Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto his spiritual son Timothy. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses ten through seventeen of the third chapter. When we come to this particular passage of scripture we find the apostle Paul transitioning away from writing and speaking of the Last Days and of the end times and into the realm of personal testimony and private witness. If you take the time to read the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy in this particular portion of scripture you will find him writing concerning his own example before Timothy throughout the time they have known each other. I am not sure how much time has elapsed between the time the apostle Paul and young Timothy net until this point, but one thing is absolutely certain—that young Timothy daw in the apostle Paul a powerful witness, a powerful testimony, a strong witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. What we find in this particular offering of scripture today is the apostle Paul once more writing unto Timothy concerning the knowledge he had of who he was as an apostle, but more importantly who he was as a man. It would be very easy to get up in the reality of who the apostle Paul was as a minister of the gospel and to miss the tremendous importance of who the apostle Paul was as a man. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that before we ever think of the apostle Paul as the minister of the gospel we first take the time to look upon him as a man. Before the apostle Paul was ever the apostle of Christ unto the Gentiles he was first a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ whose life was radically and dramatically altered and transformed by the power and person of Jesus Christ in the road to Damascus. What’s more, is that it wasn’t merely the encounter and experience of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus that radically transformed him, but those three days in Damascus without sight being left only to look inward and upward . There is something about being unable to see that which is around you and to become so distracted by the various sights and temptations around us that is truly powerful within and for the process of transformation within our lives.
When the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this particular portion of scripture he indeed wrote unto him—nor merely concerning his apostolic ministry, but also his witness before men. I feel the tremendous need right now to say that if your “ministry” far exceeds, far outweighs, far supersedes your witness and testimony, then there is something seriously and dramatically wrong. It would be incredibly easy to get caught up in the reality of the ministry we feel we have been given by the Lord, and to focus so much time, so much effort, and so much attention on that ministry that we completely lose sight of the reality and concept of our witness and testimony. I am utterly and completely convinced that there cannot and must not be a dividing line and distinction between our witness and testimony, and the ministry we believe we have been entrusted with. It is very easy to spend so much time cultivating our ministry and ensuring that our ministry accomplishes in the earth that which the Lord Jesus desires to accomplish, and completely lose sight and forget the tremendous importance of our witness and testimony. In all reality, I am convinced that until and unless our witness and our testimony far exceeds and far outweighs any ministry we think we might be entrusted with, we dare not and should not engage ourselves in any form of ministry. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—what good is ministry before Christ within the earth if you have no witness and testimony within the earth among men? If you turn and direct your attention to the first epistle which Paul wrote unto Timothy, you will undoubtedly find a powerful declaration of the witness and testimony needed to stand before Christ and serve as a bishop or an elder. What’s more, is that if you direct your attention to the New Testament epistle which Paul wrote unto Titus you will again find the apostle Paul writing concerning the tremendous witness and testimony that is needed and required by those who would desire such and office among the saints of God.
In speaking concerning those who would seek to follow Him, Jesus declared unto them that they must carefully consider and count the cost, for they must know and understand the tremendous price of following Him on this journey called life. With that in mind, I am convinced there is a tremendous cost and price that is directly connected to serving the Lord our God in public ministry and service, and that price is in fact private witness and public testimony. I can’t help but think of what David did in the fields watching his father’a sheep which went unnoticed by the eyes of men, but was absolutely noticed by the eyes of the Lord. I am convinced that it was that private witness and that private testimony which David has before the Lord that truly positioned himself to be qualified to stand before and serve the Lord as king of Israel. With all of this being said I would like to add that when we speak of the power and reality of private witness we must first understand it in the realm of that which is visible in the sight of the living God. If we are going to truly understand the concept of private witness and public testimony we must first recognize and understand that testimony touches first the realm of that which is seen Effie the eyes of the Lord. In all reality, when we speak of witness and testimony we must understand that it first touches the realm of that which is seen by the true and living God and then touches the realm of that which is seen by men. When we speak of personal testimony and private witness we must recognize that our testimony and witness must first be recognized and taken note of by the Lord whose eyes run to and fro throughout the earth seeking to show Himself strong to those whose hearts are toward Him. We dare not miss or lose sight of the fact and reality that before we even think about and consider what our testimony looks like before the eyes of men, we must first understand what our testimony looks like before the eyes of the One whose eyes blaze like a raging fire. We must first understand that our testimony must first be strong before the Lord before it can ever be strong before men. What’s more, is that I am firmly convinced that if our testimony before the Lord is where it needs to be then our testimony before men will undoubtedly and most certainly be where and what it needs to be.
