Archive for November 16, 2010

Nov 16

Sermon Follow-up: “How God Reconciles All Things”

2010 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s sermon, “How God Reconciles All Things,” Ryan preached from Colossians 1:19-23 to clarify the nature of Christ’s work of reconciliation. At the beginning of his sermon, Ryan brought our attention to two apparent dilemmas in this text which require clarification.

One of those dilemmas has to do with the evidence of reconciliation in the believer. Verses 22 and 23 say that we have been reconciled if indeed we “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” The question follows, Can a Christian truly walk away from the faith? Can a Christian loose their salvation?

This passage is not unlike numerous other warnings throughout the Bible. Hebrews 3:14, for example, says that “we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” But how does this fit with Jesus’ words in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand”? Are we not, “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13, 14)?

Into this tension, 1 John 2:19 is a helpful interpretive key. In his short letter about about assurance  John writes about those who leave the faith: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” That is to say, saving faith is not “plain” until that faith perseveres in faithfulness to Jesus Christ, who is the object of true saving faith. Still, the Holy Spirit did not write these things throughout our Bibles in order to cause believers to doubt our salvation, but in order that we might examine ourselves. John, for example, states his purpose in writing this way: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” So, we do not persevere in order to stay in God’s grace. We persevere in order to give evidence of the eternal life that we now possess by God’s grace.

For further study, consider the following resources from Desiring God:

In addition, Tom Schreiner has two helpful lectures on The Pastoral Function of The Warnings in Scripture, and a short book, Run to Win the Prize, which summarizes the Bible’s teaching on perseverance.