Be Patient and Steadfast

KEY VERSE: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” —James 5:16


IN A very special way, the brethren of the Early Church were in need of much patience, courage, and faith, because of the physical and mental persecution they were required to endure. The promise was to them, as it is to the church today, that in the Lord’s due time he will bring about the establishment of the kingdom which will mark an end to the suffering, trials, and persecutions of the church and bring the beginning of blessing and opportunity for life to mankind. The apostle, even in his day, hoped that this wonderful time was not far removed. He little knew that it would take the nearly two thousand years of the Gospel Age to complete the required number of the church. But even at this end of the age, the footstep-followers of Jesus are as fervent in their desire for the kingdom as those in the past, and for the same reasons.

It is required of Christians to prove their loyalty by being faithful under very difficult trials and tribulations. And in the Lord’s wisdom and economy, he has designed that through these experiences they will learn obedience, submissiveness, patience, and all the other graces and facets of character which must be acquired if the Christian’s hope is to be realized. “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”—Rom. 8:13-17; Gal. 5:22-26; II Tim. 2:7-12

The prophets and holy men of old did not have the hope of a heavenly reward that is held out to Christians during the Gospel Age. But, because of their demonstrated faith under very difficult and trying circumstances, God has promised them a better resurrection than that to be bestowed upon the world of mankind. As a result, in the kingdom they will have a part in the administration of earthly affairs. (Heb. 11:37-40; Isa. 1:26) The Apostle James used the lives of these faithful Ancient Worthies as an example both then and now, saying, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”—James 5:10,11

The Apostle Paul said of these ancient men of God, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Heb. 11:13) They were waiting for their better resurrection in God’s kingdom here on the earth. The Apostle Paul, in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, also compares our Christian walk with that of those faithful men of old. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”—Heb. 12:1-4

The thought of resisting unto blood has to do with the Christian’s consecration, which is to yield himself fully to the Heavenly Father’s will unto death. The Revelator states, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) The thought of exercising patience and faith under difficult trials is also expressed by the Apostle Peter: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto, his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”—I Pet. 5:6-10

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