The only way to be justified before God is by being in the Narrow Way – by being in Christ.
The word “testimony” is prevalent in Scripture. On one hand, some verses speak of physical testimony – we testify with our mouths of someone’s innocence or guilt, to speak truth or expose lies – and on the other, some speak of spiritual testimony – that of our consciences and sins testifying against us.
One of the reasons the concept of being “adopted into the family” and “belonging to the family (or household) of God” is so dear to me is that I think it speaks to the assurance of our place in it and the security of that familial tie. I believe John was earnest in his desire for the recipients of his letter to have assurance in their salvation: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Does God only lead or seem apparent in our good days? When things are going swell? We may be more apt to notice or to be thankful for Him in those times, but we cannot and should not neglect to watch for His Hand in the darkness, too. For, “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:22). Do we replace Him in our hearts, minds, and lives if we grow weary of walking by faith in the darkness? Think of how easily the Israelites strayed, and they had seen the Lord’s presence with their own eyes—more than most of us have!
While reading the book of Jonah recently, I found how similar I often am in my daily struggles to Jonah in his willful disregard for God’s plan and desires. Much of Jonah’s recorded physical actions obviously stemmed from fleshly decisions; my emotional responses produce fleshly actions. Jonah’s blatant acts of disobedience can be easily overlooked and regarded as “his problems” – we, after all, would never even think to go against God’s wishes. The further I read, however, the clearer the application to my own life became.
It is a cross between irony and hypocrisy for a debtor to call himself rich or a child to say he is independent. The debtor is, by his situation, owned by those he is in debt to. The child is under the care, supervision, and guidance of his parents. We boast that America is the richest nation - but in fact, we are one of the poorest.
The Lord mercifully punishes and restores us. He does not abandon His people, nor cease to desire all men to come to Him. The First Testament documents the constant holiness and mercy of God toward His people, and it is a foreshadow of the mercy He again illustrated later in sending His Son Jesus Christ to earth to be born of a virgin and die for the sins of humanity, Jews and Gentiles both. The gift He sent to die on the cross, the Lamb of God, is mercy in the truest of definitions.