Faith in Christ Must Continue
Our purpose should be to understand the Scriptures in a way that recognizes the truth of each and every statement. When the Scriptures speak contrary to our hermeneutical, soteriological, or eschatological understanding, we must modify our system of understanding, not twist the text to suit our systems. For 40+ years of my life, I believed and taught that salvation is by grace offered to the sinner through faith in the person and work of Christ. This is true. My teaching often emphasized the translation of the believer from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light at the moment of placing faith in Christ. I focused upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the earnest (guarantee) of our inheritance, being sealed unto the day of redemption, and many other similar evidences. However, more recently, I came to realize that I was skirting a frequently mentioned truth and was not giving it the place that Christ and the apostles gave it within the whole of the Faith. This truth involves the necessity of the believer to continue with their faith in Christ if he or she is to attain the hope of the gospel. The following are some texts which display this truth. In Matt 24, our Lord gave us some much-needed warnings that will forearm us for protection against falling away from the faith in the days prior to His parousia. Although some of the warnings pertain to the physical, the primary dangers we are warned about are spiritual in nature. The danger is in departing from the Faith. Jesus said that due to the unprecedented violent persecution, upon those who identify with Him, many will be offended, that is, they will depart from the Faith. Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Mat 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. That is consistent with Christ's description of those who received the seed into the stony ground. Mat 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also said that the false prophets and false Christs would deceive many through their lying signs and wonders. Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Paul used the word apostasia for this notable departure from the faith that precedes Christ's arrival. 2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [apostasia] first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; This most dangerous apostasy will have eternal consequences for anyone who worships the Beast and takes the mark, particularly those who forsake Christ to do so. Rev 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, Rev 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. The Lord Himself will send them strong delusion that they might believe a lie. 2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. The Scriptures are clear that if any fail to continue in the Faith they are not a partaker of Christ. It is in Christ that we have righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; Any, who do not continue to believe, are not of Christ's household. Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Continuing in the Faith is non-negotiable. We must continue in the Faith. None can ultimately deny Christ and hope for Salvation. Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. If one fails to continue in the Faith, they have believed in vain. 1Co 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. Continuing in the Faith is absolutely essential. Our salvation is not based upon merit or human performance, but it does require an abiding faith in Christ. Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Believing unto the end is required. Faith is not a meritorious work, it is the hand that reaches out to receive the grace of God, even the gift of eternal life. Anyone who abandons faith in Christ is lost. Heb 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: Falling away, even ultimately denying Christ, due to persecution or being deceived results in eternal damnation. Salvation is only found in Christ. To forsake Him is to cast away all hope. 1Jn 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 1Jn 2:24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. Paul says for us to not be highminded, but fear. For if God cut off the Israelites who did not believe, He certainly will do the same to those among the Gentiles who fail to continue in the Faith. Rom 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: Rom 11:21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Our understanding must recognize the truth of all Scripture texts, not just the ones we find convenient. The faith that saves, continues.