Monday, 28 September 2015

WHY FAITH NEEDS TO PERSEVERE

Which is a more accurate representation of a believer’s journey in life? Sit back and relax till we attain eternal bliss OR press on and persevere till the end? 

Having bought a new car, don’t we regularly send it to the authorised service centre so that it will serve us well without a hitch?

Try skipping regular maintenance and we may experience permanent irreversible damage to the car engine or suffer disastrous consequences due to faulty brakes.


What makes us think everything is plain sailing once we receive Christ? What makes us think we don’t need regular “servicing and maintenance”? By “servicing and maintenance”, I mean that if we sin—and I’m sure all of us do—we need to confess our sins, repent and get back on the right track again. http://bit.ly/1QCO5Bj

                                                                       
For believers, there are several reasons why we need to press on, why we need to “maintain” our salvation. Some may immediately protest against this “maintenance” aspect but please be patient as I explain. **

                                                                     
Why does our faith need to endure?

Hebrews chapter 10 highlights the fact that our faith needs to endure in order that we may remain saved:
But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
(Hebrews 10:38-39).

Jude reinforces the truth that persevering faith is needed:
“I wish to remind you, as you all know, that God, when once he had brought the people out from Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5). Instead of taking possession of the Promised Land after leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, God’s chosen people fell.


                                                                           
Paul reinforces Jude, outlining in greater detail, the events leading to their fall from God’s favour:
“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

                                                                        
Peter exhorts believers to be all the more diligent to confirm our calling and election for if we practice ‘these qualities’ we will never fall (2 Peter 1:10). And what are ‘these qualities’? They are spelled out in the preceding verses: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Peter issues a solemn warning to believers who willfully choose to live in sin: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21). This passage on apostasy refutes the premise that those who indulge in wanton living were never really converted in the first place. http://bit.ly/1q07txC
                                                                        

Those of us who have placed our trust in Christ need to realise that our final destination—whether we land up in heaven or hell—isn’t solely decided at the “point of entry” when we accept Christ.

A man of God who performs great signs and wonders but commits adultery and apostasy at the last lap of life’s journey stands condemned whereas a dying thief who has faith and commits himself to Christ during life’s final moments passes into heaven with rejoicing. Our fate is NOT decided merely at the point of entry (conversion).

It's our current spiritual state which matters. “When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?” (Ezekiel 18:26-29).

Our fate in eternity is based on our spiritual state just before we expire or when Christ returns (whichever comes first). So where we are going to spend eternity isn’t decided at the time of conversion but how we cross the “finishing line” in the "marathon" spiritual race.


                                                        
On that day of reckoning when we face the Judge, some who think they are ‘in’ may actually be  ‘out’. Some may think God sees them as sheep but they are, in fact, goats. http://bit.ly/1iJcC9w

Some of those who had it so good while on earth may be in for a big surprise. Some who are rich, famous and perform great miracles—who believe God’s favour is upon them—may be in for a rude shock.  There will be major upsets. The first may be last, and the last may be first. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  http://bit.ly/1o3ayNo

Will we be found wanting when we expire like the man who expanded his barns to hoard grain to ensure his own security (Luke 12:16-21)?

Will we be found wanting when Jesus returns like the unfaithful servant who failed to look after the master’s household (Matthew 24: 45-51)?

No wonder Jesus warned repeatedly to be WATCHFUL (be vigilant, be on our toes, spiritually speaking) so that we will not be complacent and caught off guard when He returns (Matthew 24: 42, 44; Matthew 25: 13).

FAITH: ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE
“It would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to “yield themselves” up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.” 
Michael L. Brown, Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message



FOOTNOTES 

**  Despite the fact we need to press on and persevere in the Christian “marathon race”, we also need to remember that:

  • God empowers us in times of difficulty (2 Corinthians 12: 9)


  • God who began a good work in us helps us complete the race (Philippians 1:8)


  • He is not asking for sinless perfection (Philippians 3:12)


  • He invites us to rest and rejuvenate ourselves in His presence (Matthew 11:28) 

RELATED POSTS

FINISHING WELL
What does it take to be a winner in the most important race of all?

BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS
They all started out well, eagerly expecting the bridegroom. How did the wedding ceremony end? Revisiting the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

LOSS OF REWARDS VS LOSS OF SALVATION
Some believers may lose their eternal rewards BUT eventually they are saved. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, did the foolish virgins merely lose their rewards or much more?
http://bit.ly/1MA1h8F

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