By Robert Stroup
“Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”
There is no greater miracle than that of a transformed life! “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Few things, if any, offer greater hope than the prospects of a brand new start. The relief of having been freed from the weight of sin is real. The joy of the new Christian is authentic. The desire to share his newfound experience with others is overwhelming. The babe in Christ just can’t get enough of church. He is the first on his feet when the worship service begins. She is the one who boisterously “amens” the preacher with each new revelation of truth. The zealous new saint is truly happy, indisputably changed, and keenly focused. Prayer is not a duty but a privilege. Giving is not a drudgery but a bona fide joy. One of the few disappointments is that their family and friends are not nearly as excited about their changed lives as they thought they would be. And yet, even that does not deter them — for they are convinced, that in time, their loved ones will see the light and be saved, too.
Months pass. The pressures and demands of 2 1 s’ century life are relentless. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. The shining haloes on the heads of all your new friends at church soon fade as their humanness begins to bleed through. Disappointments come. Things do not turn out as you had hoped and prayed. In fact, some things are just “plain hard” to understand. Why did God allow this or that to happen when you had had such faith that it would turn out differently? Had God let you down? Was He really as concerned about your life as what you had been told?
More time elapses. The routine sets in. We get accustomed to what at first had been thrilling and vibrant. We begin to take the presence of God for granted. Our focus shifts. Our minds wander. Our earthly responsibilities distract us from our spiritual ones. We are tired — worn out. We need some rest — some time for ourselves. “I’m sorry, Lord, that I missed my prayer time this morning. I’m just too tired to go to church tonight. I have so much that needs to be done and this is the only time I have to do it.”
What will you be doing when Jesus comes?
Backsliding is not something that happens overnight. It is not something that a person plans to do. It is a gradual process that evolves as one gets his eyes off of the real purpose of life. “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways” (Proverbs 14:14). Backsliding comes as a result of lost focus. It is not planned. Quite unintentionally, one just gets busy — too busy. Too busy to pray — too busy to be faithful to church. Too busy to read and study the Word. Too busy — just too busy!
Without taking the needed time to pray and stay in tune — one’s attitude and outlook soon descends from spiritual to carnal. You still love the truth — but somehow it’s different now. The joy is gone. The spiritual anticipation, zeal, and the compassion for the lost have disappeared. You still believe the truth — but you’ve lost your passion and your enthusiasm. You’ve left your first love.
The sad fact is that many people in this condition will never admit to being backslidden in heart, or, for that matter, to even being lukewarm. Somehow Apostolics can and often do continue to profess closeness to God long after they have ceased to be spiritual. They figure that since they still believe right they must still be right. It is vital, as we face these turbulent endtimes, that we understand that our belief in doctrinal truth alone will not save us. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
What will you be doing when Jesus comes? “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8)? Will He find you faithfully doing His will when He returns? Or, will He find you pre-occupied with things of lesser importance — distracted from those things that really matter? “Another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:61-62).
What will you be doing when Jesus comes?
Jesus said, “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). It is that Rock that the church is built upon — the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus — that will sustain us in the stormy days ahead. This church is built upon the entirety of the Word — not just one portion of it found in Acts, chapter two. While that wonderful truth is indeed essential to one’s salvation — it shares that responsibility with many other scriptures as well. One such necessary passage is Matthew 24:12-13 — “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
God expects and requires those who know what is right to do what is right. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). God demands those who see the light to walk in the light. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). God insists that those who start this race must finish it. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).
May I encourage someone who is weary today? “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience…For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back; my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:35-39).
“Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Luke 12:43). What will you be doing when Jesus comes?
Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International, and Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.