PERSEVERANCE WORKS EXPERIENCE
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Rom 5:1-4, KJV). " . . . and perseverance, proven character . . . " (NASB). " . . . perseverance, character . . . " (NIV). "And steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope" (ASV).
Devotion 6 of 24
Perseverance is also associated with fruit bearing--bringing forth spiritual products that satisfy and bless the Lord. "And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15). Here, "patience" means perseverance or endurance, as confirmed in other versions: "bear fruit with perseverance" (NASB), "by persevering produce a crop" (NIV), "bear fruit with patient endurance" (NRSV). Just as men must be enduring in their expectation of fruitfulness and harvest in nature, so they must be in the realm of the Spirit.
The Word of God will bear fruit if God's people will "hold it fast." The fruit is brought forth "with patience," or perseverance. Sadly, many a soul has failed to experience Divine fruitage because they dropped out of the race. Perhaps the fruit was just about to spring forth, but they collapsed, falling to the ground, failing to "wait upon the Lord." Such have "no root" in themselves, and so endure "only for a while" (Matt 13:21). Luke says they "believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away" (Lk 8:13). Such did not allow the Word to "sink down" into their ears (Lk 9:44). Theirs was a shallow religion, only on the surface, and not within the heart. In my judgment, much of the "Christianity" of our day actually promotes and maintains this type of hearer.
The religious landscape is cluttered with the souls of men and women who once believed, and even contended for the faith. But, alas, life proved too difficult for them. Soon, under the blazing heat of persecution's sun, their shallow faith withered, and they fell away. Sophists can offer us a thousand reasons why they dropped out of the race, but we will not listen to any of them. They only believed for a while, did not persevere, did not produce consistent fruit, and thus will lose the reward! We have the word of the King on that.
In Christ, giving up is never commendable, from any point of view. There are times when the godly are tempted to give up, yet they refuse to yield to the delusions of the devil. Hoisting the shield of faith, they are able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph 6:16).
The severity of such tests are indicated in the acknowledgment of the apostle Paul. "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were BURDENED BEYOND MEASURE, ABOVE STRENGTH, so that we DESPAIRED EVEN OF LIFE. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many" (2 Cor 1:8-11, NKJV). Although his burdens exceeded his strength, yet the Apostle persevered. And how was such a thing possible? Faith taps the soul into heavenly resources, enabling the believer to survive the most severe test, and bring forth fruit to God.
Fruitfulness is not a luxury in Christ Jesus. He has told us the Father removes unproductive branches from the true vine (John 15:2). I am aware this does not fit into some preconceived theologies. Furthermore, no attempts should be made to fit the words of our Lord into patterns of religious thought conceived by men. When a conflict exists between what Jesus says and what the creeds of men say, we simply discard the creeds, and happily so.
We have been freed from the law so that we might be married to another, even to Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. The intention of that marriage is declared to be this: "that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Rom 7:4). That fruit, however, is not instantly produced. We must persevere in the faith for it to come.
I encourage you to be persevering, and "stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (1 Cor 16:13). Fruit will come if you hold on your way! The Word will produce a bountiful harvest in your life if you will maintain your grasp upon it! This is the process to which Peter referred. "So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Pet 1:19). If you persevere, adding to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, you have this promise. "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:5-8).
PRAYER POINT: Father, through Jesus Christ, grant me grace to be productive in the faith, bringing fruit and joy to You.
-- Tomorrow: POSSESS YOUR SOULS! --