"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 21 of 24

Knowing the nature of living by faith, men of God urge believers to persevere, continuing in the faith. Their admonitions were marked by great solemnity and urgency. "Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord" (Acts 11:23, NASB). "Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43, NASB). Believers were urged to continue in the grace of God because unless they did, God's grace would not be effective!

The exhortation to perseverance was stated in a number of ways. From the perspective of gaining confidence we read, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called" (1 Tim 6:12). In considering our adversary the devil, we are admonished, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Pet 5:8-9). Considering the opposition we face from all quarters, we are told, "stand fast in the Lord, beloved" (Phil 4:1). Who can forget these strong words: "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" . . . "Put on the whole armor of God" . . . "put on the new man" . . . "run with patience" . . . "be not weary in well doing" ( 1 Cor 16:13; Eph 6:11; Col 3:10; Heb 12:1-2; 2 Thess 3:13).

Continuance in the faith, or perseverance, is required because of the nature of spiritual life. Remember, it is only as we "suffer with Christ" that we will "reign" with Him (Rom 8:17). With that perspective in mind, weigh this verse carefully. " . . . strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22, NASB). The way to heaven leads through the territory of tribulation. Here is where the chaff is eliminated and faith is tried. Here is where our love for God is put to the test, and our preference for the things of the Spirit of God is weighed. No one will enter the "Kingdom of God" without passing through "tribulations," testing, and struggle.

PRAYER POINT: Father, thank You for the strong incentives of the Gospel and the Apostolic doctrine. Thank You in Jesus' name for continually reminding us of the nature of living by faith.