.... we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive (Eph. 4:14)
The Amplified Bible states this same verse we may no longer be children, tossed like ships to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, the prey of the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, gamblers engaged in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead." Children are unstable. They are gullible and many times believe every story they are told. In the day and age in which we are living, erroneous" teachings are- running rampant, even among evangelical circles. The Christian who is not well grounded and anchored in the Word of God will be tossed around and will find it increasingly easy to compromise on truths in the Word of God that once held a prominent place in his heart and conscience. It becomes almost an act of humility to think, "If Doctor So and So teaches this, who am I to withstand him?" Six different times in his epistles, Paul warns the Christians to stand fast. Rather than being tossed like ships, we are to be anchored fast to the Word of God. Rather than being blown by the wind, we are to remain steadfast to the truths of Scripture.
1.) Stand Fast In The Faith. Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong (I Cor. 16:13). "The faith" represents the basic teachings of the Gospel and the Word of God which confirm our personal faith in Christ and our steadfast hope in God's salvation. On these basic principles we must stand firm. There is no room for compromise with those who say they are evangelical, yet teach the doctrines of good works, keeping the sacraments and church membership as meritorious acts - essential for acceptance before God. "Do not consider every point of doctrine an open question. Matters of faith, doctrines for which you have a clear revelation of God, are to be considered settled, and, as among Christians, no longer matters of dispute." (C. Hodge) The basic doctrines of salvation can never be compromised. They are the pillars of the truth for which we must stand.
2.) Stand Fast In The Liberty Of Christ. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (Gal. 5: 1). In a desperate but human effort to encounter the compromise and careless living of our day and age, some groups have gone to another extreme, introducing legalism into the church. We are creatures of extreme when guided by human wisdom and putting ourselves under a system of law is not the answer to the problems of our day. We have been set free from legal bondage so that we might be free to serve Christ in the Spirit. "The believer now walks in a place that was never known before. He is down here in this world, but he is neither without law, nor yet under law, but is subject to the Lord Jesus Christ, and so is brought into glorious liberty - liberty, of course, not to do the will of the natural man, not to obey the dictates of the flesh, but liberty to glorify God, to adorn the doctrines of Christ by a holy, triumphant life as he passes through this scene. This is the liberty into which Christ has brought us, and now to go back to some legalistic system such as those prevailing in Christendom today, is to become entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (H. Ironside)
3.) Stand Fast In The Unity Of The Gospel. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27). God has established a unity in the Church which in Ephesians is referred to as "the unity of the Spirit" and we are exhorted to keep this unity. This passage in Philippians makes it clear how we can stand fast in this unity. It is not by compromising the truth so that we all might seem to believe the same thing. It is not by social activities so that we might appear to be one big, happy family. It is by striving together for the faith of the gospel. The word "striving or contending" is from the Greek word from which we get our English word "athlete". To this is added the word "together". The thought is "of a team, like a football team; or, a regiment of soldiers, who together contend in a desperate struggle. They must have one spirit and one soul and, though there may be many persons, they work together as one. In Zephaniah 3:9 we are exhorted to serve Him with one accord or with one shoulder." (G. Christopher Willis) We have in many cases lost the fellowship of the unity of the Spirit because we have lost the objective of serving together in the defense and propagation of the Gospel.
4. Stand Fast In The Hope Of His Coming. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ ... Therefore, my beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved (Phil. 3:20;4:1). Seeing our citizenship is in heaven and we look for the Savior to come and take us there, "the believing hope and prospect of eternal life should engage us to be steady, even, and constant, in our Christian course." (Matthew Henry) So often we become swallowed up by the responsibilities and temporal gains of our earthly citizenship, that we fail to live for that higher citizenship which will result in much greater glory. As the above verses would indicate, to the beloved Apostle of the Lord, the saints of God were a very special people who had a far greater future than the prospects of this world could possibly equal. To live steadfast in the Christian hope is to live without any stakes driven into this earth. It is to stand fast in an outlook that is marked by the realization that we are only temporary residents of a very temporary scene.
5.) Stand Fast In The Midst Of Tribulation. Therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord (I Thess. 3:7,8). "The Thessalonian Christians were firm in their loyalty to the gospel which had been declared unto them; but they were enduring suffering, persecution, and affliction for the sake of the Kingdom of God. To these people Paul wrote; and the letter therefore was one intended to comfort those who were suffering for their loyalty to Christ." (G. Campbell Morgan) It is commendable when Christians are willing to stand firm for the Gospel no matter what kind of reproach they may have to endure. The ridicule of the Gospel message is growing stronger and stronger in our days. It will cost more to be faithful to the truth of the Gospel message, but we have many examples in past centuries of those who stood firm and faithfully preached the Gospel message in all of its New Testament purity. May we be found among them as the end of this age of grace draws near.
6.) Stand Fast In The Traditions Of Holy Scripture. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle (2 Thess. 2:15). Often we come across articles in our day that criticize so-called "brethren tradition". One cannot be sure exactly what this term includes, but it seems to infer that among the assemblies we are holding truths that are merely traditional and have no Scriptural basis for our present times. Certainly any traditions that do not have any Scriptural basis ought to be carefully examined. On the other hand, we ought not to discard the traditions that we have been taught. Many of them are directly based upon Scriptural teaching and others have come about as a result of carefully examining the Scriptures in times past. In fact, many of these truths were practiced under much personal tribulation. Since the New Testament itself is almost two thousand years old, there is a real sense in which all that we believe is "tradition". The truths that are taught in the New Testament were practiced by the early church and these truths have been passed on century after century by godly teachers who continue to practice them. We do not throw out truths because they are old or because they were taught in the nineteenth century. In fact, we are exhorted here, to stand fast in these traditions and we dare not let them slip away. Without them, we will not be teaching the truths of New Testament antiquity which form the whole basis of our faith and the foundation of all New Testament church principles.
There is no doubt that we are facing days ahead that will be filled with tremendous changes. As these changes take place, we need special ability and power to stand fast and not be swept away with the current tide of thinking. It has always been true that the Christian must learn to swim against the tide. This is never easy; in fact, it can be agonizing at times. As Paul brings his letter to the Romans to a close, the Spirit of God gives us a tremendous promise in regard to standing fast. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand (Rom. 14:4). The Lord is mighty and He is able to support us and make us stand. The tide is strong, but the Master is stronger - FOR GOD IS ABLE and HE WILL MAKE US STAND. The secret of standing fast is being much on our knees before God. Without Him, we cannot do it.