James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”
In my last blog, I had endeavoured to show that the crown of life mentioned in James is none other than the crown of eternal life. And if that is so, we must, therefore, conclude that the crown of life is only given to those who remain steadfast in the gospel. Those who persevere in their faith, unmoved until the very end of their lives, or until Christ returns again. To put the matter negatively, the crown of life is not given to those who do not unwaveringly hold to the gospel until the end.
Since eternal life is only promised to those who have been faithful, how are we to have assurance of our faith? If I fall away, and consequently am eternally lost, shouldn’t I be afraid? We all know we how weak we are, how prone to sin and to unbelief. Isn’t our eternal security then, hanging by a thread?
I think we can be eternally secure. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
On the basis of this promise – we do well to reflect upon the trials we are presently facing. James promises us that God only brings good and perfect gifts to His children. And furthermore, God is called the “Father of Lights”. That means that He created all things, including the lights. These include the sun, moon, and stars.
Among those lights, there are varying degrees of light. Ah, says James, but that’s the difference here. There are no varying degrees of goodness and perfection with God.
Furthermore, God never changes in His intentions towards His children. He seeks our good. And if God seeks our good, the very trials we fear might cause us to stumble should not concern us.
Notice that God only brings that which serves our long term, eternal good. We need to start with this affirmation. It encourages us to know and believe that God is actively assuring our faithfulness.
Now go to James 1:18a. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth…” This verse promises us that our salvation, when it is indeed a genuine salvation begins with God. Our salvation was not birthed out of our weak decision-making process, we were born from above.
Now to James 1:18b. “…that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.” This passage reminds us that we are precious to God. He won’t take His children out of His sight. And doesn’t that bring you confidence?
But someone will still say: “if all you said is true, how do I know God really chose me for salvation? And furthermore, if all of this is only made certain when I reach the end and can say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight?”
What if we reach our end and have not fought the good fight?
Some time ago – someone sent me a letter in which they told me they weren’t going to fight sin anymore. After all, they had noticed a number of other Christians weren’t fighting it either.
But that isn’t you is it? Your trials may awaken you to temptations, but you just won’t give up. And why is that? It is because when you got your faith in the first place, it was a genuine faith and not a knock-off.
So, rejoice. And take the warning seriously. And fight.
For in the end, Christ will give you the victory and you will receive the crown of life.