The Bookends of Faith (Part 5)

February 23, 2011 at 11:00 am | Posted in The Bookends of Faith | 6 Comments
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The Bookends of Faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ: The first and last of the seven “I AM” statements in the Book of John

Last time we looked at two proofs of abiding as branches in the True Vine Who is Jesus Christ:

1. Pruning is proof.
2. Producing is proof.
Now we see that,
3. Proliferating is proof.

When the fruit of abiding is produced in our lives the principle of proliferation or multiplication goes into effect. Fruit has seeds. When your fruit starts to produce more fruit, better fruit, and much fruit, it is proof you are abiding.

One bookend is the Bread of Life. If you have partaken of the Bread of Life, you HAVE (present tense eternal) eternal life. You could lean all your books on that bookend, but, if you have ever tried to line up books on a bookshelf, you know that if you only have one bookend, eventually the books are going to lose balance. They will fall down or get pushed over. If you lean too hard on the first I AM statement to the exclusion of the last I AM statement, you will fall down. And falling down, you will live a defeated Christian life. The Lord has put this last bookend – I AM the True Vine – at the other end, lest we believe one of two fallacies:

1. The fallacy that the guarantee of eternal life is a license to sin.

2. The fallacy that a branch can stop being a branch.

One who is born again cannot be unborn. One who has eternal life can not have temporary life. We cannot work for our salvation, and no amount of works will seal our salvation. This bookend – I AM the True Vine and those branches who abide will bear fruit – draws the distinction between victorious Christian living and defeated Christian living – between the spiritual Christian and the carnal Christian. Branches that do not abide experience severe chastening (pruning), and, if they will not return to abiding they may be cast into the fire and burned. HOWEVER, this fire is not the fire of hell – not the fire of eternal damnation. These Verses must not be used to teach that doctrine. Both bookends are equally strong, and they do not contradict the books in the middle. The “fire” into which non-abiding, unfruitful branches may be thrown is the most severe judgment the Lord administers to His Own children – it is the judgment of letting them have their own way. This fire is the physical, not the eternal, not the spiritual, death of a believer. It is the ultimate chastening due to disobedience. It is the “sin unto death” which I John 5:16 – written to believers – speaks about it.

Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 4)

February 9, 2011 at 9:34 am | Posted in Eternity | 4 Comments
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Objection: I believe that I can lose my salvation because Luke 8:13 says, “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” To me this is going back to free will. We have the free will to walk away.

Answer To Objection: Luke 8:13 is not teaching that you can lose your salvation. You need to read the whole parable that Jesus is teaching. Some people hear the Word of God, but it lands on their stony heart. It is like seed on a rock. It can not send down roots. There may be a thin layer of soil on the rock, so that it looks for a little while like something is growing from the seed. But sunlight shines down on it (the heat of temptation), and it shrivels and dies and falls away. If it had roots, the heat would have made it grow, not die. These are people who look like they got saved until temptation came, and it was revealed that they never got saved to begin with. They did not “lose their salvation.”

Objection: But what about Deuteronomy 30:17-20: “But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Answer To Objection: Deuteronomy 30:17-20 does not teach that you can lose your salvation. When God renewed His covenant with the people of Israel as they prepared to cross over into the promised land of Canaan, He told them that if they disobeyed, they would die. If they obeyed, they would live long and prosper. They could be blessed for obedience or cursed for disobedience. This is speaking about prolonging their days upon the land, and the “length of their days on the earth,” not eternal salvation. Eternal salvation is by grace through faith, not through keeping the Old Testament Covenant.

Objection: What about Matthew 5:13?

Answer To Objection: Matthew 5:13 is not teaching that you can lose your salvation. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Salt in Bible times could go bad or spoil, and then it would be useless for bringing out the flavor in food, and in preserving food. Jesus is saying that you are no good as a disciple if you won’t bring the truth of God’s Word to the people you come into contact with. We should cast people out of the church family and positions of ministry if they are not acting as salt and light.

