Friday, May 30, 2008

Faith … take action … never shrink back

As I was continuing my read through Hebrews I was intrigued by the following:

In verse 36 of the tenth chapter we find a correlation between doing the will of God and perseverance. In fact, this verse is essentially defining perseverance as continuing to do the will of God. Then in verse 38 we see that a righteous person is defined as one who lives by faith and doesn’t shrink back (perseveres). And in verse 39 we see that the destination of those who do shrink back is destruction. In other words, those who do not persevere by doing the will of God and living a righteous life by a sincere faith will be lost and destroyed.

Then comes chapter 11 where the writer of Hebrews gives us a clearer picture of sincere faith by describing the faith demonstrated by our forefathers who put their faith into action and did not shrink back by lacking obedience, but instead took action and did the will of God instead of their own will. Faith involves action. Faith isn’t simply thinking about the will of God, but it is DOING the will of God.

Let’s be men and women of sincere faith who take action and never shrink back. We must remember that faith isn’t a state of mind, but rather obedience to the will of God.
36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. – Hebrews 10:36-39

1 comment:

CZ said...

It seems a source of contention regarding the role of faith and works in the plan of salvation stems from a limited view of justification as being a one time completed event, verses it being an ongoing process that requires our cooperation. Historical Christianity and scripture teach salvation as being BOTH an immediate spiritual adoption into God’s family, but also a commitment to persevere in obedience (Matthew 7:21-27). The life of Abraham is the perfect depiction of salvation, being referenced in Romans, Hebrews, and James. What is interesting to note is that these three references to Abraham’s saving faith are from three different events that span over 30 years in his life.

1.) Hebrews 11:8 mentions Abraham’s saving faith when he obeyed God and left his home of Haran. (Genesis 12:1-5)
2.) Romans 4:3 mentions Abraham’s saving faith when he believed God would make him the father of many nations. (Genesis 15:6)
3.) James 2:21 mentions Abraham’s saving faith when he offered Isaac on the altar. (Genesis 22:12)

Scripture shows us that it was Abraham’s perseverance in obeying God that completed his faith, and thus made it “saving”. It would not be accurate to say that his obedience was a sign that he was already irrevocably justified, in fact James tells us the opposite. We know that there is no amount of “good works” we can do to earn adoption into God’s family, but like the prodigal son, we are always free to leave our father’s family through deliberate disobedience and become “dead and lost” (Hebrews 10:26 & Galatians 5:19-22) . Thanks be to God that we have a Father who runs to embrace us when we repent and return home!