The Guide to Faithfulness
Many times we emphasize the importance of becoming a Christian and this is certainly important but when examine the NT scriptures what you will find is that Bible is primarily directed at the Christian and how they can remain faithful to God. So, from this we learn that the Word of God is our guide to faithfulness after all Peter tells us in,
2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,† 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, †
Everything that we need to know about how to live our life for God is found within the NT scriptures. It teaches us how to deal others and how we must overcome sin. If we every hope to be found right with God in the end then we must go to God Words to discover what it involved in being faithful to him because without out none of us will ever see the glorious place described as heaven. We must understand that,
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
When Jesus was talking to the Samarian women at the well he told her,
John 4:22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.† 23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.† 24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
This means that our worship to God must be from our heart and it must done in accordance to Godís Word. Both of these conditions are necessary to be pleasing to God and the writer Hebrews tells us in,†
Hebrews 11:6 †But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
The Paul tells our where our source of faith comes from in,
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Then finally James teaches us that just hearing Godís Word is not enough but that we must be actively involved in being a doer of his Word.
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.† 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.† 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;† 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.† 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
As you can see it very important that we donít just read Godís Word but that must live it and breath it to have the kind of faithfulness that God wants us to have. There are certainly great consequences for not loving God enough to obey his commands as expressed in,
2 Thessalonians 1:7 Ö †when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,† 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.† 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
Now that we have looked at the importance of using only Godís Word as our guide for faithfulness lets take a look at how it describes the struggles of living faithfully unto God.
First notice how Paul describes living the faithful life as a race in,
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.† 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.† 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.† 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Also the writer of Hebrews adds this,
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,† 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
I think everyone in here can understand this simple illustration because I think we all know to some degree how much a person has to train as runner if they are going be able to beat their competition. They must train every day that the can to condition their bodies to be able to run as fast it possible can and make it possible for them to be able to endure the race. I have great example of this but it means I am going to have to tell off on myself but I willing to do that. About 3 or 4 months ago after Wednesday night class we arrived at home and I had to get out to pull the trash can back away from the road. Well, I was feeling really energetic that day and just for the fun of it I decided to run as fast as I could to my front porch which is about 1/10th of a mile and my family got pretty good laugh out of me acting so crazy.
Well, you have to understand that I am not someone that exercises I have always just jumped up and gotten involved in an activity. Well, it had been a long time since I had ran anywhere except for maybe the dinner table and so for the next 2 day my legs were sore because my body was conditioned to run so hard.
This same thing is what happens if we donít exercise ourselves spiritually. We will be unprepared to meet the challenges before us. This is why its important that train every chance we get but study Godís Word and living our life by it. As Paul said we must run our race of Christianity in such away that we can be confident that we will receive that crown of life that Jesus has promised to us. We must always keep Jesus our goal and keep pressing forward.
Another the Bible describes the life of a faithful Christian is a fight.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. ††††
There are many battles with sin that we will have to have fight but with God and His word on our side we can be prepared to fight those battles. I love how Paul describes this in,
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.† 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.† 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.† 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.† 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,† 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;† 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.† 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;† 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --† 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,† 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
This why the Bible describes us as soldiers of Christ. When we arm ourselves with the Word of God and we allow God direct our footsteps there isnít any sin out there that we cannot overcome. However you neglect the word of God you are going be weak in your faith. You will be like a unarmed solider trying to take on a heavily armed army and you will lose. Paul sums of both of these concepts at his life in,
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.† 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. †
Another important descriptions of faithful living has to do with bearing fruit, Notice as Jesus explains in,
John 15:1"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.† 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.† 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.† 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.† 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.† 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.† 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.† 8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
First of all I want to point out that Jesus has Christian in mind here because only those that in Christ can be apart of that one vine and so if you are not Christian you will never be produce fruit that is pleasing to God because you are not apart of that one life giving vine. Now Jesus teaches us hear that even when we get saved and become apart of him that it is not a permanent attachment because if you are not bearing fruit which is equivalent to not being faithful then the farther will you from the vine and you will be in a lost condition. These passages show clearly that once saved always saved is false teaching. Now Jesus also tells us that if we do bear fruit then the father will prune us so that we can produce even more fruit and so we can see the faithful Christian is one is always looking for ways to produce fruit for the Lord.
So we should learn from the examples that living the faithful Christian life is not easy and that it will have it challenges but it we want to make to heaven we must learn to overcome these challenges by allowing God to Guide us with his perfect Word. Even Jesus himself tells us the challenge of living faithfully to God in,
Matthew 7:13" Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.† 14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
While may it be challenging to be a faithful Christian God wants us to be successful and he has giving us everything we need to know on how to accomplish our goal as Paul told Timothy,
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,† 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.†
If we fail the only person that we can blame is ourselves because it is up to you and I to look to Godís Word and live our life by it. I have no doubt that if we make God and His Word a part of our everyday lives that we will have no problems remaining faithful unto God unto the day we die. Notice what Jesus says about this in,
Matthew 7:24 " Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:† 25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.† 26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:† 27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
When we use the Word of God as our Guide then based on what Jesus has said here we have a firm foundation on† which we can stand and even if our walls fall down from time to time the foundation will remain true and we can always rebuild.
Not only do we have the Word of God to encourage and to keep us strong we also have other things that will help us remain faithful as well.
1. We have our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are there for us to help us on our journey to heaven. The Bible teaches us that we are love one another, encourage one another, and edify one another. All of these things are designed to help build up and keep us strong in the faith. We are of like mind and we all have the same goal of wanting to make it to heaven and so we should always be willing to help each other be successful.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.† 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.† 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?† 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
This is why it important that we make friends with Christians so that they can help us and so that we can be there for them. This is one reason why its important for us to attend when we have worship service and Bible class so that we can be there for our fellow brother or sister so that we encourage them or be encouraged by them.
2. We also have the power of prayer. Notice what,
Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.† 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.† 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.†
Donít every underestimate the power of prayer. I firmly believe that if you ask God to help you be more faithful I believe that he will. In fact I hope that all of us pray for that kind of help in lives because we could use all the help we can get. So, as you can see God has given us everything we need to be successful in remaining faithful to him.
The life of a faithful Christian is one of action and not complacency. The Bible uses many descriptive words that emphasizes the action in faithfulness.
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:12†† work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Hebrews 12:28† Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
1 Thessalonians 5:17† pray without ceasing,
Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.† 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
As you can see in everyone of the verses the Christian is called to action and if we want to make heaven our destination we must allow Godís Word to be our guide to faithfulness.