LAW of PERSEVERANCE

God’s principle is what I call the Law of Perseverance. It is critical to success in life generally and to life in the kingdom especially.

Certain risks go with new life and growth—the risks of freedom, we might say---- but God prepares us for those risks, through perseverance and struggle building our muscles, as it were, for each new phase. To refuse to struggle is to stand still, to stagnate.

Jesus taught the Law of Perseverance in a passage well-known to most Christians.

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks shall find, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then , being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more must your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him!”

We grasp His meaning more fully when we understand that the verbs “ask,” and “seeks,” and “knocks” were written in the Greek present imperative and are to be understood in this manner:

Keep asking , and it shall be given to you, keep seeking, and you shall find; keep knocking, and it shall be opened to you.”

The Father gives “what is good to those who keep asking him.”

He also said , as we have noted, that “‘.....the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men to take it by force.’” It does not come easily. Most of the secrets of God come forth with effort; the blessings of God are the same.

Some Christians have been taught that all one has to do to get things from God is to speak the word of faith, believe, and receive. That comes close to the truth, but it neglects the universal Law of Perseverance. God slowly yields the good things of the kingdom and the world to those who struggle. Jacob, for instance, wrestled all night with an angel before he became Isreal, a prince with God. Abraham waited one hundred years before he received Isaac, the child of promise. The people of Judah waited and struggled seventy years in captivity before God brought them home.

This does not negate the necessity for asking in faith, the believing, and the receiving. But many times these steps are only the beginning of the process The fulfillment make take years. Jesus gave this illustration of perseverance:

Now he was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection rom my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterwards he said to himself, ‘Even if I do not fear God or respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection , lest by continually she wears me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I fell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Jesus knew men inside out. He knew our tendency to give up quickly, to become inconsistent and lackadaisical. Yet he pleaded with us to persist, in prayer and in all aspects of life.

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are already in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”

Keep on asking, He said, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. Don’t even be afraid to make a ruckus God prefers that to slothfulness and indolence. He wants people who will travail and perhaps stumble a bit, but keep on going forward, just like a toddler who’s trying to learn to walk. The child builds muscles and learns. One day he will run.

In the early, trying years of the church, according to the Book of Acts, Paul and Barnabas traveled through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying ‘ Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’”

There was to be conflict, they said, using a word that most translators have rendered “Tribulation’ but which carries the idea of “pressure,” especially pressure on the spirit. This pressure, or tribulation, was understood in News Testament times to build stamina and staying power, leading to fullness of character. That is why the Bible says repeatedly that Christians are to be patient, to hold on, to persist. So we often grow discouraged and quit. Then the principles of the kingdom cease to function in our lives. And we fail!

Even the great prophet Elijah reached such despair. Having experienced on eof his great triumphs, the defeat of the priests of Baal through a powerful miracle of God, he obviously was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically. Jezebel was trying to kill him. He fell into gloom.

“‘It is enough....,’” he cried out. “‘O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.’”

But God would not let him give up. Neither does he want us to quit.

Instead, we are to be constantly alert against discouragement and depression. God will not let trial and temptation overcome us if we will stand, but rather will make a way of victory for us. He wants us to persevere and will make it possible.

Lessons of History.

Had God given us no more insight than the Law of Perseverance together with the Laws of Reciprocity and Use, we would have enough to change the world. We need only think of examples from our own national history.

Consider Abraham Lincoln. He became one of the greatest governmental and moral leaders in American history. But the achievements didn’t come until he had passed through many personal failures, including bankruptcies and endless humiliating labors to make ends meet. The struggles, the battles, the wounds----they equipped him for the environment in which he would make his greatest contribution.

Consider Thomas A. Edison. This greatest of inventors went through hundreds of experiments that were failures before he achieved success with the electric light bulb. He attributed his incredible accomplishment to “two per cent inspiration and ninety-eight percent perspiration”—formula for struggle and perseverance.

Consider the Wright Brothers. On the lonely sands of North Carolina’s outer banks, they battled the elements, the ridicule of men, the lack of resources. They built; they failed; they rebuilt and failed again. Finally, they flew. And the world was changed.

Consider Rubinstein, the pianist, capsulizing this principle when he remarked that should he fail to practice one day, he would know it; should he skip practice for two days, the critics would know it; but should that extend to three days, “the whole world knows it!”

The Secret Kingdom
Pat Robertson-Bob Slosser
(Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1982

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