I have thought long and hard about this article and the lesson which will come from it. As I considered things, a question came to mind, “From where do I look?” To help you understand the question, I need to state some things concerning the scriptures. The apostle Paul writes, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1st Cor. 10:12). In the next verse, he speaks about temptation and our need to be vigilant, if you will, concerning it. Why? The Bible makes it clear that those in Christ can “become estranged from Christ,” resulting in one falling “from grace” (Gal. 5:4). The issue with the church at Galatia concerned their possible choice to put their trust in the Old Law and thus, nullifying the redemptive work of Christ. The fact is, we can “wander from the truth” (James 5:19) and need someone’s help to “turn a sinner from the error of his way” (James 5:20). Sadly, left unchecked, believers can become “entangled in them and overcome” (2nd Peter 2:20): the “them” being “the pollutions of the world.” This world is so polluted with things that pull at us, seeking to draw us away from Christ. There are multiple other Bible verses that could be shared to reveal that salvation can be lost. that the notion that someone is saved and can never lose their salvation is simply not biblical. But is it possible in seeking to defend that truth, that we inadvertently fail to grasp another biblical truth that can bring assurance to a Christian’s walk? That truth is God’s overwhelming faithfulness towards His children.
Okay, for the last couple of sermons, I spoke about our hope in Christ and the comfort of knowing how forgiving He is towards His children who are in Christ. Can I get an amen? Far too many people are unable to say amen with any real confidence. Why is that? It could be from where they look for hope. For the Christian, our journey homeward is filled with missteps, moments where temptation or ignorance got the best of us. We come before our Lord and humbly ask for His forgiveness, and it is graciously provided (Remember 1st John 1:5-10). God is so good! Right? So, let me ask the question again, “From where do you look?” If I constantly fear losing my salvation, am anxious about every move, and worry whether I have failed Him somehow, how can I have that joy, peace, and hope? Is God bigger than our sins? Gracious enough to forgive us? Is He faithful? Can I trust Him? It is these types of questions that can consume a believer that I wish to help answer.
“For He, Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)
We will get to two significant words in this verse in a moment. First, though, it is essential to remember that the writer of Hebrews is quoting Deuteronomy 31:6. The change of guards is taking place where Moses is stepping away, and Joshua is stepping in to lead God’s people. The promised land was theirs for the taking, and the Lord says, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you” (Deut. 31:6a). Where would their strength and courage come from that would enable them to journey forward? What follows are these words of great assurance, “He will not leave you nor forsake you.” The One that goes with you can be trusted! This same promise is given to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1:5, as well as to Solomon from his father David in 1st Chronicles 28:20. It was important for them then, as it was for the early Christians, to place their trust in the unwavering character of God. His promise was absolute, “I will NEVER LEAVE you…” The Greek word means to let up, i.e., slacken or desert. One commentator writes, “I will never relax my grasp.” The writer of Hebrews is seeking to empress on the minds of these young Christians that God is faithful in His promise. A faithfulness that was no different even under the Old Law, for God is a promise keeper and always has been! He knows you struggle with sin. He knows you will never be perfect. He knows you are a work in progress and wants you to progress in that work called transformation. That said, He wants you to believe in His promise never to leave you. Although somewhat redundant, the word of God builds on this idea using another word. He will NEVER FORSAKE you! This word is similar in meaning; that is, to leave behind in some place. Once again, we get this idea of someone deserting another, which God will never do. He didn’t back then, and He won’t now. With such confidence, Christians can boldly say…
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6)
Much like those of old, the journey before these early Christians was filled with unimaginable trials (Hebrews 11:32-38). They were encouraged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Sin was as much a part of their journey as it is ours today. Even so, they were called to run. As they ran, their focus was on “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Why? Because if they didn’t, they would “become weary and discouraged in their [your] souls” (Hebrews 12:3). They needed to stay focused on the One who brings true meaning to the words joy, peace, and hope. To the One that is always faithful and promises never to leave or forsake them as they ran homeward to be with Him forever.
So, from where do you look? Is your focus on your efforts and how you seem to fall short more than you would like to admit? Our minds wrestle with the idea, “If I only…” or, “Once I can…then He will.” You get the idea, a hope that is ever present but seemingly unattainable. Such a view makes it difficult to see God’s incredible love and His unrelenting faithfulness towards His children. Or do you look at those same sinful acts through the lens of a gracious God that yearns for you to grow, but understands that you are on a journey toward Christlikeness? And as we saw a couple weeks ago, if you are honest with Him, He will be faithful to you and forgive you of all your sins. Why? Because He is a faithful God that is true to His word, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” May our hope rest entirely in Him. For He is the only true constant in this world of ours.