“THE BLESSINGS OF CONTINUING”
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”-Acts 2:42
To begin something is one thing, but to be faithful to continue in it is another matter. While Baptism and a confession of our faith in Jesus Christ is a great act of faith, we know that this is just the beginning. We would not discourage those whose hearts have been stirred to follow Christ. But those who have enlisted in His army know from experience that the most difficult challenges lie beyond the waters of baptism. As we read the gospels we will be quick to notice the crowds of people when Jesus performed His mighty miracles. But when the comfort level diminished, so did the crowds. In the beginning of the Acts we find only 120 souls who continued with Him “in His persecutions”. But the choicest blessings He reserved for those who “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Jesus always reserved His best blessings for those who continued with Him. It was three days journey into the wilderness before He fed the multitude with seven
loaves and a few little fishes, “then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I
have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way”-Matthew 15:32. Surely Jesus did not lead this multitude out into the wilderness for no reason. And equally so, there was never a doubt in His mind as to how He would care for their needs. Those who turned back on the first day missed out on a great blessing. Those who turned back on the second day missed out on a great blessing. And those who turned back the third day, who had wandered that far, missed the blessing as well. But those who continued were fed, and some of these were children. They followed Him the farthest because they were “disciples indeed”(John 8:31). They loved Him the most. For these the blessings were withheld for three days! Those who continue are fed.
We are also encouraged to continue in prayer. In His parable of the unjust judge(Luke 18:1-8), the widow’s petition was granted because of her “continual coming”, and this by an unjust man. Our conclusion is drawn by Jesus, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” While many may say, “I have prayed once, that is enough. If God wants to grant this petition He will.” But if the matter is continually upon our hearts should we not continue to carry it to the throne of grace? Does not our continual knocking require an answer? Perhaps He waits to see if we are serious enough about our petition to continue knocking. And even if our answer is not in the affirmative, we can know that we will be given grace sufficient to bear our problem out. We are to continue knocking.
Before we close let us notice a few particulars. These faithful Christians continued in “doctrine”. They did not change it to please a changing world. They continued in “fellowship”. They loved one another and being with one another. They continued in the “breaking of bread”. The unleavened bread was an emblem of our Lord’s body, broken for their sins. This outward expression of their inward affections was a constant reminder of their Lord and redeemer. And they continued in “prayer”. There were those special times that they met for that purpose alone. To pour out their hearts unto God thus showing they were not sufficient in themselves. They stood in need of the Lord’s mercy and grace to “continue”.
What would Jesus have Christians do in 1999 when so many people have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God ; when His house is forsaken on the Sabbath Day; when an interest in His word has been substituted by an interest in the world; when there is no fear of God before the eyes of the people? What did the infant church do? They “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers?” For that little band of believers the richest blessings of the infant church were enjoyed because they “continued”. To fathers we say, “Continue”. To mothers we say, “Continue”. To our children we say, “Continue”. To pastors, deacons, and all lovers of God we encourage you to continue. He is coming back. Let us be found faithful when He returns. Lord, we need thy grace to continue. We pray for an extra measure!
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning.
By His mercy and grace,
Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor