When we are speaking to people who are considering Salvation, we rightfully and joyfully tell them all the things that will be True in their coming to Christ: they will be forgiven, they become a New Creation, they are adopted into God’s family, they are released from the power of sin, they are given Eternal Life, they will have a clean conscience, on and on and on….. Just read sections of Romans and Ephesians for starters! There is a Freshness and Excitement in the presentation because we know the Truth: that same Freshness and Excitement will grip their heart once they come to faith in Jesus.
So here’s the question: “Where does that freshness go? When did those Promises stop being true? Are they only Promises made to the Unsaved in order to get them saved? Are they only Promises that the New Believer can enjoy until he has be a Christian long enough to realize they have an ‘expiration date’ and then he/she will become just as despondent or cynical as rest of those who have been saved long enough to know better!?!”
Can I as a Believer for 25+ years still believe the promise that Jesus came to destroy the grip of Sin on my life even though many of those 25 years I have wrestled with that grip on my life? Can I really still have the scarlet stain of sin lifted from my conscience and life because I come back to Reason with the One Who shed His Blood for my cleansing? Can I Sense the freshness of the filling of God’s Spirit even though I have been in the habit of quenching the Spirit? Is there something I must DO or a new item to be ADDED since the same Promises do not seem as powerful as when I first believed??
The Answer is NO. The answer is the GOSPEL. The same promises by which I was saved are the same Promises by which I now live. The same Gospel that my unbelieving heart needed to hear is the same Gospel to which now my doubting heart needs to return.
1 John was written to assure Believers that nothing needs to be added! We need to live in the Truth of what we have had “from the Beginning!” Groups of false teachers had started them questioning because these teachers had a few “additions and twists” on what they had received from the Apostles at the time of their salvation. John assures them that they have had it all “from the beginning.” The additions and twist being suggested were heresy and dangerous.
Galatians was written to those that were wondering if perhaps they needed to also “add” the Law back in just in case salvation and the Spirit were not successful in keeping the Flesh reined in. Paul assures them that the Law never did rein in the flesh, it actually highlighted the fact that my Flesh cannot be reined in- it must be crucified by Christ who then gives me life through His Spirit.
These two tendencies highlight the breakdown of my continued belief in the powerful Promises of God. Somewhere along the way, I have started trying to reform my own Flesh. Maybe I think that I have reached some level of spiritual maturity where I now begin to assume that I can now do it on my own. The Flesh was never meant to be reformed nor will it! It needs the Gospel which will always condemn it to death that the Life a Christ may continue to live in me. That is the Galatian error put in our terms.
The 1 John error would be this: I think I need something “extra” added to Christ and my salvation because those same promises just “aren’t doing it for me anymore”. The error is not with God’s promises- the error is with my belief in those promises. The error is not in their effectiveness but in my attitude. I need a Refresher Course not a new Major. It is not a matter of trying to get what apparently I have lacked; it is a reexamining of what I have because I have lacked being able to see what I really do have!
The hope of being set free from sin at salvation is the same hope I have of being set from sin even as I write this and you read it. Jesus does not go back up on the Cross because sin has once again become overwhelming; He died once-for-all and that is All-inclusive: all time, all degree, all SIN! That is why the writer of Hebrews stated it this way: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” In other words, if we do not receive and live by the Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, there is NOTHING else to which we can turn! If we willfully turn from Truth, we accept Lies.
“Where would I go? Where would I go seeking a Refuge for my Soul? Where would I go BUT to the LORD?!”
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.