Just the other day, I was listening to a radio program reporting international indications of renewed persecution of Jews – a fate the commentators propose would subsequently fall to Christians. I found myself attempting to wrap my understanding around the reality that the need for this series is NOW.
When faced with the unspeakable horrors of persecution, how will we endure to the end? As Jesus explains in Matthew 24:13, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). In the book of Revelation, in the letters Jesus dictates to John for the seven churches, His promises are to those who overcome, to those who keep His works to the end (Revelation 2-3).
Our walk with Jesus doesn’t take us down easy street. The evidence of our faith in Him is in keeping His works – continuing in His will and His ways, even when it’s hard, and remaining faithful to Him no matter what until our time is up or He returns.
If we already know we are not of this world (see The Hate that Rules the Heart that Hates) and that our citizenship is heaven (Philippians 3:20)…
We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
In order to endure, our hearts must be entwined with eternity! Knowing the end gives us the strength to do what it takes to get there. Tweet this!
Eyes fixed on eternity, persecution, suffering, and man’s threats lose the power to derail or destroy our faith, the end of which is the salvation of our souls. Tweet this!
So we praise! We rejoice! The words of 1 Peter 1:3-9 become our words, the attitude of our hearts, and the lens through which we process what happens around and to us. We visited a portion of this passage in The Purpose of Persecution, but it bears repeating here in its entirety:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.
The truth of these words deepens my resolve to fix my faith on Jesus Christ and eternity no matter how distracting or desperate my circumstances might be! These eleven words from verse five deliver an extra dose of comfort and hope for the times when my determination ends with disappointment in myself:
“you, who are kept by the power of God through faith.”
Once God saves us by grace through faith in Jesus, He begins a work in us that He is faithful to complete until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) and keeps us by His power through faith. Tweet this
For many of us, grace is a familiar term used to refer to God’s undeserved favor. And it is, for sure! But there’s so much more to grace!
When I was writing my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, I researched its Greek translation, charis, and one particular meaning from the original language transformed my understanding and relationship with God:
Of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
God exerts His holy influence upon our souls to save us, and then He continues to exert His holy influence on our souls to achieve the results He desires in and through us! Tweet this!
When my hope crumbles because of my inability to do anything right, I can know that His grace is at work in me “to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). It is God who “will sanctify me completely, and my whole spirit, soul, and body will be preserved blameless at the coming of Christ because He who called me is faithful and will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
God is doing and will do the work necessary in and through us to endure to the end. We must have faith. We must obey. We must endure. But even in doing our part, and in the times we fail, we have these assurances:
- “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a).
- “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
- Nothing and no one can separate us from Christ:
And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
That’s the big picture. Believing God’s promises entwines our hearts with eternity. HE is how we can do what we have to do to endure to the end (Tweet this!), which leads us to our next two blogs: How to Persevere through Persecution and What to Do When You’re Persecuted.
Want to read previous posts in this series? See Unshakable Hope in the Face of Persecution.
Make sure you don’t miss new blogs by having them sent straight to your inbox. Just click the SUBSCRIBE graphic below, and you’ll also receive a free electronic download of Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, the perfect companion to this series. In six weeks of scripture-packed study, you’ll learn to experience the fullness of God’s promises through obedience to His word and find hope that is an anchor for our souls, sure and steadfast, no matter what. The result? Lives that are powerful platforms for preaching the gospel – the only true and eternal answer to our personal and national crises. Every Christian needs to read this book! Be sure to get yours, and then spread the word!
Also, at the end of this series, I will produce a eBook with all seventeen blogs, and you will receive your copy free as soon as it’s released! The desire of my heart is to see the body of Christ experience the unsearchable riches of Christ by becoming wholly His through understanding and obeying God’s word. If this resource helps just one person, it has been worth every bit of time and effort. Once you receive it, then pass it along to others!
Lord, thank You for the work You start and finish in us and for keeping us by Your power. We cannot endure to the end without You! Help us to keep our eyes fixed on eternity. May the lens through which we view our lives and circumstances be defined by the truth of Your word as we become more wholly Yours today.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION:
- The Greek translation of grace is the word charis, which refers to “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5485&t=NKJV). With this definition in mind, consider the assurance of 2 Corinthians 12:9a, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” What does it mean to you that God’s holy influence is sufficient to accomplish what He wants in spite of your weakness? How can this truth help you in the face of disappointment, suffering, and even persecution?
- Philippians 3:20-21 explains, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” How can entwining our hearts with eternity help us endure the things that happen to us here on earth?
- Romans 8:35, 38-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The love of Christ is eternal. If our security is tied to temporal circumstances here on earth, what is likely to happen when those things are threatened? What is the only source of unshakable hope?
 “Greek Lexicon :: G5485 (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 11 Oct, 2014. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5485&t=NKJV>.