Summary: Paul said to put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Without this weapon of endurance we will not stand but fall wounded from his fiery darts of affliction.
William Lloyd Garrison was born in 1805 and when he became a
man he had the audacity to think he could remove a mountain and
altar the flow the river of history. Slavery was that mountain, and
what a mountain it was. Slavery had existed from the dawn of
civilization, and it was one of the most firmly rooted institutions in
human history. The great empires of Egypt, Greece, and Rome were
built on slave labor. The then English speaking world accepted it as
normal and essential. The blessing of the church was upon it. In
1713 the Peace of Trecht was signed which gave England a
monopoly on the West African slave trade. The treaty was
celebrated in St. Paul's Cathedral where they sang a special hymn
written for the occasion by the Christian composer Handel.
Slavery was likewise entrenched in America. In 1835 the
governor of South Carolina declared, "Slavery is the cornerstone of
our Republican ediface. Destroy slavery and you put a stop to all
progress." A professor at Yale University said, "If Jesus Christ
were now on earth, he would, under certain conditions, be a slave
holder." Most all men of prominence had slaves, including the
president and the members of the Supreme Court. The law honored
it, the church blessed it, and practically everyone defended it. It was
a mountain of gigantic proportions, and who could dare be so
presumptuous as to think they could dent it let alone remove it?
Only a man who took Jesus very literally when He said that faith
is a grain of mustard seed could remove mountains would even
attempt. Garrison was that man. It was as if David took on, not
just Goliath, but a whole army of Philistine giants. Garrison was
laughed to scorn as if he was a fool of the first class. He became the
most hated man of his time. He was ostracized and burned in effigy.
He was denounced from every corner of society. Nevertheless he
believed God would help him win, and the Bible was the hammer he
used to pound away at the mountain of slavery.
Norman Vincent Peale, who writes of this great battle in his book
You Can Win says of Garrison, "He brought down his battle
hammer and a faint tingle was heard. The people laughed and
booed and sneered. But Garrison brought it down again and again.
Blow after blow fell until his little hammer became a great sledge,
the reverberations of which could be heard throughout the land.
As he beat with his faith upon the mountain, a crack began to show.
It widened until the people shouted with a mighty voice, "Look, the
mountain is breaking!"
Almost beyond belief is the historical fact that 58 years after the
birth of Garrison slavery was outlawed forever in the United States.
Jesus said that those who followed Him would do greater things
even than He did, and history is filled with examples of the
fulfillment of that prophecy. Faith can remove mountains, but only
by persevering, persistent, never ending steady pounding. That is
why Peter wants Christians to add to their self-control, patience, or
as it is better translated steadfastness or endurance. It refers to that
quality of character that keeps on keeping on regardless of the cost,
obstacles, and opposition. Garrison could have been bold, wise, and
under control, and still have been a total flop had he given up. All
the other virtues are of no avail if one lacks endurance and
persistence. It is the holding on when letting go is so tempting that
wins the battle. It is he who endures to the end that shall be saved,
and that is what Peter has in mind here.
He wants us to make our calling and election sure, and he wants
us to be fruitful Christians. The whole New Testament stresses that
these goals are only reached through perseverance. Now you might
get confused by all the different words used to describe this basic
and powerful virtue, but the Arndt and Gingrich Greek Lexicon
says that all five of these English words are in the Greek word
hupomone-patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, and
These words indicate that the weapon we are now considering is
valuable in both defensive and offensive warfare. The words like
endurance and fortitude give us a picture of making a stand and
holding your ground against every attack of the enemy. The word
perseverance conveys the picture of marching into enemy territory
and forcing the foe to retreat before your persistent and progressive
power. Both are essential for victory, and both were clearly evident
in Garrison as he stood fast and marched forward. Let's look
I. THE STANDING FAST ASPECT.
Paul said to put on the whole armor of God that you may be able