Teach

LIVING WITH PRESSURE IN THE DARK VALLEY OF TESTING (Part-2)

And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him. And, behold there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep. And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. but the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!

— Matthew 8:23-27 KJV

And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awoke Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And there were also with Him other little ships. And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? and they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?

— Mark 4:36-41 KJV

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples: and He said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. but as they sailed He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, Master, we perish. Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And He said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! For He commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him

— Luke 8:22-26 KJV

I know He tries me only to increase my faith, and that is all in love. Well, if He is glorified, I am content.

— Hudson Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

We have given all three of the Gospel records of this historical event; because there are lessons for us to learn that are distinct to each one of them. When you carefully examine all three passages, you discover that the Lord Jesus Christ had invited His disciples to take a boat ride with Him on the Sea of Galilee. On a certain day, He told them that they were going to cross over to the other side. Then, He laid down and went to sleep. Suddenly, a great tempest, a mighty wind storm arose and shook the boat.

Tempest
(Gr.) λαῖλαψ {lailaps}
A storm in which the wind whirled about, upwards and downwards; or rather a conflict of many winds

It was thus a mighty and powerful storm. It drove fear into the hearts of the disciples. Now remember, some of these men were fishermen, and had been in many storms.

It is said, that this tempest arose, not by chance, nor by the power of Satan, but by divine providence; for the trial of the faith of Christ’s disciples, and that He might have an opportunity of giving proof of His Deity on the sea, as He had lately done on several instances on dry land.

— John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament Vol. V (1852 edition)

The test was a simple one, when all the facts are considered. The Lord Jesus Christ invited His twelve disciples to get into a boat with Him and travel with Him to the other side. When they were a ways out to sea, the Father sent a powerful wind storm that shook the boat and placed fear in their hearts. The winds stirred up the waves; and they began to beat against the boat. Matthew’s Gospel, unlike Mark and Luke places an emphasis of the effects of the storm upon the lake itself, as the waters were vehemently moved and shaken. In the harmony of these three Gospels is revealed the fact that the waves beat against the boat, swept over the boat, and filled the deck of the boat with water. It was undoubtedly a traumatic experience for all of them.

When the disciples went looking for the Lord, they found Him calmly sleeping. Even His calm demeanor, did nothing to remove their fears. They were thinking only of themselves and for the moment forgot all of the miracle-signs Jesus had given to prove He was the Lord God.

Mark mentions the place where He was asleep, in the hinder part of the ship: that is the stern: where He, as the Lord and Master, should be, though to the great concern of His disciples, there asleep; and that in a deep sound sleep, as the word which Luke makes use of signifies; and appears by the loud repeated call of His disciples to awaken Him: and though this sleep undoubtedly arose from natural causes, He being greatly fatigued with the business of the day past: yet was so ordered by the providence of God, to come upon Him in such a manner at this time, for the trial of the faith of His disciples.

— John Gill, An exposition of the New Testament Vol. V (1852 edition)

It is important to consider exactly what they said to the Lord when they awoke Him. Master, Master, we perish (cf. Luke 8:24b), Lord, save us: we perish (Matt. 8:25b), and Master, carest thou not that we perish? (Mk. 4:38b). Luke’s emphasis is upon their fear and panic. Matthew’s emphasis is upon their appeal to the Lord to save them. However, Mark’s emphasis is upon the fact that their fear had led them to question Jesus’ love for them and therefore His concern for their wellbeing. It is very important for us to understand that even though they question His love and concern for them, they never questioned His ability to save them from being drowned. Their faith was challenged, but never completely destroyed.

The reproof Christ gave them for their fears, is here carried further than in Matthew. There it is, Why are ye fearful? There it is, O ye of little faith. Here it is, How is it that ye have no faith? Not that the disciples were without faith. But at this time their fears prevailed so that they seemed to have no faith at all. It was out of the way, when they had occasion for it, and so it was as if they had not had it. Those may suspect their faith, who can entertain such a thought as that Christ careth not though His people perish

— Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (1960 edition)

Now, the Scripture makes clear that from a human viewpoint the lives of Jesus, the disciples, and the boat crew were in danger of being lost. Every on of them was in jeopardy! Remember, this test was a part of the directive will of God. He may have permitted Satan to bring the storm into existence and even to control it; as He had done when Satan tested Job (cf. Job 1:9-22; 2:1-8). However, we can be assured that the Father had put limitations on how far Satan would be allowed to go; just as He had done in the case of Job (cf. Job 1:12; 2:6). The sovereignty of God had not been abrogated (cf. Ps. 103:19) and His overruling will is always on standby (cf. Ps. 76:10).

