Paul, a servant of God, an apostle
of Jesus Christ, had served the Lord faithfully from the day of his conversion
to the time of his departure. Paul in his ministry had suffered a great deal,
but in spite of all the perils, persecutions and frequent imprisonments he had
kept the word of God till his dying day. That was way he was able to sing a
triumphant song before he died. The triumphant song he sang is beautiful and is
“I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith:
Henceforth here is laid up for me
a crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous judge, shall give me at that day...”
(2 Tim 4:7-8)
I Have Fought a Good Fight
The route to the heavenly kingdom
is by no means a smooth one. We have to fight many spiritual battles before we
can enter into the kingdom
of God, as the Lord Jesus
once said that everyone has a cross to bear. Paul in his letter addressed to
Timothy encouraged him to fight a good battle. The kind of battle Paul wanted
Timothy to fight was not the ordinary battle of flesh and blood. It was against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (1 Tim 1:18; Eph 6:12).
There are numeral instances in the
Bible where prominent people like Daniel and Joseph fought many great battles.
However, there are some who lost their’s miserably. For instance, Lot in his spiritual warfare lost everything including
his dear wife. Samson is another example. He not only lost his two precious
eyes which were gorged out by his enemies, in the end he perished together with
the Philistines among the falling rubble.
Spiritual battles must be fought
with God on our side before we can overcome our enemies. At the battle of Rephidim,
Moses told Joshua to choose his men to go out to war against the Amalekites.
Moses would stand on top of the hill with the rod of God in his hand. So Joshua
fought the Amalekites while Moses, Aaron and Nur went up to the top of the
hill. During the battle, when Moses held up his hands Israel
prevailed; and when he let down his hands, the Amalekites prevailed. But Moses’
hands soon became heavy; and they took a stone and put it under him and he sat
on it, while Aaron and Hur each one supported Moses by his side. Then Moses’
hands were steady until the going down of the sun. Joshua managed to kill the
Amalekites with the help of God.
Preaching the gospel is a form of
spiritual warfare. The Lord Jesus before His ministry had already fought three
victorious battles. After the Lord had fasted for forty days He became hungry.
Then the devil tempted Him and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command this
stone that it be made bread.” And Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written,
‘That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” And the
devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him,
“All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered
unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me,
all shall be thine.” And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Get thee behind me,
Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only
shalt thou serve.” And he brought Him to Jerusalem, and set I urn on a pinnacle
of the temple, and said unto Him, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down
from hence: For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over thee, to
keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou
dash thy foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answering said unto him, “It is
said, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’” And when the devil had ended
all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season” (Lk 4:2-13).
To those who preach, Paul quoting
from the scriptures said, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good
news!” (Rom 10:15).
I Have Finished the Course
The second line of Paul’s
triumphant song is “I have finished the course.” This means everyone who has
undergone baptism there remains a course for him to complete. To some this
course may he a long and uneven one; to others it may be short and smooth.
Whatever the course may he, one has to complete it. Baptism is but the first
step of salvation. After baptism we still have to strive for spiritual
advancement and to seek the help of the Holy Spirit, lest we should fall into
temptation. Though our sins are forgiven after the baptism yet our body is
still susceptible to sin. Paul was fully aware of this. In his second epistle
to the Corinthians he said, “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after
preaching to others I myself should he disqualified” (1 Cor 9:27).
We must always press forward in
our pilgrimage to the heavenly kingdom. The Lord Jesus said that no one who
puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
Paul understood this soon after he was called by God. He had set Jesus Christ
as his goal to be achieved. In his letter to all the saints at Philippi, he said, “Not that I have already obtained this
or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus
has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own;
but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what
lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12-14). Peter is another fine example. He had followed
the Lord until his death. During the Lord’s ministry many people followed Him
because of food. When the Lord did not perform any more miracle of providing
them with food, one after another left him. Then Jesus said to the twelve
disciples, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to
whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”.
(Jn 6:68). Moses is yet another good example who had served the Lord God
faithfully till he died. Moses said to his people before they entered into the promised land, “I am a hundred and twenty years old this
day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You
shall not go over this Jordan”
(Deut 31:1-2). So Moses had served the Lord faithfully till he died.
However, in the course of our
journey to the heavenly kingdom we may be weary at times. For this reason we
need the Holy Spirit and the truth to strengthen us. Prophet Elijah experienced
spiritual low ebb after a day’s run being pursued by Jezebel’s men. I-he
requested God to take away his life for he was no better than his forefathers.
Then he lay under a juniper tree and fell asleep. But
God sent an angel to him with bread and water and woke him up to eat and drink.
After eating and drinking he was strengthened and he continued to run for forty
days and forty nights until he arrived at Horeb, the Mount of God (1 Kings
19:1-7). Similarly, we need the help of the Holy Spirit and the truth to
complete our course.
I Have Kept the Faith
It is a fact that it is not easy
to set up a business, but it is even more difficult to run one successfully
after having it set up. This is also true of preaching. Very often we find that
it is so difficult to preach to a person and after he is baptized we find that
it is even more difficult for him to preserve his faith. God has foreseen this
human weakness and so He spoke to Elder John in the Isle of Patmos telling him
to hold fast to what he had, so that no one might seize his crown (Rev 3:11).
One way to preserve our faith is
to let the word of Christ dwell richly in us as Paul had encouraged the
Colossians to do (Col
3:16). If we have the word of God in us we can resist trials and temptations as
the Lord did against Satan. The author of the letter to the Hebrews exhorts us
to pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. The
author exhorts further that we should not neglect to meet together, as is the
habit of some, but to encourage one another, and all the more knowing that the
day of the second coming of the Lord is drawing nearer.
The next thing we can do is to be
patient as advised by James: “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming
of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also
be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas
5:7-8). Job was put to the greatest trial. He had lost everything including his
precious children within a day. Yet he held on to God and was able to preserve
his faith. In the end God blessed him doubly (Job 42:10).
We must be strong in the Lord and
take up the whole armour of God to resist any temptation and also to hold fast
to what we have till the Lord comes again.
Paul is certain that a crown of
righteousness will be laid up for him after he had fought a good fight, finished
the course and kept the faith. We too, can obtain the crown of righteousness
from the Lord if we can be as faithful as Paul: to fight a good fight, to
finish the course and to keep the faith to the end. Then we too shall be able
to sing a triumphant song like Paul when our life is over. Should we not think
seriously about it?