We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. - Hebrews 3:14
Imagine watching a last-place college football team play the defending national champions. Imagine the underdogs are leading by three points as the third quarter winds down in front of their rabid fans. Imagine the crowd counting down the seconds, then erupting in cheers as the third quarter ends… they stream on the field, tear down the goalposts! The team lifts the coach up on their shoulders and carries him off the field! Imagine the shock on the faces of the opposing team, the referees, and the TV announcers. They will feel they’ve wandered into a madhouse… there still one quarter to play—the game isn’t finished yet!!
Or imagine walking into your grandmother’s house, and seeing up on the wall a framed embroidered needlepoint work of art. It has some wonderful scenes, and some great Bible verses. The only problem is, the whole bottom half is untouched and blank. She smiles and says, “Isn’t it wonderful? I had it framed last week!!” You stare at her in amazement, and say, “But grandma… it isn’t finished yet!!”
Or again, suppose you go to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving, and you help prepare the meal in the kitchen. As she makes her award-winning pumpkin pie recipe, you notice something strange... she has left out three of the steps and two of the ingredients, including the nutmeg and the sugar! Imagine looking at her in wonder as she serves the pie after the meal, and you alone know what it’s going to taste like! The basic problem… the pie isn’t finished yet!!
Just as strange is the concept of people living some of their lives for Christ, then “retiring” from the Christian walk. Even more deadly are those who “fall away” from the profession of Christ they made earlier, and no longer follow Christ at all. The first is spiritual laziness, the second is spiritual destruction. Of course, as we get older, we can do less physically. But we are given no permission to cease striving to be holy, to cease interceding for the advancement of the Kingdom, to cease reading Scripture and meditating on it, to cease loving God with all our hearts, to cease loving our neighbors as ourselves. And of course, we face a constant barrage of temptation in this world, but that is no excuse for renouncing our love for Christ and falling back into the world.
"The Bible teaches clearly that perseverance in Christ is both a gift from God to every true believer and also a daily responsibility each of us has."
God has made it clear that those who are truly born-again by the power of the Spirit will most certainly persevere to the end. The Hebrews verse cited above states this plainly: “We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly to the end the confidence we had at first.” The genuine nature of our past salvation is proved by our ongoing daily holding firmly to our faith, and that must occur right to the end.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of the Christian life is persevering “through many dangers, toils and snares” until the end, holding fast our Christian witness no matter what comes our way. The Bible teaches clearly that perseverance in Christ is both a gift from God to every true believer and also a daily responsibility each of us has. It is God’s work in us, and our work as well. This is clearly taught in Philippians 2:12-13:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Notice that Paul commands the Philippians to “work out” their salvation with fear and trembling. This shows human effort… daily obedience to Christ. BUT the ground of our ongoing daily work is God’s work in us!! This co-labor on our souls is the essence of true Christian perseverance. So, let us stand firm to the end… daily obeying Christ and bearing good fruit for Him!
**Editor's Note: If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy Andy's sermon on Hebrews 10:35-39 titled The Eternal Reward of Persevering in Confidence.