30 “Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:30–32, NKJV)
This confession by the apostles, that Jesus came from God, was the last confession of faith they made before His death. However, within hours, they would act counter to the faith they confessed. Fearful unbelief would grip them and cause them to scatter, leaving Jesus alone and arrested in Gethsemane. We do well to take a lesson from this, as we confess our faith in Jesus. Like them, our faith can falter. When it does, we must return to the Lord like they did. Otherwise, our soul will be lost in unbelief. When Peter’s faith faltered, and he denied knowing Jesus three times, he returned to Christ (which he did, see Luke 22:32; John 21:15-19). A failing faith is not a saving faith. Yes, the sheep scattered when the Shepherd was struck, but they returned to Him after His resurrection (Matthew 26:31-32; Mark 16:9-14). Their faith grew. “Once believe, always believe” is just as dangerous and false as “once saved, always saved.” Faith unto the saving of the soul does not abandon the Lord; It endures with Him to the end (Hebrews 10:36-39).
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14, NKJV)
Patient endurance in the face of trials is a virtue of faith. When faced with a situation that calls for waiting, some do so out of anger, ready to exact revenge on their oppressor (Romans 12:17-21). Some wait with distressed hearts, anxious over an outcome that is beyond their ability to see (Matthew 6:34). Others wait with boredom and complacency, disinterested in the events to come. But, the one whose heart is set on the Lord is not deterred from trusting Him. David exemplified the patient endurance of faith: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). When enemies surrounded him, he would not be afraid (Psalm 27:3). Patient endurance requires courage to trust the Lord’s deliverance, and to keep on fighting. David’s ability to patiently endure trials was anchored in his desire to seek the Lord and dwell in His presence (Psalm 27:4-5). Whatever trial you face, continue living faithfully to the Lord. Be strengthened, and be bold. He will strengthen your heart, and you will see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 27:13).
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:10–11, NKJV)
Perseverance. Steadfast endurance, patient continuance. Perseverance defines a growing, fruitful faith, come what may. When opposed, the patient perseveres, waiting for the divine blessing they know will come (James 5:7). By patience, the heart is established (James 5:8). Knowing the Lord is just and that He will execute justice against evil is our incentive to persevere through the sufferings imposed by the unjust. The prophets and Job are examples of such perseverance. God’s prophets were threatened, harassed, rejected and killed, yet still they rose up early and spoke God’s word to a rebellious people (Jeremiah 26:1-6). Job’s suffering was intense, but he endured, and God’s merciful compassion was abundantly supplied. The Lord will return, bringing blessings to those who trust Him and patiently wait for Him. Even when the way is hard, add perseverance to your faith, and it will bear fruit unto eternal life (2 Peter 1:5-8).
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, NKJV)
One little tidbit of internet inspiration I came across said, “God will cancel every trouble in your life.” That sounds comforting, but it is very unscriptural. God did not cancel every trouble in the life of Jesus, Job, Joseph, David, and many, many others. Today’s passage shows that God did not remove Paul’s fleshly ailment, but, He gave Paul the grace and strength to endure its pain and trouble. Rely on God’s strength to help you weather the trials and trouble of life. Trust and obey the Lord in times of trouble, and by His strength, you will prevail.
And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. (Hebrews 13:22, NKJV)
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews had admonished them of their need for endurance (Heb. 6:11-12; 10:36; 12:1-2, 7). Now, as he concludes his epistle, he urges them to bear with his word of exhortation. This reminds us of our need to accept the word of God without complaining and disputing, but to have ready hearts to hear and do His will. It is for our good that we bear with the exhortations in God’s word. Our faith is not only produced, but strengthened by bearing with the word of God. By using God’s word, we exercise our spiritual senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:14). Instead of growing tired and impatient with God’s the word of exhortation, let us yearn for it, feast upon it, and live by it.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness… (2 Peter 1:5–6, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit calls on us to add perseverance to our self-control. Self-control that is only sporadically used is like a misfiring spark plug in an engine. The engine of our faith will sputter, lose power, waste energy and become more and more ineffective. It may be time to give your faith a tune up by equipping your self-control with constancy, endurance and steadfastness. A thriving faith is vigilant to endure trials, constantly using self-control to avoid sin and to obey the Lord. The testing of our faith by various trials produces patience. Faith grows stronger when we endure, letting “patience have its perfect work” (Jas. 1:2-4). Living by faith is not easy. It demands constant self-control to persevere in the face of many challenges. You can successfully add perseverance to your self-control by “looking unto Jesus”. He endured the cross and its shame, and is now exalted (Heb. 12:1-2). Follow in His steps and persevere to the end.
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:10–12, NKJV)
Christians can falter in their faith (Heb. 6:4-8). These Hebrew Christians were becoming sluggish and lazy, apathetic toward their hope and their place of service in the kingdom of God. They needed to remember that God is just and that He would not forget their devoted labor and love “toward His name”. Continue to be diligent in your faith, for there is no “full assurance of hope” in neglecting the Lord’s will. Faith thrives when it endures to the end. That is the kind of faith that inherits the promises of God.