Character – Being Faithful Unto Death
INTRODUCTION: In Revelation 2:8-11; Christ spoke,
“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; (9) I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (10) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (11) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
Verse 10 makes it very clear that problems ARE going to arise in the Christian life. I believe we're living in those days and hours where we may experience, in the very near future, some persecution. Christ commanded us, "Be thou faithful unto death." Then He said, "I'll make it worth your while I will give thee a crown of life.'" Regardless of what turmoil you're in, what hardship you face, it IS worth it. Don't quit. Be faithful.
The literal idea in view here is that of being faithful unto the death of martyrdom. But I want to serve notice on you that if you die of natural causes, God still wants you to be faithful unto death. God wants you to be faithful, reliable, dependable, trustworthy, sure, true, loyal, and unfailing. God wants you to keep plugging, stay at it, don't quit. Be faithful until life is over.
Someone wrote, "Christianity is not measured in years, it's measured in decades." You say, "Well, I'm serving God today." That is wonderful, but let's check back, in ten years. You say, ''I'm a soul-winner." That's good. You ought to be. But let's check back in ten years and see if you're a faithful person. You say, "Well, I'm separated. I have good standards of holiness in my life." That's wonderful and you need to, but let's check back in ten years and let's see if you change, or if you remain faithful. “
I know lots of people who had standards ten years ago but don't have any today.
I know a lot of people who used to be soul-winners who are not soul-winners today.
I know many folks that used to be faithful church members ten years ago that are not faithful to church today.
I know a lot of men who used to be preaching the whole counsel of God ten years ago, who are not even in the ministry today.
That's a tragedy, but it reflects the character of our society. God puts a high premium on this matter of faithfulness. He says, "Be thou faithful unto death."
God's requirement is found in I Corinthians 4:2; where He said, "It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful." God expects me to be faithful with what I have, and with what God calls me to do, to do it for a lifetime, and to be consistent about it. I'm expected to be faithful until the day I die.
Remember what the master said when he had given five talents to one servant, and two to another, and one to another? "Well done, thou good business man." "Well done, thou dynamic, intelligent, talented servant?" No. He said, "Well done, thou good and FAITHFUL servant." He was a good and faithful servant, one who practiced good, not for a month, or a year, but he practiced faithfulness from the time the master left him, until he returned.
God is looking for those who are trustworthy, loyal, sure, steady, and dependable.
He's looking for those who are faithful, whether they're dynamic, and talented, or not.
He's looking for those who have the character trait of faithfulness. Character will get the job done when talent won't.
Faithfulness does not just consist of me being faithful more often than I am unfaithful. Faithfulness means NEVER being unfaithful. It's not 364 days a year, or 51 weeks a year. It's not just 23 hours a day. I'm going to do the will of God constantly, without fail, for all my life. I'm going to be dependable, reliable, true, and trustworthy. Faithfulness is something we're lacking today in adults as well as young people. Many preachers today are not what God calls 'faithful'.
Paul was a faithful man. In II Timothy 4:7-8; he said, “I have fought a good fight … I have finished my course … I have kept the faith." Paul was faithful to the fight, and faithful to the faith, and he was faithful to the finish. He was about to be beheaded by Nero. He said, "I have been faithful unto death."
In Proverbs 20:6; the wise man said, ''Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness; but a faithful man who can find?" They're a rare commodity. There is not an overabundance of them. They were not easy to find in Solomon's day, and they're not a dime a dozen in our generation. There is a great shortage of faithfulness.
Compare the early church with this prosperity crowd today. "Well, if you're a good Christian, you'll have perfect health and be financially prosperous." I don't know of a greater man of God in the Bible than the apostle Paul. He penned a hundred chapters of the Bible and founded dozens of churches. He was a great preacher, persecuted for the faith, and died a martyr's death. But Paul had a physical affliction. Are you going to tell me he wasn't a good enough Christian to have perfect health? If he wasn't, nobody is.
Sometimes, God sees that our affliction will cause us to be more like Christ than if we had perfect health. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. This prosperity Christianity did not come out of the Bible.
The early church suffered for what they believed. They determined that whether it prospered them, or cost their lives, they would be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Think about Matthew, who was slain with a sword for his faith. But he was faithful unto death.
Think of Mark, who died in Alexandria. They tied his hands and feet and tied him behind a horse. He was dragged down those cobble stone streets with his head bouncing off the stones until his brains fell out. But he was faithful unto death.
Think of Luke who was hanged on an olive tree in Greece where he preached until he died. He was faithful unto death.
Think of John who was banished to Patmos. "Why did they do that?" They found out that was the only way to keep him from preaching to people — put him where there were no people. John was faithful unto death. There God had one final task for him, He gave him the Book of Revelation.
Think of Peter who according to tradition, was crucified upside down outside of Rome. But he was faithful unto death.
Think of James the Greater who was beheaded at Jerusalem for his preaching, for his stand, and for the fact that he had stirred things up in Jerusalem. You can read that in Acts 12. But he was faithful unto death.
Think of James the Less who was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, about seventy feet high. When he landed, he had broken bones and a fractured body. As he lay there, broken and bleeding, he began to preach the Gospel again. They were so angered, they ran upon him and beat him to death. But he was faithful unto death.
Think of Bartholomew, called Nathanael in the Scriptures who was flayed alive. As long as he remained conscious, he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his torturers. He was faithful unto death.
