In my July 10 words of encouragement, I focused on what Paul the Apostle wrote to his young friend Timothy in the Apostle’s final letter recorded in the New Testament: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7, NIV) I pointed out that Paul never said that he – or Timothy or we today – had to win the spiritual fight or win the spiritual race; all that was necessary was to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.
But how do we do this? With Satan constantly pulling at us, trying to take us out or tear us down, how do we keep the faith until we have concluded our spiritual battle and finished our life’s race?
Once again, the answer is grace. God’s grace. God’s amazing grace.
The first and foremost purpose of God’s grace is salvation, that is, to save us from the consequences of sin and give us eternal life (Ephesians 2:8). And God would never have opened the gates of Heaven only to leave us on our own to be tested and tempted in this fallen world.
That’s why God’s grace strengthens us and gives us courage at all times and in all situations.
During the ministry of Jesus on earth, a rich man approached Him and asked what must be done to inherit eternal life. Obey the commandments, Jesus answered. I have, the rich man replied. So Jesus looked at him with love and told him to sell everything he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and then come, follow Me. The rich man’s face fell, and he went away sad, because he was very wealthy and could not do as Jesus said. (Mark 10:17–22)
Then Jesus declared to His followers, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25, NIV)
That doesn’t seem very nice, and it certainly doesn’t sound very Christian.
But He who is the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) had some great news for His followers and for us today: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27, NIV)
What, you may ask, is my point here, and how does it apply to our keeping the faith like the Apostle Paul and the millions – even billions – of believers after him? Simply this: what we see as impossible, God sees as possible. What we cannot do, God can do. And what needs to be done can be done – with God.
Paul told Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on [the] day [I depart from this earth].” (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV) When he wrote these words, Paul was telling Timothy – and us today – that the crown of righteousness awaits all who will fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith. It won’t be easy, because Satan is always prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). However, with God, and through your faith in Jesus Christ, anything – and everything – will be possible.
Your labor for God will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58), and you will be able to bring forth a harvest of thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold for the Kingdom of God (Mark 4:20).
You will do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13), and all things will work together for your good (Romans 8:28).
You will stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13), and nothing will separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35–39).
You will fight the good fight and finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7), and you will receive the crown of righteousness in Heaven (2 Timothy 4:8).
Yes, with God, and through your faith in Jesus Christ, anything – and everything – will be possible.
-- Dr. John Morris