God’s people must persevere.
There is a doctrine called the “perseverance of the saints”, which is part of the five points of Calvinism. I do not hold to this doctrine; however, I believe in the perseverance of the saints in the sense that God’s people must be of a persevering spirit to continue in the faith and make it into the kingdom. The Christian faith is seen as a great race where we are egged on to continue therein and finish:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Our faith will be severely tested along the way. We should be very determined to make it, and loving towards others to make it. Perseverance is a powerful attribute that the Christian must possess to make it. Many times, the Christian will have to decide to go on, and some will lose heart. Of course, God is a great encourager, but while God urges us to overcome, he does not guarantee that we will—there is a difference.
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
We should be helping each other to climb up the mountain, run the race, strengthen the weak, hold up the arms of the weary, supporting one another. On the contrary, we sometimes see Christians discourage one another, put one another down, let each other down, desert one another, betray one another or plunge a knife deep into their brother’s back. We are supposed to be brothers in arms in the Christian faith, displaying true love for one another, not a bunch of treacherous snakes and vipers.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
If you saw another Christian hanging off the edge of a cliff, would you and your brothers rush to the scene with ropes and aids to help Him in any way that you could, or would you push him off with your foot to His death? We are supposed to war the devil together not war each other. Too many snakes and vipers around: people who are out for themselves while pretending to be of God. God has spotted you and will take action against you. Too many pretenders in the church. We are supposed to have love unfeigned which means that it is genuine love without any pretence. I believe God has had enough of the treachery within His church. It was a problem that brought God’s judgment in Jeremiah’s day also:
“Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.
Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.
And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?”
Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.
Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”
The perseverance of the saints is a beautiful thing, but take note that it is something that the Christian wills to do, and with God’s power he will be able to do. It is not something that comes automatically, and that any true Christian that starts will be guaranteed to finish (that’s Calvinism). No, that will depend on the will and determination of the Christian. Some will say, “so you can run the race by your willpower?” No, of course not; it’s by God’s power. We will overcome by God’s power and He will help us to run that race until the end.
If this is the case then there is much at stake, and we should be determined to make it and help others make it.
The persevering Christian is showing that they mean business with God and that they are committed to Christ. A Christian could also throw in the towel. This is why we need fellowship (Hebrews 10:25), encouragement, build each other up, and urge each other to never quit. Encouragement is so important.
There are many stay-at-home Christians in this day that we live. Fellowship with other believers is a major source of encouragement in the Christian life. If you have erased church fellowship from your Christian experience then you are asking for trouble. Hebrews 10:25 is a commandment, not a suggestion:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Paul congratulates the Thessalonian Christians for their perseverance:
“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.”
(2 Thessalonians 1:4)
True Christians can become discouraged and weary:
“Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Christians can become faint and weary and tempted to throw in the towel. It’s a real battle: we need all the encouragement we can get.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
O when the saints go marching in,
O when the saints go marching in,
O Lord, I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in.