IF YE CONTINUE IN THE FAITH
By John C. Carpenter
 
The apostles Paul and Timothy wrote the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae, We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister (Col 1:3-23). The believers in Colossae were not only ungrounded and unsettled in their newfound Christian faith, but were even beginning to move away from the hope of the gospel of Christ, which they had heard and received. Paul and Timothy wrote the Colossians to address their heresies and sins, to provide specific behavioral instructions, to encourage and instruct the saints in Colossae to continue in their Christian doctrines and faith (Col 1:23), and to be not moved away from the hope of the gospel of eternal life through faith in Christ (Col 1:23). As Paul well knew, for the Colossians, as with all believers, loss of faith meant loss of salvation. Eternal salvation requires continued faith.
 
MOVED AWAY FROM THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL
 
The newfound, pure Christian faith of the Colossians was in jeopardy. In short, they were losing their faith. They were allowing themselves to be moved away from the hope of the gospel (Col 1:23). They were not only allowing heretical teachings and practices to creep into their faith in Christ, but they were committing grievous sins as well. Specifically, the Colossians were being deceived by men who were persuasive (Col 2:4), being seduced into error by worldly philosophies and deceit (Col 2:8), and being defrauded of their salvation by men who displayed false humility, who advocated the worshipping of angels, who were intruding into spiritual things they did not understand, who were arrogant in their fleshly understanding, and who did not place Christ first (Col 2:18-19). The Colossian believers were also allowing themselves to be subjected to religious ordinances and requirements (Col 2:20), probably Jewish in origin, which were nothing more than commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:22), commandments and doctrines which gave the outward impression of wisdom, humility, and bodily sacrifice, but which were in reality only fleshly in nature (Col 2:23). Paul and Timothy wrote to encourage and instruct the believers in Colossae regarding their heresy and apostasy. First of all, as a matter of encouragement, the apostles wanted the Colossians to know that they were praying for them (Col 1:3-9). Second, the apostles wanted to remind the Colossians of the magnificence of Christ and His ministry. The apostles wanted to remind the Colossians that because of God’s love for them the Colossian saints had been given a revelation of Christ (Col 1:12) by God the Father, had been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:13), and had received redemption and the forgiveness of sins through the bloodshed and death of Christ (Col 1:14). Paul and Timothy also reminded the Colossians that Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature (Col 1:15), Christ created all things that are in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible (Col 1:16), and that Christ is before all things [in significance], and by Him all things consist (Col 1:17). Paul and Timothy reiterated that Christ is the head of the body, the church, is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, and that in all things He is preeminent (Col 1:18), that it pleased God the Father that in Christ all fullness [spiritual completion] should dwell (Col 1:19), that through Christ God the Father had reconciled in heaven and earth all things unto Himself (Col 1:20). Lastly, the apostles reminded the Colossian believers that they had been reconciled to God the Father (Col 1: 21) only by Christ’s death, so that they could be presented to God the Father holy, unblamable, and unreprovable (Col 1:22). The apostles did not want the Colossian believers to lose sight of the magnificence of Christ and His ministry, and of what Christ had done for them.
 
WALK YE IN HIM
 
Paul and Timothy also wrote to address the sins of the believers in Colossae. The Colossian believers were committing the sins of fornication [adultery, incest], uncleanness [physical or moral impurity, lewd], inordinate affection [pathological passion, extreme lust], evil concupiscence [harmful lust for the forbidden], and covetousness [avarice, greediness], which is idolatry [misguided worship] (Col 3:5). To address the heresies and sins of the Colossian believers, Paul and Timothy gave the saints in Colossae numerous spiritual and behavioral instructions. The apostles wanted the Colossian saints to live as Christians should. They instructed the saints, As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk [live] ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (Col 2:6-7). The apostles warned the Colossians to beware of men who could spoil their faith in Christ through worldly philosophy and deceit (Col 2:8), to let no man question their observances of faith (Col 2:16), and to let no man, through promoting false doctrine, beguile [divert] them of their eternal reward (Col 2:18). The apostles added, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.Put on therefore, as the elect of God [should], holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the[gospel] word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col 3:1-17). After giving specific instructions to wives (Col 3:18), husbands (Col 3:19), children (Col 3:20), fathers (Col 3:21), servants (Col 3:22), and masters (Col 4:1), Paul and Timothy encouraged the Colossians, And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Col 3:23). Paul and Timothy concluded, Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Col 4:2-6).
 
