The Problem Of Spiritual Atrophy
Holy Spirit, as I read and ponder, enlighten and stretch me, through and for Christ my Savior.
Read Hebrews 6:4–12
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, but the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime” (Alan Redpath, 1907–1989). We must persevere through times of discouragement!
Do these verses describe what it was like for you when you became a Christian, when you saw the light, experienced a new kind of life, were warmed by God’s heavenly love, were ministered to by the Holy Spirit and reveled in the message of Jesus and his new creation? You were probably young and it was a wonderful experience. What, then, are the consequences for those who suffer spiritual atrophy and casually, or under persecution, turn their back on such great grace?
There are many arguments around the possibility of losing our eternal salvation: “Can you really lose it?” “No one can ‘pluck you out of God’s hand’!” “Perhaps you really didn’t respond at a deep level to his love in the first place?” “But even when you are ‘saved’ you can ‘walk out of his hand’.” Proponents of any of these theological positions might find a proof text in this passage, so we must ask what the author is saying. It is the ongoing message of Hebrews—look to Jesus and persevere! He uses every argument he can muster. Don’t forget how blessed you were at the beginning! See how your life has responded like fruitful ground! God will recognize the good work you have done! Don’t become lazy! When you go away from Christ, you are crucifying Jesus again!
At different times in history the church has wrestled with taking back those who have rejected Christ. Even when this apostasy has happened under severe persecution, theological severity has often overridden pastoral concern. In our twenty-first-century tendency to tolerance, we are less likely to shut the door on those who once turned away, but the lesson is that we must use every argument to keep believers in touch with the riches of our righteous God and urge all to persevere, because the end matters as much as the beginning.
What does finishing well mean in your stage of life? What resources can you draw on to see it happen?
Lord Jesus, You gave everything for my salvation. Forgive my partial devotion, and receive again my life to be lived totally for You.