I have seen God convince some people of the truth of eternal security. Some people I have seen simply do not want to believe it. It is important that we do not try to find Bible verses that will fit into what we want to believe. There are whole ministries and denominations out there built around teaching that Christians can lose “their” salvation. These preachers think that people will just sin as much as they want to after they’re saved, and that we can’t trust God to get saved people to do what He wants us to do. But we must let the Bible tell us what is true even if we don’t happen to like it. I hope you will prayerfully consider that Jesus can not lie. If He has promised to take all those who have once been saved, and to keep them saved forever, what makes you think this is the one exception where He would lie? If you think you are keeping yourself saved, then you are giving yourself the glory, and you may be trusting in you, instead of trusting in Christ. But if God is keeping you saved, then He gets the glory, and you must put all your trust in Christ and not in yourself.

Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 3)

January 19, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Eternity | Leave a comment
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Objection: I know that I can lose my salvation because Lucifer once was in Heaven, and was cast out. There were also MANY angels created by God that chose to follow Lucifer to the fiery pit.

Answer To Objection: Lucifer being thrown out of Heaven has nothing to do with losing your salvation. Lucifer was never saved, so he could not “lose” his salvation.

Objection: Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace and favor and lost their eternity in the Garden.

Answer To Objection: When Adam and Eve were created in the garden they had not yet been “saved.” It was only after they sinned that they needed to be saved. God put them out of the Garden, but that is not “losing their salvation.”

Objection: If a Christian decides to walk away from God and live in sin he will surely die in his sin.

Answer To Objection: Do you mean die physically, or go to hell? Do you know any Christians who do not sin at least once every day? Is that “living in sin?” Do you know any Christians who have achieved sinless perfection? How many sins does a Christian have to commit before he or she “loses his salvation?” Why is most of the New Testament after Acts written to Christians telling them how to get the victory over sin, instead of telling them to get re-saved since they must have lost their salvation? Every Christian sins. We should not, but we do. God chastens His children for sinning. He does not kick them out of His family, or go back on His Word and take away His eternal salvation.

Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 1)

November 11, 2010 at 10:44 am | Posted in Eternity | 8 Comments
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Objection: You can lose your salvation because God gave us free will, and if a Christian decides to walk away from God and live in sin, he will surely die in his sin.

Answer To Objection: The question is really not: “Can I lose MY salvation?” because it’s not really “mine.” Salvation is of the Lord. (Jonah 2:9) The question is, “Can Jesus lose those people that HE has saved and has promised to keep?”

One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to seal believers unto the day of redemption. Jesus paid for the sins of Christians once and for all on the Cross. Many people would sometimes like to think that Jesus did “most” of the work of salvation on the Cross, but we have to “be good,” too, in order to add to what He did, and to help Him keep us saved. The reason this belief makes me so sad is that it is a type of “works” salvation, and the Bible teaches that we are saved and kept saved by God’s grace through faith alone, and our works have no merit before God when it comes to salvation.

The Bible teaches that Jesus cannot lose those whom He has saved. If you believe that He can, then let me ask you this. Do you believe that saved people have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within them while they are saved? If you believe that, then what happens if they “lose” salvation and go to hell? Does the Holy Spirit go to hell with them? Surely you do not believe that. So, under your theory, what does the Holy Spirit do when a saved person “loses his salvation?” Does He leave that person? If you say yes, then you are calling Jesus a liar.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:16-17

I emphasized “abide with you for ever,” because that is how long the Holy Spirit abides with a person who has been saved. Not “until they sin.” Not “until they live in sin.” Not “until they walk away from God.” FOR EVER.

The Bridegroom Cleans His Bride’s Wedding Gown

March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Eternity | 7 Comments
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The custom of modern weddings is for the bride to wear white. White symbolizes her purity. This is a good and fitting tradition. But it is not always completely accurate. These days few and far between are brides who have kept themselves totally pure up until their wedding day.

The bride of Christ is His church – the body of believers to whom He has granted eternal life. Christ is a pure and holy Bridegroom. He is coming to claim a pure and holy bride.

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:27

In fact, there will one day be a great feast, or “marriage supper” for Christ and His bride.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Revelation 19:7

Just as there are few brides who have remained completely pure until their wedding day, there are few (maybe none) Christians who have been completely sinless since the day of their salvation. Yet, we see that Christ’s bride will indeed wear white:

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 19:8-9

It has not fully been revealed to us exactly how the impure members of Christ’s church will be transformed into His holy, unblemished bride. It may well be that our impurities will be purged away before the judgment seat of Christ. But, it is certain that the fine white linen of righteousness we will wear will be our Lord’s imputed righteousness, and not our own self-generated good works. (Titus 3:5)

Eternal life is neither earned, nor kept, nor enhanced by our own power or goodness. The invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is an invitation to come receive a free gift.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

We sometimes use the word “freely” to mean “having the quality of unlimited access.” If someone invites us to freely enjoy the buffet, we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths until we are stuffed. There is a connotation of easy access to God’s great riches in this Verse, but the primary import of the Greek word “dorean” is something that is given without cost, something received even though it is undeserved. God will make His bride pure; that is His gift. He has not left it up to us to purify ourselves or keep ourselves pure in our own power.

