It seems that many newly professing believers expect that walking with Christ will resolve all their challenges and lead to ‘smooth sailing’ in life. I’m here today to say that nothing could be further from the truth.
Throughout The Bible, the righteous regularly suffer and are persecuted. Joseph, Moses, Hannah, David, Elijah, Job, Daniel, Jeremiah, Mary, Paul, John the Baptist and many others faced severe trials including: Prison, the threat of starvation, barrenness, slavery, attempted murder and death. The gospels clearly show that Jesus was not immune to trials either, as He suffered ridicule, false accusations, brutal torture and eventually death. For true believers, the question is not “will I have trials?” rather it is “when will my trials arrive? And when my trials arrive, how will I handle them?”
A verse that I deeply love is found in Revelation 21:7. Here the Apostle John writes
God’s true children overcome to attain victory. Period. Of course Christians may momentarily fail or cave under pressure the first time a new challenge arises, but eventually they overcome and are rewarded accordingly. Spiritual adversity is overcome through tenaciously, persevering, and holding fast.
Please note that the passage above in Revelation is speaking of heavenly rewards, but perseverance is a required condition of true salvation. What I mean by that is yes, of course eternal life is a free gift, but all who receive this free gift must prove that they belong to Christ through faithfulness in trials. This truth is found in the conditional promises of the following verses — and you know the promise is conditional when you see the tiny word “if”.
If tenaciously holding fast is a requirement of salvation and rewards, then what must believers hold fast to?
Here is a brief list of what God’s children must tenaciously hold fast to or stand fast within:
- The Lord Himself — “My beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.” Philippians 4:1
- The Lord’s Word — “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
- Faith — “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
- Confession — “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
- Instruction — “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:13
- The Lord’s work — “My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
- Liberty — “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
- Genuine integrity and righteousness — “Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.” Job 27:5-6
I’ll leave you with an amazing account of Paul’s tenacity which is found in Acts 14. Paul is preaching in the Lycaonian region when zealous Jews stir up the crowd into a violent froth. The people stone Paul and drag him out of the city...BUT he is not dead, so he stands up AND THEN GOES BACK INTO THE CITY. Now THAT is spiritual tenacity! This passage concludes with the following words
Do you share Paul's tenacity? Do you exemplify the type of tenacity that is willing to deny self and lose life for Jesus' sake (see Luke 9:21-27)? Trials are an inevitable part of the true believer’s life, but these difficulties allow God’s children to prove their relationship to Him and to gain lasting rewards.
Additional verses: John 16:33, 1 John 5:4 and Revelation 3:11