Matthew 10:22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
The Bible does not promise anything good to those who fall away from Christ. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-27), says Hebrews.
Likewise, If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them (1 Peter 2:20-21), wrote Peter.
God will forgive murder, adultery, incest, and anything else for those who follow Christ. But those who turn away from him add to all their other sins the worst sin of all—rejecting the Savior of the world. There is no prize for beginning the Christian life, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Given the trouble the apostles would face, it was important for them to know that God was in control. This is not hard to believe when the bills are paid, the family is getting along, and everyone is healthy. But when you are sitting in a cold dark cell, with starving rats gnawing at your feet, it can be hard to believe that God is in control.
This is why Jesus assured us that God has numbered the hairs on our head, and that even a sparrow cannot fall to the ground apart from his loving care. This is not a promise that nothing bad will ever happen to us, but that nothing bad will ever happen to us apart from our Father’s will—for his glory and our good (Romans 8:28-29).
It is important to understand that God governs little things, just as much as big things, since both are interrelated. This can be illustrated by a nail that fell out of a horse’s shoe. For lack of a nail, the shoe was lost. For lack of a shoe, the horse was lost. For lack of a horse, the rider was lost. For lack of a rider, the battle was lost. For lack of a battle, the war was lost—all for lack of a nail.
If God is not in control of everything, he is not in control of anything, because everything depends on everything else. The apostles could be sure they would never lose a hair, apart from their Father’s good and perfect will, because there is nothing outside his control.
Matthew 10:32-33 Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
It was not always easy for the apostles to acknowledge Jesus publicly. Sometimes they were bold, but sometimes they were afraid. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3), wrote Paul. Nevertheless, the apostles spent their lives acknowledging Jesus publicly, and calling others to do the same. It often began with baptism.
In the early days of his ministry, Jesus preached while his disciples baptized (John 4:1-2). As long people stayed out of the water, they were merely being entertained. But whenever someone stepped into the water, they were identifying with Jesus Christ, and acknowledging him before others. Even today, we acknowledge Jesus publicly when we choose to be baptized.
Likewise, an old man went to church every Sunday, even though his voice was too weak to sing, his ears were too weak to hear, and his eyes were too weak to read the Bible. Every week he got himself ready, and walked several blocks to church. His daughter said, Dad, you can’t sing anymore, you can’t hear anymore, and you can’t read anymore. Why do you go to church? The old man replied, I want everyone to know whose side I’m on.
Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Imagine a poor man in Jesus’ day who made his living plowing fields. The days were long and hot, the work was dirty, and the pay was barely enough. Worst of all, there were so many rocks that it was hard to finish a row without hitting one or two of them.
Once again, his plow jerked to a stop and he wanted to cuss—maybe he did. Then he stooped to remove the stone, but to his surprise it was not a stone—it was a box. That meant there was something in the box, because people don’t bury an empty box. So he dug all around it, brushed off the dirt, and carefully opened the lid. There were rubies, diamonds and pearls worth more than he could spend.
He looked around to see if there were any witnesses, and thankfully, there were not. So he covered the box, marked the spot, and went back to plowing the field. But now his mind was racing, and his heart was racing too.
If he stole the treasure, he would be caught and lose everything. But if he bought the field, the treasure would be legally his, and life would never be the same. With barely concealed joy, he sold his home, his ox, his plow—everything he had—and bought the field. That is what the kingdom of God is like. It will cost you everything, and make you unspeakably rich.
Reflection and Review
Why isn’t there any hope for those who fall away from Christ?
How can we acknowledge Jesus Christ before others?
How is God’s kingdom like a treasure hidden in a field?