For Christians to be successful in this life of faith, we must learn to endure the hardships and difficulties that come our way.
In this series of articles, we began with the idea of basic principles. Christians need to learn the basics of New Testament Christianity and then learn to apply them to their life (Heb. 6:1-3). I am often shocked, maybe frightened is more accurate, how many Christians have never learned this. We must learn that we are now different, new Christians, new people. We must learn that we are running a race with the intent of winning, not just surviving. We must learn that along this race many will give up but that doesn’t have to hinder us. We must learn that our goal is to live holy, consecrated lives for Jesus. We must be constantly reminded of our choice to follow Jesus and let that choice motivate us to keep moving when we don’t feel like it. We must learn just how big and how deep God’s love for us is. We must learn how strong and determined our enemy really is and that he will do whatever it takes to defeat us. But just as importantly, we must always remember that God has given us his armor to defend us and his sword to fight back. Being a Christian is not passive, it is not just surviving but fighting back, it is being determined to win with all of God’s power behind us.
Today, we are going to conclude this series of articles by talking about learning to endure.
Winning the crown of life (James 1:12) is not achieved by our own mighty acts or devoted efforts. Living the Christian life successfully is a many-sided business. It is not a matter of doing this or that; it is a matter of doing all that the Lord asks of us. It is a matter of doing all that the Law of Christ requires of us (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21).
Entering God’s kingdom is not accomplished by doing a part of his will. Instead, it is about doing everything within our ability to do. We must strive to do our very best and trust in His grace to cover the rest. Christ made it abundantly clear that only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 24:13; Mark 13:13). He warns his disciples that they will be bitterly opposed, persecuted to the point of death, but they must endure (Matt. 5:10; 2 Tim. 3:12).
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
In Matthew 10:16-25, Jesus tells us that we are being sent out as sheep (harmless and innocent) among wolves. Beware of them because they will seek to persecute you and to hurt you. He continues by telling us that they will persecute us to death, stating that even family members will get involved in this. But notice especially vs. 22,
“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (ESV)
Here Jesus tells us that we must endure to the end if we hope to be saved. Christianity is hard and our enemies are strong but we must endure to the end. Be on guard and be faithful. There is a holy, blood sprinkled way of life, that shines brighter than anything they could do to us.
Instead of being afraid of them, we must fear our great and awesome God (Luke 12:5), he can save and he can destroy.