The ragamuffin who sees his life as a voyage of discovery and runs the risk of failure has a better feel for faithfulness than the timid man who hides behind the law and never finds out who he is at all. —Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Let me introduce you to three hypothetical friends.
The first attended seminary, and while he was here he married a missionary’s daughter. This couple was set for ministry—until he converted to Islam. He now denounces the claims of Jesus. He’s a back turner.
My second friend accepted Jesus at youth camp. Today, she’s married with kids, but she struggles with one certain sin. She fears it’s an addiction and secretly wonders why faith isn’t overcoming it. She’s a struggling believer.
My third friend attends church and volunteers. He agrees that church is a wholesome environment in which to raise kids. He’s a good guy, but he’s a toe dipper who hasn’t taken the plunge into faith in Christ.
One day, my friend the “back turner” and my friend the “struggling believer” open their Bibles. Each turns to the following passage:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26-27)
My struggling friend thinks, “This is why I don’t have quiet times.” The words terrify her.
My friend who denounced Jesus reads the text, closes the Book, chuckles, and tosses it into a box labeled GOODWILL.
The toe dipper hears the passage read aloud in church and thinks, “Hmm, I can’t wait to see what Pastor does with this.” Difficult passages are an intellectual exercise for him.
But we all want to know: Who is the text’s intended audience? If it’s written to struggling Christians, then we’re in trouble. It seems to say that intentional sin can’t be forgiven and that salvation covers only a limited amount of sin. That’s not good news.
Our mission is to discover which of my three friends risks condemnation.
Jesus, am I anchored in belief or full of doubt? Am I struggling to be good enough, or am I leaning into rest? Help me explore my fears about my eternal security. Amen.