The Diamond of Assurance #3: Endurance

The Diamond of Assurance

I’m a big fan of ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’. Watching Ant Middleton and Foxy put civilian contestants through gruelling emotional and physical challenges, makes me glad I’m only watching and not participating!

But what is always impressive about those who make it to the final stages is their endurance. Their ability not to give up in all kinds of difficult obstacles and tests.

It is similar for the Christian – though of course the challenges are different! One key and crucial sign of Christian assurance is the ability not to give up. Of course, this ultimately comes through the strengthening help of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do this on our own. But the Christian life is one of standing firm.

Endurance in the NT

We see this just by discovering how often the NT writers stress the importance of not giving up.

Jesus stresses it in Matthew 10:22 ‘You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved’.

And again in Matthew 24:13, ‘but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’

Mark records Jesus saying the same thing – ‘Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’ (Mark 13:13)

Luke records Jesus saying something similar ‘Stand firm, and you will win life.’

The idea of standing firm is to not retreat when the enemy attacks and life gets difficult. It means hold your ground and don’t surrender to sin and evil.

Paul echoes his Saviour by stating, ‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’ (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Only a few verses later he stresses it again in 1 Corinthians 16:13, ‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.’

This is a constant theme in Paul.[1]

James also states it, as does Peter.[2]

John and Paul also talk about endurance, the former stating in Revelation 13:10, ‘‘If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.’ This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people’.[3]

The stress on not giving up – of enduring, of standing firm, is undeniable. If we want assurance of our faith, we’ll not give up on the one we have faith in.

Perseverance and Avoiding Temptation

Of course, life throws us many curve balls – many trials that mean persevering is key. This is something Paul and Barnabas understood whilst teaching new disciples. In Acts 14:21-22 we read:

‘Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.’

Persecution is one hardship. Temptation is another. On the road I live, if you’re coming up from Bradford, you turn right on to Perseverance Street. However, on the corner, before you turn right, there’s a Beauty and Hair Salon called ‘Temptations’. Faith is a journey where we need to stay on the straight and narrow, neither going to the right or the left – because on either side of the road are many temptations that seek to distract us from Jesus. We need to stay on Perseverance Street.

Whatever temptation you’re facing, the Bible says flee from it![4] Instead of constantly turning right with eyes lingering on ‘Temptations’ – we should drive in the opposite direction, or keep going. The Christian faith is about enduring through trials and fighting sin. About not giving up, no matter what. Are we willing to endure? And are we willing to fight?

Fixing Our Eyes

One way we can fight is to grow stronger. This is where our facet of the diamond ‘Endurance’ interconnects with growing in Fruit. There are many ways we can grow but they are all bound up in the Triune God and his Gospel. And none are so important as to keep our eyes fixed upon our Saviour. Endurance is heavily connected to keeping Jesus central. When our eyes waver to other lesser loves that become our ultimate loves – that is when we are at our weakest.

So the best way to cure our lack of assurance is to take our eyes off our selves, off our own actions and inadequacies, and focus more on Christ – on who he is and what he has done and continues to do through his Spirit. To contemplate more on Christ and be awe-struck at the Triune God and his gospel! To be captivated by Christ and his cross. To revel in Jesus and the resurrection!

Perhaps the most famous passage on endurance and perseverance comes from Hebrews 12:1-3. It perfectly captures the reality that the Christian life is a struggle and yet it is one worth enduring in, if we fix our eyes upon Jesus. Read these words and stay ‘strong in the grace that is in Jesus’.[5]

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

[1] See also, 2 Corinthians 1:21, 2 Corinthians 1:24, Galatians 5:1, Ephesians 6:14, Philippians 1:27, Colossians 4:12, 1 Thessalonians 3:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

[2] James 5:8, 1 Peter 5:9

[3] See also Revelation 1:9 and for Paul examples such as 2 Corinthians 1:6 and Colossians 1:11.

[4] 2 Timothy 2:22

[5] 2 Timothy 2:1

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