For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.
Ephesians 2:8a (TEV)
Faith is not just deciding to accept Christ, any more than the journey is just deciding to step out the door. And reaching your destination involves far more than believing you would like to go there some day.
“If any of you wants to follow me, you must put aside your selfish ambition and live like you are willing to die for God’s kingdom.” (Mark 8:34 paraphrased)
The journey isn’t easy. “The gate is small, and the road is narrow. Only a few people ever find it.” (Matthew 7:14 paraphrased)
You will have to fight to get there. Some of us will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. Many of us will be hated all over the world because of our allegiance to Christ. Many will turn their backs on Jesus and betray each other. And false teachers will lead many people away from the simple Gospel truth. But Jesus’ promise is that “those who endure to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13 NLT)
We focus all our energy on one thing: Forgetting the past and keeping our eyes on what lies ahead, straining to reach the finish line, so we can receive the prize God is holding up for us in heaven. (Philippians 3:13b-14)
In the meantime, we draw strength from the promise that God blesses the people who patiently endure the tests and challenges of following Jesus. We keep reminding each other that, when everything is said and done, we will receive the “crown of life” God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
So make sure your heart is sincere and committed to Christ. Listen to his instructions and live life his way, not the world’s. Encourage each other every day, so no one lets himself be drawn back into the slavery to sin from which Jesus died to set us free. And “if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:14 NLT)
No, we aren’t there yet. But we’re getting there.