“… knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:3-4 (NASB)
Picking up from the passage yesterday (April 3) we know that testing can bring joy and should bring a joyful attitude because it is for a purpose. Testing means “proof” or “proving” that our faith is true and strong. The first of three important words is ‘endurance’ because through tests, we who believe will learn to withstand tenaciously the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time. Two more words in verse 4 stand out with important lessons. The second word is ‘perfect’ which describes our end result of testing. It is not a reference to sinlessness or perfection without sin. Perfect means maturity, specifically in our verse, spiritual maturity. The ongoing testing of our faith should be driving us who are believers to deeper communion and greater trust in Christ—qualities that in turn produce a stable, godly, and righteous character. The third word is ‘complete’. Translated from a compound Gr. word that literally means “all the portions whole.” God’s purpose is that through our trials and testing we end up lacking nothing we need. But we acknowledge this does not speak of material or temporal but spiritually needs.
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV)
The promises God has made us and blessings He’s given us in these promises will never fail. We are reminded in today’s verses that we need to continue to believe and have faith in what God has promised. Hold on to our confidence in the face of whatever God allows to be put in our path of our lives. Due to persecutions, the recipients of this letter to the Hebrews were tempted to run away from their outward identification with Christ and Christians and to apostatize. His promise in the Bible is that He gives us the confidence and the endurance we need each day. It is His will for us to not lose the reward He’s promised. Each day we come closer than ever to our promised eternal reward. It’s no time to turn back. We don’t receive the great reward through our own effort of being good enough but by trusting each day in what God has promised. Our promise today is that we will receive what is promised by doing the will of God — which is to trust in Christ fully by living daily in the will of the Father.
“ …and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:4-5 (ESV)
Aren’t there times for each person when what is hoped for ends in deep disappointment and even shame? We stake our hope on uncertain outcomes and when it fails us, we may well be downcast for a time. This isn’t the kind of hope that we receive as believers from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve learned that even the times of sufferings are times that produce good traits in us. Endurance, character, and hope are mentioned in our verse. In this promise is this hope. A hope than will never result in our shame or disappointment. The hope comes from God and is built upon His Word and His promises. How is it we can be so certain that this hope won’t disappoint us? Because it comes as a result of God pouring His love into our hearts. This is the ministry of His Holy Spirit. This is why God gave to us His Spirit dwells within us never to leave us without His encouragement and counsel. We’re assured by God and so our hope is in that assurance. We are His precious people and He our marvelous God.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1b-2 (ESV)
We are to look to Jesus as the object of faith and salvation. Why are we to look to Him? Because He is both the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The word “author” is a term that means originator or even the preeminent example; it suggests that Jesus “pioneered” the path of faith Christians should follow. He also “perfected” the way of faith since He reached its end successfully. The term expresses the idea of carrying through to completion. It also might mean ‘maturity’ of the kind that is moral completeness. It is only in Christ that we find a faith that is perfect and it is only through Christ that that perfect faith become a reality for us. For those reasons, we live our lives in His and through Him our faith is perfect. On our own it is nothing more than daydreaming or wishing. We fix our eyes on Jesus and because of what he did, enduring the cross despising the shame He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. We are there too seated with Him (Ephesians 2:4-6) because God gave us a gift of faith which led to our salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race…” – Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
The word “therefore” is frequent in the Bible. When we come across it we find out what it is there for. This time it bridges a transition between Chapters 11 & 12 of Hebrews where is a list of deceased people whose lives witnessed the value and blessing of living by faith. The author of Hebrews is giving us reassurance that is drawn from the saints in the past who faithfully believed in the LORD God. We are encouraged to rid ourselves of sin because sin entangles us and inhibits our ability to live with endurance. We are all on a path that is a race of sorts, not against each other but against the wickedness of Satan who is set on causing us to stumble and fall and fail to reach our goal. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:13-14) explains this, and like him, we have a goal that we are straining forward to reach. A life pleasing to God. Therefore we are pressing on toward the goal God has set before us. Sin entangles us and misdirects us and causes us to miss out on the prize of blessings God has set for us.
“You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” – Luke 21:16–19 (ESV)
Our verse yesterday from the Gospel of Mark recorded the same instruction and prediction we have today from the Gospel of Luke. It has the same ominous message and prophecy of what was going to come to all who proclaimed the name of Jesus. Not just for the Apostles but for all who believe even up to the return of Jesus at the end of the age we live in. Those who will be threatened and receive this kind of treatment are promised that they will endure by God’s grace. Just as Jesus promised that since He was the Resurrection and the Life those all who believe in Him would live past the death of their physical bodies. Spiritually, we will live. Perhaps we think it is up to us to preserve by our own strength in order to live through the attacks on our lives by the haters of Jesus. No, we will be preserved by His Name. We carry the name of Jesus as we abide in Him because He is our salvation in all circumstances. For all who in faith believe Jesus in the Son of God, will endure because of His promise of eternal life.