The apostles suffered many things because of their desire to proclaim the message of Jesus to the world.
Some were cast into prison, most were killed, and John was exiled. Why would they endure such things? It was because of their faith in the Lord and in his message of hope and life. They believed it with their very beings.
As he wrote to the brethren at Corinth, Paul talked to them about this hope of life eternal found in Christ. He reminded them of the gospel message they had received and obeyed.
He also talked to them about the resurrected savior, and that if he was not resurrected then Paul’s work was in vain, their faith was in vain, and they still were in their sins.
He made this statement: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). The hope of the “abundant life” rests wholly on Jesus Christ. Paul knew that Christ had risen from the dead because he had seen him (1 Corinthians 15:8).
Peter wrote to Christians who were suffering persecution. They could have begun to doubt the “abundant life” of a Christian. He reminded them that they had been made alive from sin by obedience to the gospel, and that they had an inheritance waiting for them (1 Peter 1:2–4).
It was because of the offer of salvation through the “abundant life” that they could endure the difficulties of the day. When they would be tempted to act like the world (1 Peter 2:1), they were told to put those feelings aside and to draw closer to God.
These people were reminded of who they were: a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).
Even under duress, they were to show Christ to the world, even submitting to the laws of man that the cause of Christ would not be spoken of in an evil way.
The question might be posed about these Christians, how they could endure persecution and still show a Christ-like spirit and proclaim him to the world? They truly understood the “abundant life.”
Christians must be aware that false teachers still exist today, even in the body of Christ. Peter warned the early Christians that false teachers would arise even among themselves.
These false teachers would come in secretly (2 Peter 2:1), bringing in “destructive heresies” that would lead to many following their teachings. For this cause, Christians must be people of the “Book,” studying, checking teachings that are done, searching the Scriptures even as did the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
Paul’s admonition to study the word of God needs to be heeded (2 Timothy 2:15). If it is not, then the possibility of the “abundant life” being stolen from the life of the individual is not just a possibility; it can be reality.
The gospel of Christ must be obeyed and lived.
Editor’s note: This is the third part of a three-part series.