Many people feel that they’ve lived such a sinful life that they cannot be saved. They’re just too bad to be forgiven. They’re beyond redemption, without hope. But, is that what the scriptures actually teach?
Some time back I read an article encouraging people to “seize the moment.” The idea behind the statement is to do good things as opportunities present themselves; don’t put them off until some supposed better time. It could be simple, little pleasures or more important, more profound opportunities. The point is, we commonly put things off until a more ideal time, and we often end up losing the moment, the opportunity and the experience. How many joys are missed and pleasures not enjoyed simply because we thought we couldn’t do something right then?
People who live in Nebraska have an inside joke that goes something like, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes…” It’s not just the weather that can change drastically, within a very short period of time. The course of one’s life can change on a dime, and it can happen in a wide variety of ways.
We live in a culture of “perceived victimization.” When something negative occurs in one’s life, the common reaction these days is to claim to be a victim. “Look at what somebody did to me!” “This all happened due to circumstances beyond my control.” “It’s not my fault, life made me this way.”
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” ( Heb. 11:6 ). So, I must have faith in God if I want to get to Heaven. Where, and how, do I get faith? “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” ( Rom. 10:17 ). Faith develops within me as I learn God’s word, believe it and properly apply His teachings to my life. OK, now what? Once I have faith,what do I do with it?
Imagine yourself in some kind of public setting, maybe a meeting of some sort. You’re with at least a dozen people, some of whom you know quite well, some not so well and still others not at all. After awhile, somebody shows up with a tray filled with cups of fresh coffee.
By this point in this series of articles and sermons on “Faith,” it should be apparent that true faith is not primarily subjective in nature. While emotion is a natural result, real faith, as taught in the New Testament, is not a feeling , a wild wish, unrealistic desire or hope , or simply blind belief . Faith, by definition, is based on “substance” and “evidence” (Heb. 11:1 ), strong terms denoting a position reached as a result of examining facts and proof .
What is the quickest way to become unfaithful? Jesus stated that our living faithfully “until death” is a condition upon which He will give us“the crown of life” ( Rev. 2:10 ). Faithfulness does not just happen. It requires determination, commitment and dedication. The apostle Paul described himself as having devoted his life to Christ ( Gal. 2:20 ). He emphasized, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” . Later, he admonished, “ Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” ( Col. 3:1-2 ). A mindset focused on faithfulness is fundamental to living faithfully before God.
Everybody wants to be happy. In fact, there may be more emphasis in our society right now than ever before onfinding happiness . There’s a lot of focus on finding a job that’ll make you happy. Some people move to different locations in the pursuit of happiness. Wives leave their husbands, and husbands leave their wives, because they’re just not happy. Teenagers are committing suicide at a staggering rate because they’re unhappy. Happiness seems to be elusive to many people. But a profound question should be, “Where do you look for happiness?”
Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life”( Rev. 2:10 ). True faith is not just believing, it is belief put into action through obedience and continued, consistent dedication ( Jn. 14:15; Jas. 2:14-26 ). Inherent within the New Testament concept of saving faith is repentance ( Lk. 13:3; Acts 3:19 ), open confession of faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10 ) and baptism into Christ ( Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27 ) for the remission of sins ( Acts 2:38; 22:16 ) in order to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16;1 Pet. 3:21 ). True faith is not a part of a faithful Christian’s life- it is his life! ( Gal. 2:20 ).
Gary L. Hutchens