There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat the ship. To the natural eye, conditions had become very critical. But the Lord Jesus Christ slept in peace as the storm raged. Master, carest Thou not that we perish? In their terror the disciples turned instinctively to the Lord Jesus and roused Him from His slumber with their cry of distress. Of course He cared, but, if they had only known it, they were as safe in the storm as in the smooth sea when He was in the ship with them

— H.A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Mark (1948)

This was ordered of the Lord and the enemy was allowed to put forth all his resources; but it was impossible that man should overthrow God, impossible that the Christ of God should perish. All the blessedness of the servants, if wise, would be seen to be concentrated in the Master, and all their security derived from Him. There was therefore no ground to faith why they should be alarmed. He fell asleep; He allowed things to take their course: but whatever might happen, the ship in which Jesus was could not be unsafe for those with Him. Jesus might be tempted of the Devil, and might encounter all storms; but He came to destroy the works of the Devil and to deliver, not to perish.

—"William Kelly, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (N.D.)

The Sea of Galilee (i.e. Chinnereth — Nu. 34:11; Genesaret — Lu. 5:1; Tiberias — Jn. 6:1) is not a large sea. However because of its position deep down between the hills, it is subject to sudden storms of great intensity. The reason for this is shifting air-strata and heavy winds coming from the passes with tremendous velocity. It is about six hundred and eighty feet lower than the Mediterranean Sea.

As we study the three historical records of this unique event (cf. Matt. 8:23-27, Mk. 4:36-41, Lu. 8:22-26), it is important for each one of us to make sure that we learn the spiritual lessons that the Spirit has made available to us (cf. II Tim. 3:16,17). The Spirit has caused the three Evangelist-Historians to set forth this tremendous trial to which the disciples were exposed in their spiritual work, at a time when Christ Jesus was by their side. Eleven of these twelve men were already redeemed under the salvation economy of the dispensation of the Hebrews the age of Christ First Advent Ministry (cf. John 3:1-21 with Matt. 16:13-16; Mk. 8:27-30; Lu. 9:18-21). The Father had given them to the Son and the Son would keep them all (cf. Jn. 17:1-16).

As we examine this historical event, it is easy for us to sit back and see their foolish, stupid, selfish unbelief because of their abandonment of divine viewpoint for human viewpoint in their evaluation of these details and circumstances of life. The Lord Jesus Christ had invited them into a boat for the purpose of taking Himself and them to the other shore. Even when they looked upon His calm serene face, they did not pause to recall the miracles they had witnessed and to realize their lives were safe with Him. Jesus Christ was asleep with the calm supremacy that belonged to Him as the God-Man incarnate; and yet in their timidity they were suddenly blind to the glory of His person. Even after He saved them from the storm, they continued at this time to look upon and wondered what kind of man He was. We wonder what they thought Psalm Ninety-One was about.

Mark’s words, Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them (Mk. 4:36 - NASB) seems to imply that they were sort of taking Him for granted. He was their Lord and Master; and they were His disciples. Yet, like each one of us, there were times when they did not give Him the full measure of faith and did not completely depend upon Him. the Gospels are full of examples of their looking at trials and tests. Examples would include Christ feeding of the five thousand (cf. Matt. 14:15-21; Mk. 6:3-4; Lu. 9:10-17; Jn. 6:1-4) and His feeding of the four thousand (cf. Matt. 15:32-39; Mk. 8:1-9). Thinking human viewpoint, without considering the will of the Father, caused them to seek human solutions to a divine prepared test.

Are we any different from the disciples? How many times when we find ourselves walking through dark valleys do we seek human answers to spiritual problems? How often do we fail to faith-rest our problems, pray for wisdom, and utilize the grace provided Divine problem solving devices to carry us through our test? Today, we have a great advantage over the disciples at the time when this test occurred. It was not until Pentecost that they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and were permanently indwelled by the Spirit (cf. Jn. 14:16; Acts 1:8,9 with 2:1-13, I Cor. 2:12; 12:12, 13). We have the privilege of being filled with the Spirit (cf. Eph. 5:18) and therefore being guided by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:14) utilizing Bible Doctrine (cf. Matt. 4:4; Lu. 4:4).

