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?
During my school days, my teacher used to chide those students who adopted a laissez–faire attitude towards studies: “If you’re lazy, you’ll become garbage collectors and road sweepers in future.”
Similarly, if we are complacent about our Christian walk, what will happen? It is something like this: We’re rowing upstream and, suddenly, we decide to stop rowing. We will not remain still but will be swept downstream.
John Piper in his article, “To Spiritually Float Is to Dangerously Drift”, warns that Christians who decide to “float” will find themselves drifting off course.
If we take it easy—opine that since we’ve bought our ticket to heaven, we can afford to sit back and relax, and we’ll surely get to heaven because God does the rest—we may drift away and fail to arrive at our intended destination.
Peter exhorts believers to be diligent to confirm our calling and election (2 Peter 1:10). How do we confirm? By practising the qualities spelled out in the preceding verses, we will never fall. “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).
While salvation does not depend on good deeds, it must result in good deeds—as evidence that our faith is genuine. Professing believers who fail to bear fruit befitting of repentance will be cut off (John 15:2, John 15: 6, Matthew 3: 8-10, Luke 13:6-9). Fruit-bearing is the expected and normal result of regeneration.
If we are not diligent in confirming our calling and election, we are described as unfruitful (2 Peter 1:8) and spiritually blind (2 Peter 1: 9) and may run the risk of falling away, led astray by sins or deceived by false teachers, who are introduced in the following chapter.
Next, concerning falling away, 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 http://bit.ly/1QciOHF refutes the premise that those who indulge in wanton living were never really converted in the first place.
Bought your flight ticket, still must confirm your booking? Yes.
Bought your ticket to heaven, still must confirm your election. Yes.
Your ticket booking may be void if you do not confirm.Thought: If everything is set—we will get to heaven no matter what happens—why is there a need to confirm our election?
Paul compares the Christian journey as a race in which an athlete must exercise self-discipline in order that he may win the prize:
“Don’t you realise that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Note that the word for ‘disqualified’ is ‘adokimos’, in Greek, which is also translated as rejected or reprobate, and is similar in meaning to other New Testament passages (Romans 1: 26-28, 2 Timothy 3:8, Hebrews 6:8) where it refers to unregenerate people, whose sins have separated them from Christ. http://bit.ly/1q07txC
Thus, believers can miss out on heaven—not merely get less or no rewards—if they are complacent and do not exercise self-discipline.
Paul, claiming he was imperfect, saw the need to press on in the Christian race towards the heavenly prize:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14).
The writer of Hebrews echoed Paul’s call to persevere—despite our imperfection—as we have the perfect example, Jesus, who has gone ahead of us:
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and finisher (perfecter) of faith” (Hebrews12: 2).
Furthermore, 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.
So 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 until the end? Of course, it must be the latter.
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)
What does it take to be a winner in the most important race of all?
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?
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.”
― Dr Michael L. Brown
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