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Faith Worth Dying For

(Daniel 3:8-25)

Lesson 7 -- second quarter 2008
April 13, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

Questions of Faith and Heritage

The four Jews in focus in the book of Daniel were not the only Jews in the Babylonian kingdom at that time. What became spiritually of all the rest? It seems they had no spine, no convictions, no attachment to their "Jewishness," no persuasion of their national faith and heritage.

But never mind them, unless you are too much like them. Well, even then, never mind them. Consider instead Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Did they yet hold and value their Jewish "traditions"?

Why should they not bow? After all, they could save their necks so they could continue to exert positive influences in other areas. And they could bow physically, but not in their hearts. And later they could offer sacrifices of repentance. Besides, God had put the king in power, so they should do as he said. And all the rest of their people present (Where was that Daniel, anyway?!) were doing it.

Sounds familiar.

When I sense (or others point out) that my hold on my faith and on my heritage and on my God are weak, my response shouldn't be to justify myself nor to let go completely.


A father wonders

Where did their convictions and their backbone come from?

Who taught them?

How were they taught?

What was their home community like?

How could they turn out so different from the rest of their fellow Jews?

What were their parents and families like?

Never alone

What was unusual about the fourth individual walking with them? Among all the answers to the question, consider this one: He was visible.


Yeah, really. I think what was unusual about that individual at that time was that He was visible. What was not unusual was that He was walking with them at all. Do you get my point now? He walked with these young men all the time. His presence with them wasn't unusual -- His visibility was!

What about me? And you?

Would God walk with either one of us in the fire?

Well, do we walk with Him in "daily life"?

Based on how we walked with Him in the last seven days, would He walk with us in the fire tomorrow afternoon?

Choosing the furnace

For what beliefs and practices would I die? Which of these really are worth dying for?

For what would you die?

Why or why not?

Denying Self and Bearing the Cross

My life must be lost for Jesus and the Gospel. Daily. Normally. Always.

Following Jesus requires that I quit following myself. But we must not confuse mere self-denial with following Jesus. Self-denial can actually become a substitute for following Jesus. We are called to deny self and follow Jesus. That involves living the Not I But Christ principle expressed in Galatians 2:20. We cannot follow Jesus without giving up self. No way.

How ironic that we humans can strive so hard to attain personal purpose and fulfillment while avoiding the very path that would lead us to that goal. We don't want to waste our lives on purposeless emptiness, yet we tend to flinch from applying the only principle that will most assuredly make our lives worthwhile: "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35). We gain by losing.

Jesus asked a question which we must each take personally -- "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:37). Every day we make choices that directly answer the question. Alas, most of the time we don't view our choices as answering that question! So remember: Life is a series of transactions for your soul.

The only way to make the most of life and its potential and opportunity is to follow Jesus. He will give us an abundant life. But He will do so only if we deny ourselves and take up our cross. In other words, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35).

For more I wrote on this lesson/passage: Certain Jews.

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