God’s Church is central to His plan of salvation for all mankind as a precursor of the “pouring out” of His Holy Spirit on all humanity. But that profound impact is difficult to grasp because let’s face it, the Church is weak, insignificant, and mostly ignored by the world today.
What can we do now to ensure that we stay strong and don’t fall prey to discouragement?
There is a process to help us succeed. The beginning of the book of James gets right to it: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience,” James 1:2-3, NKJV.
As humans, we naturally walk by sight and through experience, but faith is a spiritual quality that operates outside our physical senses. Abraham was tested repeatedly throughout his life to refine his faith. His final test occurred when God asked him to sacrifice his only son.
Ours is also a work of faith, and God will test us.
Events in the Church in the past several decades could—if we allowed it—weaken our resolve and lead us to question God’s involvement in His Church. Strong faith allows us to put these events in perspective, but it must be an absolute bedrock in our lives!
“Patience” here can also be translated as “steadfastness.” Active steadfastness is a resolute commitment to God’s way of thinking and doing, proven through the years by consistent follow-through. This is the process to perfection.
Inwardly we know God’s word is true, but our human nature in this world will tempt us to doubt. Nonetheless, our faith should, over time, become immovable and adamant so that the waves and storms of life breaking against it cannot move us.
Steadfastness is founded on God’s truth and a close relationship with Him:“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” 1 Corinthians 15:58.
We patiently continue to do what we know and have proven to be true, even after years of wrestling with our nature, facing trials, hardships, disappointments, and human failures. The pace of such change can seem glacial, but we don’t give up!
We believe God, take Him at His word and look toward the crown of life that we will receive, just like Abraham, in due time (James 1:12). The price is that we remain faithful to the commitment we made at baptism.
If we lift our eyes and see the vision of the future that James and Paul saw and wrote about, we can spend less time focusing on our difficulties and failings, and more time on the power of God’s Holy Spirit working out His purpose in the Church of the Firstborn (Hebrews 12:23).
Keep the faith, remain steadfast, and take heart that God’s church has had and will continue to have a role in the working out of God’s plan of salvation for all mankind!
By Bill Welch