Summary: The Bible warns about Christians falling away. This sermon helps believers to stay focused on Christ and not drift away.
Fix Our Eyes on Christ- How Not to Dift Away
by Sidney Yuan
The title of today’s sermon is Fix Our Eyes on Christ, with the subtitle of How not to Drift Away. The Scripture is taken from the book of Colossians Chapter one, verse 14 to 20. Can Christians really drift away in our faith? The Bible clearly warns about Christians falling away or drifting away. The following are just a few examples.
2 Peter 2:20-22- For if, after they 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 for them 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.
Christians are a group of people called out or separated out by God from this polluted world. The word holy means to separate out. The Apostle Peter said it is possible for someone to be separated out from this polluted world and be entangled in it again, and turn from the holy commandment.
Hebrews 6:4-6: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
The author of Hebrews said it is possible for someone to be enlightened, to taste the heavenly gift and good word of God, and even become a partaker of the Holy Spirit, and yet fall away. For these people, it is not possible to renew them, for doing so it means to crucify Jesus again and put Him to an open shame.
Hebrews 10:26-29- For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will He be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
The author of Hebrews said that if we sin willfully, then we trample the Son of God under our feet and we don’t value the covenant Jesus established with His blood, and we would insult the Spirit of grace.
Since the Bible clearly warns about apostasy, it’s definitely possible to drift away or fall away. A Calvinist would say that it’s not possible for a true believer to lose his salvation. Thus anyone who falls away or drifts away, must have never believed in the first place. An Armenian on the other hand says that it’s possible for a person to drift away in faith and even lose his salvation. There is only one problem with either argument, we don’t know whether the person in question truly believed in the first place or not. We have no way of knowing who is a true believer and who is not. However, what we do know is whether we ourselves are truly saved or not. Brothers and Sisters in my old church were very curious and surprised to hear me say that we can know if we are truly saved. They asked me how can one know if one is truly saved. The answer is given in today’s sermon, How not to Drift Away.
Drifting away means that we are going in a direction other than where we want to go. It implies that we have a destiny, but we drift away. It’s like rolling a boat towards a destiny but the current or tide carries us away, causing us to drift off course. The early believers in the church of Colossae faced the very issue of drifting away. On one hand, there were false teachings that all materials are bad, thus the earth is evil, so that it could not have been created by God. They also believed the body is evil, but the soul is good, and we all have inner subjective knowledge which leads us to God. This false teaching would eventually develop into the Gnostic belief in the second century. Actually, the word Gnostic came from the Greek word which means knowledge. Nowadays, we still have the new age people believing in the same thing, “internal knowing” or self-knowledge which will lead us to God. This is nothing new, for the heresy of the Gnostic belief stems back to the second century. Besides these Pre-Gnostic false teachings, the church of Colossae was also plagued with the false Greek teaching of angel worshipping (recorded in Colossians 2:18). And more than that, the early church also had to fight the teachings of Judaic ritualism and tradition. They believed in salvation through keeping of the Old Testament Laws instead of accepting the blood of Christ for salvation. One may say, thank God that we don’t have these false beliefs in the Church today. Think again, for these kinds of false beliefs still exist today. We might not call it Judaism, Gnostic belief, or Greek teaching. We may not worship angels like the Greeks, but we worship something else, like money, power, our jobs or our loved ones. Matthew 6:21 says where our treasure is, there our heart will also be. And may I add, what we spend most of our time on, there our heart will be too. And based on how much time we spend we know what our idols are. We may not call ourselves Gnostics, but we also believe in self-knowing, and choose to do things our ways instead of following the word of God. We may even oppose Judaic ritualism, but sometimes we do the same thing, and feel that as long as we come back to church to worship on Sundays, and if we serve in our own capacity, we are fine. Worse yet, we may be drifting, but we don’t even know. Remember? The analogy here is drifting away. Why do we call it drifting away and not being cast away? It’s because it happens so subtly that we don’t even know it. We mentioned that it’s like rolling a boat in the ocean at night. Paul reminds us in today’s passage that in order not to drift away, we have to keep our eyes on Christ. If we are in a boat in a dark ocean, the only thing that will keep us from drifting away is keep on rolling towards a lighthouse. And Christ is our lighthouse. In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life". So, Jesus is our lighthouse. If we don’t want to drift away, we need to fix our eyes on the lighthouse, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. This has been a really long introduction to my sermon. Let’s look at today’s passage, which is taken from Colossians 1:14 – 20.