"...if indeed you
continue in the faith, stable and steadfast,
not shifting from the hope of the
gospel that you heard.."
We often think and speak
of faith as a one-time decision that saves us, but in the Bible faith is
organic. It is alive. It is ongoing. Just as a branch cannot live without being
connected to the vine, so we cannot survive spiritually without being
organically united to Christ. We must abide (remain) in Christ (John 15:1-6).
In Colossians 1, the apostle Paul writes
that Christians will be presented blameless before God "if indeed you continue
in the faith" (Col.1:23). This is undeniably a conditional statement,
which means that our salvation will not come to completion unless we “continue
in the faith.”
But wait! “Once saved,
always saved...right?” At first glance, exhortations like “continue in the
faith” could tempt us to doubt our salvation. How can we have true assurance if
the completion of salvation is conditional upon our continuing in the faith?
But you see, that question comes from a misplaced focus. And that is exactly
what statements like “if you continue in the faith” are meant to
I am convinced that this
type of exhortation exists to keep us looking away from ourselves and to Christ
alone. The whole point of salvation is to make us fit to stand in the
presence of God, “holy and blameless and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). The
requirement for dwelling in the presence of God is that we must be like Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the one who makes us like Christ, and he uses the means of
faith to do that. Faith is the means; Christ is the goal. So, we don't continue in the faith by focusing on
our faith. We continue in the faith by focusing on the person and work of
Christ (i.e. the gospel).
Looking in the rear-view
mirror at where we've been (or what we've done) is helpful from time to time.
But if we look too long, we will be in the ditch. The object of our vision when
driving must always be the road in front of us. And the object of saving faith
is always Christ alone. We cherish the moment we first believed or the memory
of our baptism, but we do not trust in these events for our salvation. We trust
in the main event, the finished work of Christ. How do we continue in the
faith? By focusing on the gospel. Paul writes, “...continue in the faith, not
shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…” (Col. 1:23). God's work is to make us like Christ, and he does that as we stay focused on the gospel, the good news of Jesus. This is the mystery of our partnership with God (Phil. 2:12-13). And we need not doubt our salvation for "I am sure of this. That he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). And, "Now unto him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy" (Jude 24).
in the faith, knowing that God will keep you in the faith!
Written by: Jeremy Brown
Posted on: January 6, 2020