Obedience - Part 7: Enduring To The End
In my recent Bible study of the apostle Paul’s and Barnabas’ falling-out over their one-time missionary apprentice John Mark (Acts 15), I came across a message about the strengths and weaknesses of the great leader Barnabas written by John Piper 35 years ago - with words still as true and relevant today as they were back then…
Among many other truths, Piper wrote:
“Past experiences and past usefulness are no guarantee of future obedience. The Christian life is a race to be run and finished, a fight to be fought and won, and a faith to be kept to the end. There is no place for coasting or drifting.”
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ~1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:13-14
“Successful Christian living is made of vigilance and constant prayer.”
“Persevering faith, not past faith, is the path to glory.”
Yes: how we would love to be able to rest sometimes on our past laurels. Make the right decisions - once, or for awhile. Say the right words, do the right things - once or for awhile. And then… drift or coast along for the rest of our lives, right into eternity.
But it is not so. Because the past is the past, the present is the present, and the future is the future. What we did in the past is no guarantee for what is now or for what is to come.
We need to be sober and vigilant, always. Making every effort, straining toward what is ahead and pressing on toward the goal, moment by moment. And praying constantly. No aimless wandering around the racetrack, or worse yet stepping off the track altogether. No useless flailing around in the boxing ring, wasting precious energy and time on nothing of importance.
Lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. How awful that would be!
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… ~Hebrews 12:1-2
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ~Matthew 24:13. Even the word “endure” has the “end” in mind.
Let’s make sure that the faith we have today is a persevering faith that will stand with us until we have won our heavenly prize.
(All quotes taken from https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/barnabas-the-weakness-of-a-great-leader, July 19 1987 - additional thoughts and reflections from @bevdramirez)+ 180 DEGREES