If You Continue in The Faith

Colossians 1:21-23 ESV

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

Fast Food Faith

The predominant gospel message being taught today in the American church, although not in all gatherings of the church, is that we can believe in Jesus (belief not defined), we can have our sins forgiven, now heaven is guaranteed us when we die, but that how we live doesn’t matter. If they don’t state in words that how we live doesn’t matter, it is implied by the fact that they teach that a one-time decision to believe in Jesus now secures us heaven and that it can’t be taken away from us no matter what.

For them, all it takes is a moment of believing in Jesus and now they are on their way to heaven no matter what. But “believing” isn’t really explained, so it is more of an emotional decision or an intellectual assent that happens once and that is it, and then they take for themselves the freedom to listen to the voice that is inside of themselves that tells them what is or is not required of them, but that voice is of the flesh, not of God.

Now, I am certainly not saying that everyone who has ever prayed a prayer to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives did so of the flesh and therefore they did not have a true heart transformation. But many people are being taught that a one-time decision in their lives to believe in Jesus guarantees them forgiveness of all sins, even future sins, and that it guarantees them heaven when they die, regardless of how they live.

Some people now are taking it even further than that and they are teaching that God no longer requires repentance, obedience, and submission to him as Lord. For they call that “works-based salvation.” They teach that all their sins are forgiven – past, present, and future – and so how they live doesn’t matter to God. Some teach that God can’t even see when they sin. And so they take upon themselves the freedom to keep on in deliberate and habitual sin while claiming Jesus as Lord and as Savior, and while claiming heaven as their eternal destiny.

If You Continue

But the Bible does not teach that kind of faith or that diluted gospel message which is a creation in the minds of human beings who are against Christ and his word and who are against submitting to Christ as Lord, and who are against the forsaking of their sins and obedience to the Lord’s commands (New Covenant). For one, we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, as to our sinfulness, and as to our need to forsake our sins and to surrender to Christ.

Also, Jesus Christ is the author and the perfecter of our faith, so our faith is going to align with him and with his divine character and with his word. For we don’t generate faith in and of ourselves. Even the faith to believe in Jesus is gifted to us by God and is not of ourselves. And also faith is defined in Scripture as obedience, and disobedience is defined as unbelief. Thus, we show our faith to be genuine by what we do in response to God and to his word and to his commands. If we don’t obey him, we don’t know him.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13]

The Scriptures teach that if we believe in Jesus we once (past) were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds. We once lived as slaves to sin. We once (past) engaged in sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, lying, stealing, hating, etc. But then, because of what Jesus did for us on that cross, and by faith in him, we were reconciled to God, so we no longer are living as enemies of Christ, but we are now united with him in purpose.

Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. In his death he put our sin to death so that we might now no longer be slaves to sin but so we would now live as slaves to God and to his righteousness. For “holy and blameless and above reproach” are not just a status. They are a lifestyle. Jesus died so we would now be holy in all our conduct, so we would say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and so we will live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Pet 2:24; Rom 6:1-23).

And this isn’t based in a one-time decision we make to receive Christ. We must continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel. And that faith involves repentance, and submission, and obedience to our Lord until the very end. We must no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin, but now we must walk according to the Spirit in holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, obedience and submission to Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are all his servants. We are his bond-slaves who have willingly surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ, making him Lord (Owner-Master) of our lives. We have been crucified with him in death to sin and we have been raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to his righteousness.

We have all been given salvation from our slavery to sin and the hope of eternal life with God provided that we continue in him in faithfulness and in obedience and that we don’t continue in deliberate and habitual sin. For the promises of God all come with stipulations (conditions).

All throughout the New Testament there are Scriptures containing the word “if,” meaning that what follows describes the conditions for the promise to be fulfilled. Such as “if you obey,” and “if you continue till the end,” and “if you forsake your sins,” and “if you love your fellow humans,” and “if you continue in his word,” and “if you hold firmly to the word,” and “if you have died with him to sin,” and “if we endure,” and “if we remain in him and in his word,” etc.

[Jn 8:31-32; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 11:17-24; 1 Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 2:24-25]

So, what we need to understand here is that our salvation from sin is not a one-time decision we make in our lives to believe in Jesus after which it doesn’t matter how we live. Our salvation is progressive sanctification and it will not be complete until Jesus returns to take his bride to be with him for eternity. So, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns provided that we continue in faithful obedience to our Lord and not in deliberate and habitual sin.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

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