Anyone, then, who fears God,
and loves Him,
and does His will and keeps His commandments,
will have honour among men here
and blessedness with God beyond.
- Colmán mac Beógnai, Aipgitir Chrábaid, Irish 7th century
Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
- Revelation 14.12
After two lengthy letters to the Christians in Corinth, in which Paul dealt with a number of decidedly unChristian problems, the apostle felt it necessary to challenge the believers concerning their most basic convictions: Were they really believers? Or were they just playing at faith, and still unbelievers at heart (2 Cor. 13.5)?
It’s a question worth reflecting on in these days when Christianity seems to be losing its ability to influence others for good.
Who is a Christian? One who attends church, or is otherwise engaged in “Christian” activities? Is someone a Christian simply because, at some point, he indicated some “commitment” to Jesus, or prayed a certain prayer? Or simply claims, or hopes, to be a Christian?
Is one a Christian because he maintains an association, be it ever so minimal, with a congregation of others like himself? Or simply likes to think of himself as a Christian?
The testimony of Scripture and of the saints is otherwise: One is a Christian who fears and loves God, believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and lives increasingly a life of holiness, righteousness, and goodness, which is the result of obedience to God’s Law and all His Word. This is a lifetime commitment, and not just a periodic blip on the radar screen of one’s life. This is the patience, or better, perseverance which marks a true believer.
Where such patience is in evidence, true saving faith has taken root.
The faithful strive to endure hardship with thanksgiving, looking to the Lord to know His joy, pressing on through trials to follow Him and gain the good He intends. Those who exercise the patience of the saints maintain a ready witness for Christ, to encourage their fellow believers and lead others into the Kingdom. They seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness as their first priority in all things, and they apply themselves to working out their salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2.12, 13). They hunger for the Word of God and engage with Him there, and in prayer, so that they may be prepared for whatever obedience may be required of them through the day. Jesus said you would know true believers by their fruit (Matt. 7.15-20). And the fruit of true Christian faith is perseverance in trusting Jesus and keeping His Word.
Do we have the patience of the saints? Do we fear and love Him? Keep His commands and live for His glory? Long to be with Him in blessedness forever? Are we true witnesses for Christ, to the point of being willing to be martyred for Him?
Being a Christian is serious business, engaging us in all our thoughts, affections, values, priorities, and practices. We are not free to be Christians on our own terms. True Christians – saints – are defined by God as those who hold fast their testimony and continue in His Word. Faith in Jesus and obedience to God’s Word issue in love for God and neighbors as a defining mark. God blesses all who truly belong to Him, who hold fast the testimony of Jesus and keep His commandments, with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit.
Will you exercise the patience of the saints today? And will you encourage your fellow believers to do the same?
1. Where do you need to improve in your practice of the patience of the saints?
2. How would you explain what it means to be a Christian to an unbelieving friend?
Psalm 24.3, 4 (Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Oh, who may ascend to the Lord’s holy place?
And who may appear to His glorious face?
All they who are clean in their heart and their hands,
And true in their souls with the Savior shall stand.
Lord, in Your mercy You lifted me up and set me on a high place; help me to live as You will, and to proclaim Your goodness to others. Adapted from Patrick, Confession
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 235.