Jesus said: They will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake….But the one who endures (holds on, stands firm, perseveres, keeps their faith) to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9,13)
A True Story
In 1859, God the Holy Spirit brought Christian revival to Wales. The Lord brought many believers back to new love for God and His Scriptures, new love for neighbors, and new practical obedience. He also brought 100,000 new converts to Christianity. Some revived Welshmen traveled to North-East India to spread the Gospel, but they were usually not welcomed.
A man named Nokseng from Meghalaya came to faith in Christ along with his wife and two children. His love for Jesus was contagious and many villagers accepted Christianity. The village chief was angry and ordered Nokseng and his family to publicly renounce their trust in Christ or face execution. Unwilling to turn away from the Living Lord who had saved him, Nokseng recited verses from the Gospel of John (chapter 12) and he and his family sang as they were being killed.1
A Martyr’s Song
The Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) crafted Nokseng’s dying song into the hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” It goes like this:
1. I have decided to follow Jesus (3x). No turning back, no turning back.
2. Though none go with me, I still will follow (3x). No turning back, no turning back.
3. My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus (3x). No turning back, No turning back.
4. The world behind me, the cross before me (3x). No turning back, no turning back.
The hymn is about choosing to continue to trust and obey Jesus, even in the face of persecution. It reminds us that for our whole Christian lives we must continuously repent and believe on Jesus.
We Endure By Hoping in Christ
Scriptures: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail….May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit….For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (Lam 3:22; Rom 15:13; 2 Cor 4:17)
Comments: Hoping is not passivity or fatalistic resignation. Hope in Christ means doing our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. We don’t have to keep up appearances with phoney spirituality. Hope in Jesus is not desperate and panicky manipulations, or scurrying and worrying. It is not dreaming or spinning fantasies to protect us from our boredom or pain. Hope in Christ is a confident, alert expectation that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) will do what He said He will do in the present and the future.2
Prayer: Lord help us not to lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, renew us inwardly day by day. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.3
We Endure By Praying
Scriptures: Jesus told “The Parable of the Persistent Widow” to show us that we should always pray and not give up. Then He asked: When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?…I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in Heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy….Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Luke 18:1,8; Psalm 123:1-2; Col 4:2)
Comments: Prayer is living in the harness of trusting God, willing to let Him do things in His way and time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand the Lord to accomplish, telling Him both how and when to do it. That’s “bullying God,” not prayer. Prayer lays our life on the line before our Lord waiting and watching for what He will say and do. We must not attempt to twist God’s arm to do what He is unwilling to do. Prayer is reaching out for what we know that the Lord loves to do, longing to receive what He is working in us and for us in Jesus Christ.4 Our prayers may be awkward and our attempts feeble. But the power of prayer hangs on the God who hears it, not on us. So our asking Him does make a difference.5
Prayer: Our Father, many things weigh heavily on us. Remind us that you use our troubles to achieve for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.6
We Endure By Long-term Commitment to Obeying Christ
Scriptures: This is love: that we walk in obedience to Jesus’ commands and His command is that you walk in love….To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, God will give eternal life….Blessed are those who hear God’s word and obey it….The Lord calls for patient endurance on the part of His people who keep His commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (2 John 6; Rom 2:7; Luke 11:28; Rev 14:12)
Comments: There is a great yearning for religious experience in our world. But there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue (godliness, Christ-likeness, the fruit of the Holy Spirit). There is little inclination nowadays to sign up for a long apprenticeship to Christ in holiness.7 Our lives may seem to be crowded with small, petty, insignificant happenings. But if we obey Jesus in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which we see God’s face. Then, when we stand face to face with God, we will discover that through our obedience others were blessed.8
Prayer: Lord, help us to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on our unseen blessings in Christ. Remind us that what is seen is temporary, but our unseen destiny with you is eternal. Help us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.9
To be continued. You may also like Remaining and Abiding in Christ (Part 1)
Notes (various Bible translations are used): 1 Adapted from Why God Why? by P. P. Job (2003). 2 Adapted from A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene H. Peterson. 3 Based on 2 Cor 2:16. 4 Adapted from Peterson. 5 Adapted from Max Lucado. 6 Based on 2 Cor 2:17. 7 Adapted from Peterson. 8 Adapted from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, reading for November 2. 9 Based on 2 Cor 2:18.