One of the greatest temptations you and I will ever face in this life is to spiritually drift away from the Lord. No one is immune—no matter how long and faithfully they have walked with the Lord.
The late Dr. Joe Aldrich, former president of Multnomah Bible College, is one of several godly men who have motivated me to stay in the Christian race until the end. I still remember many of the lessons I learned under his mentorship nearly 30 years ago. On Dr. Joe’s desk at his death a few days ago was the following statement: “I surrender my life into the hands of God, knowing He has predestined for me His best. I will count the cost and by God's grace I will pay the price to become the best that I am capable of becoming. I will hold to my course and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will finish strong.” Powerful words from an amazing man whose ministry and life were cut short by Parkinson’s disease.
Besides Dr. Joe, few men have influenced me more than Dr. John G. Mitchell, founder of what is now Multnomah University. Dr. John F. Walvoord once said Dr. Mitchell reminded him of an aged apostle. Never have I met a man who was more in love with the Savior. On two occasions Dr. Mitchell made a point of reminding me—more than sixty years his junior—that there are only three reasons Christians die. These reasons are true in Scripture, in church history, and in our experience today. Believers die (A) because of the discipline of God, 1 Corinthians 11:29−30; 1 John 5:16, (B) for the glory of God, John 21:18−19, and/or (C) because their work is finished, 2 Timothy 4:6−8. Dr. Mitchell also urged me to make sure, when it comes time to die, that dying is all I have left to do.
Thanks to the influence of Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Joe, and others, I love God’s Word. As a teenager, I started reading it from cover to cover, and before college I had memorized nearly 100 pages of Scripture. I’ve read through the Bible dozens of times. And I’ve discovered that only four chapters don’t talk about sin and temptation. From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 we find that the biggest temptation is for believers to experientially “lose” our faith. How? We stop doing what the Lord says. Why? We stop believing what God’s Word says.
The startling truth is no one exempt from the temptation to experientially “lose” his or her faith. Not even Dr. Mitchell. Not even Dr. Joe. Thankfully, both did finish well. The question is, how will you and I die? Are we willing to make Dr. Joe’s commitment our own?
Consider it again: “I surrender my life into the hands of God, knowing He has predestined for me His best. I will count the cost and by God's grace I will pay the price to become the best that I am capable of becoming. I will hold to my course and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will finish strong.”