In this site’s category called “Eternity” the past several postings have focused on the doctrine of eternal security. Starting with I Corinthians, I have taken at least one verse from every subsequent Book of the Bible, except Jude, and shown that, when God grants you eternal life, He makes you His child. You receive a new ontological “heart.” You are a new creation. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and God will not take your salvation away. You can not “lose” it, and you can not “reject” it. No man will make God a liar by causing Him to break His promises.

This is not an excuse to presume upon God’s grace and willingly or carelessly practice sin. If you find that you love sin more than Jesus Christ, regardless of what religious experience you may have had, or what you have been told, you need to make sure you have actually trusted in Jesus Christ personally unto salvation, and not merely your own “decision” or a special unscriptural formula.

Here are the previous lessons on eternal security:

Delivery and Birth (I Corinthians)
The Deposit on Your Soul (II Corinthians)
It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is (Galatians)
All in the Past (Ephesians)
Who “KEEPS” Me Saved? (Philippians)
Perfect Unbreakable Love (Colossians)
Learning To Like Eternal Life (I Thessalonians)
Eternal Destruction (II Thessalonians)
Temporarily Saved Is Not Really Saved at All (I Timothy)
Get Over Yourself, Because You Can’t Get Over on God (II Timothy)
Eternally Paid in Full (Philemon)

The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Titus, Hebrews)
Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter)
The Legend of the Unsaved Christian (II Peter)
The Everlasting Anointing (I John)
The Things that Will Last (II John)
Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor (III John)

Eternally Paid in Full

March 12, 2010 at 9:04 am | Posted in Eternity | 8 Comments
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In the Book of Philemon, the Apostle Paul acts as a guarantor on behalf of a runaway slave, Onesimus. Onesimus illegally ran away from his master, Philemon, and wound up meeting Paul. Paul led him to Jesus Christ, and Onesimus was saved. Paul, who was in prison at the time, sent Onesimus back to Philemon with a letter.

Paul’s promise to Philemon in this letter is an illustration of the role that Jesus Christ, the Great Guarantor, plays in the salvation of Christians on a far grander scale.

If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it…

Philemon vv. 18-19

Before I was “born again” to new life in Christ Jesus, I owed a debt to God I could never pay. My sins had violated His holy law, and no amount of good works or anything else could make up for it. The Lord Jesus, on the hill called Calvary, paid off my sin-debt in full with His blood.

Such a transaction is difficult to describe, first of all because of its enormity and greatness, and second of all, because of the overpowering emotions it evokes in those who have been saved. I would probably not agree with every point of theology held by the Puritans, but you have to give them credit for this: As one preacher said, they thought great thoughts about God. Here is a passage from Puritan preacher and theologian, John Flavel, that some have called “The Father’s Bargain.” It imagines a conversation between God and Jesus in the councils of eternity as the Son agreed with the Father to do what Paul promised to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus: to pay his debt in full, no matter how great.

Here you may suppose the Father to say, when driving his bargain with Christ for you:

Father: My Son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls? And thus Christ returns.

Son: O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shalt thou require it. I will rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

Father: But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them, I will not spare thee.

Son: Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: and though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures (for so indeed it did, 2 Cor. viii. 9. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor”), yet I am content to undertake it.

John Flavel

Please do not tell me that God will start charging sins to my account, now that I am saved… after Jesus Christ paid for them so thoroughly and so completely.

Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor

March 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Eternity | 3 Comments
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Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your own personal name written down in the pages of God’s everlasting Word? Don’t answer too quickly. First, you might want to ask, “What would it say about me?”

