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"A Christian should not follow the crowd, but rather show them the way."

 
"You yourselves are our letters of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:2-3,
RSV)

 

Lesson #12 - Steadfastness

by Douglas Jones

Our Responsibility to Christ

Christ says: "no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9: 62). In view of all that Christ has done for us, we are deeply obligated to "put our hand to the plow" and steadfastly follow him.

Paul's words of reminder therefore are always timely: "wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him... he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5: 19, 15). The apostle further writes "as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built-up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with Thanksgiving"

Steadfastness in Faith

Each one of us must steadfastly maintain and nurture his faith in the Lord. Paul's admonition to Timothy is thus still just as appropriate today: "holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck" (1 Timothy 1: 19).

Again we are exhorted: "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 today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3: 12, 13). Therefore, "let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)" (Hebrews 10: 23).

Steadfastness in Worship

From the very beginning of Christianity, the disciples on the first in the week regularly "came together to break" (Acts 20:7). In their weekly assemblies "they contended steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and breaking a bread, and prayers" (Acts 2: 42).

This communal worship is vital to our spiritual growth and well-being. Hence we are urged: "and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another..." (Hebrews 10: 24, 25).

Nothing is more important to Christian growth than faithfully studying the Word of God. Hence Peter instructs: "wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2: 1,2). Remember, too, Jesus words: "if ye continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8: 31, 32).

On the other hand, neglecting the word leads to ruinous consequences. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the Word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" (Hebrews 2: 1-3).

Steadfastness in Prayer

The need for prayer to remain steadfast in ones calling is well illustrated in Jesus own life. The record indicates that he prayed frequently. On one occasion he "went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6: 12). Paul makes it clear that steadfastness in prayer is essential to successfully meeting the tests of life when he says: "wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand... praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all sites" (Ephesians 6: 13, 18).

It is equally important that one be thankful for all of the countless blessings God bestow. And that thankfulness, Paul further tells us, ought to be steadfastly expressed. He urges: "prayer without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. 5: 17, 18). And here let us not overlook the reassuring words of James: "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5: 16).

Steadfastness in Doing Good

Scripture informs us that Jesus "went about doing good" (Acts 10: 38). If we are truly his disciples we will steadfastly follow his example. Inasmuch as we can accomplish nothing without the Lord's help, Paul's prayer for the Colossians also addresses our need today. He petitions: "that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1: 10).

Since good works are essential to pleasing the Lord, Paul also exhorts: "therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Again he writes: "and let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6: 9).

Steadfastness in Resisting Temptation

Since the Christian is confronted with countless temptations, he must be constantly on guard. Peter warns: "be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring Lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5: 8). In another place we read: "resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4: 7,8).

Drawing near to God is crucial. For we must have his help to withstand temptation. And this, Paul promises, God will give to the humble. "Wherefore," he says, "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10: 12, 13). Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12).

Steadfastness Leads to Hope

Success in the Christian life demands a steadfast hope in Christ. We must not allow ourselves to be "moved away from the hope of the gospel" (Colossians 1: 23). And we desire," says the writer of Hebrews, "that everyone of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6: 11, 12).

Reward for Steadfastness

The rewards for steadfastness are incalculable. Jesus, for instance, promises that "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24: 13). We are further assured that God "will render to everyman according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and immortality, eternal life" (Romans 2: 6,7).

Summary Truths

Scripture constantly emphasizes the necessity for steadfastness in all areas of the Christian life. "Ye therefore, beloved; seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3: 17, 18).

There are two short quizzes for this lesson. Review all the material and go to the quizzes! You may wish to print this lesson to assist you with the quizzes.

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