You remember Brandon? That church friend from middle school?
That guy never missed a Sunday. The adults never said it, but you knew they all wished that everyone else in the youth group was a little more like Brandon. The crazy part was, Brandon wasn’t a teacher’s pet. He was the real deal. At school, he never cheated, avoided gossip, worked hard, joyfully engaged others, and even shared the gospel on occasion. That one night at summer camp, when he was crying… turned out that he felt called to ministry.
What ever happened to Brandon?
Unfortunately, like so many of the Brandons in our lives, Facebook betrays him. Based on the language he uses, the places he visits, and the pictures he takes, he isn’t living up to his “Most Likely to Be a Missionary” superlative. Frankly, it’s confusing. What do you make of Brandon?
You’ve probably wondered this, at one point or another, and it’s a question worth asking (we’ve considered it before). Is Brandon a believer or not? Quite literally, it’s a life or death matter of eternal proportions.
Thankfully, we don’t have to answer the question with 100% certainty in order to help Brandon. Whether the answer is He’s an unbeliever or He’s just going through a rough patch, our essential message to him is the same. Because…
If he’s an unbeliever, then we call him to repent and believe in Jesus. We urge him to answer the initial call of Christ to his disciples: “Follow me” (Matt 4:19).
And if he’s a genuine believer entangled in a cycle of sin, though knowing this may alter our starting point a bit, then we still call him to repent and believe in Jesus. Keep following him.
We know this from the contents of Paul’s New Testament letters, addressed to believers then and applicable to believers now. Time and again, he qualifies our salvation with phrases that encourage us to persevere in the faith:
- “If indeed you continue in the faith” (Col 1:23)
- “Provided we suffer with him” (Rom 8:17)
- “If we endure” (2 Tim 2:12)
This does not mean that we could lose our salvation. Rather, it’s God’s gracious means of preserving it. In Jesus’ own words,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (Jn 10:27-29)
In Christ’s pasture, we are completely secure. He’s the one that sought us out and brought us there in the first place. But as his sheep, we hear his voice… and follow him.
So consider messaging Brandon. Tell him to follow Jesus. You don’t have to figure out the eternal state of his soul before you do.