It is a great honor for men such as Job, Moses, Paul, and Stephen to have their names inscribed in the Bible, but, for a few others, it is an eternal shame. One such example is Diotrephes. He is named only once, but it’s not good:

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

III John Verses 9-10

Apparently, Diotrepehes was a proud man, with a love for being “first,” and a willingness to step on a few toes and heads to get there. He was not averse to attacking the Lord’s work, or even the Apostle John. We get a picture of Diotrephes tossing people out of the congregation left and right.

One key thing to remember, though, is that, while Diotrephes did cast people out of the “church,” he did not cast them out of the “CHURCH.” A “church,” which we usually use to refer to a building, is a local assembly of believers, but there is a greater sense in which “THE CHURCH,” is the called-out assembly of all the true Christians in the world. This Church is both the Body (I Corinthians 12:27) and the Bride (Revelation 21:9) of Christ.

Men may remove other men from a local congregation of believers, but Jesus Christ will never withdraw eternal life from His Own Body or divorce His Own Bride. This is the promise and assurance of salvation.

The Things that Will Last

February 19, 2010 at 9:02 am | Posted in Eternity | 1 Comment
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Those who have been once saved by Christ Jesus will not be judged for their sins, but all men will one day stand before the Lord in judgment. If not for sins, then for what shall true Christians be judged? They shall be judged for their works. (See I Corinthians 3:13 and II Corinthians 5:10).

Knowing that this day is coming, we who are the children of God through the new birth would be very wise to watch how we live, and what we do.

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

II John, Verse 8

Earthly, temporal works earn earthly, temporal rewards. But faithful works which promote and build the Kingdom of God bring about full and eternal rewards.

The Legend of the Unsaved Christian

February 1, 2010 at 10:01 am | Posted in Eternity | 3 Comments
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“Urban legends” are sort of modern day fairy tales. They are stories that have been told and re-told, but can never be confirmed as actually happening. “I know someone who told me about his brother’s old roommate, and you would not believe what happened to him.” This is usually the sort of third- or fourth-hand pedigree that signals the onset of an urban legend about to be told.

There is even a sort of Christian urban legend. I hear it fairly often when I speak about the doctrine of eternal security. “I just know a Christian can lose his salvation,” someone will tell me, “because my cousin’s uncle’s great aunt’s stepfather was saved when he was nine, and he grew up to be an alcoholic and a big jerk, and he even killed a guy one time.”

This sort of experiential tale might make for an interesting story, but it carries no weight whatsoever when he held up to inerrant Scripture.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

John 10:28-30

So, what do we do with the person who claims to be a Christian, but lives like a devil? I don’t know about you, but I would hope for the opportunity to give him the Gospel message. There are two possibilities. One, this person is a child of God, saved by grace through faith, and is under the chastening hand of His loving and omniscient Father, Who knows things we can never know – including whether someone is really saved or not. Two, this person is only a “professing Christian,” and has never really been saved to begin with.

The true Christian’s job is not to help other Christians figure out who’s really saved and who’s not, and it is certainly not to help God figure out who really belongs to Him, and who doesn’t.

Whether the person who claims the name of Christ but lives in egregious sin is a prodigal son or a false professor, the proverb of the pigs and the dogs is no urban legend.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

II Peter 2:20-22

Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date

January 22, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Eternity | 4 Comments
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We go to great lengths to make food last longer. We put preservatives, such as salt, in it. We refrigerate or even freeze it. We wrap it in foil. We seal it up tight in a Zip-Lock bag. Ultimately, however, food, unless completely consumed, is going to spoil. In common vernacular, it just won’t “keep.”

Thankfully, though, we serve a Lord Who is mightier, stronger, and more dependable than the tightest Zip-Lock bag and the coldest deep freeze. For all those who come to Christ Jesus, and are washed by His blood, His power saves us, and His power “keeps” us.

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 1:5

Jesus Christ redeemed born-again believers from the worst source of corruption of all time: sin. He did this by taking on the sins of all His people in His body, and bearing those sins on the Cross of Calvary.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Those sins included not just sins which had been committed up until that time, but sins which were committed since then, and even sins being committed today.

God’s power over sin is such that forgiven sinners may never be rejected of God. They will never be eternally “spoiled” by sin. Therefore, we must remember to take advantage of our access to this power, and to remember that we are part of God’s family, and to therefore live victoriously over sin in our own lives first.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I Peter 4:17

It is a great privilege to be “kept” by God’s power. Let us not abuse our position by acting “spoiled.”

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