Wanted: Tenacious Christians

Wanted: Tenacious Christians

Tenacious, a. Holding fast; keeping firm hold (of property, rights, principles, &c.) [f. L tenax (tenere hold].
All over the world today, Christians are witnessing the decline of their nations. Nations are declining, because for centuries the church in all of these nations has been in decline. No nation can hope to enjoy long-term growth and blessing, without the recognition of the absolutes of God at the heart of that nation.
The world has been ignoring God because the Church (of which every believer is a part) has largely been failing to represent Him adequately. It is supposed to be the “pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:15), but has it been?

The Bible declares that “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Ps.33:11). If this is the case, what happens to the nation that ignores the commandments of Jesus Christ? The very opposite of blessing (cursing) must ultimately be its portion.

And this is precisely what is coming about. Take the so-called PIIGS, mainly of southern Europe: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. In all of these nations to various degrees, socialist governments have taught for decades (and sometimes generations) that “deficits don’t matter.” For decades, governments have told themselves that they can go on spending tax-payers’ money that they didn’t have, in the hope that at some point, things would iron themselves out, and all would be well.

Now, all these countries are facing national bankruptcy over the next few years. Furthermore, they have progressively trained their communities to think that economic rabbits can be continually pulled out of hats. But in every case, they have ignored the Biblical command to “owe nothing to anyone except to love one another” (Ro.13:8). They were voted in by their respective electorates, but where were the Christians? The Bible is clearly a capitalist document, hostile to socialism.

And, it’s not just the PIIGS that have gotten themselves into a mess. England and the U.S. are not far behind with their prolific spending.

True national reconstruction in every sense must be predicated by the patient reconstruction of the Church, because “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God…” (I Pet.4:17). The Church has to be believing and obeying the Gospel, and all of God’s Word, if we are to hope that the world will. There are no short-cuts. This is slow, sometimes tedious work, and rewards may not come immediately.

But Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Mat.5:13). If we want to see a grand edifice, we will have to begin with lots of work: the digging up and the removal of the unwanted rubble of past generations, so that we can re-build from the beginning, piece by piece, on a proper foundation.

How do we do this?

1. We have to take the Bible seriously again. The Bible speaks authoritatively about all aspects of human activity. The Ten Commandments are not merely a quaint set of statements that Moses once found on a mountaintop. They are the commands of the King of the universe, Jesus Christ the Lord. When we obey God’s Word, God ultimately sends His blessing and confirmation, whether it be in our family, our work, our church or the nation. Obedience is what He expects of us, and there is no substitute.

2. We must tithe to our local church. God once said to Israel that they were cursed, because they were robbing Him of what was lawfully His- the tithe (Mal.3:8-10). When Christians will tithe a tenth of their income to their local church, it means there can be ministers employed by the church to do their work of teaching, strengthening, and encouraging people. How can there a growing, vibrant Church, without paid ministers?

Every local church is like you and me. It has its problems, it makes mistakes. But it is the institution God wants to use in the world, more than any other, and that’s why we must believe in it.

3. We have to discipline ourselves in not getting discouraged or disillusioned. We know the reality of sin in the human heart; the Bible tells us about it. But we also know what God has accomplished in Jesus Christ, and that “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We in the Church have gotten ourselves into this mess now, over centuries; now we must get out of it.

This means that we have to be prepared to persevere against the odds, when others cannot understand our work or plans. The Bible says, “blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James1:12).

4. We must discipline ourselves to think long-term. Foolish, childish people like Esau, think short-term, and can’t wait for anything of value to come. Christians are to be different to him. The cathedral builders of Europe and England from 800-1000 years ago, were long-term planners. Their works are still with us today. The Bible’s perspective is, “first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head” (Mk.4:28). And if we never get to reap what we have sown but others do, isn’t that enough?

It is this future orientation that marks the free man’s perspective. He makes decisions in terms of the future, has confidence in the future, and can happily sacrifice present income for increased income in the future. As a responsible agent in God’s kingdom, the redeemed man is motivated more by future successes than by present enjoyments.1 

5. We have to pray. This may be our most important task. God said to Israel in Isaiah’s day, “on you walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in all the earth” (Isa.62:6-7). This in the New Testament era applies directly to the Church, the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb.12:22). We have to pray prayers like the one recorded in Psalm 80:7: “O Lord of hosts, restore us and cause your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.”

Conclusion:

The obedience of believers to God’s Word is critical, if we want to see the reconstruction of the church, and blessing come ultimately to the world. That requires that we be tenacious; not giving up at the first trial (and there will be many).

We may not see the fruit of our labour in our day, but we are required to be faithful with the time and talents we are given, looking to the Lord to guide us in the reconstruction of His Church. Thus the gospel and blessing can come to the world. Will you participate in this challenging, long-term but critical task? Your children will probably be grateful.

1. North, G., “Moses and Pharoah,” 1986, p.260.

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