What keeps us keeping on in the following of Jesus? What keeps the gospel and the scriptures alive? Why did Judas Iscariot continue on even though he used to help himself to the money given to Jesus and the disciples for their work? Why did the rest continue on? What made the difference?
One key, perhaps more basic than any other: the Person and work of the blessed Holy Spirit.
We need the Holy Spirit to give us light in our darkness. We are created and therefore finite and lacking of the eternal life of the Triune God. And we are sinners, essentially cut off from God and from each other due to our sin in not loving God with our entire being and doing and not loving our neighbors as ourselves. We have both done what we shouldn’t have done in thoughts, attitudes and actions, including of course our words, and we have left undone what we should have done. And even as Christians turned 180 degrees through repentance (and of course in need of ongoing repentance), we still haven’t arrived in that, and we won’t in this life, even though we should be growing deeper in fulfilling it. And so we’re in need of conviction of our sin so that we can confess our sins and experience the ongoing salvation of God in our forgiveness and cleansing. Again, hence the need of the blessed Holy Spirit.
When Jesus opened up the scriptures concerning himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus at their home, what made the difference? Certainly having the Lord teach them was wonderful in itself. But without the Holy Spirit, it would have made no difference at all. Their hearts would not have burned and they would not have believed.
This gives me much pause when the things of God seem far away and everything seems to have lost life. There could be other reasons, and yet one possibility looms that is dangerous. I have to ask myself if I’ve sinned against the Holy Spirit in some way, and find my way back through the grace of God. Scripture doesn’t warn against sinning against the Holy Spirit for no reason at all. It applies to followers, to real believers no less. See here in Hebrews 6 and even clearer, here in Hebrews 10.
And so we must go on in our following of Jesus in the life and power of the blessed Holy Spirit.