I spoke earlier and mentioned that which the apostle Paul wrote unto both Timothy and Titus concerning the private witness and published testimony of those who would seek the office and role of bishop or elder, and it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to these words, for they are also closely and directly connected to the words we find in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. In fact, it is in the New Testament book of Acts where we find the choosing of the first deacons of the church according to the word of the apostles and the choosing of the saints and disciples of Jesus Christ. Before we even get into that which the apostle Paul wrote unto both Timothy and Titus it is first necessary that we turn and direct our attention to that which is found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. Consider if you will that which the beloved physician Luke records beginning with the first verse of the sixth chapter:
“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:1-8).
Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of that which is found and that which is written in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for within this particular passage of Scripture we find the requirements needed and necessary to serve as one of the deacons of the early church. In the third verse you find that which qualified and positioned men to stand and serve as a deacon among the church—men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. Concerning Stephen we also discover that of those chosen, he was the only one of whom it was not only written that he was a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, but also that he was full of faith and power, and did great wonders and miracles among the people. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand that which is written and recorded in this particular passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find that which was necessary to stand and serve as a deacon of the early church—a reality which clearly points to the realm of private witness and public testimony. The apostles and early church could and would not simply allow anyone to serve in the ministry unto widows—perhaps even orphans as well—among them, for while this particular ministry did not touch the realm of preaching the word of God, and devoting oneself continually to prayer, we must not forget the fact that ministry unto widows is one which the Lord takes incredibly seriously. We dare not, we cannot, we must not forget the tremendous fact that while the children of Israel are the Lord’s chosen people within the earth, and while the Lord has chosen the church to be the body and bride of Jesus Christ, there is in fact another people within the earth whom the Lord holds incredibly high regard toward—namely, orphans and widows. In fact, when you read the New Testament epistle which James wrote, you will find him writing concerning pure and undefiled religion which is to look after and care for orphans and widows, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Furthermore, in the Old Testament you will find a powerful warning from the Lord concerning neglecting orphans and widows, for not only does He declare that if they cry out unto Him, He would hear them, but He also goes on to offer a dire warning to those who should neglect either the orphans or the widows. We dare not, we cannot, we must not forget the fact that what Stephen and these other men were chosen for was no small ministry within the early church among the saints, for ministry among the widows within the congregation of the saints is one that must be taken with all seriousness and readiness.
Before I get into the realm of that which the apostle Paul wrote unto both Timothy and Titus concerning the requirements for those who would desire the role and office of bishop or elder, I feel it absolutely necessary to direct your attention to specific words which Jesus spoke in His Sermon on the Mount concerning those who would seek to get noticed by men while completely neglecting and ignoring the reality that we must first consider what heaven thinks of us, and what heaven sees when it looks upon us. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke of those who desired to get noticed and recognized among men, while completely neglecting their witness and testimony before the Father who not only dwells in secret, but also sees in secret. As I consider the words which Jesus declared in His Sermon on the Mount I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped by the tremendous reality that it is so easy to allow ourselves to get caught up that which those around us see that we completely neglect, ignore, and even reject that which matters the most—namely, that which our Father who is in secret sees. That which Jesus speaks about is those who desire a reward here upon the earth, and those who desire recognition among men within and upon the earth, while completely neglecting and ignoring the witness and testimony that appears before the Father. Consider if you will the words which our Lord Jesus who is both Christ and Lord spoke unto those gathered before Him when He delivered His famous Sermon on the Mount beginning with the first verse of the sixth chapter of the gospel of Matthew:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Fathert, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1-18).
