‘Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’
Jesus words in verse 13 can be viewed as over dramatic to emphasise a point, they did however carry great weight in the early church as standing firm in the face of opposition is a repeated theme in the apostle’s letters to the churches. Jesus’ words here, I believe, can be applied to more than one circumstance. They are set in the context of preaching the gospel to all nations. v10 They are said when Jesus was speaking about the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, finally completed in AD70. v14 The same passage also refers to heightened growth in evil prior to Jesus’ return. v26 This will also be accompanied by those who will seek to turn Christians from their trust in Jesus to other religions or sects. v22 Whenever active Christian life and witness is taking place opposition is liable to be present because it is challenging to the way of the world, especially people in power. One might ask the question, if there is no opposition how distinctive is the Christian life?
When Jesus refers to standing firm, to what is he referring and what is the reward for doing so? Jesus assures the disciples that if they do stand firm they will be saved and here he is meaning receive eternal life with him. James calls the reward a crown of life, ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’ James 1.12
Standing firm in the New Testament includes continuing in the work of the Lord. This is sharing the gospel and doing good works. Paul urged the Galatians with, ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.’ Galatians 6.9 He also told the Corinthians, ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.’ 1 Corinthians 15.58
Standing firm involved one’s whole life. Jesus’ clearest teaching about what that meant is in what is known as the sermon on the mount. Mathew 5-7 Paul reminded the Philippians of the whole life approach, ‘Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,’ Philippians 1.27
Standing firm is not just about an individual’s resolve or even that of a church in one place. It is about standing firm in unity with the world wide church. Peter addressed this in particular as his letter was always intended to be shared by the whole church, wherever it gathered. He wrote telling the church to resist the devil and his temptations. ‘Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.’ 1 Peter 5.9 Standing firm as Peter emphasised is a spiritual matter achieved through the grace of God and not simply a matter of moral resolution. 1 Peter 5.10
Standing firm is also about living in the freedom from the slavery of sin that Christ has achieved for his disciples. ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened with again by a yoke of slavery.’ Galatians 5.1
Finally standing firm requires consistency in prayer. ‘Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.’ Ephesians 6.18 Through such prayer disciples will be, ‘strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that they may have great endurance and patience, giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified them to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.’ Colossians 1.11-12
Are we conscious that we are to stand firm in unity with the universal church?
Do we trust in the grace of Christ to stand firm?
Hallelujah, What a Saviour