You hear the word. You believe. You repent. You confess. You are baptized by being immersed in water, dying with Christ, washing away your sins, and raised to a new life. Are you ready to stand firm in this new life till death? Are you going to commit yourself to following Jesus no matter the challenges you face? Will you live faithfully?
I obeyed the gospel to become a Christian in October of 2000, so at this point I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years. While I will admit there were some difficulties in getting me to see the truth of the gospel before I became a Christian, I must say that living as a faithful Christian has been more challenging than becoming a Christian.
Because when I became a Christian I had little idea what it would take to stand firm in this new life. All I knew is that I wanted to go to heaven and follow Jesus no matter what that meant. I didn’t realize the full extent of what life would bring me that would test my commitment and the difficult decisions I would have to make along the way.
These past 21 years have been the most challenging years of my life; challenging in a good way, but it doesn’t always feel that way.
You see, it was easy living in oblivion not feeling the weight of responsibility in sharing the truth of the gospel. It was also much easier to live in ignorance of certain sins and not to be let down by the sin of brethren or face my sins that have let my family, brethren, or others down.
I’ve lost close friends because I shared the truth with them. I’ve lost close brethren who have decided to leave the faith. I’ve been so angry at God because He allowed me to suffer debilitating health issues. I’ve doubted whether there is a God and have had many thoughts of just quitting it all together.
I’ve had many challenges and losses these past 2 decades, but what I have gained in the midst of all of this far outweighs it all.
No matter my challenges, no matter my doubts and frustrations, I get to live a life that is free and full of hope.
Jesus says, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Abiding in His word and knowing the truth is what makes me free.
Free from what?
Free from my sin. Free from fear of what anyone could do to me. Free from the worst that could ever happen — eternal damnation.
That freedom means that no matter what happens here on earth, I live a life FULL of hope.
Living faithfully through each challenge has taught me to “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
With all the disappointments I face in this world “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in [my] heart by the Holy Spirit who was given to [me].” (Romans 5:5)
And that is what it’s all about. Having hope because God “demonstrates His own love toward us, and that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
What more could God have done to show us His love? What more could we ever ask for?
And now, you, having received this love by obeying the gospel — being free from sin and having a life full of hope — have not only God and Jesus on your side but also the Holy Spirit, and it is the Spirit that will guide you by God’s word and help in your weaknesses as He intercedes for you when you pray. (Ephesians 6:17, Romans 8:26)
And not only that, but you have a whole new family of believers. God never intended your Christian walk to be a solo effort. He gives you the church — a body of like-minded people who use their gifts for the edification and growth of it’s members in love. (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:11-16)
He expects you to be an active part of this body as Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the day approaching.”
These are the people who will build you up, pray with you, teach you, help you in difficult times, and even rebuke you when you’ve gone too far or have sinned, and you will learn to do the same for them. This is a necessary part to live faithfully, but please remember, every person there is in need of a Savior which means everyone has flaws and no one will be perfect. While everyone should be striving to improve and grow to be more like Christ everyday, the whole reason the church even exists is because you all recognize your need to have the blood of Jesus cleanse you from unrighteousness.(Galatians 6:1-10, James 5:13-16)
As a babe in Christ you have much to learn so don’t let your mess ups deter you. Now that you are in Christ, you are under His grace so “if you confess [your] sins, He is faithful and just to forgive [you your] sins and to cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
NEVER give up even when you mess up.
Commit yoursef to learning God’s word, obey His commands, pray for guidance, and let other faithful Christians help you.
In many ways your life will be so much better and rewarding as you live faithfully, but I can’t promise it’s going to be easy. What I can promise is that your faithfulness will be rewarded in the end.
Take to heart these words of Paul:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
It’s time to leave your former life behind and press towards the goal for the prize. Though you have not received the prize yet, you will as you press on, letting nothing hinder you till your dying day.
It’s what we all ultimately want, right? To have something greater than this life to look forward to. To have an eternal purpose that outlives our physical body. To have a hope that something better is to come. To have an escape from our woes. To be saved.
Live faithfully and YOU WILL BE SAVED!