SOME SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH
 
Struggling with their Christian faith was not exclusive to the Colossian believers. From time to time, believers in Christ experience this struggle, as Holy Scriptures clearly teach. Paul specifically warned Timothy, his own son in the faith, that the Holy Spirit had expressly spoken in the latter times some [believers] shall depart [desert, draw or fall away] from the faith [in Christ for salvation], giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1 Tim 4:1). Christ told some Jews who had just come to faith in Him, If ye continue [stay, remain, endure] in my word [of salvation through faith in Christ], then are ye my disciples indeed (John 8:31). Paul instructed some arrogant believers in Rome, Boast not against the branches[Jews]. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they [the Jews] were broken off, and thou standest by [because of your] faith [in Christ]. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches [Jews], take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell [because of their unbelief], severity; but toward thee [who believed in Christ], goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off (Rom 11:18-22). In these verses, the apostle Paul makes it very clear that if the believer does not continue to have faith in Christ, the believer will be “cut off” by God the Father. Paul later instructed Timothy personally to Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue [remain, persevere] in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Tim 4:14-16). Again, as here with Timothy, Paul teaches that salvation will come only to those who continue in the doctrine of Christ.
 
THEM WHO DRAW BACK
 
Paul encountered Hebrew believers who were struggling in their faith. He exhorted them, Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back [shun, withdraw from faith in Christ] unto perdition [resulting in damnation]; but of them that [continue to] believe to the saving of the soul (Heb 10:38-39). The apostle John also instructs us regarding the necessity of continuing in our faith. John wrote, Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us [who continue to acknowledge the Son], even [specifically] eternal life (1 John 2:24-25). John also clearly taught that believers must continue to acknowledge the Son of God in order to receive eternal life. Concerned that Peter was about to lose his faith in Christ, the Lord strengthened Simon Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not... (Luke 22:32). Peter warned fellow believers brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall [from salvation through Christ by grace] (2 Pet 1:10). Referring to false prophets who were initially believers in Christ, Peter later added if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome,the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet 2:20-22). Paul instructed fellow believers in Galatia let us not be weary [be weak, fail in heart] in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint [relax; i.e., neglect the requirements of the gospel] not (Gal 6:9). There are those in Christendom who do not believe that salvation can be lost, yet, in the New Covenant, the apostle Jude boldly warns us, I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not (Jude 1:5). God the Father told the Old Covenant prophet Ezekiel, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die... (Ezek 3:20), and when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die (Ezek 18:24). According to Scriptures, apparently after coming to faith in Christ and walking with Him, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him (John 6:66). The Lord also teaches us that not all who come to faith in Christ shall continue in their faith unto salvation. In the parable of the sower, Christ teaches, They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe [in Christ], and in time of temptation fall away [desert their faith in Christ] (Luke 8:13). The heart of “rock” believes for a season, but loses faith in time of temptation. The rocky heart is initially saved, but loses that salvation because it departs from Christ.
 
HOLD FAST THE CONFIDENCE FIRM UNTO THE END
 
Holy Scriptures make it abundantly clear that salvation is dependent upon faith in Christ, and that loss of faith in Christ results in loss of salvation. Paul encouraged Hebrew believers who were struggling in their Christian faith to hold fast the confidence [of salvation through Christ] and the rejoicing of the hope [of eternal life] firm unto the end (Heb 3:6). Paul later warned these same believers,it is impossible for those who were once enlightened [brought to an understanding of salvation through faith in Christ], and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good [gospel] word of God [about salvation through Christ], and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away [apostatize; i.e., renounce faith in Christ], to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through [continued] faith and patience [forbearance, fortitude] inherit the promises (Heb 6:4-12). Paul later added, Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience [cheerful and hopeful endurance, constancy] the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds (Heb 12:1-3). For those who have begun to follow Christ, yet long to continue to be involved in the world, the Lord warned, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). As with the believers in Colossae, all believers in Christ can remain reconciled to God (Col 1:21) through the death of Christ (Col 1:22) only if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven... (Col 1:23). This is God the Father’s promise, and requirement.  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"And every one
that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or
father, or mother,
or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake,
shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life"
(Mat 19:29)





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