Calvin Coolidge remarked that, Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

When Jesus calls us to follow Him, it is to finish the race. He said that, “s/he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13) Hebrews 12:1-3 has a similar exhortation.

Modern people are not very good at persevering! Hugh MacKay, Australian social commentator described the ‘lucky generation’ as those who experienced the depression and World War II. Lucky, because hardships left them with a legacy…of frugality, appreciation of needs met and resilience.
– it is increasingly difficult to staff beach missions, sunday school and other regular ministries.
– S.T.A.B.O. (Subject To A Better Offer) has become endemic in our community and churches.

The consequences are disastrous in every aspect of our lives. Just three areas – marriage, church life and self-esteem – illustrate the need and value for perseverance.

In marriage perseverance plays a central role. Modern expectations can be hopelessly unrealistic given there will always be differences that must be worked through – and by two sinners to boot. See the notes for a wonderful analogy of new car/used car model. Training for perseverance (whether in marriage or life in general) should start early in our life. Our whole culture with its obsession with immediacy and variety makes this difficult but doubly necessary.

In churches perseverance is essential for building congregations that witness to the faithful perseverance of God toward us.

Our self-esteem is enhanced when we persevere.

Habits of Persevering (all of these padded out helpfully in the notes):

•    Obey your purposes, not your feelings.
•    Practice makes permanent.
•    Enlist a close friend to help you keep accountable. (Proverbs 27:6).
•    Those with children will do well to limit the range of a child’s activities and insist that if they sign up for a new activity, they stick with it for a season/course.
•    Do something in the way of Christian service. (Don’t wait to be asked – look around. Ephesians 2:10)
•    Don’t be put off by others’ criticism or coolness.
•    Keep looking to the final product – the establishment of God’s eternal Kingdom.
•    Never underestimate the value of turning up at church! Galatians 6:9-10
•    Turn off the T.V.
•    Pray and read.
•    Establish personal rules of discipline. Train yourself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:7)
•    Prayer is essential.

Three passages that speak of perseverance (u(πομονή – hupomonē) and its consequences are  discussed in length in the notes: Romans 5:4-5, James 1:4 and 2 Peter 1:6.

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

James 1:2-8
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

2 Peter 1:3-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

All of this is grounded in ‘saving faith’ – a faith received (1:1 and cf. Romans 5:1 and James 1:18). We persevere because we are saved, not in order to be justified. One of the signs of saving, justifying faith is sanctifying, persevering faith. We take seriously our Lord’s words that “the person who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Don’t forget to check out the St Pete’s website for downloads of Bishop Peter Brain’s Summer School: Four Attitudes that can Transform Your Life.

My summaries all in one place

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