Finishing Well

One of the most influential men ever to impact my life as a Christian was Pastor A.W. Jackson. He was the pastor of Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington, VA for 25 years. I met him when he was a professor at Capital Bible Seminary, where I was a student.

When he turned 90, I wrote him a letter to thank him and to let Pastor Jackson know what he had meant in my life. Here is a little bit of that letter. “It was almost 30 years ago that we first met at Capital Bible seminary. You as a professor and me as a 22 year old seminary student, as I sat in your classes, I decided that I would try and pattern my approach to the pastoral ministry and my life living as a servant of God, after your example. Almost 30 years later, I am still trying to do that. However, I must confess that I have fallen far short of the bar that you've established with your life. In my opinion, Pastor Jackson, your life is an incredible example of humility, graciousness, honesty, and genuineness. Your faithfulness to your wife, Dorothy and your family for almost 67 years has been a pleasant change from the track record of so many others in pastoral ministry and watching how you continued to trust God, even through the crushing loss of your daughter. (she passed away from cancer). It has inspired me so many times in my life to keep trusting the Lord through the painful experiences that Brenda and I have been through with our severely disabled little girl, Jill. Anyway, the point of all this is to thank you for the difference you've made in my life. I thank God that he gave me the privilege to call myself one of your disicples.”  If you asked me to name someone who epitomized the words finishing well for Christ, I would say Pastor Jackson. If I could finish half was well, I would consider that a success. I can honestly tell you before God that the one thing I want the most is to finish well. I want to finish in a way that doesn't disgrace Jesus Christ, that doesn't dishonor my family and that doesn't destroy my ministry. I want this more than anything else in the world.

If you are reading this and you are a follower of Jesus Christ, that is what God wants your goal in life to be, to finish with honor. That no matter the obstacles or troubles that come our way, we stand strong and firm for Jesus and finish well. So, how can we as Christ followers finish well? One the of best examples to look at is the life of the Apostle Paul.

There are four things that Paul had that enabled him to finish well, but the number one thing was that Paul was fiercely loyal to Jesus Christ above everything else in life. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul writes, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." No good soldier gets distracted by civilian affairs because his goal is to please his commanding officer. And as Christians, that is Jesus. Because if we're loyal to anything else, our own comfort, our own desires, our own passions, any other person or thing above Jesus, the enemy will use that and we will leave ourselves vulnerable. If we are not 100% loyal to Jesus, we are going to have trouble making it in our Christian life.

The second thing Paul did that helped him to finish well, is that he lived every day in light of his eternal accountability. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says that every follower of Christ must stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be held accountable for the things, whether good or bad, that we have done while here on earth. When you trust Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are going to heaven, period. But when you and I arrive, we're going to have a performance review. We are going to sit right there with Jesus and go all the way back to when we first became a Christian. We won’t be able to hide anything from the Lord. We need to live our lives focused on eternity.

The third thing that helped Paul finish well is that he rooted his life in the scriptures.  As our world goes from bad to worse, the one thing that is going to stand is the Word of God. Your Bible reading and scripture memorization needs to come before you look at your social media, read other books, turn on the TV or go to a movie. Make the Word of God a priority and habit in your life.

And finally, the fourth thing Paul did that helped him to finish well was that he never lost sight of his heavenly rewards. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul ran the race here with his eye, not on the track, but on the finish line. He ran his race with his eyes on heaven and what Jesus had promised him.

Nothing would please Jesus more than to be able to say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant!” And you know, honestly, nothing is going to make you happier than when you hear Jesus say it!

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2a

Pastor A.W. Jackson (first row, bottom left) with the faculty of Capital Bible Seminary

4 Comments


Lisa Wold - September 1st, 2022 at 6:00am

Well said Lon!

Both you and Pastor Jackson, along with Steve King have impacted my life in ways beyond the words I can express here. My journey with the three of you has been one of learning and growing in my faith for fifty seven years. I was eight years old when my family started going to Cherrydale Baptist Church. Pastor Jackson taught the Bible and lived the life of a mighty man of God in his own unique humble way. I listened to you Lon every Sunday morning at 7:00 am before going to Cherrydale with my children to listen and learn from Pastor Steve King.

Pastor Jackson, Pastor King, and you Lon have definitely finished well. Your ministries may not be finished yet because of the impact so many people will be blessed from your recorded sermons to be heard for years to come.

Amen! and thank you from the bottom of my heart to all three of you!

Love in Jesus or Lord,

Lisa

Knox Tabb - September 1st, 2022 at 7:18am

Great sharing fellow Tar Heel fan! Today is my 25th anniversary in vocational ministry. Visited your church when helping with IJM Prayer Gatherings. Prechiate ya!

Anne Cox - September 1st, 2022 at 4:48pm

Wonderful sharing that letter and picture. I see also George Miles, and Charlie Hanshew. Dr Jackson was my cousins pastor all his years at Cherry Dale. Amazing man of God. Thank you for your faithful ministry all these years. God has be Good in every situation. Walking with God is incredible. Every day is a new page to write about the Glory of God. Every thing He brings I ask, How can I best serve You IN this situation sometimes at my expense? Blessings to you and Brenda. We love you. Anne and Paul. Have A God God😄

Christina Charba - October 1st, 2022 at 10:05pm

I respect your love for Jesus as your true leader in our worldly life. And I hope your focus on finishing well is in respect to the whole of your life and not just how everything plays out before you go. Because, in all honesty Pastor Solomon, I often feel much of this time on earth, for a lot of people, is mostly a painful waiting period where most of our efforts amount to nothing. And so, after awhile, as a human being, you grow tired. I’ve heard jokes, “Those folks, honey, they be wearrry…” snickering ensues. I think I’ve heard you say it before, you never walk in anyone else’s shoes. Of course it’s true.



So, the time I spent at MBC was not without much pain and embarrassment and loneliness and shock, too. Notwithstanding, I did learn much of what I know about Scripture history from you. Thank you for your scholarship.