Think of Andrew who was crucified. But as he hung there he pleaded with people to repent. He was faithful unto death.
Think of Thomas who was run through with a spear in the East Indies. He was previously called 'the doubter,' but there came a time when his faith was strengthened. He was faithful unto death.
Think of Jude who was shot to death with arrows while he preached. But he was faithful unto death.
Think of who Matthias was first stoned, and then beheaded. He was faithful unto death.
Think of Barnabas who was stoned to death at Salonica, another name for Thessalonica. But he was faithful unto death.
During the first two centuries, there were over 13 million martyrs. Our forefathers,
who spilled their blood for their faith, gave us an example. They showed us the reality of who He was. They believed it with conviction.
Many were put in coliseums as gladiators, and forced to kill one another. Unarmed, they put them in with hungry lions, and watched them be torn apart. They made human torches out of them. Those that they wanted to see agonize a long time, they did what they called a slow burning. It would start at their feet and they would burn to death slowly. But they were faithful unto death.
But don't get the idea that these were times of defeat. Those people died praising the Lord Jesus. They died quoting Scripture. They died pleading with sinners to repent. They died praying. They died in victory. They were faithful unto death.
Savanarola was a Catholic priest who got saved and began to preach the Gospel. They told him, "You must recant of your preaching." He said, "No, I cannot. I am preaching truth. I am preaching the Word of God." Just before he was executed, the Duke said, "Recant of your preaching." He said, "No sir, I'll not." They said, "Thou art excluded from the church militant, and the church triumphant." His final words were these, "From the church militant, thou mayest exclude me. But from the Church Triumphant, thou canst not exclude …. me.
What great responsibility lies in our hands?
There never has been a generation of Christians with more opportunity than this generation.
There never has been a generation who has faced less opposition to hold them back than we do.
Yet there probably has never been a generation that was more indifferent to the cause of Christ. I don't just mean teenagers, I mean our generation.
Somebody gave us a shot of Novocain in our consciences. We've figured out all the excuses for unfaithfulness. We've figured out every way to justify being disloyal to the One who died for us.
God said, ''Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
God did not say, "Be thou faithful unto conflict," or
"Be thou faithful unto poverty."
He did not say, "Be thou faithful unto persecution."
He did not say, "Be thou faithful unto discouragement," or
"Be thou faithful unto prison."
He said, ''Be thou faithful unto death. "
I don't know how long you're going to live. It may not be long. But God expects you to be faithful until He takes you on to glory. He wants you to be faithful every moment of every hour of every day of your whole life, from the time you get saved until you meet Him. You say, "I've already messed that up." Start over today. You can't be faithful yesterday, but you certainly can get things right and be faithful today.
God never intended for us to fall by the wayside or quit. He intended for us to be faithful unto death. Consistent unto death. Reliable unto death. Loyal unto death. True unto death.
Unfailing unto death
Unfailing to Jesus Christ
Unfailing to the local church
Unfailing to convictions and standards and separation
Unfailing in this work of soul-winning
Unfailing in our Christian conduct
Unfailing in our testimony for the Lord Jesus
God wants you to be the same all the time. Some of us have been the same for a long time, but it hasn't been the right kind. We've been consistent, alright, but we've been consistently doing the wrong things, consistently unfaithful.
I want you to know, that as God looks down from Heaven today, He laments because some lives that used to be filled with virtue, and godliness, and purity, and the right things, are today filled with corruption, and unfaithfulness, and disloyalty.
William Tyndale translated the Tyndale Bible, and put the first copies of the Bible into the hands of English speaking people. In bringing that Bible into existence, he became the enemy of the king, the government, and the Catholic Church. For several years, he was able to transport those Bibles and get them into the hands of the people without getting caught. But then a man, whom he supposed to be his friend, betrayed him. When he was captured, they took him to burn him at the stake.
The Tyndale Bible was complete in 1525. In 1536, they executed him by slow burning. Tyndale's last prayer was this, "Oh God, open the eyes of the king of England." That prayer was answered in 1611, when God opened the eyes of King James and we got the Bible we're carrying around right now.
I remember hearing old Lester Roloff singing, "Must I be carried through the skies, on flowery beds of ease? While others fought to win the prize, or sailed through bloody seas. No I must fight if I would reign, Increase my courage, Lord. I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word." Then he'd sing the chorus, "And when the battle's over, we shall wear a crown." He was faithful unto death. Brother Roloff made this statement: "Find something worth dying for, then live for it." Is there not a cause? Is there not something bigger than all of us? Is there not something worth dying for?
As a teenager I found something worth dying for. I reckon if I'd die for it, I ought to be willing to live for it, too.
Don't tell me that you'd die for Jesus if you won't live for Him. If you won't be faithful to church three times a week and go soulwinning and tithe, and separate from worldliness, and live clean and right, and be faithful and loyal to the local church and the pastor and the Book, don't tell me you'd die for what you won't even live for. It's not true.
I have no greater ambition than that. I want to be faithful to Jesus Christ until the day I die. If I'm going to do it until the day I die, I want to start today. I have to decide I'm going to do it every day.
One day at a time. ''Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Don't be a flash in the pan. Be faithful, reliable, dependable, loyal, true, unfailing. How long? Unto death. Whether it be a martyr's death, or natural death. Faithful unto death.
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “Character – Being Faithful unto Death” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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