Hebrews 11:29-30 & A Missionary, A Reformer, and A Murderer

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.   – Hebrews 11:29

When John Paton went to the New Hebrides Islands they had already killed and eaten two missionaries.  On the Island of Tanna where Paton would first minister they had driven previous missionaries off in fear.  His wife and son would die of fever in a year.  He would remain on this Island for 4 more years despite numerous and consistent death threats.  They would come to him saying “Missi [short for missionary], our fathers loved and worshipped whom you call the Devil, the Evil Spirit; and we are determined to do the same… Now, our people are determined to kill you, if you do not leave this island; for you are changing our customs and destroying our worship, and we hate the Jehovah Worship.”

He would argue with them, and tell them that if they did Jehovah would be angry with them.  He would warn them that if they killed him a British Man of War would come by and attack them, and that the traders would no longer visit them.  After such an encounter they would ease of a little for a short time.  Finally the situation grew so threatening that he had to leave.

By faith he experienced deliverance many times, and by faith he suffered the loss of wife and child.  Our faith does not mean deliverance from every pain, but the ordering of all our pains for our good and His glory.  Paton saw little fruit on Tanna, but other missionaries would harvest that ground that by sweat, prayers, and deep suffering he had tilled.  Also many would dedicate their lives to spreading the message of Jesus to the hardest parts of the earth as a result of reading Paton’s autobiography.  Ultimately John was not delivered from much suffering and pain, but he was delivered from one island to go to another.  He would next go to the Island of Aniwa and see virtually the whole Island turn to Christ.

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By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. – Hebrews 11:30

Luther was devastated.  The Reformation had caught wind and enthusiasts with more zeal than knowledge began to try to assert their position by violence.  Luther did not wish to advance his cause by human might or wisdom.  He knew it could not be.  His was a victory by faith in the heralded word of the gospel. He wrote:

Give men time.  I took three years of constant study, reflection, and discussion to arrive where I now am, and can the common man, untutored in such matters, be expected to move the same distance in three months?  Do not suppose that the abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused.  Men can go wrong with wine and women.  Shall we then prohibit wine and abolish women?  The sun, moon, and stars have been worshipped.  Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?  See how much he [God] has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach.  The Word did it all.  Had I wished I might have started a conflagration at Worms.  But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.  – From Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton

Or as he said in his famous hymn:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;

Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,

And He must win the battle.

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By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.  – Hebrews 11:31

Tom Papania was a grandson to one of the original mobsters who brought the Mafia to the United States.  He was hard, even criminals were intimidated to look into his eyes.  He lied, he stole, he killed.  He was ready to kill himself one evening when the phone rang.  It was a friend inviting him to church.  The pastor could see into his soul and commented to Tom that he was a hurt little boy who needed love.  Tom felt exposed and went back that evening planning on killing the pastor.  Instead he found Jesus and went on to be a prison evangelist.  (Stolen from Richard D. Phillips’ Jesus the Evangelist)

Ultimate deliverance, victory, and salvation are never found outside of faith in Jesus.  By faith in Jesus these are already ultimately ours.

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