In Revelation 2:10, Jesus tells Christians: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Christians have adopted this concept into our understanding of salvation, and rightly so. The implication of the verse is that if we are NOT faithful until death, then we will NOT receive the crown of life. It follows that remaining faithful is part of the salvation process.
But what does it mean to “be faithful until death?”
I ask because in many cases I’m afraid our concept of “being faithful” has shrunk down to the concept of “coming to church at least occasionally.” After all, if a baptized believer comes to church regularly, though we know nothing else about them, we may say, “they are a faithful Christian.” Likewise, when a brother or sister who has been attending ceases to show up on Sunday morning, we say “they used to be faithful, but they have fallen away.”
Please do not misunderstand my point, church attendance is extremely important. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are instructed to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.”
In addition to this clear Biblical instruction not to forsake the assembly, there is also the fundamental question: why on earth would a member of the body of Christ not yearn with everything that is in them to be encouraged by their brethren, worship their creator, and partake of the Lord’s Supper? There are certainly situations in which the basic need to provide for the family, or physically debilitating conditions, make regular attendance impossible, and I do not intend to undermine those situations. Nevertheless, church attendance is important.
But with the importance of church attendance established, let me caution us against assuming that it is the only important factor in “being faithful.” Biblical faith is trusting and obeying God unconditionally. Being unfaithful, then, can manifest itself in any outward disobedient activity that results from a lack of trust.
- Jesus did not say “if you don’t go to church enough” but rather “”if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:15)
- Jesus did not say “whoever doesn’t attend worship”, but “whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
- Jesus did not merely say “he who warmed the pew at least 50% of the time will enter the kingdom of heaven” but “only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
- Jesus taught that people will be excluded from God’s eternal presence not because “they slept in on Sunday morning” but because “to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” (Matthew 25:45)
God requires not merely an hour from you on Sunday, but your very heart and soul. By God’s grace may we be reunited some day in heaven, having been faithful until death.