While on the surface it might not seem like the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture mean anything in the realm of private witness and testimony, I would strongly declare unto you that such words have absolutely incredible meaning and significance within such a realm. If you spend the time reading and considering that which Jesus speaks within His Sermon on the Mount, you will find Jesus specifically referring to be seen in two realms and two spaces—being seen of men and seeking recognition and praise of men, and being seen of the Father in heaven who not only dwells in secret, but also sees in secret. Within this particular passage of Scripture we find Jesus speaking of that which we seek to get noticed by men for, and that which we seek to be noticed by the true and living God for. In all reality, what we find in this passage of Scripture is in fact a decision which we as the saints of God need to make within our lives, for either we are going to spend our time devoted to that which is seen and that which is noticed by men here upon the earth, or we are going to spend our time devoted to being seen and noticed in the eyes of our Father who sees in secret Himself. What we find in this particular passage of Scripture is a powerful commentary concerning the realm of private witness and testimony before the eyes of the Father, for there is something incredibly powerful about how we live our lives in secret when and where no one is watching, and where the only one who sees us is our Father who is in heaven. There is something incredibly powerful about focusing our attention on first that which the Father sees within the secret place, and then what men see in the public realm of testimony and witness. The more I think about, and the more I consider the reality of private witness and public testimony, the more I am convinced that the two are intrinsically linked and connected to each other. We must recognize and understand the absolutely incredible reality that that which the Father sees in secret is perhaps the single greatest reality we as the people of God must focus our attention on, for everything else within our lives flows from that singular reality. We would like to think and even believe that public ministry is what matters the most, and that which is seen, that which is heard, and that which is noticed by men is what matters most here upon the earth, yet I am convinced that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, lest you think that what I am writing is somehow incorrect or false, I would direct your attention to the words which our Lord spoke in the Sermon on the Mount—this time in the seventh chapter. Consider if you will the words which our Lord spoke concerning those who would come to Him in that day saying “Lord, Lord:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I Profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).
This passage of Scripture should put the fear of God within our hearts, for this passage of Scripture deals specifically with those who will come before the Lord in the Last Days and will appeal to that which they committed and performed before the Lord in the earth in the realm of public ministry. As you read and consider the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture you will find certain men and certain women appealing to prophesying in the name of the Lord, and even casting our devils, as though such elements warrant any consideration by the Lord on that day. What we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture is a powerful witness and a powerful testimony to those who would seek to place an unholy merit in public ministry without recognizing and understanding the tremendous importance and significance of hearing the words and sayings of Jesus, and doing them. This particular passage of Scripture presents us with a powerful warning concerning we who would seek to elevate the realm of public ministry over and above the realm of private witness and testimony—of doing the will of our Father who is in heaven, and of bringing forth fruit. Please pay close attention to this reality of bearing and bringing forth fruit, for it is this reality and concept of fruit that directly touches the realm of witness and testimony, for it was Jesus Himself who declared that it is by our fruits we shall be known. What’s more, Jesus emphatically declared that it would be by our love one for another that men would know we are His disciples. We dare not, we cannot, we must not get so caught up and consumed in the reality and concept of public ministry that we completely neglect ignore the tremendous reality of private witness. What’s more, is I am convinced there are countless men and women among us today who sacrifice private testimony and witness on the altar of public ministry thinking and believing that such is ultimately what matters in the realm of effectively living among men within the earth. It is incredibly easy to get caught up in focusing our attention on public ministry that we completely neglect and lose sight of that which matters far above, and that which far outweighs any attempt to engage ourselves in public ministry. I can’t help but think of countless men and women who have allowed themselves to get so caught up and consumed in thinking and believing that public ministry is truly and ultimately what matters and means the most in the sight of God—not recognizing at all that it is that which is seen in secret, and it is that which is done in private which ultimately matters in the sight of the living God. With all of this being said, I would now seek to direct your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his epistles unto Timothy and Titus concerning those who would desire the office and role of bishop and elder:
“This is a gruesome saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a notice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:1-13).
“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in everything city, as I had appointed thee: IF any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convinced the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre‘ s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians, are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure; but even their mind and conscience is deviled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:5-16).
That which we read and that which we find in these passages must be powerfully and wonderfully considered in direct light of what we find and what we read in the third chapter of the second epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy, for when you read the tenth verse of this particular chapter you will find the apostle Paul writing unto Timothy concerning his own witness and testimony. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth and eleventh verses of this third chapter: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but of them all the Lord delivered me” (Acts 3:10–11). The words which we find written by the apostle Paul in this particular passage of Scripture are absolutely incredible when you consider the tremendous weight and magnitude of what he was writing unto Timothy. In the tenth verse the apostle Paul wrote concerning Timothy’s knowledge concerning his doctrine, or rather that which he believed and preached. Within these verses the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy concerning his manner of life, which was essentially a reference to the testimony and witness he had while Timothy traveled with him immediately after the apostle Paul had him circumcised. I have to admit that I absolutely love what the apostle Paul writes in this passage of Scripture, for the apostle Paul is speaking directly unto Timothy concerning that which he observed concerning his life—particular and specifically in the midst of trials, tribulation, suffering, conflict and persecution. In all reality, I am utterly and completely convinced that one of the purest ways of understanding one’s manner of life—the way to truly get a glimpse of one’s testimony, one’s witness—is to watch how they hold up under the pressures of persecutions, afflictions and trials. When I read the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but notice his reference—not only to his manner of life, but also the patience, the faith, and the long suffering he displayed in the midst of persecutions and afflictions. In fact, even the apostle Paul himself wrote of that which came upon him at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra, and the persecutions which he himself endured. It’s worth noting that the apostle Paul emphatically declared that out of all the persecutions the apostle endured, the Lord delivered him. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul emphatically declares that all those who are godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle written unto the saints which were in Corinth concerning the afflictions, the infirmities, the trials, the conflict he experienced and endured.
Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Corinth beginning with the sixteenth verse:
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit Wherein soever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am i. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labour more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Corinthians 11:16-30).
Consider also the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the very next chapter within this second epistle which was written unto the same Corinthian congregation concerning visions and revelations. Beginning to read with and from the first verse we find the following words written by the apostle:
“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
When writing to the Corinthians the apostle Paul wrote of the infirmities, the afflictions, the trials, the struggles and the conflict he experienced and endured within and throughout his life and ministry. What’s more, is that it was in Corinth where we not only find the apostle Paul experiencing afflictions, trials, tribulation, conflict and struggles, but we also find Timothy—as well as Silas—watching how he bore up and endured the great conflicts and distresses he experienced and endured. The apostle Paul could write such words to Timothy, for nothing displays our doctrine and that which we believe, nothing displays our manner of life and how we live, nothing displays our purpose and mission in life than how we bear up under tremendous affliction and infirmities. In fact, I am convinced that more often than not it is the conflicts, the struggles, the battles, the afflictions we experience and endure that truly demonstrate and reveal our character and who we are as an individual.. What is absolutely incredible about that which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular epistle is that when he came to the end of his life he looked back upon it all, and when writing unto Timothy he recounted all those times when Timothy watched and witnessed how he handled uncomfortable circumstances and situations. The apostle Paul knew and understood that Timothy was well verses and well acquainted with his doctrine and manner of life, for the apostle Paul did in fact bring Timothy with him after he encountered him in Lystra and Derbe. I absolutely love the apostle Paul writing concerning persecutions and afflictions, and directly connecting and linking them to his doctrine, to his manner of life, to his purpose, for in all reality, I would dare say that if we are uncertain concerning these points and these realities within our life, we cannot and will not be able to bear up in the midst of conflict, and do so well. At the very outset of His public ministry—even before He began His public ministry—Jesus heard the voice of the Father declaring unto Him that He was His beloved Son, and that He was well pleased with Him. It would be this reality which would stand and serve as the foundation for Jesus’ life and ministry, for everything He said and did was directly linked and connected to His identity as the Son of the Father. What’s more, is that Jesus was able to bear up under the tremendous suffering, persecutions, afflictions, trials and tribulations he experienced because He knew and understood who He was, where He was from, and where He was going. The apostle Paul could bear up under afflictions and persecutions because he knew in whom he believed, and was persuaded that He was able to keep and sustain him. If there is one thing we must take from what we find and read in this particular passage of Scripture it is the tremendous power of personal and private witness and testimony, and how we conduct ourselves—not only in secret before the One who sees all things in secret, but also in public before and in the eyes of men who are before and around us.