Every generation thinks it has finally seen the “falling away” spoken of by the Apostle Paul in II Thessalonians 2:3. Just this week, I saw a blog headline argue that the falling away had begun because a Christian rapper renounced the faith. One guy? He must have been pretty important in the Kingdom, (please feel free to inflect a little sarcasm as you read the previous sentence). This happens, particularly in the entertainment business. Bob Dylan professed Christ briefly in the late 1970’s and recorded an album in 1980 called “Saved.” Two albums later, he was releasing “Infidel,” announcing that he was no longer a believer. But I digress.
Now, this may indeed be “that” falling away, but that’s not mine to judge. Nevertheless, if you’ve been a follower of Christ for any period of time, you’ve seen many would-be saints receive the Word with gladness only to turn away. We’ve witnessed many die with Christ in baptism only to resurrect their former lives months or even, days later. Sure, it’s discouraging, but Jesus told us it was to be expected. Do you remember the Parable of the Sower and the Seed? (Luke 8:4-15).
It’s a fact that our experiences with Jesus have emotional ups and downs. We have moments when we sense God’s presence just as if we were walking with Him in the coolness of an evening in Eden. Likewise, we soldier through times when we seemingly never hear a word but put one foot in front of the other, walking as we’ve been instructed. Abraham continued on with God for twenty-five years, sustained by the promise of a son. That’s why it’s called “faith” and I can think of no more worthwhile calling to which we could aspire. After all, II Corinthians 5:7 reminds us that we “walk by faith and not by sight.”
Not Many Wise
God did not save us because we were smarter than others who rejected His message. There are some who would attempt to contemporize the Gospel, downplaying the significance of the Cross to make the message more palatable to this age. In fact, I receive messages on a weekly basis from those who can accept “anything” about Jesus, except for the Cross, the Resurrection and of course, His deity. The Cross, however, is the very instrument by which we have been reconciled to God.
“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:18 NLT).
We needn’t worry about accusations from those who don’t understand God’s thinking. Our faith in Christ is what makes us friends of God, not our ability to explain His intentions and actions to men. Our weakness is a part of God’s plan. The Apostle Paul reminds the church at Corinth,
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” (I Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT).
Not by Might
If our intelligence and wisdom are non-factors in relating to God, He has even less use for our physical strength. As the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity, Zerubbabel led the first wave of returnees and laid the foundation for the Temple’s restoration. Shortly after that, progress stalled and rebuilding the Temple was deemed impossible. There were scarce resources and the restoration was violently opposed by the surrounding nations. The people cowered in fear. In the face of hopeless odds, Zechariah prophesied,
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!’ “ (Zechariah 4:6-7 NASB).
'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6 NLT) Click To Tweet
No one stands by personal strength. Only pride can convince us otherwise. Those who think they stand on their own will be greatly humbled, (I Corinthians 10:12-13). Even a man, as disciplined and resilient as the Apostle Paul, implored God to deliver him of a “thorn in the flesh.” God replied with “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,” (II Corinthians 12: 9 NASB).
God is Able to Make Us Stand
How is it that we stand when others fall? You, me and everyone who names Jesus as Lord and Savior, all stand for one reason. Christ is able to make us stand through the power of His Holy Spirit. We will fall away only if we become proud and accept the enticement of the spirits of this age. Most days the future on earth looks incredibly bleak. Nonetheless, even if the Lord should tarry, God can sustain us. We have faith that we do not stand our own righteousness, intelligence or strength, but because Jesus is able to make us stand.
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. ” (Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT).