By Charles Wages
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:57-58)
“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”
This expression, though not Scripture, tells us something about a truth we all need to consider. On the highway of life, though, there are many detours and distractions. However, this should not turn us away from the appointed work the Lord has given us to do. Consider the apostle Paul when he was about to sail from Troas after God called him in a vision to go over to Macedonia. We are told,
“Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samo-thracia, and the next day to Neapolis.” (Acts 16:11)
Note they came “with a straight course” to Samo-thracia, then to Neapolis, then to Philippi. His mission resulted in Lydia, a “certain” woman whose heart was opened, receiving the message Paul was called to preach and teach. Paul never “strayed from the course,” but “stayed with the course.” This same statement is recorded in Acts 21:1,
“And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara.”
Again we find Paul sailing “with a straight course.”
Now, what does this say to us who have been saved by God’s grace and called to work for the Lord? We must stay with and not stray from the “Word of Truth.” Remember what 2 Timothy 2:15 teaches,
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
One of the major tragedies of our present age is that men and women are detouring and even departing from the truth of God’s Word. There is a tendency to substitute tradition for Truth, a tendency to read, study, and quote books instead of the Book. In 2 Timothy 2:13 we are told that men’s words will eat as a cancer because they have “erred” from the truth. This is serious and dangerous and leads to all kinds of spurious and false teachings that lead astray.
In 2 Timothy 3:7-8, we read of those who were “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of truth.” We wonder what these stupid people were learning! And then, sadly, they went so far as to “resist the truth.” Often this is strong resistance and outright opposition to the truth. Finally in 2 Timothy 4:4, we read, “and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” What a downsizing! The results of not “staying the course” concerning the truth of God’s Word were evident then and are surely evident today.
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive:” (Eph. 4:14)
“The truth often hurts, but it is the lie that leaves the scars.”
We must “stay the course” concerning the “gospel of the grace of God,” and the blessed hope it gives to those who have believed. A lot of false teaching goes under the heading of “the gospel.” Most of it goes under the heading of “works.”
Works to be saved, works to earn a place in heaven, works so your good ones outnumber your bad ones and maybe, just maybe, you will make it in the end. All of this nonsense leaves out the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; who was buried, and who rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4). That is the true gospel. Read Ephesians 2:8-10 and substantiate this great, grand, glorious, good news! Let’s stay with God’s grace when we speak of the gospel. The hope of the gospel is Christ Himself.
“To whom God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)
What wonderful, practical, personal directives result in “staying the course.” Going back to 1 Corinthians 15:58, we are to be stedfast—this means to stand firm. We don’t see much of this in “religion” today. “Go with the flow” is more than a saying; it is often the rule. Entertainment instead of worship draws the crowds. “How to” books on every conceivable subject are the best sellers and often the source of conversation. Role models are those of the music, athletic, and media fields. They are often spoken of as “icons.” By standard dictionary definition, an icon is a religious image worshipped by most Eastern religions, an object of uninitiated devotion! Further, an “iconoclast” is one who attacks established beliefs! Yet, men and women are loosely called “icons.” All of this causes human beings to forget the Lord and that He alone is the Saviour of all mankind. The only One we should worship.
We are told to be “unmovable” or “immovable.” We shouldn’t be “tossed to and fro” by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14) but stand our ground on the truth of the Word, even if the “wind” is a hurricane. The last word to consider in a practical directive is “abounding.” It means “exceeding abundantly above” all the tribulation, tragedies, trials, and trepidations that beset us all. We are to “abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13); “abound in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58); “abound in faith, utterance, knowledge, diligence, and in love” (2 Cor. 8:7); and “abounding in thanksgiving” (Col. 2:7).
To conclude, when we “stay the course” we shall know that our labor is not in vain! What a promise, what encouragement, what a hope! Let’s “stay the course!”