By David R. Ferguson
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:13 [NAS], “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
Stand firm. Thirteen times this phrase appears in the New Testament. Twelve times it was written by Paul, and the other one by the Apostle Peter.
I imagine there are many people today who will be offended by such a statement as “stand firm in the faith” and “act like men.” But the truth is the Holy Spirit of God, Who inspired Paul to write these words, isn’t interested at all in politically correct speech or thought. He isn’t concerned about whether or not someone’s feelings or sensibilities are offended. What He is concerned about, however, is the condition and salvation of our souls.
You see, Jesus wants soldiers in His army. He wants people to be committed truly to Him, and He expects men to be men. Paul also writes, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." (2 Timothy 2:1-4 [NAS])
Jesus doesn’t want fickle people in His service. He doesn’t want people, especially men, to leave Him just because the going gets a little bit rough. This is why He Himself said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 [NAS]).
Standing firm in the faith and standing fast in the grace of God are key to maintaining one’s salvation. Paul reminded Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16 [NAS]).
Finally, James, the Lord’s brother, tells his readers that the ultimate prize awaits all who stand firm to the end. He writes, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the Crown of Life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12 [NAS]).
Stand firm, be alert and on the watch, act like men, and be strong in all that you do, regardless of the slings and arrows which our great enemy Satan fires in our direction throughout our service to the Lord in His army. The Lord WILL reward you with eternal life for your faithfulness to Him!
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lakelandchurchofchrist/ or firstname.lastname@example.org