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Travelogue: Persevering in the Christian Life

The beach at CocoCay, Bahamas, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.

The beach at CocoCay, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015.

It seems somewhat inappropriate to speak of one’s own perseverance, since perseverance, by definition, is enduring in faithfulness to the end. I have not reached the end, but I have the promises of God that I will (Psalm 16:8, I Corinthians 1:6-9, Philippians 1:6, 29, I Thessalonians 5:23-24, II Timothy 1:12, 4:8, 18, I Peter 4:19), in which I have reason to be confident only because of God’s perseverance in me (II Corinthians 4:7-12, Ephesians 2:8-10, Colossians 1:11-12, Hebrews 10:35-39, I John 3:19-24). Nevertheless, one of the main examples so far of perseverance that stands out in my mind is abandoning the religion in which I was raised, in favor of the Way. It was a hard decision because it required making personal sacrifices, mostly in terms of relationships ending or at least changing with many family members and friends. Yet, in major part, it was a very easy decision because the Lord opened my eyes and brought me out of darkness and into light. There was no other choice I could have made.

It’s true that Reformed theology is about much more than Reformation history — part and parcel of Reformed theology is the personal reformation that every Christian experiences every day of his life. One of the reasons I have so firmly latched onto the Reformed tradition and figures such as Martin Luther, is because I identify with his story in my testimony. This is not to compare my own crucible of leaving a false religion and having to confront it, to the scale of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. I’ve never had to stand in front of religious interlocutors to stand up for the truth, nor had my life threatened, had to flee and go into hiding — yet.

But like Luther, I have been called “possessed by the devil” when in reality I was possessed by a hope that I could not keep to myself. Like Luther, I could not, in good conscience, genuflect to authorities that are at odds with God’s authority. Like Luther, I have known the frustration of wanting to see people come to a true knowledge of Christ as their Lord and Savior, yet watch them choose instead to continue to drink poison to their souls.

And like Luther, I can sing, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever.”

From the deck of the Freedom of the Seas, after a day at sea on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015.

Enjoying the sunset from the deck of the Freedom of the Seas, after a day at sea, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015.

 

Further study

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XVII: Of the Perseverance of the Saints, with proof texts

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, Jerry Bridges

Sermons on trusting God through adversity, by Jerry Bridges

The Footfalls of Faith: ‘Catching Kayla’ reminds Christians that weak runners must finish strong, Peter Benyola

The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce, John Piper

Foundations of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men, Steven J. Lawson

Pillars of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men, Steven J. Lawson

Session 1: An Enduring Witness

The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Irenaeus

Apologeticum: Tertullian’s Defence of the Christians Against the Heathen, The Tertullian Project

The Vatican: Spirit and Art of Christian Rome, Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Imperialism and Jewish Society: 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E., Seth Schwartz

Session 2: Luther in His Cell

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, Preserved Smith

Luther’s Two Narratives of His Hearings Before the Diet at Worms, Martin Luther

The Holiness of God, Chapter 5: “The Insanity of Luther,” R.C. Sproul

The Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther

Session 3: The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World, lectures by Timothy Keller and Edmund Clowney

He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World, R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Why Do We Have Creeds?, Burk Parsons

Session 4: What the Scots Have to Say

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, John Foxe

Patrike’s Places, Patrick Hamilton

The Scottish Reformation, Stephen J. Nichols

John Knox, Sinclair B. Ferguson

How the Scots Changed the World, Aaron C. Denlinger

Session 5: Abraham’s Example

Fear and Trembling, Sören Kierkegaard

Surprised by Suffering, R.C. Sproul

Abraham’s Perseverance, Robert Rothwell

Session 6: A Good Death

Believing God: 12 Biblical Promises Christians Struggle to Accept, R.C. Sproul Jr.

Grieving: Your Path Back to Peace, James R. White

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