Mere Watering

Things that pertain to salvation (4)

They should not presume to be assured of salvation who linger around foundational doctrines, without growing into a diet of the solid food of sound teaching, or who can point only to certain subjective and spiritually satisfying experiences of the grace of God and His Word and Spirit as their hope of eternal life.

The elemental teachings of the faith - repentance unto life, faith in God, participation in the life of the church, hope in the resurrection, and so on - are important, of course. Further, God intends for us to experience Him as a critical component of our salvation, but as more than just a "taste" of His goodness. This is part of what it means to hope in His glory (Rom. 5.1, 2; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).

But these alone are not "things that pertain to salvation," as they fall on the "upside" of the divide which the writer establishes in Hebrews 6.9. They who rely only on elemental teachings and "tastes" of glory should be concerned as to whether their calling and election is, indeed, sure.

Nor can they truthfully conclude that they are saved whose assurance rests primarily upon faithfully positioning themselves under the showers of gracious teaching (vv. 7, 8). Merely hearing the Word of God, even for years on end, is not a mark of true salvation, as James reminds us (Jms. 1.22-25; 2.14-26). The purpose for which God waters the sown seed of His Word is that it may grow to bear fruit. Jesus calls all disciples to a life of abundant and lasting fruit (Jn. 15.16).

But if the preaching of the Word, our participation in Sunday school or Bible study, or even our daily reading of God's Word do not yield the fruit God intends, then we must wonder whether His saving Word has taken root in our hearts at all.

God is cultivating fruit in His people. As they continue to submit to His Word, they bring forth the fruit of the Spirit, the tokens of love, and the holiness without which no one can expect to see the Lord (Gal. 5.22, 23; 1 Cor. 13.4-7; Heb. 12.14). These are not our own fruit; rather, they are the evidence of Christ at work within us, by His Spirit, transforming us into His own image as He wills and does in us according to the pleasure of God (2 Cor. 3.12-18; Phil. 2.12, 13).

Where such fruit is missing - and where, in its place, the stale fruit of mere worldliness continues to flourish - there we may have no assurance that true salvation has taken root in the soul.

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore