Though I’ve often been tempted, I’ve never actually turned in an incomplete when it comes to school work. There are times you just want to give up, and say “I quit!” but I’ve never done that. I have however turned in work just to say I was done, only to have to do it over again when I was better prepared for it.

Back in 1997, I was taking a class a Cincinnati Bible Seminary on Restoration History. That particular year we were going through some stuff on the homefront. I was fired from my first church. We had to move out of the parsonage and find a new place to live in a 30-day period, I was trying to get my Masters Degree done at Cincinnati, but with the personal turmoil, my wife and I were also struggling with infertility, life just seemed to be going down the toilet. Everything that I’d worked for, and struggled with as a student, and then failing in my first ministry, just put me in a bad place. The only thing I had left was my school work, and I just didn’t have the heart for it anymore.

So when the final paper came for the class, we were told specifically that we had to mail it in. I didn’t have money for postage, things were very tight. So in frustration, I just emailed it to the professor. I ended up failing the class. In hindsight, I could have done more, but I just didn’t care at the time.

Do after a few years, life had improved. We moved into a new church situation, had a couple of children, and both wife and I were gainfully employed. I went back to that institution, getting ready to graduate, but still had this core class to pass. So I took the class online, took all of my notes from my previous run-through, and had no problems passing. Even turned in my papers online. Oh the irony!

So when coming to this verse, I am reminded of that time in my life, just because the idea of turning in work short of what was needed. This verse is often quoted for this purpose. While it is true that belief in Jesus and confession of faith are essential to salvation, many quote this verse as if it is all that is needed. This is the idea of the prayer of faith. Just say the words, and you will be saved. Really?

Faith is at the heart of this verse. Belief is more than just an acknowledgement of the facts. Belief is faith in the implications of those facts. There is a supernatural God who reigns over the universe who sent His only Son to die for my sins because I am a sinner against the Almighty and I need saving from the eternal consequences of sin. Belief acts out on those facts and offers my own life to the God who saves me. Belief speaks with the heart and the mouth of this faith in God, of putting my own life out there as witness to the change God has wrought within me. I confess before others that Jesus saved my life. It is far more than thinking and making a speech.

So the next time you are tempted to say to yourself, “I believe and that is enough.” or “I went forward in church once, so now my eternity is secure,” think again. God’s salvation is once and future. It saves you in the past for His work in the present. Ask yourself this, “What am I doing today that shows I am a believer in Jesus?” Don’t turn in an “incomplete.”

Lord help me today to show You that I live and work for You and not for myself. Help me to grow each day to follow You and nourish the spirit within me with Your word and work. Thank You Lord for saving me. May my every waking moment be an expression of gratitude. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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