“…who indeed is interceding for us.”
We’re wading in deep with this topic, folks, but I think it’s the only way we can hope to have peace on this. For you who are just tuning in, we’re in the middle of exploring the problem of children who seem to walk away from the faith. We’ve established that God is the author of our salvation, that our positive affirmation is a response to his mercy. Some may lay false claim to this. There are others who don’t realize they are saved or are confused about it.
This last one is the one I lay up hope for my children. All have claimed belief and demonstrated active faith lives. Two were even baptized. Yet none walks with the Lord and at least one claims not to believe any more. Are my daughters “rocky ground” or “among thorns” that the seed of God did not last to bear fruit? If that is the case, this is very bad news.
Why? There is really terrifying thought to the idea that one can “lose” or “walk away” from salvation. If that is true, like many people claim, then this verse would certainly need to apply:
Hebrews 6:46 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
If we claim that one can indeed deny faith, then that’s it. There are no second chances. Period. End of story.
But is this what the writer of Hebrews is really saying? Or, is he using this as an example of Matthew 7:23 in which Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”? If that is the case, then the writer is simply drawing out this false conclusion to the end and showing it doesn’t work. Folks, there are simply too many examples throughout the bible showing us that our salvation is secure that a verse like this cannot simply overrule. It really must be that we are incorrectly reading it through eyes that believe we CAN walk away.
Let’s explore, for a time, what it might mean if we COULD. What would it take to have solid, assured faith and to no longer have it? What would you have to do? Let’s think about it. We would need to throw the Holy Spirit out of our bodies, because he lives inside believers, does he not (Romans 8:9)? How might we do that? We would also need to reverse the New Covenant in which God gave us a new heart. We would have to remove the heart God gave us and replace it with the one we once had (Ezekiel 36:26-27). How would we do that? How would we be the only thing in all of creation that could snatch ourselves out of Jesus’s or God’s own hands (John:10:28-29)?
If we could, how would we do any of this? By our actions? Or our profession of belief? Do we have to recite a prayer or a pledge? Do we have to sign something? Or does God simply know our heart?
How about Peter? He couldn’t have been more clear about his denial of Jesus. Not once, not twice, but three times he denied Jesus in public. How about John the Baptist? Here was a guy who was CERTAIN who Jesus was yet he doubted so much that he sent messengers to find out who he should be looking for. Out of all humans, God picked John to identify Jesus; yet at the end, he couldn’t. Or, how about Thomas? He REFUSED to believe in the risen Lord Jesus unless he put his hands in Jesus’ wounds.
All three of these guys knew and believed in Jesus yet they walked away from the faith. Did they not? Or perhaps they didn’t. Are they saved or are they not? I say that they always were saved, even though their thoughts, words, and actions demonstrated otherwise. They were never not saved.
Why? Look at the rest of the story. With Peter, Jesus prayed. “…but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:32) What about John the Baptist? Jesus assured with scripture, “…the blind received their sight, the lame walk…” (Luke 7:22-23). How about Doubting Thomas? Jesus asked him to put his hands in his side (John 20:27).
You see, Jesus was intentional with all these guys. Even though they disavowed him completely, their actions did not tear up their golden ticket. No, that didn’t happen at all. Why? Because Jesus wouldn’t let it. Jesus was intentional despite their unbelief. So, this is all the more proof that God is the one who chooses us; we don’t choose him, ultimately.
This is REALLY, REALLY good news for a guy like me because I long ago would have forfeited my faith. And if I haven’t done so already, I will. Somehow, some way, I will do something stupid. No need to fear that because Jesus has me right where I need to be, in the palm of his hand.
Still, there is that troubling passage about the sower. Might my children have simply shown outward promise but were never actually saved? That is a very real possibility. Then again, the bible doesn’t say how long is too long to be in unbelief with regard to Peter, John the Baptist, and Doubting Thomas. Could unbelief be days, months, or even years and still not disqualify a genuine child of God? I don’t see why it wouldn’t.
But why doesn’t the Holy Spirit simply break through this type of unbelief? For the same reason he won’t simply rid my flesh of my own besetting sin, which, by the way, is a clear demonstration of my own unbelief. No, the bible is clear about sin. If we allow it to rule, it will get the best of us, as it did with Peter, John, and Thomas. Yes, that was their sin that came to the surface as unbelief. Remember what the bible tells us. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yes, the saved have eternal life (same verse) but our sin is not harmless. There is always a price to be paid for our sin, even to the point of it killing our physical bodies. It can’t kill our soul, but it can kill our bodies. Right?
The problem is that we don’t know who Jesus intercedes for and who he doesn’t. He didn’t for Judas, that is clear. How about our children? I don’t know. Jesus knows some but not all.
Tomorrow, I’m going to share what I do with all this and how I pray for my own kids. Ultimately, I must get myself to the point that I glorify God in whatever he has decided. Not only that but rejoice. If I leave this topic right here, I won’t be able to do either.
Father, this is somber business. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers