God calls us to persevere.
He who stands firm to the end will be saved.
The Bible is full of stories of men and women who persevere.
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
In order to survive our life, in order to survive our faith, in order to survive all the temptations and trials of this world we've got to learn to persevere, go through tough times and learn to handle it with God on our side. We are at different situations in our life today. Maybe we are struggling in family relationships - with our spouse or with our children or with our in-laws or we are in a family situation which is very challenging and we are feeling "How long?". Maybe we're thinking about our job - we have a very challenging job where our Boss doesn't understand us. May be we have a challenge with our finances, we have a lot of debts and we don't know how we're going to come out of this.
And we may think that it is doubtful whether, living, we would ever be able to clear our debts. Or may be we feel like a failure - whatever we try fails. That's how we're feeling now - " I tried doing good it didn't last long, I tried to be close to somebody that also I get hurt, I tried to stay faithful to God that also didn't seem to help, I tried my best with my spouse ( I've been loving, I'm forgiving, I'm patient, I'm trying to endure through all the challenges ) but it doesn't work. The Bible encourages us to persevere.
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
We need to rejoice in our suffering ! Whatever sufferings we are going through, that we are enduring now - we've got to rejoice in our sufferings. Why? Suffering produces perseverance. That's how we grow in perseverance. Every single suffering we endure or go through, it teaches us to persevere, we become more strong in our perseverance. And what does perseverance produce? Character. That's how when we persevere, when we endure through hard times what does it show about us? It proves our character. And character produces Hope. That's the only way we can last and survive in this world otherwise we won't be able to survive. And when we go through suffering and we persevere, it proves our character and we have hope. And when we have hope we can give hope to others. That is why we need to persevere.
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
We ought to consider it pure joy when we go through many kinds of trial. Because all this tests our faith. And testing of our faith develops perseverance - the ability to endure, to stay in there, to hold on and not give up. Perseverance must finish it's work that whenever we go through trials and persecutions and suffering we must go on persevering, it must be completed. It says, " so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything".
God is calling us to persevere. All of us, at different times we are tempted to give up. Every one of us at some time has thought of giving up. If we find studies difficult, we want to give up studies, when we find our job difficult - we want to give up. When we find a relationship difficult, we want to give it up. When we find our relationship with our children hard - we want to give up sometimes. When we find staying faithful difficult, we want to give up being faithful.
The Bible says we need to persevere. Whatever we start we must learn to finish. The Bible promises that whatever suffering we are going through, God will not give us more than what we can handle. So if we are going through difficult times, God believes we can handle it. We may think, " God this is so hard, get me out of here" and God says, " Persevere". Let us never give up our faith in God.
Sometimes we don't know whether we are persevering or not persevering. We don't know where we are at. Hebrews 10 was written to the Hebrew Christians. Those Christians were going through some really hard times - their faith in Jesus was really tested. It had to be explained to them that Jesus IS Lord. The writer had to explain why Jesus is who he is. The Hebrew Christians were slowly giving up their faith.
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.
33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.
34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
37 For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Here the writer is telling the brothers and sisters that they have got to persevere and not shrink back, to be the ones who believe and are saved. He's reminding them of the earlier days. When they had just received the light, when they had just been baptized. He reminds them about how they had stood firm through all the persecutions they had received. He reminds them that they had "stood their ground".
He reminds them that they were publicly exposed and insulted. They had stood side by side with those who had been insulted. They had sympathized with those in prison, joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property because they had believed they had more lasting property with God. The writer urges them to remember the confidence and faith they had in the beginning and pleads with them not to throw that away. That is what he's telling the Christians to do.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Here the writer is reminding them that they have the chance to go to the most holy place regularly any time they want, which the Jews could not do - their priests can go only one time a year. But now because of Jesus they can go to the Most Holy place anytime to get their guilty conscience cleared. He reminds them that what they have now is so much more greater than what they had in the past. He's reminding the Jewish Christians who had been faithful all these years to do certain things.
In verses 22-25 the verses start with "let us". When we are strong in the faith we keep doing all these things. When we stop persevering, when we stop holding on, when we are not fully in the faith, we can look at ourselves and ask "where am I in the eyes of God". What happens when we stop persevering?
Signs Of People Who Stop Persevering
1. Not drawing near to God.
That's what happens isn't it when we are discouraged, when we're down, when we feel like life is over, when we're in sin, when we're guilty, when we feel "what's the point"? What's the first thing that happens? We stop drawing near to God. What is the writer saying - "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance full of faith " When we're losing faith and we're lacking perseverance we're not fully assured, our faith is not full, we have a lot of doubts and we stop drawing near to God.
2. Not holding to the hope we profess unswervingly.
"you must hod unswervingly to the hope you profess because he who has promised is faithful ". We keep swaying in our faith. What is the hope we profess? That all of us will make it to heaven one day. When we start wavering in that belief - is that going to happen or not going to happen. Is heaven really there - no one has seen it. Am I wise or foolish to hold on to some concept called heaven? We struggle to hold on to that incredible promise we have.
3. Not giving in our Christian duty.
"Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds ". When we get discouraged and don't believe that whatever we're holding on to is right and true, we stop giving in our Christian duty, we hold back in our Christian responsibilities. What are our Christian responsibilities? Towards our brothers and sisters, toward the people of the world, giving, encouraging, teaching, helping, correcting.
All the Christian responsibilities loving, sharing all that we hold back because we don't believe we are going to make a difference. We feel no one is going to change because we are doing something - "I can't change myself so how in the world can I change somebody else?" We get so disillusioned we don't want to persevere in the right things as God calls us to.
4. Getting into the habit of missing meetings.
We should not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but let us encourage one another and all the more as we see the Day approaching . The fourth sign is that we get into the habit of missing meetings. Once in a while we miss meetings for some reason. But when we get into the habit of missing meetings it means we don't believe in it anymore. It is a sign that we've stopped persevering in something good that the Bible calls us to do. That's the fourth sign that we stop persevering in being together because we want to be alone.
Isn't that what we want to do when we are discouraged or troubled in our hearts do we want to be with people? We are like "leave alone, don't disturb me". What does the Bible say? Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. It also tells us to encourage one another. That's a powerful thing. Why do we meet together? To encourage each other,, to spend time with each other, to pray for each other, to instruct each other, to confess to each other, to reach out to one another. That is why we meet together - to encourage one another. If we don't do this we will stop persevering.
5. Not wanting to repent, completely giving up
The fifth sign is in v26 - "if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left but only a fearful expectation of judgement and a raging fire that will consume the enemies of God ". We know, this is a sign of complete rejection meaning we completely give up. What do we do?
Deliberately keep on sinning - that means we don't care about your faith anymore, we don't care about God anymore or our Christian life. We feel it's of no use. Deliberately keep on sinning. Basically we decide not to repent of our sin, we know we are keeping on doing something wrong and we just don't decide to give up that sin because in our heart we're not ready to. Not wanting to repent is a sign of not wanting to persevere.
First we stop drawing near to God, then we lose our unswerving hope - our strong faith in Christ and in his teachings and his expectations - and stop holding on to it. The third thing we stop being totally devoted to is our Christian duty. Then we lose our joy of being together, meeting together and we don't think it's important anymore. Finally, the last stage - we deliberately keep on sinning, unrepentant sin. We know the amazing thing is that though we struggle to persevere, God is a God who never gives up. He always perseveres with us.
2 Timothy 2:10-13
10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
"If we endure we will also reign with him" - when we reach heaven one day. If we are faithless, God will always remain faithful. God will never stop persevering with each one of us. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing or whatever we're doing that we are not supposed to be doing, whatever situation we're in, Jesus is always faithful to us - He'll never give up on us. We need to persevere. Call of the Bible, call for our life is for us to persevere.