Keep A Grip On Your Soul!

2:13 pm patience, persecution

In Luke 21:19, Jesus states, “In your patience, possess ye your souls.”  Jesus makes this statement within the context of His prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.  Jesus is traveling toward Jerusalem.  His death is near.  As He approaches the temple complex, He hears remarks of those nearby who are impressed with the construction of the temple.  Jesus takes this opportunity to reveal that the temple would be destroyed.  We know that this prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.  Jesus warns His disciples that they would face persecution during this time.  Persecution would challenge their patience and test their grip on their own souls.
The Nature of Persecution
In Luke 21:12-19, Jesus focuses on different sources of persecution that the disciples would face.  In vv. 12-15, the persecution would come from religious and political sources.  In vv. 16-19, the persecution would come from their own family members who would betray them and general hatred of all men.  This betrayal by family members would stun and shock them.  It would leave them disillusioned and may even lead to their death.   Imagine the emotional and psychological impact this would have on them.  Persecution is designed by Satan to separate believers from Christ.  It acts as a wedge producing tension, stress and suffering in order to separate Christians from God.  The stress and suffering could be relieved by recanting one’s faith.  To hold on to one’s faith under such extreme circumstances involves mainting a firm grip on one’s soul.  Jesus asked, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).  Would you give up your soul to save your life?  Would you give up your soul to maintain family relationships?  Would you give up your soul to have the acceptance from enemies?  Persecution challenges faith and tests its strength.  It challenges our ability to endure.
The Need for Patience
The need for patience is affirmed by the Lord.  Patience is steadfast endurance.  We need steadfast endurance that secures the soul in times of suffering and persecution.  Persecution is painful.  Most of us want to get out of pain as quickly as possible.  In some situations, we may have to endure painful situations over long periods of time in order to secure our soul in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Endurance comes from faith (I John 5:4), love (I Cor. 13:4-8) and hope (Heb. 6:19).  Faith, love and hope form a three-fold chord that is not easily broken.  Also, the Holy Spirit strengthens us (Eph. 3:16), Christ strengthens us (Phil. 4:13 and Eph. 6:10).  When warring against Satan, we will need Christian graces and God’s help in order to be victorious.  In the strength of the Lord, we can secure our souls.
The Ultimate Prize
The ultimate prize is eternal life.  Our physical life might be lost in persecution, but through steadfast endurance we can reach the goal of everlasting life.  “In your patience possess ye your souls.”  Paul kept the prize before him at all times ( Phil. 3:13-14).  “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Keep a tight grip on your soul!  Keep a tight grip on God.  Keep a tight grip on heaven.  Don’t permit anything to come between you and your God.
Remember Jesus
The Lord does not ask His disciples to do anything He has not already done Himself.  Jesus suffered persecution.  Remember, the trials Jesus endured?  Remember the false witnesses that testified against Him?  Remember when they spat upon Him and mocked Him?  Remember the Roman beating? Remember the crown of thorns? Remember the blood shed?  Remember His death on the cross?  Jesus gave everything for us.  We must be willing to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him (Rom. 12:1-2).  “In your patience, possess ye your souls.”

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