Vol. 7, No. 10
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The Christian's life is pictured in the New Testament as a warfare "against spiritual wickedness in high places," and in our preparation forthwith we must be able to stand (Ephesians 6:10-18). It is also called a "race" in which the participant runs with certainty striving for the prize of that incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). These figures stress the importance of faithfulness on the part of the Christian as he molds his life by heaven's dictates.
As in any race, a good start does not guarantee a successful finish. David saw godly men cease, and "the faithful fail from among the children of men" (Psalm 12:1). Paul told the Galatian Christians that they "did run well," but someone hindered them from obeying the truth (Galatians 5:7). The Gospel demands faithfulness to the very end (Revelation 2:10).
1. Some Who "Fell by the Way." Both testaments are replete with examples of those who had the power to start on the right course in life, but did not stay. Of the 600,000 fighting men who were "saved out of Egypt," and sung the song of deliverance as they emerged from their "baptism into Moses in the cloud and in the sea," only two persons--Joshua and Caleb--entered into the land of promise (Numbers 14:27-38; 24:63-65). They shared the first salvation, but failed of the second because of unbelief. The point is that we might receive the present salvation from sin that the Gospel offers, and yet fail of an entrance into heaven. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" from past sins, but only "he that endureth unto the end shall be saved" from death and hell.
2. We Must Continue in the Faith! Someone has said that "continue" is the key word in Christian living, because it is continuation that knocks the "T" out of "Can't." In this regard, we must continue in the faith (Acts 14:22). It is necessary to continue in the belief of the Gospel. This was the apostles' concern lest some should fall away in time of persecution. Again, we must continue in "the doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:16). This is not just any doctrine, dogma or favorite teaching, but it is the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42). Paul knew that some would depart (1 Timothy 4:1-3). We must continue in that doctrine, and refuse fellowship with those who depart (2 John 9-11). Further, we must continue in the "goodness of God" (Romans 11:22). We may know (be in) the goodness of God, and yet fail to continue in it. We are responsible, as free moral agents, to remain in that relationship.
In this article, I address my brethren to say that it is not enough to begin as a Christian! The real test comes when we demonstrate the power to continue in the walk of righteousness; finish the course and keep the faith. We must be faithful as long as life continues!