Cotham's Comments, May 1993
By Perry B. Cotham
Millions watched and listened to Super Bowl XXVII. It was the 4th quarter and the Cowboys had a commanding lead. Leon Lett, a 278 pound defensive lineman for the Cowboys, recovered a fumble and started pounding his way toward the goal line. He thought he was all alone. He slowed up at the five yard line, already celebrating. But one of the Bills was coming close behind, and before Lett's foot came down in the end zone, the ball was slapped out of his hands. It rolled out of the end zone for a touch back. The Cowboys lost the touchdown and the Bills had the ball.
A terrific message comes across from this exciting play. Mr. Lett made a fine accomplishment in recovering the fumble and running for the touchdown. He would have made it if he had protected the football and not slowed down. Many people make the same mistake in life. They fumble at the goal line! In like manner, Satan (I Pet. 5:8-9) uses every means possible to pull Christians off guard. He is relentless in his efforts to destroy us.
Children of God have trials (James 1:2-4). Life is often tough. We may feel threatened and defenseless. Still, Jesus provides his followers a sense of confidence. We can win the victory. Although, only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 10:22; 24:13). Christians must "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6).
In the early centuries, martyrdom was often the price of admitting to being a Christian. According to tradition, Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, was brought before a Roman magistrate on a charge of being a Christian. The judge was reluctant to condemn to death an 86 year old man and begged him to say that he was not a follower of Christ. Polycarp exclaimed: "How can I deny the Lord who has saved me?" He was tied to the stake and burned.
Domitian was the Roman emperor from A.D. 81-96. He demanded to be worshipped. He persecuted those who refused to honor him as God. He banished John to Patmos. When John wrote the book of Revelation, the church was under savage persecution. Satan meant to destroy the church, and Domitian was his tool. Many died for the cause of Christ (Rev. 2:13). John hears the martyrs cry out, "How long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:10). Justice will come one day, and the faithful will be rewarded.
Physical life is temporary. After death comes the judgment (Rom. 14:10, 12). What a day that will be! For the unrepentant sinner and the unfaithful child of God, it will be a time of terror; for the faithful Christian it will be the glorious dawning of Paradise regained (Rev. 2:7).
Perseverance is the key to final victory. If we give up or give in, it is as if we never started (2 Pet. 2:20-2 1; Ezek. 18:2-4; 33:13, 18; Matt. 15:5-6, 21). Some have given up the struggle against sin and error, and have gone back to the world (I Tim. 1: 19-20; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; 4: 1 0).
Your name can be blotted out of the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5; Ex. 32:32-33). Those not named in the Book of Life will be condemned to everlasting punishment (Rev. 20:15). The promises to the 7 churches of Asia (Rev. 2:3) are conditioned upon faithful resistance to temptation. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Rev. 21:7-8).
God gives armor to enable us to stand against Satan's schemes (Eph. 6:1 1). He expects us to stand firm and never give up. Victory for the faithful and true is inevitable. It will come. We must be loyal. We must resist the attacks of Satan.
The church's most dangerous enemy comes from within (Acts 20:30-3 1). The Lord predicted that many Christians would leave the faith (Matt. 24:9-10; 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 Tim. 4:1-3). Unfaithful, ungodly church members do not have the promise of final victory in Jesus. Further, while on earth the disloyal disciple is a hindrance to the cause of Christ. Eldred Echols, in commenting on the lukewarm church of Laodicea, wrote:
Less damage is done to the work of God's kingdom by a blasphemous atheist than by a lukewarm Christian, because the atheist is not regarded by the world as a representative of religion, and the lukewarm Christian is (Haven't Your Heard? There's a War Going On!, p. 98). The message is: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).