Be Faithful Unto Death


     In a very simple but very profound statement the Apostle John wrote, "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. In­deed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2:10.) These inspired words to the church at Smyrna should challenge Christians wherever they find themselves today: "Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life."


      Faithfulness to God requires a strong personal commitment. Christians who are truly committed to God are in the minority in the church of today. Our service to God should be "hearty service." A servant must serve his physical master "heartily" and just so we much serve Christ Jesus, our spiritual master "heartily." "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." (Colossians 3:23.) Our commitment must be that, "whatever we do in word or deed, we will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 1:17.) Personal commitment to God should be a strong point for every Christian! Our goal is not simply for peo­ple to attend church services; but our goal is for people to make a genuine commitment of their life to Christ.


      Faithfulness to God requires a strong personal choice. Each person must choose to be faithful or it will never happen. God blessed the people of Joshua's day. Even though it was true that God had truly blessed those people their faithfulness required a personal choice. Hear the words of Joshua 24:13-15, "I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The people understood the need for a personal choice. They responded by saying, "...The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!" (Joshua 24:24.) With word and life let us respond by saying, "our God we will serve."


      Faithfulness to God requires a strong and complete obedience. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30.) Jesus saves those who "obey." The Hebrew writer wrote, "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." (Hebrews 5:8-9.) Without obedience there can be no salvation. Obedience causes people to believe (Mark 16:16). Obedience leads to repentance (Acts 2:38). Obedience leads to confession of faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10). Obedience leads to baptism into Christ (Romans 6:1-5). It is in obedience that a person is saved from past sins and added to the church. (Acts 2:47.) Only those who obey have the right to wear the name "Christian." (Acts 11:26.)


      Faithfulness to God requires a strong re­solve to put Him first in our lives. Becoming a Christian is not enough. This is only the begin­ning of a life that is to be lived for God daily. The Lord must be first in the hearts and lives of His followers. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33.) The Macedonians had it right when "they first gave themselves to the Lord." (II Corinthians 8:5.) The Lord is satisfied only when He has "preeminence" in our hearts and lives, Paul wrote, "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18.) Christians must forsake all, and with a strong resolve, serve God faithfully. "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:33.)


      Faithfulness to God requires a strong interest in His word. The Bible has been called our "roadmap from earth to heaven." The Bible is both unique and powerful because of its source -- God! "And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by in­spiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:15-17.) Not one day should be allowed to pass without our studying the word of god. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4.) The Bible tells us who God is and who we are. It out­lines our responsibility toward Him. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15.) The right­eous man will delight himself in God's law. "Blessed is the man Who walks not in the coun­sel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sin­ners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2.) The Bible tells us how to become a Christian and how to live for Him daily. Study your Bible. Make God's word a part of you.


      Faithfulness to God requires strong self-discipline. "Discipline" is one of the forgotten words of Christianity. There is almost no church discipline and very little self-discipline. Self-discipline must be learned and practiced. Paul wrote, "For this is the will of God, your sanctifi­cation: that you should abstain from sexual im­morality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified." (I Thessalonians 4:3-6.) Christians must be "not walking according to the flesh, but according to the spirit." (Romans 8:1.) Paul spoke of self-discipline saying, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (I Corinthians 9:27.) Faithful Chris­tian living requires discipline.


      Faithfulness to God requires strong, dedi­cated service. Christians should seek opportuni­ties for service. These opportunities are often right before our eyes. Paul wrote, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10.) Jesus spoke of serving Him by serving others. He said, "And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40.) Christianity is a lot more than what we do on Sunday morning. James wrote, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27.) Seek opportunities to serve God daily remembering that even a "cup of cold water" given as an act of service or in the name of a disciple will have its reward. (Matthew 10:42.)


      Faithfulness to God requires continual and strong spiritual growth. Peter wrote, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." (II Peter 3:18.) Christians must grow in order to be able to discern between good and evil. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14.) Spiri­tual growth must move us above this world. Even though still "in" the world the Christian is not "of" the world. "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." (John 18:36.) Matthew records God's plan for spiritual growth in Matthew 16:24. "Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." As a Christian you must set your mind on things above. (Colossians 3:1.)


      If you are not a Christian you should become a Christian today. (Acts 2:36-41.) If you are a Christian be faithful to the Lord in daily Bible study, in your commitment and daily living.


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA