A LIVING FAITH

Perseverance

Having accepted the wisdom of listening, taking to heart the Word of Yahweh and the effort that must be made in order to develop a living faith, we will come to realise that effort needs to be sustained. We are but dust and very easily forget! Perseverance is the next essential ingredient required in order to develop a living faith. Paul speaks of a progression of events:

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:1-4

We are utterly undeserving of the grace Yahweh has extended towards us. Faith brings justification by grace, in that God is willing to count faith as righteousness through the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the value of faith and willingness to be obedient to the Word will be tested by trials and tribulations. Thus Paul reminds us that faithful endurance of tribulations will generate perseverance, which in turn will develop an individual’s character by a putting on of the mind of Christ. Faithful perseverance gives rise to hope and yet that hope is not directly seen, for the fulfilment of faith still lies in the future. Indeed as Paul comments if we saw that which is hoped for, we would not still hope for it:

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25

Hope and faith know that the promises of God are certain, that His Word does not change and that His promises will be fulfilled. The value we place upon His word, will determine to what extent we are willing to persevere in order to attain the fulfilment of His Word. If His Word is our greatest treasure then we will indeed look forward with eager anticipation, desiring to become like the Lord Jesus in character and manner of life. Developing ‘Christ-like’ characteristics is contrary to our natural human nature, thus those changes in character will only come stage by stage, one step at a time. It will require perseverance and dedication, but that is what having a living faith is all about! There can be no half hearted measures, no trying to do the bare minimum. Attentiveness and attention to detail in putting the Word into practice daily is required. Peter describes the process of one characteristic being added to another, he says:

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self–control, to self–control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter 1:5-8

Honest self examination will show how each one measures up to those qualities. The way will be hard; it will take a lot of effort and personal sacrifice to overcome our sinful nature. Many times we will fail and many times face the stark reality that we do indeed come very far short of what Yahweh requires of His children. Many times we will look inwardly and observe a singular lack of virtue, knowledge, self control, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. Maybe there will also be times when we despair of those attributes being found within us, giving rise to a feeling of abject unworthiness. But the attribute of perseverance will help us through such times, a living faith will drive us forward strong in the knowledge that Yahweh is very merciful and has shown His love by providing the Lord Jesus as the means of atonement, the one through whom salvation can come. Thus rather than despair, faith will endure, remaining hopeful to the very end. James speaks of the blessings wrought by endurance saying:

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord––that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11

Yahweh is compassionate and merciful indeed towards all His children who hope in Him. But perseverance and endurance will require a willingness to make sacrifices. Job lost much, indeed all that he had, but counted such loss as more than worthwhile saying:

"Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21

We note that Job acknowledges that all he had came from God, whose right it was to give and whose right it was to take should He so wish. In either state Job praised the name of the Lord. Job further said: Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10

Herein lies a lesson for us to than Yahweh both in times of plenty and times of adversity. We owe Him all, even life itself; the very fact that we live and have opportunity to know His Word and be part of His purpose is in itself sufficient cause for praise. We do not deserve anything and have rights to nothing; anything Yahweh chooses to give is an act of love and mercy. The adversity of Job was not wrought out of unkindness, but rather out of love, Yahweh having prepared something better for Job. Though Job did not understand why these calamities had come upon him, Yahweh had an end in mind that Job could not at that time see. Those calamites were designed to teach Job a spiritual lesson and as a result Job is set before us in scripture as an example of faithful perseverance. This was the lesson that Job needed to learn, he concludes: "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” Job 42:5

Job knew of God and knew about God, but after all his calamities and trials he learned to truly know God. This same lesson we also must learn though the trials and tribulations found within our own personal lives and circumstances. But it is a lesson that will only be learned if we persevere to the very end.

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