Most professed Christians base their salvation on some event that happened in the past, either saying the sinner’s prayer, or perhaps more formally through baptism or catechism.
Once the hoop-jump of faith is done, most assume God keeps their faith and they are good to go. No worries. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we’re in heaven where we can eat, drink and be merry for eternity!
The Apostle Paul puts a different spin on it. When he approaches the end of his life he says, “I have fought a good fight.” Many hijack this phrase to describe a losing battle with cancer or Alzheimers, but Paul is clearly speaking about the fight of faith.
It is odd Paul would consider something that was one-and-done as a fight. Why can’t he be released from his bondage and enjoy the liberty we have in our faith? Hard to tell.
Then he says, “I have finished my course.” Again, this is more “I made it to death with Jesus” application. The course has to do with a race, an event we extend ourselves for. It’s not an easy thing, which you know if you’ve ever competed in a race. It’s serious business requiring the whole self.
Then Paul goes over the top and says, “I have kept the faith.” Paul sees his faith as something he must guard and protect. He is in charge of it. It’s his precious possession that he will secure for himself.
Paul sees himself very much involved with his salvation, with his perseverance. Paul never views his faith as something he is not responsible for. Now, Paul also knows that our faith is in Christ, Paul does not see himself as the object of his faith. Paul speaks very highly of Christ’s role in his perseverance. It is Christ’s power that works mightily in him.
But never once does Paul refer to this as an excuse to take it easy. “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” See how Paul does that? I labor and strive by Christ’s working in Paul. If Christ’s power is in you, you work with it!
This is eternity at stake. Does faith matter? Are we fighting for it? Are we guarding it? Are we running to win? Paul is. Be followers of Paul as he was of Christ.