I suppose in a sense we have all taken Him as He was, but it is another thing to learn what He was, and if they had learnt that they would have had no fear of the boat sinking. It was a test as to whether they had estimated the greatness of the Person who was there. Having sent away the crowd, they take Him with them, as He was, in the ship. — the Spirit suggests in that the greatness of the Person and all that had come out of Him. He was the beloved Son of God. He had bound the strong man, and shown Himself superior to all of the power of evil. There was abundant evidence of who He was, and it was all there; they took Him as He was. In the blessed reality of His Person He was there, but they had not estimated it, so, when the storm came and He did not intervene but slept, they wake Him in unbelief. It showed how little they had estimated who the Person was. We are often tested in that way. When Satan’s power comes into the conflict with the testimony it looks sometimes as if the ship were going to sink — the ship filled. What would give quietness would be the sense of the greatness of the Person whose testimony it is, and who is with His own.

— C.A. Coates, An Outline of Mark’s Gospel (1964)

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it

— I Cor. 10:13 KJV

What comfort there is for the believer when the attacks rise against him in life, his family, his business, and his associations, to know that God sees the end from the beginning and is allowing it for His own glory and the believer’s good! Satan can do what he pleases with those who are not of the family of God, but God’s own may not be touched without permission.

— Donald G. Barnhouse, The Invisible War (1965)

The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

— Psalm 23:1-6 KJV

Each one of us must do our own trailblazing. The tests we face have been faced by others thousands of times and yet we must face them for ourselves. It is easy for someone who has never walked through the valley of death to quote Bible verses and religious clichés to someone who is being overwhelmed by personal problems, marriage problems, and / or family life problems. Advice comes cheap from those who have never fought the good fight of faith.

Have you ever considered all that the Father did for you on an individual basis to allow you to reach the moment when you believed in Christ and were saved? Each one of us owes our very being to the Father’s grace; because all life originates with God (cf. Gen. 4:1 with Isa. 2:22; 42:5; 57:16). The Father opened (Heb. pathach פָתַח —to open) our mother’s womb (cf. Gen. 29:31a; 30:22; Deut. 7:13; Ruth 4:13). the father caused biological life to begin to develop when He formed (Heb. yatsar יָצַר —to form) us in our mother’s womb (cf. Jer. 1:5a). The Father, in accord with his Divine Law of Genetics develops and fashions the unborn child in the womb (cf. Job 10:8-13; Ps. 139:13-16; with Ecc. 11:5; Ps. 119:73; Isa. 44:24). While we were a developing fetus in the womb, the Father preserved and protected us (cf. Ps. 22:9; 71:6). The Father did not allow us to suffer biological death in the womb through miscarriage or abortion (cf. Job 3:11a). The Father did not allow us to be stillborn (cf. Job 3:11b). The Father is the ultimate source of our physical body (biological) life, our soul (psychological) life, and our spiritual (human spirit) life (cf. Job 10:8-12; Isa. 42:5; Zech. 12:1; Acts 17:25).

When we were an infant upon our mother’s breast, the Father preserved us (cf. Ps. 22:9, 10; 71:6; Isa. 46:3; 49:1; Job 3:12). the Father manifested common grace by means of Natural Theology to bring us to God consciousness (cf. Rom. 1:20 with Ps. 19:1, 2; Job 12:7,9; John 5:21-24). The Father’s provision included our being brought to gospel hearing (cf. Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 1:18). At gospel hearing, the Father drew us (cf. John 6:44), the Lord Jesus Christ called us (cf. John 10:16,27), and the Spirit wooed us by convicting us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (cf. John 16:8-11). The work of Salvation belongs to Jehovah (cf. Ps. 3:8; Jonah 2:9). The moment we believed in Christ as our Savior (cf. John 3:15-18; Acts 16:30, 31), the Father saved us by grace (cf. Eph. 2:8,9). Over thirty years ago, we first developed the doctrine of Preparational Grace Blessings into categorical form for teaching. In 1994, we included the doctrine in our Salvation Grace Blessings Categorical Notebook. We defined Preparational Grace Blessings as the Salvation Grace Blessings which were provided by the Father to preserve, direct, and guide, each member of the Mystical Body of Christ (i.e Father’s Royal Family) from the point of individual conception to the point of individual redemption. We believe that this doctrine is important in the teaching and training of believers to trust the Father to provide a grace solution to every trial and test that will enter into the believer’s life between salvation and physical death or the Rapture of the church Universal (cf. Prov. 3:5,6; 29:25; Ps. 37:5).

PART III