But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17
“You’ll never make it.” Sounds weird, but this was an encouragement God spoke to my heart yesterday as I asked Him to help me understand why seemingly devoted Christians turn their backs on God–why people who know God’s Word could one day choose to ignore God’s Word.
He gave me a couple of possibilities at first, like having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5), or like knowing the name of Jesus but not actually knowing Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23). Both of these indicate a heart never transformed—a heart affected by the power but not changed by it. Both indicate a head knowledge not accompanied by a heart change.
Then God gave me another reason, the one I suggested at first: the slow fade. As we grow little by little so also we often fall away one choice at a time. Not many people walk to the edge of a cliff and think, “Well, that’s the fastest way to the bottom,” and then jump. Most people get off the mountain gradually. They find a sloping path and follow it. Step by step and little by little they walk down. And before they know it they’ve reached the bottom. Not as fast as jumping off a cliff, but still effective (and definitely less painful).
It is this idea of little by little God impressed upon me yesterday regarding those who fall away. Not many believers stand at the edge of faith mountain and choose to jump to the valley of unbelief; rather, they take a path that gradually leads to the bottom. It’s a slow fade. It’s a little choice here and a little choice there, and before long they’ve reached the bottom.
Now I personally do not believe Christians consciously choose this downward slope. I tend to believe the slope begins when they start believing they’ve “made it.” They begin to believe that Christianity is something one can achieve–that once they’ve reached a certain point they can sit back and enjoy the view. Wrong! So very wrong! There is no stopping in our walk with God; if we are not moving forward, then we are going backward.
Therefore, let me encourage you today in this paradoxical way: YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT. You will never get to a point in your walk with Jesus where you can cease to pray, cease to read, and cease to fellowship. Stopping–or even simply scaling back–on any of these will bring you down the mountain. No, it will not be a steep descent; but it will still be a descent. And the more you scale back, the faster you will reach the bottom.
We as Christians must be careful–we must diligently take heed lest we fall. Believing we have read enough of God’s Word or prayed enough prayers or been to church enough times is dangerous. Neglecting communion with God is never a good idea. If you take an ice cube out of the freezer and place it on the counter, it may not turn into a puddle right away, but little by little it will melt. So too, if we begin thinking we have “arrived” as a Christian and subsequently stop pressing into our Lord, we will slowly lose what we once had. Our hearts will grow cold. Our light will grow dim. And before long, we will be as far away from God as those who never knew Him to begin with.
Therefore, I implore you today: stay the course. Read, meditate on, and memorize God’s Word. Pray without ceasing. Do not forsake fellowship. Keep on keeping on. Don’t scale back in the least. Continually press in to God and His Word. Please, please never believe the lie that you have “arrived” in your Christian walk. You will never arrive until the Lord returns.
Now if reading these words has made you realize you are no longer climbing the mountain–if they have made you see that you’ve been slowly descending–or if they have helped you notice you are almost at the bottom–let me encourage you in this: it’s not too late to turn around. All you need to do is start the journey back up. First, turn around by repenting of your sins. Then take those initial steps forward. Get back in the Word. Begin again to pray. Fellowship again with those who love Jesus and allow them to encourage you up the mountain.
Climbing a mountain isn’t easy–it takes focus, hard work, and diligence–but it is achievable when we take it one step at a time–when we commit to stay the course. So join me today in choosing to stay the course–in choosing to keep moving onward and upward with joy knowing, “… the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrew 10:23).