Four Essentials to Finishing Well – by Brady Tarr
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship..”
Life is full of uncertainty, but for a Christian, unchanging certainty and hope can be found in the salvation that is through faith alone in Jesus Christ.Throughout a person’s lifetime, he/she will face numerous surprises, joys, trials, losses, etc.No matter what takes place in a Christian’s life we can be certain that we have the unspeakable joy and satisfaction of spending eternity in communion and fellowship with God because of the work that he has done in our hearts.
A true believer in Christ is guaranteed to endure in faithfulness to the end because of their dependence on and faith in Jesus Christ.Forgiveness of sin is the result of true repentance and a genuine faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.Christians cannot lose their salvation, but it may be found out that a person who simply professes to be a Christian was never a Christian in the first place if he/she lives a life of sin instead of fleeing from it.
Christians must follow the example of Paul who persevered in faith to the end in spite of a constant onslaught of trials and persecution.On the other hand, Demas did not have a true, perseverant faith in Christ (2 Timothy4:7, 10) even though he was one who did good works for a period of time (Philemon 1:24).This is a sobering thought because so many of us are still young as Demas was.Finishing well with a genuine faith in Christ is guaranteed to none of us, apart from the grace of God (Eph. 2:8-9).How can we, like Paul, endure by God’s grace? Here are four essentials that, with God’s help, will help Christians finish this life well:
1) Daily time of focused personal communion with God.Our pursuit of God must be daily, otherwise we will find ourselves drifting in the wrong direction. We learn about who God is and are reminded what he has done for all those through Jesus Christ through the Bible, His word.Demas was in love with this present world which hardened his heart to the things of God. Our time with God will build in us affections for God that trump the temptations to love this world. It’s helpful to have a plan, but the plan must direct us to God himself.What is your plan each day to pursue God and help those whom you love to do the same?
2) Daily appropriation of the gospel. The gospel is for sinners. Before we spend time in communion with God, we must come to him with the attitude of the tax collector who prayed, “Have mercy on me, a sinner,” and trust God alone to make us righteous.This alone will give us the confidence to approach God and have communion with him.
If we don’t daily appropriate the gospel then we will begin to base our spirituality on our performance, which will eventually lead us towards pride, legalism, or despair. But reminding ourselves daily that we are sinners and that, by God’s grace, we’ve been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, will equip us with true and pure motivation to continue following Jesus and renouncing the desire to love this world. Reminding ourselves of these things will also help us exercise the Fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control) toward all those we come across.We ought to work hard, not in order to earn God’s approval but because we already have it.
3) Daily commit yourself to God as a living sacrifice.Romans 12:1. The Old Testament sacrifice that Paul alludes to was daily performed by the priests. He carries that same significance over to new covenant saints. Our bodies are on loan from God, and we must daily re-consecrate ourselves to him. Just as Paul appealed to Philemon (Philemon 1:8-10), even though he had the right to command him, so also he appeals to us to give ourselves to God. The sheer wonder of the mercy of God should cause us to spontaneously give it, and this we will do if we daily reflect on his love for us.
4) A firm belief in the sovereignty and love of God.Lamentations 3:37-38. Life is full of pains, through natural circumstances and the ill will of others. But God is sovereign over all such evils, and-by faith-we can give thanks for them. God is using them to conform us to the image of Christ and will never leave us or forsake us, but rather, he works out all things for our good (Rom. 8:28) whether we fully understand what he is doing or not. The gospel and the promises of God will never fail, nor will he take them from us.
Edited from the writings of John Piper
Father, work in our hearts and give us an all consuming desire for you and not things of this world. May we recognize the sin in our lives and flee from it. Please help us live lives that are pure, holy, and submissive to your Word. Thank you for your gift of faith which enables us to live a life of faith pleasing to you. Amen.
Optional resource for more on this topic:
Jerry Bridges Sermon from which this devotional was derived from.