“For who heard and rebelled? Wasn’t it really all who came out of Egypt under Moses? And who was He provoked with for 40 years?’ Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And who did He swear to that they would not enter His rest, if not those who disobeyed? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:16-19 (HCSB)
I love mountain biking. I love the equipment, the trails, and the magazines. I even love Power Bars and the Camel Back full of Gatorade—one problem. I don’t actually like to RIDE mountain bikes!
Several years ago, my “extreme” friends bought mountain bikes, and so did I. I was really excited about joining the extreme sports culture…until they took me out on a trail ride. Screaming down narrow trails, inches between tree limbs and the ends of my handlebars, was no treat for me. It was my third fall that convinced me my new Gary Fisher bike had just become a monument to impetuousness, on permanent display in my garage!
It is easy to get into the culture of mountain biking. But you have to be committed to being an actual mountain biker.
Similarly, it can be easy to get into Christian culture, but it’s often difficult to live the life of a Christian. I am not talking about our salvation, which is by God’s grace alone, through our faith in Jesus. I’m talking about living out your faith once you have received salvation.
Following Jesus is more than saying a prayer, signing a card, lifting a hand, or walking an aisle. Those action items may be methods of “crossing the line of faith,” but the acts themselves are only external indicators of an inward transformation. Jesus calls us to a life of faith and service, not just a one-time decision. To paraphrase the old preacher, D.L. Moody, “New believers are to be weighed, not counted.” If your last act of following Jesus was your decision to follow Him, maybe it’s time to examine your life to see whether the gospel you received was the real thing. We are not saved by faith and works. Instead, we are saved by faith that works. Salvation is less about a moment of decision and more about generating momentum for a disciple. Belief is a starting line, not a finish line.
For the Israelites, simply leaving Egypt didn’t mean they were ready to follow God in obedience. All but two men of that generation were unable to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief. Similarly, salvation in this generation comes only through belief in Messiah, Jesus. Simply leaving the World and attending a church is not necessarily an indicator that we have entered a saving relationship with Jesus. It never hurts to examine our spiritual lives to ensure we know the difference between “leaving” and “following.” The indicator that we have received the real thing is most often found in how we worship God in those “desert” seasons of our lives.
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