Keeping the Faith
By Dave Breese
The great treasure is something the Bible calls the faith. It is that marvelous composite of truth that liberates the soul, that brings eternal life, and produces a thousand other derivative benefits for the person who believes.
The faith is Gods Biblical revelation of Himself. The faith is what we believe about God, and it is the foundation of true Christianity.
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You are a Christian because of what you believe. What you do does not make you a Christian. But rather, you are a Christian because you believe the faith, the body of truth centered on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, in atonement of our sins.
During our lifetime, most of us can expect to have the opportunity to give many a testimony for Christ. In fact, our daily prayer should be that God will give us the daily privilege to tell someone else about the Savior and see that person won to faith in Jesus Christ. The individual testimony of Christians is by far the largest single method by which the Gospel is propagated across the world.
While every testimony is of critical importance, theres something about our last earthly testimony which tells best what we have done and who we really are. The last testimony sums it all up.
We note therefore with attention the last testimony of the greatest servant of Christ which the Church has known. It was that of the Apostle Paul and he said, concerning his life, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (II Tim. 4:7). Important words are these, and Paul tells us that they are the key to significance in this world and to great rewards in eternity.
Yes, keeping the faith is lifes great responsibility and if not met, most other accomplishments go for nothing. Each one of us is a keeper of the faith and we have no greater responsibility than to keep it well. In fact, the Apostle Paul calls himself and other Christians stewards of the mysteries of God (I Cor. 4:1). We are to be the responsible custodians and defenders of the faith so long as we live in this world. Only death can release us from that responsibility.
How then shall we keep the faith? What shall we do to fulfill our responsibility? We offer the following earnest recommendations.
First of all, keep the faith pure. Above everything else, the core of Christianity is the faith. To slip away from the exact and precise truth of Christianity, to let it become polluted with unsound doctrine is unforgivable negligence. This is especially important in these days for the Scripture says, Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1).
Here Paul warns us that in the latter time the faith will be the object of spiritual seduction and demonic doctrine. In many places, the Church is warned against false doctrine. False doctrine cuts the lifeline to heaven and turns Christianity into a mere ecclesiastical religion. Ecclesiastical religion based on corrupt faith is one of the Devils greatest tools in our time.
Keep the faith strong. The impact that can be made by the Gospel of Jesus Christ is produced by purity of doctrine and then enhanced by purity of life. The glorious truth of Christianity is often unappreciated by the world because the world fails to see that truth reflected in the lives of those who purport to be representatives of that truth.
So it is that the Apostle Paul encourages every Christian to be strong in the Lord (Eph. 6:10). He then tells us of the armor that we are to wear, the first two pieces are truth and then the breastplate of righteousness. The Christian will make his contribution to the ongoing of the army of the Lord when he is himself wearing that great protection, the bullet-proof vest of righteousness.
How sad that the people of our time have had to listen to the horror stories of the moral defection of Christians and, even more tragic, of Christian leaders. Christianity is wasting its time if it admonishes people to believe a faith that does not produce heroic, courageous, strong young Christians. We keep the faith strong by the inner depth of our belief, and then by the external godly impact of the lives that we live for Christ.
Keep the faith exposited. Indeed, one of the great deficiencies of our time is that so many Christians and even Christian educators leave the questions of the world unanswered. The world is asking as never before, What is Christianity? Who is Jesus Christ? What is the way of salvation? In response, they listen to flimsy preaching from many a pulpit but no solid answers are forthcoming.
The Apostle Paul, when he ministered for two years in the city of Ephesus, did so by disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). We are also told of Pauls ministry: Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him (Acts 17:16,17). Obviously then, Paul did not merely preach unctuous sermons, he exposited the Word of God. This means he analyzed, he argued, he asked for their questions and, of course, he doubtless sometimes taunted them.
Such biblical exposition is rare in our time. Many seminary students are not required to take Greek, Hebrew, or even systematic theology. Courses in psychology and counseling are popular, but many of these have little to do with the teaching of the Word of God. Without a return to scholarly biblical exposition, we have little hope of moving this pseudo-intellectual generation.
Keep the faith moving. Moving ahead, that is. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the great call of God upon our lives is not static, it is dynamic. The admonition given to Christians in the Word of God is again and again in the form of active verbs. Go! Do! Work! Preach! Witness! Pray! Awake! Move!All of these represent the course of action that the Christian is enjoined to follow.
Christianity presents a work to be done, a world to be reached, a story to tell to the nations, a great cause for which to live. The Gospel, properly understood, does not produce quiescence, but rather pressing, moving, ambitious activity. Armies do not win battles by staying in camp! Just so, the Church does not conquer the world from within its four walls.
Proper Christian preaching must always create in the mind of the listener the pressing question, Lord, what will You have me to do?
Hundreds of thousands of unsaved souls every day pass from this world into eternity. In the face of this constant tragedy, too many Christians can only be found home in a rocking chair reading another book about the deeper life.
My father used to often say about a muscle of the body, If you dont use it, you lose it. Believe me, the same is true about spiritual opportunity! Behold, I have set before you an open door, Christ says to the Church. He does not guarantee how long that door will be open. Therefore, now is the time to move straight ahead for God.
Keep the faith anticipating. Of great concern to each of us should be the fact that Christianity is fast becoming a this world religion. Few falsehoods could be more tragic. For the Christian life at its best in this world is still our light affliction, which is but for a moment and it works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17).
The Bible speaks about a Christian who is kept strong in faith and it uses the illustration of Abraham. For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). The implication of this passage is that the cities of this world really have no foundation. They are built on the empty promise of human dreams. They are mere fantasies erected in mid-air by those who pursue the delusions of time.
Speaking further about believers, the Scripture says, But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared for them a city (Heb. 11:16).
Paul delivers a great rebuttal against the this worldliness of a current Church by saying, If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (I Cor. 15:19). Religionists who are experts on earthly things should read again the damning indictment which Paul delivers: For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things (Phil. 3:18,19).
Following this indictment, every Christian is thrilled to read, For our citizenship is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Phil. 3:20,21).
Citizens of heaven! Thats who we Christians are! Our fervent pursuit of worldly acclaim is declared forever silly by this marvelous announcement.
By keeping the faith, we are guaranteed a rich reward when we stand one day, perhaps soon, in the shining presence of our blessed Savior.
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When you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and accept that as the basis of your salvation, you are instantly and eternally saved. What is also the case is, you are given amazing power to face every circumstance of life. God makes you more than a conqueror.
As we move toward the end of the age, the Church is going to face problems. As we move toward the end of the age, individual Christians are going to be under severe pressure. Unless you have the right theology, unless you believe the faith, youre going to be consumed by the problems of life. But if you do not depart from the faith, youll believe the truth that conquers, and that will produce a fantastic result in your life, both now and for all of eternity. Believe it! I pray that you will.
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We continue to reach out in ever-widening circles to both the religious and the secular world. There is evidence that the world outside of the Church is becoming deeply curious about things spiritual.
Because you have prayed and because you have contributed to this ministry, Carol and I wish to say a heartfelt thanks to you for all that you mean to us. Your godly concern has produced an ever-growing harvest in these challenging days.