Everyone looks at what we do and not what we say. Scripture says, “Thou shalt be a witness unto all men,” not just to friendly people, but also to unbelievers. For witnesses aren’t meant to persuade those who already know, but those who don’t know. Let us be trustworthy witnesses. How can we be trustworthy? By the life we lead. The Jews assaulted Christ and our passions assault us. They tell us to reject our testimony. But we must not obey them. We are witnesses from God. But He has sent us to testify of Him. Let us testify and persuade those who need to decide who He is. If we don’t testify, then we also have to answer for their mistake. If people wouldn’t accept an exceedingly wicked witness in an earthly court, much less would they accept one here when considering such great issues. We say that we have heard Christ and that we believe the things He has promised. Then, they say, show it by your works. For your life testifies of the opposite—that you don’t believe.. . . We and not just the martyrs will be witnesses for Christ. They are called martyrs because they endured everything to speak the truth when told to reject the faith. So, we must not be overcome when our passions tell us we are to reject Him.
We must remember the value of right belief. It is profitable for me to know that Christ bore my diseases and submitted Himself to my lusts for my sake. He became sin and a curse for me—for everyone, that is. He was humbled and became a servant for me. He is the Lamb, the Vine, the Rock, the Servant, and the Son of a handmaid for me. He doesn’t know the Day of Judgment, but, for my sake, is ignorant of the day and hour. . . . What a glorious remedy—to have comfort in Christ! For He bore these things with enormous patience for our sakes—so we definitely can’t bear them just for the glory of His name with common patience! Who wouldn’t learn to forgive their enemies when they see that, even on the cross, Christ prayed for those who persecuted Him? Don’t you see that the weaknesses of Christ’s are your strength? So why do you ask Him about remedies for us? His tears wash us and His weeping cleanses us. . . . But if you begin to doubt, you will despair. For the greater the insult, the greater gratitude is due.
Jesus teaches us not only that riches are to be despised, but that also they are full of danger. They are the root of seducing evils and deceive the blind human mind by hidden deception. God rebukes rich fools who think only of their earthly wealth and boast in the abundance of their overflowing harvests. He says, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” The fool was rejoicing in his supplies when he would die that very night; one whose life was already failing was thinking about the abundance of his food. However, the Lord tells us that those who sell all their possessions and distribute them for the poor become perfect and complete. In so doing, they lay up treasures for themselves in heaven. He says that those who follow Him…and aren’t entangled by worldly possessions…accompany their possessions which they send to God. For such a reward, let us all prepare ourselves, learn to pray, and discern from our prayers what we should become, …for He promises that all things will be added to those who seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.
Faith lacks nothing. It is perfect and complete in itself. If it lacks anything, it is not completely perfect. But faith isn’t disabled in any respect. After we leave this world, it doesn’t make we who have believed wait. Instead, we receive the pledge of future good without distinction…. Where faith is, there is the promise. And the completion of the promise is rest. In addition, through illumination we receive knowledge, and the end of knowledge is rest…. So, then, just as inexperience ends by experience and bewilderment by finding a clear way out, so darkness must disappear by illumination. The darkness is ignorance. Through it we fall into sins, completely blind to the truth. Knowledge, then, is the illumination we receive that makes ignorance disappear. It gives us dear vision…. Bonds of ignorance are quickly loosened by human faith and divine grace, and our sins are taken away by the medicine of the Word. We are washed from all of our sins and are no longer entangled in evil. Our character isn’t the same as before our washing. Since knowledge springs up with illumination the moment we hear, we who were untaught become disciples. For instruction leads to faith, and faith with baptism is taught by the Holy Spirit. That faith is the one universal salvation of humanity.
Our nature can’t contemplate heavenly things by our own strength. We must learn from God what we should think of Him. We have no source of knowledge but God Himself. You might be as well trained in secular philosophy as possible, and you may have lived a life of righteousness. But, although all of this will add to your mental satisfaction, it won’t help you know God. Moses was adopted as the queen’s son. He was instructed in all the Egyptians’ wisdom. Moreover, out of loyalty to his race, Moses avenged the Hebrew by slaying the Egyptian who wronged him. Yet he didn’t know the God who blessed his fathers. For when he left Egypt afraid of his deed being discovered, he lived as a shepherd in the land of Midian. There he saw a fire in the bush, but the bush wasn’t consumed. Then he heard the voice of God, asked His name, and learned His nature. Despite all this he couldn’t have known anything except through God Himself. We, in the same way, must confine whatever we say about God to the words He has spoken to us about Himself.
Feed us, Your children, as sheep. Master, fill us With righteousness from Your own pasture. Instructor, give us food on Your holy mountain, the church, which towers in the air, is above the clouds, and touches heaven. “And I will be,” He says, “their Shepherd,” and will be as near to them as clothes to their skin. He wants to save my flesh by enveloping it in the robe of immortality, and He has anointed my body. “They shall call Me,” He says, “and I will say, Here am I.” You heard sooner than I expected, Master. “And if they pass over, they shall not slip,” says the Lord. For we who are passing over to eternal life will not fall into corruption because He will sustain us. For so He has said and so He has willed. Our Instructor is righteously good. “I came not,” He says, “to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Therefore, He is introduced in the Gospel as “wearied,” because He toiled for us and promised “to give His life as a ransom for many.” For Christ alone is the Good Shepherd. He is generous and gives us the greatest of all gifts, His own life. He is extremely good and loving to men, while, when He might have been Lord, He wished to become a brother to humanity. He was so good that He died for us.