“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Think about this word “unswervingly” for a moment. The Hebrew form of this word is defined as “not inclining, firm, unmoved.” I used to live in a very populated city. The sidewalks were always full of people. When I was in a hurry, I became frustrated with those who sauntered from side to side. I wanted to yell at them and say, “Pick a side!” But I refrained! God calls us to keep moving forward in our faith, not turning to the left or the right. Keep walking in the ways He has clearly shown us. Keep believing the truths of His Word. Keep proclaiming His gospel, even when it is difficult. When we profess our faith to others, some will doubt us, mock us, reject us, and in some cases even attack us physically, emotionally, and verbally. But we are told not to turn away from our faith. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. He is our risen Lord and Savior. He is the One we are to follow to determine our values, behaviors, decisions, and purpose in life. “For He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23b).
In Acts 6 and 7, we learn of a man who was “unswerving” in his faith. Hebrews 11:37 mentions that some heroes of the faith were stoned to death. Possibly the writer was thinking of Stephen when he wrote this description of a martyr’s death. Look at the incredible courage and faith of this man of God:
"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him . . . While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:55-60
We see several characteristics of unswerving faith in this story. In Acts 6 and 7 we observe that even when opposition arose against Stephen, he continued to speak the truth boldly and honestly about the gospel. In doing this, he angered the leaders of the synagogue for he did not sugarcoat his message. In other words, he did not dilute the message so that they would not get upset with him. In Acts 7:51-52 he told them that they were resisting the Holy Spirit, and that “they even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One” (referring to John the Baptist). “And now you have betrayed and murdered Him” (referring to Jesus).
Whatever Stephen received from the Lord, he communicated this to others. When he openly shared how he could see heaven with Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father, he certainly knew that this would enrage the religious leaders for it would be considered blasphemy. He also knew that blasphemy was punishable by death, yet he did not cower from speaking the truth. This is the epitome of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Stephen was thoroughly convinced that people needed to know the truth of the gospel so that they might be saved. Even if it cost him his life, he would not hinder the going forth of the message of salvation.
Paul’s words in Romans 10 mirror the convictions of his predecessor, Stephen. “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved . . . Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:1, 13). Though our friends and neighbors may not feel our communication of the gospel is “politically correct,” “relevant for today,” or “culturally sensitive,” God is calling us to proclaim Him boldly, even if there is a sacrifice to be paid. We are to do this in conjunction with acts of kindness and love. Always remember that the most loving thing we can do for someone is to lead them to the path of eternal life. Ask the Lord to help you have unswerving faith so that those around you may know the truth and have everlasting life with God.
Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 6-7
An excerpt from Mission Impossible written by Sue Corl