Do You Have an Enduring Faith?

Do You Have an Enduring Faith?

Jesus proclaimed that many will lose their faith in the last days. Will you? Will I? Don’t be over-confident. It is possible if we aren’t prepared for what is coming and lose our focus on Jesus and His Word.

Matthew 24:4-14 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Luke also records Jesus’ teaching about the Last Days. After that teaching, He told his disciples a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. After sharing the parable, Jesus concluded by asking in Luke 18:8 ...Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Paul spoke of many falling away as well in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

The last days could be upon us, for this what the last days will be like: 2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the Last Days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Will your faith endure the trials of the last days? With so much evil around us, are you tempted to give up rather than be persecuted? Our faith is increasingly ridiculed and mocked. Persecution from socialists, atheists, Moslems, and false prophets is increasing. Many deceivers are preaching a different Gospel—one that appeals to people’s flesh and draws large crowds. Will your faith endure to the end?

Many great servants of God throughout history endured the test of faith. During their most dangerous, frightful times, these saints stood believing. Their lives have been a testimony to God’s faithfulness during the test, and Hebrews 11 lists many of them: Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and others, who stood alone with God.

We also have historical records of the apostles who endured trials of their faith—even unto death. In addition, we see believers today in the Near East, Africa, China, North Korea, and other parts of the world enduring trials and keeping their faith unto death.

On the other hand, there are cases of believers who failed in their times of testing. God’s plan for them was the same as it was for those who endured their trials faithfully. However, these servants succumbed to temptation in their trials, disobeyed God, and turned away from faith.

Let’s consider two Biblical examples—men who had very different trials to endure—one failed the test and the other passed it. Both are examples to teach us.

Solomon was blessed with a godly heritage, a supernatural calling, riches, and a personal encounter with the Lord. Moreover, God blessed him with wisdom that surpassed all of the world’s wisdom. His anointing was clear to all, and he was renowned and admired throughout the world. The temple he built in Jerusalem was known as the grandest religious structure of its day. In addition, Solomon wrote thousands of proverbs and songs. He was successful in everything he put his hand to.

1 Kings 4:29-34 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

One of these awestruck visitors was the Queen of Sheba. She was left breathless by Solomon’s wealth, wisdom, and devotion to God’s house. And she was astounded by the widespread happiness of the people in his kingdom. In her eyes, Solomon’s kingdom was paradise, Heaven on earth.

Thousands of people served Solomon to bring his brilliant plans to life. He boasted that his every desire, want, and pleasure was fulfilled. So, why did this blessed man end up saying it was all futile and in vain?

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Solomon was a servant of God who started out right. He replaced the unfaithful priest, Abiathar with the righteous priest, Zadok. When he finished building the temple, he prayed it would be a house of repentance and forgiveness, of prayer and supplication. After he prayed, fire from Heaven came down and the glory of the LORD filled the Temple.

In spite of these godly actions, Solomon had a besetting sin—a sin that separated him from God and robbed him of the “joy of the Lord”. It gave him a negative outlook on life. You see, sin never satisfies or gives us true joy. It is always deceptive and brings depression and death to our lives. What was his besetting sin, you may be wondering?

1 Kings 11:1-10 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.

God gave Solomon a direct command not to marry women from heathen nations, yet Solomon did just that, ending up with 700 wives and a harem of 300 concubines. He refused to deny and repent from his sexual lust.

I wonder: How many times did the Spirit of the Lord warn Solomon, “You know God’s Word to you. Stop now”?

This must have happened every time Solomon acquired a new wife. Over time, the king grew deaf to the Lord’s warnings. Soon he disobeyed God’s command at will, feeling no conviction or sorrow. He eventually allowed his wives their idols and gods, and he built places of worship for them.

Simply put, Solomon had been given much from God and he did many things for God, but his faith did not endure to the end. During his later years, he fell away and worshipped other gods that permitted his sin.

Any Christian who won’t forsake sin will eventually develop his own doctrine to excuse himself. He will worship a god of his own making. That’s how such a wise, brilliant king failed to endure. That is also how we will fall from faith and not endure to the end.

Faith is about more than trusting God to bless and keep us. Faith also means believing that God faithfully judges all willful disobedience. A person doesn’t have true faith unless he also believes God metes out righteous judgment for disobedience.

Romans 2:4-11 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

In the end, God judged Solomon’s lack of obedient faith: 1 Kings 11:11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.

The same judgment comes to everyone today who is deceived and doesn’t believe God will judge their sin. Like Solomon, they will fall away, calling evil good and good evil, and making up doctrines to justify their sin. They will turn His grace and mercy into sensual living. They will become a false witness and follow the false prophetsthat Jesus warns against. God warns them, but He will let them choose to do it, and they will reap the consequences.

Romans 1:24-32 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul described in the Book of Romans what he saw in his day and still exists today. Paul was one of the most tested believers who ever lived. He also had a personal encounter with God. But, everywhere he went, he faced trials and suffering. But unlike Solomon, Paul passed the tests and his faith endured. Why was he able to do it in spite of all his hardships?

We find an answer in his testimony recorded in Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Solomon had all the world can offer. Paul did not value anything in the world—not even his life. He only valued Jesus Christ and the ministry he was given. Neither death nor the devil could scare him into quitting. He was focused on God’s purpose for his life.

Paul encourages us to have the same attitude: 2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

God wants ambassadors who will testify of His faithfulness when the world is spinning out of control. These believers endure suffering, and stand solid in their faith, ready to answer when people ask, “What shall we do? Where shall we turn?”

Their enduring and obedient faith erects a powerful testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness. Like Paul, every faithful servant has a blessing awaiting them.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

May this be our testimony as well, to hold fast to the faith and endure suffering in these latter days. We cannot do this in our own strength and determination. We are too weak. Therefore, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, who gives us grace and power to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in this chaotic, evil world. Whether we face suffering and persecution or days of blessing, pray for a faith that will deny self, pick up a cross daily, and endure to the end by the grace and power of God.

God’s judgment is coming on this sinful world. The only way to be found innocent is through faith in Jesus Christ. As we have seen, faith means obeying God and trusting in the atonement for our sin that Jesus made on the cross. Are you doing that or are you justifying your sin? Have you adopted a false doctrine?

Acts 2:37-41 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Take this opportunity to repent of all sin and devote your life to Christ Jesus.