It can rightly be said that faithfulness is absolutely essential for the salvation of man. In His letter to the church in Smyrna, Jesus stated, “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” (Rev. 2:10). The idea is that if the brethren in Smyrna had to die to remain faithful, then they were to do so. All Christians have the same requirement today. If we will not stay faithful to our Lord, then we are forfeiting the gift of salvation that we received.
In line with this discussion, there was a time when it seems that John’s faith had begun to waver. Keep in mind that this is the same John that once stated with certainty “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Bible records, “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another” (Matt. 11:2-3)? What happened to John’s faith? He had gone from absolute certainty that Jesus was the Christ to wondering whether Jesus was legitimate or not. It should be noticed that this doubt seemed to arise while John was imprisoned. During difficulties, we must not lose faith! The response of Jesus tells greatly His thoughts of what it is like when one loses faith in Him. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matt. 11:4-6). Nothing had changed in regard to the works that John knew were being done. Jesus wanted John to be shown “again”, which means that John already had enough evidence to support his faith. Nothing should have caused his confidence to fail. This is further noticed in the mild rebuke that Jesus sent to John. In order to truly be “blessed”, one must not be “offended” in Christ. In other words, John could not be “blessed” if he gave into the temptation to reject Jesus.
Another time when faithfulness was emphasized is found in what we today call First Timothy. Paul instructed Timothy to “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:12-16). Paul wanted Timothy to make sure that he did not fall into the trap of worldliness and money loving. We will take none of the possessions of this life with us when we die. There is nothing physical that should come before our faithfulness to God.
Then there is the example of Paul, himself. Like John, Paul had been imprisoned. Unlike John, this did not seem to alter Paul’s faith in Christ. Instead, Paul confidently wrote to Timothy, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8). What a wonderful display of courageous faith! Paul, even through the terrible things that he endured, never lost faith in Christ (see 2 Cor. 11:22-30). Since Paul had remained faithful, then just as the church in Smyrna would have received, he was going to get “a crown of righteousness” for enduring to the end. We should also be encouraged to remain faithful because all faithful Christians are guaranteed their own “crown”. I hope that we all will do as Paul did, “keep the faith”.
~ Corey Barnette