for God's mercy and restoration. This parallel highlights God's faithfulness in responding to the cries of His people and bringing healing and salvation.

In light of our theme, "Ascending in Faith: Insights from Saints and Scripture," we can draw parallels between Jesus' actions in this passage and the lives of the saints mentioned earlier.


John Climacus and the other saints exemplified the importance of prayer and solitude in their spiritual journeys, finding strength and guidance through communion with God. Like Jesus, they maintained a clear sense of mission and purpose, dedicating their lives to proclaiming the Gospel and serving others.

The compassion and healing demonstrated by Jesus reflect the love and mercy that characterized the lives of saints like Epaphroditos and Zacharias the New Martyr, who showed kindness and compassion to those in need, even at significant personal cost.


Moreover, the healed leper's obedience reminds us of the importance of daily following Jesus' teachings and instructions. His obedience leads to physical healing and serves as a testimony to the priests, demonstrating the transformative power of faith in Christ.


Finally, in verses 43-44, Jesus instructs the healed leper to tell no one about the miracle but to show himself to the priest, highlighting the tension between secrecy and revelation in Jesus' ministry. This instruction underscores the importance of divine timing and obedience to Jesus' commands, even when they may seem counterintuitive.


This passage challenges us to prioritize prayer and solitude, embrace our mission and purpose in Christ, demonstrate compassion and mercy to others, and faithfully obey Jesus' teachings, trusting in His divine authority and timing.


As we close our study today, let's reflect on the timeless truths encountered in Hebrews 3:12-16 and Mark 1:35-44 and the inspiring lives of saints like John Climacus. These passages remind us to guard our hearts against unbelief, to approach God with faith and humility, and to extend compassion and mercy to those in need. Let's be encouraged to walk in obedience, trusting God's promises and perfect timing. As we journey forward, may we emulate the faithfulness and devotion of the saints, ascending the ladder of faith with unwavering resolve and shining the light of Christ in a world longing for hope and redemption.


In Christ, love Jared W. Campbell




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