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 24 of 24
Godly character is developed in the crucible of trial and affliction. This is by Divine design and appointment. Those imagining that there is such a thing as effortless participation in the heavenly kingdom have been deceived. God is not honored by flagging efforts, and men are jeopardized by them. This is the reason for the strong exhortation. "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (Ephesians 6:13, NASB).
The Seriousness of the Issue
The vicarious death of Christ is sufficient to save the entire world. Individual faith obtains that reconciliation, thereby frustrating the devil and procuring the forgiveness of all trespasses. However, we must not allow our theology to lull us into complacency. The Spirit informs us that our perseverance plays a vital role in maintaining that reconciled status. ". . . He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard . . . " (Colossians 1:22-23, NASB). Arresting words, indeed!
Is it possible that perseverance is required to remain in Christ's house? For some, this is too strong. For the Holy Spirit, however, it is not so. "But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end" (Hebrews 3:6, NASB).
The Spirit does not end there. He reaffirms the truth, speaking with unmistakable sobriety. "For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end" (Hebrews 3:14, NASB).
Endurance Will Bring the Promises
I want to emphasize that endurance is a necessity. This is not so because it has been commanded. It is the nature of kingdom life that requires endurance, not Sinaitic law. "For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised" (Hebrews 10:36, NASB). If you want to obtain what the Lord promises, you will be required to wait for it! The time of waiting is a testing period. The testing is not simply to see if you are qualified to obtain the blessing. It is a period in which spiritual character is developed. By this means, you are oriented for the world to come.
Blessed Is the Man
The person who continues to progress toward heaven, even under trial, is a blessed person. The crown of life awaits those who keep the faith under the stress of opposition. "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12, NASB). Note that "approval" is gained during trial. Noah's character was made known while he built the ark and waited for the Lord. Abraham was revealed in his trek to a mountain in Moriah, where he fully intended to sacrifice Isaac. Both men were tried, and both men passed the test.
You May Have To Suffer
It is my desire that your life will be as free from difficulties as is possible. I know by experience how distracting trials can be. Yet, I also know how weak and vacillating people become without them. It may be that you will be called to pass through very difficult circumstances. If this is the case, it is essential that you catch the Divine perspective of the situation.
"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, IF NECESSARY, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7, NASB).
If this is your lot, do not fear! Set your face steadfastly toward heaven, and determine to live by faith. Jesus had a word for the church at Smyrna that may very well apply to you personally. It is a sober word, but carries an element of Divine comfort that is strengthening. "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10, NASB).
Learn from this that all testing is limited. It is under the authority of your Lord, and will not extend beyond your strength! You will not be tempted or tested beyond your ability (1 Cor 10:13). Let your faith lay hold of this, and never let it go! God Himself manages your trials, with your ultimate good in mind.
In the end, your character will glorify God because it has stood the test of the storm and the desert. Faith can take you through both water and fire. It can enable you to stand in the midst of threats, forebodings, and extreme hardship. Your faith will be assaulted by the evil one, and tried by the Holy One--but it will stand the test if you will keep it! Keep believing, child of God! Keep believing!
PRAYER POINT: Father, I rejoice through the Lord Jesus Christ that You are in charge of my trials, and not the devil. I thank You use my faith to bring me safely through them.
-- Tomorrow: EAT IT ANYWAY! --
-- Monday, New Series: WE HAVE AN ALTAR --