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Often times, as we extend the invitation, we will cite the steps one must do to be saved. After this, we add the expression, “Remain faithful.” To me, it seems that sometimes the way this is mentioned, and I include myself in this, is only as a passing thought – but is it? What does it mean to remain faithful? Is this actually a part of the steps of the plan of salvation? Let us take a few moments to notice these things.
What does it mean to remain faithful? Simply stated, it means that once one becomes a Christian, you are expected to devote your life to serving God. Securing salvation is not merely a one time act but an ongoing way of life. Those who will be saved are those who remain “faithful until death.” (Revelation 2:10)
God’s plan of salvation. Simply Stated, if you are not a Christian you are lost! How do you become a Christian? You must hear the word (Romans 10:17), believe its teachings, which include many things (John 3:16, 8:24), repent of you sins (Acts 2:38, 17:30-31 – more on this in a moment), confess that which you believe - including that Jesus is the son of God (Romans 10:9-10, cf. Acts 8:37), and be baptized unto salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Peter 3:20-21, Galatians 3;27, etc.) If you do these things (and understand them) your sins are washed away and you are a Christian. And that is where it all begins.
What about remaining faithful? While it is not actually one of the steps that puts one into Christ, it is something that must be understood BEFORE one becomes a Christian. It is covered in the subject of true repentance. Repentance is defined as, “to change one’s mind.” (Thayer) However, that definition is overly simplistic. Repentance in scripture means that one changes their mind about doing something wrong (or not doing what one ought to be doing) and determines to start doing that which is right. It is a reversal of the direction in life one is going. For example, in Matthew 21 Jesus tells the parable of two sons that are told to go work in their father’s vineyard. One son says, “‘I will not’, but afterward he regretted it and went.” (vs. 29) That son changed his mind and it led to a change in action. Consider also 2 Corinthians 7:11, “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” Notice the degree to which their repentance caused them to change.
When one becomes a Christian, they must understand that they are committing to serving God forever. In Romans 6:1 Paul asks the brethren an interesting question. He says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” This was in anticipation of questions that his readers (and critics) might raise as he points out that God’s grace abounds where there is sin (that is forgiven). (See Rom. 5:12-21) After asking his question he says, “Certainly not!” Paul notes that it is NOT acceptable to sin. In fact he reminds them, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (6:2-4). Note Paul’s point: They had become Christians and thus they did NOT have the right to keep on sinning. The rest of this chapter points out that they are no longer slaves of sin, but servants of righteousness (6:16-18). They understood that conversion was a way of life. At His ascension, Jesus encouraged His disciples to go make disciples of all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19-20) The grammatical setting for this verse indicates that observing all things was a mindset that was to be ongoing. Jesus was not saying they needed perfect knowledge, but instead they needed an attitude that they would obey Him as they learned whatever they needed to do. One must understand this BEFORE he/she becomes a Christian. I am fearful that we do not emphasize repentance enough when trying to teach one God’s plan of salvation. The result is often a weak convert that will likely fall away at the first sign of trouble or distraction. Far too many have the misconception that all there is to salvation is taking the steps that put one into Christ. That attitude is wrong!
“Remain faithful.” Having said all this, if there is to be any hope of salvation, you MUST remain faithful until death. The Bible clearly teaches that once one is saved, they CAN be lost. Galatians 5:4 warns brethren considering returning to the Law of Moses (or some other law), “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” 2 Peter 2:20-21 speaks of those who have, “escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” My question to those who teach the impossibility of apostasy is, how can one be in worse shape than before they were saved if they cannot be lost? Truly, once one is saved, they have a responsibility to remain faithful by doing what they ought to do.
In Revelation 2:10, the message of the angel of the church at Smyrna warned them of impending persecutions they were about to face. But in spite of these persecutions they were exhorted to, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This expression could be interpreted two different ways. John could mean, “Be faithful to the point of dying for the cause” or “Be faithful until you die.” Either way, the commitment is for life. In Mark 13:13 as Jesus warned His apostles about what they were to face, He said, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” In another parable the one who would “enter in the joys of your Lord” was the “good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21, 23) Again in Revelation we read, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (14:13). Paul said that eternal life awaited him who by “patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality” (Romans 2:7).
Thus we can see that once one becomes a Christian he is expected to remain faithful to God. What about you? Have you done what the Lord commands to become a Christian? If you have, are you living faithfully? If not, it is never too late to repent. Think about it!