THE NEED FOR STEADFASTNESS
By Bob Myhan
We have defined being steadfast as being “firm, settled, set; being planted, anchored, fixed; being strong, determined, faithful; being dependable and reliable; being someone that others can count on." Unless, therefore, one is steadfast he cannot be counted on by others to do his part. He may or may not show up for worship. Even if he shows up he may or may not show up on time. He may or may not check to see if he is scheduled to clean the building before the next assembly. He may or may not check to see if he is to take a leading role during the next assembly.
But the lack of steadfastness on the part of one or two can also have an impact on the congregation of which they are members. A congregation cannot be steadfast unless its members are steadfast. As a matter of fact, the steadfastness of a congregation can only be measured by the steadfastness of its members. If they are not steadfast, it cannot do the collective work that needs to be done, it cannot have the influence on the community that it needs to have and it cannot grow -- numerically or spiritually.
Without steadfastness one lacks stability.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8)
Without steadfastness one will be lost.
I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev. 2:10)
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. (Rev. 12:10-11)
These “did not love their lives,” even though death loomed. Thus, they were faithful unto death and were given the crown of life. &
THE CONSEQUENCES OF ACTING WITHOUT AUTHORITY (II)
By Bob Myhan
The consequences of acting without authority were severe in the Old Testament. But are they as severe in the New Testament? Notice what Jesus said.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt. 7:13-19)
Notice the consequences of entering the “wide” gate as opposed to “the narrow gate.” The wide gate puts one on the “broad” way “that leads to destruction,” whereas the narrow gate puts one on the “difficult” way, “which leads to life.” Notice, also, that those who “enter by the narrow gate” are to “beware of false prophets” (Matt. 7:15).
“But,” someone asks, “how is one to recognize these ‘ravenous wolves’ if they ‘come to you in sheep’s clothing’?”
“Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matt. 7:20)
To show us how to distinguish between teachers of truth and teachers of error, Jesus exchanges the figure of “ravenous wolves” for the figure of a good and bad tree. One recognizes a tree as good or bad by examining its fruit. If a tree bears good fruit, it is a good tree but if it bears bad fruit, it is a bad tree.
What is the fruit of a prophet or teacher? His fruit is his teaching. If that which he teaches is truth, he is a good teacher. But if that which he teaches is error, he is a false teacher.
Notice, further, the consequences of being a false prophet or false teacher are severe. Such will be “cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7:19). It is one thing to believe and practice error; it is another thing, however, to propagate and perpetuate error by teaching others falsely.
There are those, of course, who believe and teach that Christians may believe and practice error without consequence. If that were so, why would Jesus say, “Beware of false prophets”? He said so because one cannot afford to be led astray by those who teach error. There are consequences.
Paul wrote to Timothy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who “strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Tim. 2:16-18)
Jesus explained that those whose religious practices are without authority cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, `Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, `I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.'“ (Matt. 7:21-23, NLT)
So we see that acting without authority will have eternal consequences. One cannot go on acting without authority here and hope to be with God in eternity. &