Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Confident of Better Things

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. (Hebrews 06:07-09, NKJV).

In the end, unregenerate humanity (those not born-again in the Spirit through faith in Christ) are destined to burn like thorns and briars cleared from an infertile field. 

People hate to be reminded of this truth, and so they bury their heads in the sand and decry us Christians as being deluded and crazy, in lock-step agreement with the way popular culture libelously paints us. These willful haters of the truth of God will reap what they sow, regardless of how they feel about it.

But there is another side to this coin that the writer of Hebrews takes pains to emphasize after every dire warning about the consequences of unbelief, or falsely proclaimed belief, and it is good news indeed.

It's this: by accepting the ancient and venerable doctrines of "mere Christianity", heretofore condemned souls are declared innocent and righteous (justified by faith), and forever immune to the judgments inflicted upon the damned. 

The profession of faith must be real (and repentance and conversion always "look like something"), of course, and when it is, two immeasurably gracious and benevolent transformations take place that accompany salvation.

The first is that we go from beings enemies of God, to being beloved by God. This happens because we have come to know and love Christ, His Son, whom He sent for the express purpose of redeeming us from death, and taking upon Himself the eternal penalty of our sin.

All we do is believe. 

The rest is done by Him through Christ. 

Moment by moment, day by day, our miserably sinful selves are being transformed into His image.  

No Biblically literate Christian can ever claim to be better than someone else because we have accepted this gift of salvation. All that can be truly said of us is that we realize down to the core of our being our helplessness against sin, and understand our need to be saved.

That is an acknowledgment stemming from humility and weakness, not superiority. So any dribble about self-righteous Christians is inherently an oxymoron. By virtue of our surrendering to Christ as Lord and Savior, we are forever forfeiting any and all claims to self-righteousness. It is His righteousness that makes us beloved of God, never our own.

Secondly, instead our doom being certain, our salvation is certain. Christ guarantees that He who comes to Him will by no means be cast out. Consequently, the writer of Hebrews can say without qualification that he is confident that we will not burn, but live forever.

His fiery warning is directed at those who say they believe the gospel, but whose lives, words and deeds belie that profession. 

To those of us who know that we are worthless without Christ, who have surrendered our own feeble attempts at being good, we have received the promise from God Himself that we will live forever in glorified, unfailing bodies in fellowship with each other and with Him.

That expressed confidence in our infinitely better destiny isn't even based on us, but on the Lord's faithfulness.

Look, God is not mocked, nor is He a liar. When He promises something, it will come to pass. And He can see through any pathetic facade of faith behind which we seek to disguise our true hearts.