Staying the Course

You are here

Staying the Course

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19 Acts 3:19Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
American King James Version×
).

Baptism and the related steps we must take are only the beginning of the road to eternal life. Before we arrive at our ultimate destination, however, we have miles of road to travel. In this chapter we take a look at some of the aspects of our journey revealed by our road map, the Bible. Remember that we are traveling a narrow road (Matthew 7:14 Matthew 7:14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
American King James Version×
, NIV). A clear sense of purpose and direction can help us stay the course.

Our job is to keep striving with God’s help and to become mature Christians.

When we respond to God’s calling through repentance and baptism, many blessings and opportunities await us. Our minds will change. We will grow in wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:1-11 Proverbs 2:1-11 1 My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you; 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. 7 He lays up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keeps the paths of judgment, and preserves the way of his saints. 9 Then shall you understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yes, every good path. 10 When wisdom enters into your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul; 11 Discretion shall preserve you, understanding shall keep you:
American King James Version×
). We will learn to think and act as God thinks and acts.

Keep going forward

Trials will come and sacrifices will be required (Matthew 10:35-39 Matthew 10:35-39 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.
American King James Version×
). These tests help us build godly character. James, half brother of Jesus Christ, wrote: “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” (James 1:2-4 James 1:2-4 2 My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Jesus cautions us to count the cost of traveling this road, just as we would with any major life undertaking: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’ ” (Luke 14:28-30 Luke 14:28-30 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
American King James Version×
).

Speaking to one potential follower who wanted to set conditions on his commitment, Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 Luke 9:62And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
). Jesus expects His followers to finish what they start.

Just as a small child learns to walk, we may be wobbly at first, stumbling in this new way of life. The temptations and trials we face will sometimes cause us to stagger and fall. But remember that God the Father and Jesus Christ are there to comfort and help us each step of the way.

Our job is to keep striving with God’s help and to become mature Christians. Hebrews 5:13-14 Hebrews 5:13-14 13 For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
American King James Version×
tells us: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (NIV).

Living God’s way must always remain our priority. We must continually “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
).

Keys that can help us remain oriented to God’s way of life include regular prayer and the study of God’s Word. Furthermore, fellowshipping with other believers can be a tremendous encouragement in living our new lives dedicated to God.

In Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” We are given a choice as to what we will do, but Jesus clearly expects that we do our part in remaining faithful to Him. As explained earlier, we must produce fruit in our lives that is pleasing to God.

The end of the road: the Kingdom of God

Now let’s notice a few things about the coming Kingdom of God and eternal life, the end of our spiritual journey.

We should remember that the Kingdom of God is the heart of the gospel message Jesus proclaimed. Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×
says that “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” In appearing to His disciples during the 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus continued to speak to them about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3 Acts 1:3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
American King James Version×
).

At a time soon ahead of us, Christ will return to the earth and establish that Kingdom. Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
speaks prophetically of that awesome day: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”

The Kingdom of God will be a literal kingdom ruling over the earth, replacing all human government and authority. As Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
American King James Version×
foretells, “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

The early Christians fixed their eyes firmly on the future Kingdom of God. Acts 8:12 Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
American King James Version×
explains that the message of God’s Kingdom was a major reason for people believing God’s truth and choosing to be baptized: “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” We, too, must “believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×
).

Today, if we remain faithful to God throughout our lifetime, we will share with Christ the role of kings and priests in His coming Kingdom (Revelation 1:6 Revelation 1:6And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×
). We can look forward to becoming spirit and living forever (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 15:42-55 1 Corinthians 15:42-55 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?
American King James Version×
). As His resurrected children, we will inherit from God all things—not just the earth but the entire universe and spirit realm (Matthew 5:5 Matthew 5:5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 21:1-7 Revelation 21:1-7 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
American King James Version×
; Hebrews 2:6-8 Hebrews 2:6-8 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that you are mindful of him? or the son of man that you visit him? 7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands: 8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
American King James Version×
). To learn more, read or download your free copy of our booklet Why Were You Born?

You will get there with God’s help

God holds out such wonderful and unimaginable promises of the brightest future possible. Yet to reach that destination it is vital for us to persist in following Him—to continually repent when we stumble, remaining focused on the goal.

Despite the claims of many who teach “once saved, always saved,” it is always possible, in this life, for those who initially commit to God to subsequently deny Him and lose out on salvation (Hebrews 2:1-3 Hebrews 2:1-3 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him;
American King James Version×
; Hebrews 6:4-6 Hebrews 6:4-6 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
American King James Version×
; Hebrews 10:26-31 Hebrews 10:26-31 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
American King James Version×
).

Nevertheless God speaks of our salvation as sure—as indeed it is as long as we don’t come to a point of rejecting Him and His way, whether through persistent neglect or bitterness.

For those willing to commit their lives to Him, God offers this wonderful perspective in Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 1:13-14 13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
American King James Version×
: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,…the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

And Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×
encourages us with these words: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

As long as we actively seek God’s will and allow His Holy Spirit to work in our lives, our eventual salvation is guaranteed. Yes, God promises to help us every step of the way, through every turn in the road, if we will repent, have faith in Him for the forgiveness of our sins, be baptized and look to Him and His coming Kingdom. (To learn more, read or download our free booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion .)

Now what?

Now that you know what to do, will you act on it, or will you let this precious calling from God go unheeded? Through the prophet Isaiah, God gives us an invitation and a promise: “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7 Isaiah 55:6-7 6 Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
American King James Version×
).

In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
, Paul writes, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (NIV).

If God is calling you, will you respond?

The apostle Peter exhorts all of us: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11 2 Peter 1:10-11 10 Why the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Laid before you, then, is the road to eternal life—the only road. May you follow it, without veering, to the awesome destiny God has planned for you!

You might also be interested in...

Forgiveness is possible through repentance and understanding Christ's perfect...