Chapter 17, Continued from Chapter 16
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
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A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART C’: Which believer does not risk losing his salvation… (#1)
From this point on until the penultimate Chapter we will examine the position of those who believe that the true believer does not risk losing his salvation. The final Chapter will be used as an epilogue, which will contain our conclusions.
Those who believe that even the true believers, those who are “born of God” (1Jean 3:9) may lose their salvation, as well as people who live with the same spirit and devotion as the apostles, base their main argument on the principle: “God who has given us our free will, He respects it.” Their argument is valid and absolutely true! This means, in this case, but in other terms, that even the apostles Paul, Peter, John, James and the other apostles believed that they, also, could change their opinion (their will), at any time, drawback, return to the world and lose their salvation! Let us examine their argument:
- 1. The issue of our free will
Any man can – in his freedom, power and good senses – engage or bind himself with a written or an oral promise or declaration, to cede, to give over, or to assign his rights to someone else. In everyday life, we give mandate to members of our family or other people to represent us, or to vote for us, either according to our instructions, or according to their judgment, to deal with certain of our problems. In certain cases, we even give them a full charge of responsibility. Such an act is usually done by people who, being aware that they are unable, for certain reasons, to face their problems, but at the same time trust completely these people in order to protect, to promote or to defend their interests and rights.
If such a thing can be done between a man with another man, much more can it be done between a man with God, because he knows for sure that He is a God who loves him, Who can protect him and Who wants and will save him for now and for eternity!
Have you noticed the passage, which was written by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church in Rome? “Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God [………] Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed FROM THE HEART that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity to iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness to holiness. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants (bondmen – Darby: δούλος=slaves – Greek) to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom.6:13, 16-23). Did you also notice the expression “FROM THE HEART”? If a believer does not yield himself “FROM THE HEART”, what is his position in the sight of the Lord? Can he ever become a real disciple and servant of the Lord?
(NB: Notice please that in all these verses and in many others, the Greek word “δούλος = slave” is translated – in certain versions – as “servant”. There is a great difference between the two words ‘slave’ and ‘servant’!)
2. “I will not go out free”
Do you remember what is written in the Old Testament about slaves? “And if the servant (slave) shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him to the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or to the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever” (Exod.21:5-6). He was supposed to have declared his choice and decision – in his freedom and good senses. His choice to serve His master for ever was due to the fact that he loved his master and trusted the honesty, integrity and loving care of his master! His master loved him and treated him well first; as a result the servant (the slave) loved and trusted his master! He knew that his master’s character would never change: Become from good to bad and vice-versa from one moment to the other! For this reason, HE DID NOT WANT TO GO AWAY FROM HIS MASTER.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has already proved His love and His excellent attributes by His sacrifice for us all. What hinders us from doing such a proxy “convention”? Lack of trust? Our pride? Who knows? Our God does not remove by force our freedom from us. God exhorts us to give our heart to Him BUT also that we commit ourselves and our freedom to Him because we know that He can take care of ALL of us and of ALL our problems better than we can. HΕ is able to make us prosper in everything better than all our efforts! We have already tasted and already known that He is good and merciful and He wants but our best! “We love him, because he first loved us” (1John 4:19). We feel absolutely secure in His hands! If God knows that we have committed our heart, our will to Him, “FROM THE HEART” then, instead of piercing our ear through with an awl, He makes a circumcision of our heart! “And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jer.32:39-40). The Lord will circumcise not only their heart, but also the heart of their seed, to love the LORD their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, that they may live » (Deut.30:6).
3. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”
In addition, God knows those who really trust Him and who truly have given Him their heart (their will) and trusted their life to Him. God knows those who say what they mean and mean what they say or promise. Is our God, who is omniscient, going to accept an act of surrender of our will to Him if He knows that one day we will say and do so and the other day will say and do the contrary? God’s omniscience and His foreknowledge (prognosis) play an important role! Men who are true and honest in their dealings with Him can be classified not just into the group of the “called” but also into the group of the “elect”. God knows His sheep: “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2Tim.2:19). He knows if we are His sheep; His sheep know His voice and follow Him (John 10:3-5)! That is why Peter declares in 1Pet.1:2: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, be multiplied.”
If God has foreknown me as an elect, is He going to reject me? (Esa.41:9, Rom.8:29-30)
4. “He is able to keep that which I have committed to him”
This is exactly the reason why Paul declared in 2Tim.1:12: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day”. What did he commit to God? His life, his security and his ministry! In reality, his will! So, we see in the verse 2Tim.1:12 two things:
- First: Paul had committed his will to God and
- Second: God is both able and willing to protect Paul’s commitment!
How wonderful! How encouraging!
