If you were to ask me “how are you doing in your walk with Christ?” around this time last year, I would have joyfully told you that I was doing better than I had been in my entire life. I was fulfilled.
I was joyful because I had laid my old self, the one that numbed every conviction, at the foot of the Cross. I became convicted to invest deeply into all areas of my life. This became possible because I devoted to Christ my best and everything else that required my time fell into place like He promises in His Word. Knowing what it finally felt like to rest in the arms of Jesus was an awakening yet peaceful experience.
But sometimes hard things happen. And sin happens. And not that going through hard things is an excuse, but it offers context for what I want to discuss with you.
When hard things happen in our lives as Christians, we expect our immediate response to be to run into the arms of Christ. This is what our Christian leaders teach us. This is the type of example we tend to see in our Bible studies, testimonies, and our churches. This is what we ultimately hope for.
What happens when we don’t think fast enough? What happens when hard things trigger us into our old, sinful ways, apart from Christ?
One thought that happens to people when sin is triggered by hard things is the questioning of their salvation. It can be scandalous to say, but I had many sleepless nights wondering why I was turning to the things that I had once given up in Christ, and why “God” wasn’t pointing me in the right direction or leading me out of my sin.
“If I was really saved, I wouldn’t be allowing other things back into my heart which pulled me away from God in the first place.” We (Christians) sometimes find ourselves in a routine of sin and sadness, and it seems impossible to get back on track.
Biblically, it IS hard to get back on track. In fact, one of the hardest scriptures to interpret in the New Testament speaks to this.
Hebrews 6: 4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
This verse states something very hard to hear: It is impossible for someone who was enlightened by Christ to fall away and be renewed again. Now, before you stop and get angry by these words, please keep reading. I think this will make sense to you.
1) Does this text apply to Christians?
I do not believe the Bible is contradictory, for the Bible states several times why someone cannot lose their salvation.
“But Faith, you just told me that I can lose my salvation!” No. No. No. That is not what I am saying.
Let’s start by defining what a Christian is not. A “Christian” is not a person who has been raised in a Christian family. A Christian is not someone who prays. A Christian is not someone who was baptized. In context to Hebrews, a Christian is not someone who was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, a Christian is not someone who has experienced heavenly gifts, and a Christian is not even someone who reads the Bible.
A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior and possesses the Holy Spirit, as stated in the Bible several times.
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Acts 16:31: “And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.'”
Ephesians 2:8–9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
The question remains, “Is it impossible for them [those who were once enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gifts, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God] to be renewed to receive repentance… again? If they had never repented in the first place, why talk about renewal? Does this contradict itself?”
Can someone fall after being saved? Can someone like you or me return? The answer all the way through the Bible is “yes.”
When you are saved, sometimes you will allow other things into your heart which pull you away from God and it feels impossible to get back. When I shared the Hebrews verse above, it was not to scare you but to encourage you that if your faith is real and genuine, you will always fall back into Christ. He is actively pursuing you in every season of your life. Our foundation in Christ determines how quickly we can turn around from sin, repent, and accept grace.
The foundation of our salvation does not lie in the things I stated above- such as a person who has been raised in a Christian family, someone who was baptized, someone who was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, etc.
2) The TRUTH of the Gospel is that salvation is irrevocable.
I would like to start by using strong examples from the Bible, why I believe the TRUTH of the Gospel is that salvation is irrevocable.
Let’s take Solomon for example. Solomon, in the beginning, was with God. His heart was after God and his commands. He loved God. But Solomon’s heart later was turned away from God due to adultery and following after other gods. (1 Kings)
Peter denied the Lord three times at an extremely critical moment in the Bible, right before Christ’s crucifixion. Yet, he was redeemed, preached the first gospel sermon, and became an elder.
Repentance becomes impossible when a person has been fully exposed to the blessings of God’s people, but falls away through deliberate unbelief and denial of Christ.- Steven J. Cole
Paul consistently tells Timothy to be careful of certain lifestyles and pleasures because it could destroy his faith. When one’s faith is destroyed, it it possible for them to get to where they initially were with God?
The difference between the people referred to in Hebrews and real Christians have nothing to do with their experiences with God. Some people will know everything there is to know about salvation, experience Holy gifts, and never fully accept the grace God gives when they fall into sin. When you do not accept grace, you do not fully believe that Christ died for your sins.
Salvation = Grace
David fell in his adultery with Bathsheba, but he picked himself back up through the grace of God. He sinned once again by going against God’s command, but again he turned around. NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES HE FELL, HE ALWAYS CAME BACK TO CHRIST and CHRIST NEVER LEFT DAVID. The reason we remember David as a great king is not the perfection of his life, but the fact that he loved God so much that after the world allured and misled him, he still chose Christ.
How can you acknowledge and test your faith when hard things happen?
2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?”
Some questions to ask yourself are these:
Are you professing faith in your life but have no evidence of fruit from it?
Do you feel convicted to repent when you sin?
Is your heart hard?
Do you love Christ and others fully?
Are you saddened and dismantled because of the sin in your life?
You may backslide several times. This does not mean your salvation is invalid. Many people in the Bible have fallen into patterns of sin, over and over again. However, if the general pattern of our life is not becoming more like Christ and the Holy Spirit is not leading us to change, these questions are vital in questioning our salvation.
Old patterns of sin will gradually diminish and be replaced with Godly patterns of living.
We can not lose hope because we still sin. Sin has consequences, but with the Holy Spirit, we will quickly grow tired and weary from our sin.
God is patient with you and He will complete his work in you.