The second test of loyalty is the test of continuation (the first test is the test of remoteness, which you can read about here). What this means is this: there are not many people in the world who can be loyal over a long period of time.
The Galatians did not take long to be disloyal to Paul and the gospel he preached to them:
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ (Galatian 1.6)
I get shocked sometimes how quickly people change their minds and change what they were yesterday very committed to. They have failed the test of continuation – can you continue to be loyal over a period of time? Some people can become disloyal shockingly quickly. They are one day 100% behind you – they think you are greatest thing since Martin Luther, but then one event happens that causes them to have a minor disagreement with you and suddenly they are gone. Suddenly and rapidly! It’s amazing. Other people go a bit longer, but as time goes on, they disappear too, they are unable to continue in their loyalty.
There is a remarkable incident in John 6, which when Andrew Wommack preached at the UK pastor’s conference this year (2020), he said it was the highlight of Jesus’ life and ministry and one of the most important things Jesus did. But I want to focus on the people around and look at what they did. One day Jesus was preaching in a synagogue, and He preached something that people did not immediately understand:
53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6.53-59 NLT)
Jesus was preaching and he preached something that people did not get straight away. Some people thought he was literally asking people to feast on His body and drink His blood. But before the sermon even came, things happened:
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6.66-69)
So after being a disciple of Jesus, one sermon they didn’t understand, one sermon they didn’t agree with – they just turned away and deserted him. These people did not pass the test of continuation. This is one of the reasons you must never appoint a new person to a position of leadership – disciples can one day disappear. You need people to pass the test of continuation.
Some people will desert quickly, but other people will be disloyal in a different way, which John then mentions:
70 Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” 71 He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him. (John 6.70-71)
Judas did not walk out the door, but he betrayed Jesus probably around two years later. He was described by Jesus as a devil, but He still hung around for over a year at minimum. Jesus knew even then that over time, later, Judas would betray him. Some people betray early, shockingly early, others over time, but it is the same problem – they do not continue. They do not pass the test of continuation. To be loyal, you have to stick with something. There are so many people not in ministry today because they did not stick with integrity, they did not stick with the pastor God had given them to be faithful and loyal to, they did not stick with God’s leading, they did not stick with the small group God gave them to lead, they did not stick with ushering every week, they did not stick with Bible reading and prayer. There are people who are not successful financially because they did not stick with their idea. They did not pass the test of continuance.
I want you to consider yourself. Will you pass the test of time? Will you be there when everyone else turns their back on someone? Will you preach what the Father tells you to preach even if people walk out on you? Will you last in the ministry? Will you last serving? How long will it be for you to be in the second chair before you organize a coup in your church to take control, and become the next Absalom? Will you be a disciple who turns their back the first time a sermon doesn’t go your way? Will you be a devil inside and stick around a couple of years until you think your betrayal will change everything for you and get you promoted? Or will you be the person in it for the long haul? What will you be?
I want you all to make the choice that you are going to be a continuer. Someone who continues. I want you to be faithful until your last breath and you go and stand before Jesus and He says “Good and faithful servant”. Do what it takes to develop staying power!
Next post will be the test of trouble