Lawrence J. Peter1 said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Spiritually, it is certainly true that if we don’t make preparations, we will end up somewhere other than heaven.
Salvation has three aspects: past, present, and future. In the past, Christians were saved from sin by obeying the gospel (Titus 3:5; Acts 2:38). In the present, we remain saved by being faithful. Paul wrote that we should work out our “own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). In the future, we have hope of salvation from the destruction of hell. Paul wrote of salvation being “nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11; cf. 1 Peter 1:5, 9). We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), but what does it mean to be “faithful”? (Matthew 25:21).
To Be Faithful, One Must Continue Steadfastly
Obedience to Christ does not end at baptism; it starts there. Jesus said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). There is more to being a Christian than getting wet. After we are immersed into Christ (Galatians 3:27), we become immersed in Christ’s work (1 Corinthians 15:58). After being handed new life, a new, thrilling way of living unfolds before us (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 10:10). After being added to the kingdom (Acts 2:47), we join the great work of advancing the kingdom (Mark 16:15–16). After being forgiven (Acts 2:38), we help others learn how to be forgiven (Ephesians 1:7).
The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). This included abiding in
Christ (1 John 2:24);
The word (John 8:31–32; James 1:25);
Faith (Acts 14:22);
The faith (Colossians 1:23);
Grace of God (Acts 13:43);
Love (John 15:9; Hebrews 13:1; Jude 1:21);
Worship (Acts 2:42).
We must continue in fellowship (Acts 2:42). Dr. Flavil Yeakley, Jr., studied fifty faithful and fifty unfaithful church members. He found that after six months, the faithful had made seven or more new friends in the church. Of those who had made fewer than three new friends, none were faithful after six months.2
We must continue to avoid falling back into sin.
Sinful habits may be hard to resist, but we must fight the temptation to return to what we left (1 Peter 2:1; Colossians 3:5–9; 2 Peter 2:20–22). God has given assurance that He will not allow us to be tempted above our ability to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We must continue bearing fruit (John 15:1–7; Galatians 5:22–23).
We must continue growing in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). Everyday religion is the key. Practice these healthy habits:
Let God say something to you every day by studying His word (Acts 17:11; Revelation 1:3). Read at least a chapter a day. Four chapters a day completes the Bible each year.
Say something to God every day in prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Say something for God every day (2 Timothy 4:2). Tell a friend the good news. Speak a kind word (Ephesians 4:32).
Do something for God every day. Look for opportunities to serve and encourage (Hebrews 12:12).
To Be Faithful, One Must Be Dependable (Matthew 25:21)
“It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2; cf. 1 Timothy 6:20–2 1).
God depends on us to be in worship services (John 4:24). Do not miss a single service of the church you can possibly
attend. It is a sin to do otherwise (Hebrews 10:25; James 4:17).
God depends on us to be at our post of service (Ephesians 6:7). Those buried alive when a volcano destroyed Pompeii were found preserved. Some were in the streets, attempting to escape. Some were in deep vaults, seeking security. Others were in lofty chambers, hoping to stay above the lava. Where was the Roman sentinel? He was standing at the city gate where his captain had put him, with his hand on his weapon. There he stood, while the heaven above threatened him; there he stood, while the earth shook beneath him; there he stood, while ash and pumice buried him. There at his post he was found faithful almost two-thousand years later. We each have a post of service where our Captain has placed us. When the end comes, will we be found there?
God depends on us to get His message out (Matthew 28:18–20).
God depends on us to do our part of the work (Romans 12:4–8). Discouraged with their unimportant role in the historic conflict, coal miners came to Winston Churchill during World War II, volunteering to fight on the front lines. Churchill asked to meet with all four thousand miners the next morning. At that time, Churchill gave his nation these stirring words:
“We shall not fail, and then some day, when children ask, ‘What did you do to win this inheritance for us, and to make our name so respected among men?’ one will say: ‘I was a fighter pilot’; another will say: ‘I was in the Submarine Service’; another: ‘I marched with the Eighth Army’; a fourth will say: ‘None of you could have lived without the convoys and the Merchant Seamen’; and you in your turn will say, with equal pride and with equal right: ‘We cut the coal.’”
When the final chapter is written of the “World War” now being waged between Christ and Satan, what will it say about our part? Did we join the battle, or were we on the sidelines? Were we faithful and engaged or absent and frolicking with the enemy?
To Be Faithful, One Must Overcome Failure
Faithfulness is not perfection. A faithful Christian is not one who never makes a mistake. He is one who falls but gets up and tries again. Peter attempted to walk on water (Matthew 14:28–33), rebuked Jesus (Matthew 16:21–23), denied Him three times (Matthew 26:35, 69–75), and played the hypocrite (Galatians 2:11–14). But Peter was no failure because he kept trying.
Christian, think of your position:
You made a good bargain; don’t sell now. “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23).
You planted an important crop; don’t forsake it. “The good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit” (Luke 8:15).
You are in line for blessings; don’t step away. “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
You started a journey to a wonderful place; don’t stop. “That I might finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24).
Faithfulness matters. Grantland Rice, America’s first great sports writer, put it this way: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes—not that you won or lost—but how you played the Game.”3 The world will measure us by our success, but God will measure us by our faithfulness.
1 1919–1990. An educator and management theorist best known for having formulated the Peter Principle (“In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”)
2 Why Churches Grow.