When did you get saved? How did you get saved? Is so and so saved? These are very common questions asked by many true believers in Christ. By "saved", they are referring to the time in which through faith in Jesus Christ, someone is born of the Spirit and becomes a genuine child of God. At that moment, their human spirit is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and they become a new creation in Christ. But this is just the beginning. It is a birth. It's the beginning of a race.
To the Galatians Paul said "having begun by the Spirit...." That was the beginning of their Christian life through faith in Christ. But Peter writes in First Peter 1:9, "Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your soul." Paul's point in Galatians is that as our Christian life begins by receiving the Spirit through faith, it should also continue to be a life of living and walking by the Spirit by faith. This, and only this, constitute a true, spiritual, and Spirit-filled Christian life; it is the way of growing unto maturity and running well to the finish, that is, "the end of our faith."
In the previous lesson I began to list some verses that substantiate the fact that having experienced the "beginning" salvation, it is then crucial to continue to live a spiritual and Spirit-filled life to the end. I now continue.
Second Timothy 4:7-8
Close to the end of his life, Paul declared that he had "fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith." It was based upon this, that he had the assurance he would receive the crown of righteousness. It was not just his initial salvation that gave him this confidence.
Here, the writer warns of drifting away by neglecting so great a salvation. It is possible to be truly saved and not give adequate daily attention to the salvation we have received. This is a serious and sober warning.
In using the children of Israel as an example, the writer warns the New Testament believers concerning falling away from the living God because of an evil heart of unbelief. The issue is not the loss of salvation, but of fully entering into a Sabbath rest. In fact, we are exhorted to be diligent to enter into that rest lest we end up coming short of it as did those who died in the wilderness.
The concern in this portion is not for initial salvation; it is for the growth and maturity of the saints. It is not normal for those who have been saved for some time to remain on a diet of milk and be dull of hearing when it comes to the solid food of the word of righteousness. It is crucial that we are all brought on to maturity.
Hebrews 12:1-2, 14-16
Having begun the race of the Christian life, we must now run with endurance by putting away every encumbrance and sin and by keeping our eyes on Jesus. If not, we are in danger of falling away from the grace of God and giving up our birthright as did Esau.
The crown of life is promised to those who are approved by testing as they endure trials while loving God. How different this is than the common thinking among many Christians that we are guaranteed the crown of life because of our initial salvation. That is not what the Bible teaches.
Second Peter 1:10-11
Peter charges the brothers to be diligent to make their calling and selection firm. It is this diligence that will keep them from stumbling and enable them to have a rich and bountiful entrance into the eternal kingdom supplied to them.
Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 11-12, 21
In his apocalyptic and prophetic writing to the seven churches in Asia, John gives a very clear and strong message that reward is not given just because you are a believer in one of the churches. Reward is given to those who overcome not only the obstacles to their initial faith, but to everything that would hinder them from growing up and running well. How much overcoming is needed once we have been born of God and started the race of the Christian life!
The Lord's reward when He comes is given based upon our work (by the Spirit by faith). Our initial salvation secures our eternity with God. But it is a spiritual and Spirit-filled fruit bearing life that brings reward when He comes.
The verses listed in this and the previous lesson should be adequate to show us that having been born of God and having started the Christian race, it is crucial and essential that we continue to grow up and run well. To be content with our initial salvation and assume that all will be well when the Lord returns is ignorance of the truth and negligence of the clear word of God.
Having seen the great need to live a spiritual and Spirit-filled life, we will continue in the coming lessons to see how such a life can be lived.
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