He Will Sustain You to the End

Do you ever worry your faith might fail before you finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7)? On days when avoiding irreparable spiritual shipwreck seems to require every bit of strength your weak soul possesses, do you fear you won’t be able to keep this up long-term? I think all Christians wonder at one time or another if they will persevere until the end. There are some seasons in which we feel strong in the Lord and confident that we will one day hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). In others, we feel like we are being crushed by troubles of this world, assailed by temptations, and pummeled by demonic foes. It’s in these latter times of spiritual heaviness that doubt festers and hope dwindles. And it’s in these times we desperately need to believe these faith-building words: “He will sustain you to the end” (1 Corinthians 1:8).

Yes, we are weak. Yes, the fight of faith requires enormous and continuous energy. But it is not we who supply this energy—it is God who supplies it. Listen to how Paul described his own toil and struggle in running his race: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29; emphasis mine). He recognized the energy he expended while fulfilling God’s call on his life was not something he mustered up but something God provided. Elsewhere he wrote, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Paul knew and wanted his readers to know that every bit of our willing, working, fighting, and striving to do the will of God is empowered by God.

But you would think God’s power in us would feel more powerful than it often does, wouldn’t you? I tend to believe if the omnipotent God were really at work in me, I would be an unquenchable fire of spiritual vitality. However, the energy I sense within myself today to abide in Jesus doesn’t feel very potent or abundant. It feels more like God has given me just enough power to continue believing, trusting, and obeying Christ for today and no more.

But isn’t this “sufficient for the day” thing pretty consistent with the way the Lord works? When the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness to the Promised Land, God supplied for them enough manna for one day and one day only. He wanted his wandering people to have faith in his continual provision (or as John Piper likes to call it, his “future grace”) rather than in their own ability to sustain themselves. Jesus applied this principle to spiritual reality when he taught his disciples how to pray: “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3; emphasis mine). “Daily bread” here can certainly mean physical nourishment. But Jesus also said “man cannot live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Being that heavenly bread (John 6:35) is far more important than earthly bread, I believe Jesus was instructing his disciples to pray primarily for spiritual sustenance on a daily basis—because that’s how God disperses it. He supplies power and grace for gospel-driven living one day at a time.

Just as God was faithful to provide daily manna to the Israelites until they reached their promised inheritance, he is also faithful to provide to us all the spiritual sustenance we need until we reach our eternal inheritance. It may not feel like much some days, but we can know that it is, at the very least, just enough. If we have truly been regenerated, our sovereign God assures us he will bring to beautiful completion the work he began in us (Philippians 1:6). He will present us blameless before Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Jude 24). He will sustain us to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8).

  • Lyle Nelson

    Matt, you put it so very well when you referenced “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). Jesus intends for us to rely on Him all of the time. In fact, I suspect that “day’ was somewhat of an arbitrary choice and might also be “hour” or “minute” or “second”. When we begin to think that we have ANY part of the future figured out, and don’t need His help, then we’re doomed to destruction. It doesn’t take long for something really bad to happen to us, for which we need His protection. Think of a fatal car accident, for example. We dare not remove ourselves from His loving care and choose to “go it alone”. We must rely on Him every second; that’s His choice, and that is where our ultimate hope must be placed. A “part-time God” is not what we need.

  • Each and every single day is a fight for me. Some days I don’t have to put up a fight at all and I coast right on through. Other days though…I get beat up all to hell and my temptations nearly overwhelm me. I am thankful that the day in only 24 hours, because anymore than that I would be exhausted. Still, I wake up each day, thanking God that I am alive, and prepare again to do battle with Satan’s lies and my human failings; thanking God for my victories and praying for His strength when I fail.

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  • I was thinking about Peter in the Bible and how many times I’ve been just like him. What do I mean? I’m speaking about when Jesus was telling the disciples that they would all leave Him in a little while. What does Peter say, in my own words, Oh no Lord, Not me! Even if I have to be crucified too, I’m not leaving! Jesus tells Peter, Before the rooster crows this morning you will deny Me 3 times. What then does Peter say? Does he ask the Lord to help him? Nope. Does he ask the Lord to forgive him? No. Instead Peter corrects God saying, No not me! I don’t think Peter was trying to be disrespectful or call Jesus a lier, I think Peter had let his mouth overload his behind. I don’t think Jesus was mad with or like we do when we get frustrated with someone, suck our teeth!
    Jesus knew how much Peter wanted what he was saying to be true, how wholeheartedly Peter believed he knew what he would do. It’s like this with us, I better say with me because I don’t know you. In your mind right now go back to that night in that garden and you take Peter’s place there beside the Christ Jesus. If you knew what you know about yourself now standing there, what would you say when Jesus looked at you and said, You will all leave me. ?
    Have all of us not done the same thing at some point in our walk with Christ, if you are like me it’s been many times.