Sheep for the Slaughter

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I would like to take up the subject of power in patience, not in a doctrinal way, but rather in a practical way, as it relates to our path during the present day.
God gave us power to become sons (John 1:1212But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)). It was His mighty power that took us out of the condition of death and seated us together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:33Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3)). It is this same power which is the inner enabling that will give us to live a life and walk a path that agrees with our relationship to God and our standing in Christ.
Strengthened With All Might
Let us turn to Colossians 1:1111Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:11): “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” How far removed from our thoughts is the precious truth presented here! “All might” and “glorious power” are coupled with the simple, unobtrusive grace of patience — that attribute of love which “suffereth long, and is kind” (1 Cor. 13:44Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (1 Corinthians 13:4)). This is the rarest of flowers now. God is not bestowing power to make us famous and illustrious in the world or in religious circles, for a man can be all this in the energy of mere nature. To walk the solitary way, disreputable and small, unnoticed and unappreciated, will require more than the activity of pious flesh. Restless man cannot endure this; he demands the intoxicating whirl of foes vanquished and victories won. I would not discourage any, neither would I encourage a spirit of laziness. But the word for the present is, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:1111Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)). Alas, how few are up to this, and in grasping for more, how many have let slip what God has already made ours!
By Weakness and Defeat
Many today miss the joy they might possess simply because they do not see it is their privilege to keep, not to conquer. Where there is conquest (as a rule), victory must come out of defeat. Thus, the Lord’s followers could say, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:6060Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? (John 6:60)), when He told them that only through His death could there be blessing for them. Doubtless this is the expression of many a zealous heart. I can only reply, Look at the cross:
“By weakness and defeat,
He won the mead and crown.”
Let us look further at our path as we are on the way to His victory. I know how inspiring it is to be pressing the foe, but how few have power to “having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:1313Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)), when enemies are pressing us. It is very easy to shout, Victory! with the foe disabled and ourselves possessor of the spoils; it is quite another thing to be able to say, “For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter,” and then be able to add, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors.” But how is this? “Through Him that loved us.” (See Romans 8:36-3736As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:36‑37).) We are conquerors, though for the present we are as sheep for the slaughter. Hallelujah! Love and praise belong to Christ.
Patience in Long-Suffering
Stephen was one “full of power,” and he is the first who comes before us prominently after the ruin set in. His strength was displayed in what he endured. In the presence of the council, he wears an angel’s face, and when the brutal mob makes his body a target for stones, is there any giving way? The poor “earthen vessel” breaks, but the “treasure” — “patience and long-suffering” — is there, for I hear him say, “Lay not this sin to their charge.” The Christ in glory held his heart still (see Acts 7:55-5955But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (Acts 7:55‑59)).
Paul and Silas are a happy illustration of this truth. Hear them singing praises to God at midnight, not in a big meeting; no, they are in prison, feet fast in the stocks and backs bleeding. But there is perfect tranquility, not even a cry for deliverance. The power that enabled them to endure was sweeter to them than escape (compare 2 Cor. 12:7-107And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7‑10)). “Patience” so blessedly possessed them that when the doors did fly open, there was no hurry. Thus, the grace of long-suffering had already made them free; their hearts had plenty of room even if their bodies were in a prison cell. They were in communion with One who is skilled in converting prisons into palaces and in making rugged stones shine like rubies. Perhaps walls quite as real and formidable surround us: Are we in the secret of strength?
Glad Anticipation
Have we been looking for something great, and are we about to break down because we have not found it? Have we anticipated a brighter day for ourselves than this, and because it is not ours, are we getting to feel that we are out of the current of His will and, hence, where we cannot claim His support? Fear not, beloved ones; our very feebleness is our title to this. While we may not have the appearance of an army with banners, we may be seen leaving the wilderness leaning upon our Beloved. We must regard with suspicion that which is of large dimensions now. See in Philadelphia and Laodicea that which respectively characterizes the true and the false at the close (Rev. 3). It must be seen by all who are conversant with the course of time, as detailed in God’s Word, that only for a little longer, at most, will there be need for the exercise of “patience.” He is to be contemplated now as the Nearing One. So, let us in glad anticipation sing; it may not be an earthquake song; the bolts and bars may not jostle loose, nor the prisoners hear us, but we can make melody in our hearts to the Lord (Eph. 5:1919Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19)).
We may sing just for Him. Men may not hear, but the songs of heaven will not shut out this symphony from His ear. “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:88Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (James 5:8)).
F. C. Blount (adapted)