September 13th, 2020
We’ve been hanging out in the first chapter of 2nd Peter where we have learned that in order to mature in Christ, and be used in the Kingdom, there are gifts that God has for us that we need to be intentional about adding to our faith. If we want to grow in our faith, live out God’s purpose for our lives, and be world changers, we have to add some things to our faith.
By now, if you have been able to attend or watch these messages on line, you are familiar with these scriptures. But we’ll read it again here in 2 Peter 1:5-8.
“5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, in order to add to our faith we yield our character to God, add goodness, we seek to understand God, add knowledge, and we apply that knowledge to our lives, add self-control. Then we are told to add endurance.
Different English translations of the Bible use different words here for endurance – endurance, perseverance, patience, steadfastness. But they all mean the same thing. One of the more interesting things that we have studied in school was the original language of the Bible. *So, pay attention class. We are going to take a closer look at the word Endurance in the original Greek language. The New Testament was written in *Koine Greek. You may not be aware of it but many English words that we use came from Greek words. The Greek word for Endurance is pronounced (hypo-main-o). It doesn’t sound like any English word but if you *break it into it’s two parts, you’ll see something interesting. The first part of this Greek word for endurance is *hypo. This word is used in quite a few English words like hypodermic which means under your skin, hypo, under, dermic, skin. So, hypo means under. The second part of the Greek word for endurance is *Maino. Our word “remain” come from Maino. Do you hear it? Maino remain. So, there are two parts here that mean hypo *under and Maino, remain. (or) *to remain under. Adding endurance to our faith means add remaining under to your faith. But remain under what?
Remaining under, means endurance; steadfastness, is when we accept God’s grace and strength to "remain (endure) under" the challenges that we face in this life. So, endurance is when are able to stand even under the circumstances and remain faithful to God, even when escape or healing is improbable or impossible. Why is Endurance so important? Endurance brings unity between what we believe and the way we actually live. It’s when we allow our faith to change the way we handle the bad news, pain, hurt, loss, and disappointment. God offers us grace to endure to inspire others to praise Him. Our endurance is not just about us. It is by endurance that you “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 How we endure the difficulties of life matters because when people see it, they say, “Maybe there is something to this God thing.” Endurance brings glory to God.
The Bible, and history, and in this current world are believers who have added endurance to their faith, who suffer and do not give up on their faith. We need to be ready. We don’t know what the future holds. I love the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. It’s often referred to as the hall of faith. It reviews the names of men and women of the Bible that God has used to do great things because they chose to endure. Their stories help us understand what endurance looks like. And in Chapter 12 we read about them:
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
If we consider the faith of people who have gone before us, and we consider Christ’s endurance, this helps us endure. You need to run your race. Endurance means embracing your race. Not going into denial about it. Not someone because of their race. Not living in self-pity. Not dwelling in anger. Not hiding in a bottle or pills or something else. Endurance says consider what Jesus has done. He joyously embraced the race for our sake. He endured so that we can endure. Because He lives, we live also. In Christ we find grace to Endure. But you have to choose that. There is one other verse here in this chapter that I want us to consider and then I’ll share a story of endurance, bitterness, and healing. Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. When we fail to embrace his grace, we cannot embrace the race. We will not be able to endure. And we will blame. The result of hardship without endurance is a bitter spirit. But God can deliver us from even that. I know that personally.
One of my favorites is the story of a man named Louis Zamperini. In 1949 Louis found himself setting with his wife at a Billy Graham tent revival in Los Angeles. Zamperini was at the lowest place he had ever been. Here’s what happened. He was born in 1917 here in the US. In his youth he became an accomplished athlete. He set high school world records in track. He went on to set a national collegiate mile record that held for 15 years. He even went on to a place on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team at 19, the youngest on the team. He became an instant world celebrity. Despite his status, during the second world war he entered the US Air Force and was deployed to an Island in the Pacific Ocean. He served aboard a B-24 bomber. While on a mission searching for a downed plane a mechanical failure occurred and the plane he was on went down in the middle of the Ocean far from land. He and 10 men were aboard. Only he and 2 others survived the crash. They managed to board a life raft and drifted. They drifted for days. And days turned into weeks. For food and water they caught rainwater and a few raw fish they caught. They had to fight off constant shark attacks. Then a Japanese bomber spotted them and tried to sink them no multiple occasions. One of them died on day 33. But on day 47, the boat reached land. They had drifted 2,000 miles. They stepped out of the boat and were captured by the Japanese army. They were taken to a POW camp and tortured. A sadistic guard in the camp took a special interest in torturing Zamperini. The guard recognized him from the Olympics. Relief came when the guard was transferred to another camp. But weeks later Zamperini was transferred to the same camp. The torture resumed. Zamperini lived like this for 3 years before the war ended and he was rescued. When he returned to the states, he married a girl. But the abuse from the rigid Japanese guard and the suffering he had experience had left him with scars that resulted in terrible nightmares. He tried to wash them away with alcohol. His marriage to his wife, Cynthia, was almost over when the Billy Graham crusade came to town. His wife attended and she begged Louis to attend. On the last night of the crusade, Louis agreed. Billy Graham later wrote about it saying, “It was then that Louis Zamperini was converted. That night he wandered into our tent in Los Angeles with his wife and accepted Christ, and his life was transformed…” After he gave his life to Christ, Louis Zamperini no longer had a desire for vengeance. He found in Christ the supernatural power to release the pain and endure this life. He personally forgave the Japanese guards that had inflicted so much pain on him. He even returned to the Japanese camps, met with some of those guards, and shared his testimony with them.
If we add to our faith endurance, we will be used by God. We can change the world that we live in. Embracing our race, adding endurance, keeps us faithful, keeps hope alive, returns our joy and enables us to shine our light for God.
I don’t know everyone’s story. I don’t know what kinds of trauma or loss you have experienced. But I know this, adding endurance will allow God to use your story. Ask God for endurance. He will make you whole. And when we are healed, we are free to gain new understanding, and sometimes we even see a purpose in the suffering. I think of Christine Cain who was the victim of human trafficking. Stolen as a child and forced into an unimaginable life in the sex trade. Now she travels America speaking the power of God into other people’s lives. Because she found the power to accept God’s grace for endurance. So, I’ll ask you now. Are you adrift? Do you feel like the sharks are attacking? Do you feel like you have lost your freedom? Are you the victim of your circumstances or have you embraced your race? God can give you such endurance that you can become a world changer and do it with joy. Amen?