Hebrews 2:1–4; Hebrews 6:4–8; Revelation 13:11–17 (read online ⧉)
Those who have fallen away is a hard subject for many of us. We know people who at point affirmed that Jesus Christ was their Lord and Savior, but through various experiences, conversations, perhaps even discouraging events, they walked away from their faith that they had held onto dearly. Often it is because they have hard questions and they receive, “you just have to have enough faith,” or “don’t question the teachings,” or many other responses that are not answers.
The question then becomes, “now what?” It really isn’t something good. Just as teachers are held to higher standards than other believers (James 3:1), former believers are held to a higher standard than non-believers. This is not because they became better people, but because they walked away from their salvation. The author of Hebrews puts is very starkly, to be saved again, they have to crucify Christ again.
This sounds impossible, for Jesus Christ died once for all. However, that really isn’t what the author is saying. Especially for those who accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior later in life (especially post-childhood), the acknowledgment and acceptance that Jesus Christ died for us has a far deeper and harsher meaning. We become more aware of just what that means. For many of us, that was a hard enough journey.
Imagine someone whose hard was hardened toward God and walked away. That road back to salvation will be so much harder to walk than the first time. Peeling away the new and probably harder and thicker layers. Often the pride built when walking away has to be torn down, and then the other layers of guilt have to be torn down again. It is no easy road.
The author of Hebrews isn’t saying it impossible. By God’s grace, mercy and love, the road to redemption can indeed be walked many times. It does depend on how one left the road and how one kept off the road. There are no easy answers, and the road is always different for each person. If you know of someone on a road that is not the Redemption Road…THERE IS HOPE. Do not lose hope! With God, all things are possible!
As of late, this has come to the fore as there have been a number of high profile people who have “left” the Christian faith (though, when you actually read what they say, it’s not closing the door).
At the same time, with the COVID-19 response, we are seeing good-intentioned Christians stirring up the pot with concerns regarding vaccinations, government controls, “conditioning” and other things using the imagery of “the Beast.” Now, to some degree or another, the concerns have validity. Using “the mark” and “the number” of the “Beast” as a scare tactic (even as perceived justifiable one) helps to plant stones on the paths of those wandering away from the faith, and even those who are struggling in their faith, yet faithfully walking the way.
This is not to say that those invoking “the Beast” are at fault, just like the person who spoke poorly or wrongly is singly at fault for another person walking away from the faith. And that is probably the hardest thing to hear from the author of the Hebrews. We all have the responsibility to build and strengthen our faith, just as we are responsible for what we do that weakens it. What we can do is be open to others as they struggle. We also need to be open to others regarding our struggles.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, please strengthen our faith, whether it be in trying times or normal times. Help us to walk the path resolutely even when we stumble. Please help us be among those who will lift us up when we stumble and fall. Help us to be the family you have called your children to be. Amen.
1) What famous person are you aware of that walked away from the Christian faith? Other than the fact of their walking away, what do you know of their story?
2) When was the last time you answered a seeking question with an answer that you regretted later? What did you learn about yourself and God through that?
3) What is the best way to share the love of Jesus to those who are seeking or doubting?