She came to me after the sermon with tears in her eyes. “Thank you for that message. I know that saving faith is an enduring faith, but what worries me is the fear that if I were physically persecuted for my faith in Jesus, I might deny him.”
She had rightly gotten the main point of last week’s sermon. The point was that Jesus is the builder of our faith and the only kind of faith that he builds in the lives of his children is a faith that endures to the end of life. Saving faith is a lasting faith (Lk. 21:19). “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:14). In other words, you have been born again, if you keep your faith in Jesus to the end of your life.
If someone appears to be a Christian, but then later turns away from Christ and continues in that unbelief until death, then that person demonstrates they never truly had saving faith (1 Jn. 2:19). Saving faith is enduring faith. The people of God may pass through valleys of doubt where they spiritually wander, but they will always return to the Great Shepherd of their souls.
But what comfort can we have if we are worried that our faith may fail us before the end, such as if we were being tortured for Christ?
You Have His Spirit Dwelling Within You
The first fact that should comfort those who might worry about such a scenario is the fact the children of God have the great gift of knowing that it is his powerful Spirit who dwells within us. Christ gives his Holy Spirit to each of his children. Receiving his Spirit is what it means to become his child. Because he loved us he has poured out his Spirit within us (Rom. 5:5). He who dwells within us is the same powerful Spirit who raised Christ from the dead (Rom. 8:11). If his Spirit is powerful enough to raise up Jesus from the dead, then he is certainly powerful enough to help us lay our lives down in faith. If the Spirit of God empowered Jesus to remain faithful to death, then he who dwells within us will also enable us to remain faithful to death.
There is nothing—no torture, no sin, no temptation—that Satan can throw at the children of God that is more powerful than the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within us. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). Have no fear. If God calls you to be tortured for the glory of his name, then his Spirit within you has the power to keep you faithful to the end. Voice of the Martyr’s is about to release a movie about the experience of Richard Wurmbrand who was tortured for Christ for fourteen years in a Romanian prison. The same God who kept Wurmbrand faithful through such suffering is also able to keep you faithful through your suffering, whatever that may be.
Sufficient Grace Will be Given to You
The second fact that should comfort us is the fact that God gives grace to us sufficient to the need of the moment. The apostle Paul regularly endured some sort of physical suffering. He prayed that God would remove it. The answer was “No.” Sometimes it is God’s will that we endure suffering. When that is the case, Christ always provides sufficient grace. Consider the words of Jesus in response to Paul’s plea for the suffering to be removed. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). If you must endure great suffering, then he will give you great grace. It is Christ who is at work in your life, and he who began a good work in you will supply you with sufficient grace to complete it (Phi. 1:6), even if that means walking through seasons of intense persecution for the name of Jesus.
You Can Do All Things Through Christ
Finally, Paul’s words to the Philippians comes to mind. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Almost everyone knows this verse, but few pay attention to the context. Paul is explaining how he is able to remain content in seasons of plenty as well as in seasons of drought. He knows how to enjoy much and how to be faithful when there is little. The secret to remaining faithful when feasting or fasting is “Christ who strengthens me.” In other words, Jesus can strengthen you to keep your faith through seasons of abundance as well as in seasons of poverty. The point? If Christ strengthens you to live a faithful life, then he will also strengthen you to die a faithful death. You need not fear denying Christ. If he were to call you to be persecuted for his name’s sake, then he will be with you strengthening you to remain faithful to the end.
The faithful have been suffering for Jesus from the foundation of the world, from righteous Able, to Job, to the prophets of Israel, to the Twelve, to the apostle Paul, to Richard Wurmbrand, to our Egyptian brothers and sisters who are gunned down during weddings just for being Christians. Ultimately, the comfort and confidence that we will remain faithful throughout our lives, to the very end, must rest on our Savior’s ability to hold onto us, not upon our ability to hold onto him. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28). “Some of you they will kill, but not a hair of your head will perish” (Lk. 21:16-18). Some of us will die for his name’s sake, but we will not perish, that is, we will not perish in hell. He is able to keep us faithful, even through persecution.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24–25)
Do not worry. He is able to keep you in the faith. He gave you his own Spirit. He gives you great grace. He is with you strengthening you to live in faith and and die in faith, to the glory of Jesus our savior.