Don’t stop believing…

Posted on 23/08/2012

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1 Cor 15:1 – “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place…”

Why the IF?

This for me, though it be a tiny word, has massive implications – The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News that saves you IF you continue to believe… – This is one of the reasons why I struggle with the term ‘once saved, always saved’ Because salvation may be free gift, but a gift is something that can either be received or rejected, and in this instance, it can be received, rejected OR misinterpreted…the word IF also suggests that it can be rejected once it has been received.

Now I don’t think salvation can be stolen from us – but I’m not sure that it can’t be handed back, or discarded. The book of Hebrews seems to suggest that salvation can be given up, with constant warnings not to leave the faith. Why? Because Christ can’t be crucified twice. He will not be made redundant, because His work was perfect for once and for all. 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb 6:4-6)

But is this applicable to true Christians?

If you consider a Christian to be someone who is enlightened, having tasted of the heavenly gift, and made a partaker of the Holy Ghost. Someone who has tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come…then yes I believe it is addressed to true Christians. Why would fake ones need such a warning if they’re not saved anyway?

In Hebrews, the readers are warned not to have a sinful, ‘UNbelieving’ heart that turns away from God. “We have come to share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Heb 3:14)

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Cor 15:58)

Our walk with the Lord requires work:

“Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, IF (there it is again!) indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”(Heb 3:6 (brackets mine)).

It requires a conscious effort to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Heb 3:1). It requires us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb 3:13). This is not to enable us to earn salvation, because we know that it is by grace that we are saved (Eph 2:8). It’s not to make the Lord love us more – for He can love us no more than He already does! It’s not even to make our salvation more effective. But…it is so that we remain strong, so that it times of trouble, testing and temptation, we would remain unwavering and continually proclaim Jesus as Lord. Never to give Him up.

I had read that audience in the book of Hebrews, were Jewish Christians that were living under the reign of dreadful emperor Nero. They were threatened with persecution, and therefore were faced with the temptation to renounce their faith, and live only as Jews (not Jewish Christians). The persecution was so terrible that the temptation to do this would have been huge – but the writer says ‘Don’t do it! DON’T STOP BELIEVING!

A relationship is only a relationship when both parities are communicating with each other and loving each other. When this is missing, the relationship breaks down, and this is a dangerous place to be in, and one I’m sure we are all too familiar with (I know I am!). I don’t believe that God gives up on us, because He is perfect and faithful in every sense of the term – we on the other hand are not. I also don’t believe that this is as simple as a case of some one ‘backsliding’ or falling away – which we are at risk of doing if we don’t keep the relationship going. In fact the term ‘fall away’ in Hebrew passage apparently means ‘to fall away completely’, which suggests an utter rejection of Christ as Messiah.

Generally speaking, my understanding of back-sliding doesn’t necessarily suggest an unbelief, or a rejected belief, but a rebellion – a reaction to something we know to be true, but stubbornly we decide not to apply. I think this is different than renouncing your faith and outright refusing to believe the Gospel anymore.

“Let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it.”…now don’t stop believing!

Thoughts…?

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Posted in: Devotionals