The Bible makes it plain that only those who are faithful until the end will be saved. Luke 9:62 says that “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” And Hebrews 3:14 says, “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Jesus told the church in Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10b)
There can be no doubt that Christ demands a life of faithfulness.
Realizing this is demanded should not cause our hearts to fear. God has promised to keep us firm until the end. And furthermore, God has given us all the encouragement that we need for a life lived in faithfulness. I have said, from James 5:7-12, there are 4 attitudes necessary to be faithful to the end. The first is the lesson being patient in our sufferings.
The second is to resolve to please Christ alone. James teaches us, “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (James 5:8b-9)
The ESV says “establish your heart”. Other translations say, “strengthen your heart”. OR, make the center of your will, intellect, and emotions strong. This is more than a passive waiting it is an active strengthening of resolve. The same Greek word is used of Jesus in Luke 9:51. There it says, “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” That is, Jesus was resolved to press forward, and not allow anything or anyone to hinder Him.
That is the same word James uses. It is the same way that ancient soldiers would stand firm when they were preparing for battle. They would form battle formations and look ahead as the enemy advanced. It was frightful, and every impulse was to run away. But they have a resolve. They have established their heart.
If we go back to James 1:6, we notice that James abhors the doubter, who is like an ancient ship, constantly driven one way, then the other, with each tossing of the wind. Let not that man, says James, think he will receive anything from the Lord.
In contrast, the man or woman of resolve doesn’t move, but like our soldier, remains in battle formation. How is such an attitude possible? Notice that in our passage, James refers to the coming of Jesus, not once but twice. First, he says that the coming of the Lord is at hand, and then he adds, the judge is standing at the door.
Of course – it is not just James that speaks this way. Paul also does. In Romans 13:12, he writes, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.” Peter speaks that way as well. In 1 Peter 4:7, Peter writes, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” John writes the same way in 1 John 2:18. “Children, it is the last hour.”
So, what builds resolve? Is it not the strong inclination that the night is almost over, and the great king stands now at the door, waiting to enter. How important then, to resolve, in our minds, to continue to think of the certainty of the coming day.