Affirm Constantly...

Excerpted from John Bevere's Driven By Eternity (Chapter 5: Pages 82-98)


Notice in the above Scripture that we are commanded by the Word of God to affirm or teach these things constantly. Did you hear that? I find these things are rarely spoken of from pulpits or amongst believers today, let alone continuously. For this reason, we’ve drifted from the importance of maintaining good works through the grace of God. We in essence are allowing the power that is in us to remain dormant through the lack of belief and acknowledgment. Our faith, which accesses grace, must remain active through verbalizing our beliefs. Paul says, “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 6, NKJV).

If we don’t affirm these things constantly, then we will drift away from the truth. This is clearly seen by the writer of Hebrews:

      Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the
      things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word
      spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every trans¬
      gression and disobedience received a just reward, how
      shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation.
           Hebrews 2:1-3 (Emphasis Mine)

By affirming these things, constantly we keep before us the urgent matters of eternity that keep us from drifting away. I remember when I used to fish as a boy. While focused on fishing, the boat, if not anchored, would drift unnoticed to us. We’d look up forty-five minutes later and wouldn’t even recognize our location. The drifting occurred because we had our mind on other matters, namely fishing. This has been quite costly for some, as there have been many who’ve been fishing in certain rivers that led to deadly waterfalls. Countless numbers have gone over falls to their death because of drifting away from where they were first positioned.

The same is true with the important matters of eternity. If God says we are to affirm these things constantly, then this should be our emphasis. Why are we not highlighting the power of grace, which gives us the ability to maintain godly lifestyles of obedience? I find that the early church did this. I examined some of the writings of the early church fathers and found they taught things that would almost seem foreign to our teachings today, but they didn’t teach contrary to the Scripture. The Fathers of the first few centuries believed that works played an essential role in the evidence of our salvation. Let’s look at a few examples.

The first man I’ll quote is Polycarp (A.D. 69-156), bishop of the church at Smyrna and a companion of the Apostle John. He was arrested in his very old age and burned at the stake. He wrote: “Many desire to enter into this joy (of salvation), knowing that by grace you are saved, not of works.” This would be an accepted statement in today’s Evangelical circles, as we have stressed the fact that we are not saved by our own good works. However, he also wrote to believers: “He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up – if we do His will and walk in his commandments and love what He loves, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness.”

You won’t hear this spoken often from our pulpits today. Notice the word “if.” We are told we have to do His will and walk in His commandments in order to be raised up in the believer’s resurrection. You’ll see shortly that this is exactly what Jesus said as well.

The next man I’ll quote is Clement of Rome (A.D. 30-100), a companion of the Apostle Paul and Peter and an overseer in the church of Rome. He wrote, “We are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own godliness, or works. But by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men.” This too would be a widely accepted statement in today’s circles of Christianity. However, he also wrote to believers, “It is necessary that we be prompt in the practice of good works. For He forewarns us, ‘Behold, the Lord comes and His reward is before His face, to render every man according to his work’ (Rom 2:6-10).”

Could this truth be why Paul stated while on trial, “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance”? (Acts26:19-31, emphasis mine). Since Paul stressed this importance, it seems to follow suit that his companion, Clement of Rome, would do the same.

The next one I’d like to point out is Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150-200). He was a leader in the church of Alexandria, Egypt, and was in charge of the school of instruction for new believers. He wrote about unbelievers: “Even if they do good works now, it is of no advantage to them after death, if they do not have faith.”

This too, would be heartily cheered among Evangelicals today. We know, as I’ve already pointed out in the last few chapters, that no matter how many good works an unbeliever accomplishes, they still cannot gain him entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God; it is by God’s grace we are saved. However, look at what else Clement wrote to believers:

“Whoever obtains the truth and distinguishes himself in good works shall gain the prize of everlasting life…some people correctly and adequately understand how God provides necessary power (to be saved), but attaching slight importance to the works that lead to salvation, they fail to make the necessary preparation for attaining the object of their hope."

Some of you may be thinking, It sounds like these guys didn’t read the New Testament. But they did. Josh McDowell points out in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict that Clement of Alexandria took 2,400 of his quotes from all but three books in the New Testament. The same is true of the others. I have to say that many books in our Christian bookstores today have very little Scripture in them. Could it be that we have drifted due to the fact we have not affirmed constantly what is important.


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