Continue in the Faith
Read Colossians 1:23 (ESV)
...if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
What faith is Paul exhorting the Colossians to remain steadfast in?
The news is full of “deconstruction” stories these days. Many outspoken Christians in the public arena have decided to leave the faith completely or to change what it means to follow Jesus. It is certainly a disturbing and alarming trend. But it isn’t a phenomenon new to our time. And it is certainly something that Jesus and the apostles saw coming.
In today’s verse, Paul urged the Colossians to continue in the faith. Notice that Paul doesn’t leave the idea of “faith” open-ended or vague. He specifies that they are not to “shift from the hope of the gospel that you heard” from him. The Gospel that was proclaimed by the apostles of Jesus Christ is the only gospel that we are to put our faith and trust in.
But how do we know who is a genuine Christian? How do we know if we are truly saved? Jesus answered the question many times with this answer—remain in Him.
In John 8:31, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” This is the test of true discipleship. Are we faithful to continue believing in what Jesus said or do we eventually abandon Him and His teaching?
Jesus taught more about this in Luke 8 when He shared the parable of the sower. He spoke of the seed of the Word of God falling on the rocks. Initially, the seeds begin to grow but because the plants lack root, they soon shrivel up and die. He explained, “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away” (Luke 8:13).
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, many people started off following Him but abandoned Him when the going got tough or His teaching was too difficult to accept. John records that many of the people who initially followed Jesus were not true disciples. When they became offended by His teaching, they left. “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…’” (John 6:66-68).
During Jesus’ time, people were following Jesus at first but falling away once they were offended or the cost of following Him was just too great. During Paul’s time, heretics were preaching a false gospel in Colossae that some were embracing instead of continuing in teaching the apostles had received from Jesus and had preached since the very beginning.
In our time, some are falling away because they are offended by His message. Some accepted Jesus before counting the cost and are abandoning Him as it becomes more difficult and less popular to remain faithful to Him. Others are “shifting from the hope of the gospel” to embrace a false gospel. But the Bible is clear that true saints persevere to the end.
Friend, continue in the faith. Be stable and steadfast. Do not shift and accept worldly philosophy and false gospels. “...the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
Lord, please give me the strength to persevere and continue in the faith. Do not let me turn away or shift from the hope of the Gospel to a false gospel that cannot save. You are the One with the words of eternal life. I want to remain in You. Amen.