If we read carefully the first chapter of the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, we will understand easily what I am trying to convey to you, dear ones: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph.1:3-7)
5. What kind of believers has He chosen?
Tell me, please, what kind of believers has He chosen? Apostates and backsliders; hypocrites or believers who have sinned and have not repented; people who walk disorderly and who halt between two opinions; who are paralyzed by indecision (1Kings 18:21); who are lukewarm and risk to be vomited (Rev.3:16); who have not decided to take up their cross and follow Him faithfully; who have not accepted completely God’s discipline in order to become truly His disciples; who are not led by the Holy Spirit; who are spiritually short sighted; who do not have the fruit of the Spirit in their life and are slothful; who received the seed (the Word) among the thorns and who accepted the Word give them life at the beginning but who would also later let the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word and become unfruitful? People who have not presented themselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God and who are not transformed by the renewing of their mind; who promise but do not keep their promises; who are proud and arrogant and who, instead of being overcomers are defeated? Who have never loved the Lord WITH ALL THEIR BEING? No! No! No!
Our God’s good purpose was and is to make all those who live by sincere repentance and unfeigned faith kings and priests to God… (Rev.1:6). Notice what Peter has written in one of his epistles: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Pet.2:9). Who should show forth His praises? Backsliders or lukewarm people? Are such people holy and without blame before Him in love and contribute to the praise of the glory of His grace?
6. Why, then, are there are so many exhortations and warnings addressed to believers?
Someone might object, saying: Why, then, are there are so many exhortations and warnings in the Bible, which are addressed to believers? Are they addressed only to disorderly walking believers or to all believers, irrespective of their spiritual maturity? No! They are addressed to all:
- For those who are walking disorderly, in order to correct their walk and be revived!
- To true believers in order:
- Not to become stumbling blocks to their weak brothers and bring them to perdition (Rom.14:15 and 1Cor.8:11);
- In order not to do silly things and become a cause of defamation of God’s Word and of His kingdom; and
- To become better, in order to make spiritual progress, and tend towards perfection.
Let me mention two examples: the apostle Peter and King David!
- Peter: Irrespective of his spiritual weakness, he was a man of God. When he denied Jesus, was it for the Glory of God? The Word of God says: “A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring” (Prov.25:26). Elsewhere it is written in Gal 6:1: “Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.” Also, Peter was reproved by Paul because, fearing those who were of the circumcision, was trying to oblige the Gentiles, that were eating together with him to live as the Jews do. Therefore, there has been always the risk that spiritual people do wrong or fall into sin. I repeat, there is always a danger for even spiritual men to fall into sin. That is the reason why the apostle John gives us ‘a safety valve’: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9); and “My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1John 2:1). These words are addressed to believers!
- King David: He committed a hideous sin! A manifold crime! When his sin was brought to light, he repented bitterly and sincerely! He did not remain in the same situation! He humbled himself with a contrite heart and accepted the punishment of his sin, without being resentful and without complaining. Other people of the Bible have taken the same position: “However, you are just in all that is brought on us; for you have done right, but we have done wickedly” (Lev.26:43; Neh.9:33). We can find similar expressions in the book of Daniel, the Gospel of Luke and elsewhere!
7. “[…] work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” – perfection
The Word of God says: “Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil.2:12-13). In other words, improve, cultivate, deepen your spiritual life and add virtues (2Pet.1:5-8) to the ineffable gift of salvation that God has offered you by His grace! The gift of your salvation! Become better and better Christians, in the fear of God, tending to perfection (Heb.6:1) and not only when I am present in order to please me! Make fruitful the capital you have received!
The apostle Paul declared: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brothers, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Php.3:12-14). If Paul was pressing toward, how much more should we press toward! Is it not for the same reason why our Heavenly Father enjoins us: “Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Mat.5:48)? That means PROGRESS of BELIEVERS, that is, a procedure to perfection! Exhortations and warnings are indispensable not only for not losing our salvation, but also for our sanctification. In other terms, for our improvement from all points of view! Thus, we will produce fruit up to 30, 60 and 100%, according to the “good earth” of the parable of the Sower! What counts is not the 30% or the 60% but our faithfulness!
8. Absolute priority
If a Christian has become truly spiritual by a willful act of choice, this does not mean that he is perfect, but that he is growing in knowledge and grace: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2Pet.3:18). The different testings and chastisements of the Lord, the spiritual warfare that the Lord permits us to face in our everyday walk (Eph.6:10) and, most importantly, the testing of our faith contribute to our spiritual development. The apostle Peter says, “… the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Pet.1:7). Those who are truly spiritual, in case they fall into a sin, they get up; they repent sincerely, confess their sin sincerely and change their walk and attitude whatever the cost might be. The law of God is in their heart!
And this is because they have given Jesus Christ the FIRST PLACE in their heart and life!
To be continued…