Chapter 22 Continued from Chapter 21
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
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… (#6)
1. The issue of genuineness
Now, let us elaborate a bit more on the point of genuineness by using once again the Parable of the Sower. It was only the good ground, the fourth category of people that yielded fruit! For the first two categories, the picture is clear right from the beginning: They are lost! Let us note that the seed in the second category took life, but lost it because of afflictions or persecutions, BUT what about the people of the third category (Mat.13:22)? This group comprises people who receive the seed among the thorns, who hear the Word and let the Word give them life, but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful! What does the word “choke” mean? What is the consequence for the believer who becomes unfruitful? Has this statement of the Lord anything to do with another similar statement of the Lord, which says: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mat.7: 19; Mat.3:10 and Luke 3:9)? Or with “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (Joh.15:2)? Where can we classify them? With those who are saved or with those who are lost? Judge for yourselves!
How difficult it is, however, to discern those who belong to the two middle categories!
First, those who receive the Word with gladness, but have no root in themselves, and endure only for a time. John the apostle says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1John 2:19). The former type of man goes out and the latter stands; he remains. Why? Because right from the beginning he had a firm, good and sincere intention! Even at a later time when he experienced a kind of revival! This is the reason why God has adopted him and has assumed the responsibility to protect him and pray for him that his faith should not fail!
Second, those who hear the Word, but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Both of them resemble for a time with the plants on the good ground! The knowledge or the historical belief of the holy things exists, the intellectual exists, but the true spiritual experience and the fruit are missing! Unfortunately, many are those who are satisfied with the use of an overrated intellectual knowledge and religious activities, but who have not responded in reality to the terms that Jesus-Christ requires from them! The people of the third category may remain up to the end of their lives within their local congregations for different reasons, but materialism or worldly cares choke the word of God in their heart and they remain, in reality, unfruitful. They may participate in the worship, lift and clap their hands, may have an active life in the church and/or for other Christian organizations and even be elders and deacons! I have known during my Christian life believers for whom the following question pursues me continually: Do they work for the glory of God or for their own glory? What is going to happen to this kind of people??? Their religious activism and worshiping habits do not constitute certainly piety and fruitfulness.
God is not looking for our ‘works’! HE demands one kind of “work”: To believe (trust our lives) on HIM whom God has sent (John 6:29). To give Him our heart! The prophet Isaiah says, “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God” (Isa.58:2). And the prophet Ezekiel completes this image saying, “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (Eze.33:32). They resemble gullible women who always learn and are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2Tim.3:6-7).
By God’s mercy and grace, their situation is not irrevocable, if they sincerely repent! If they realize their situation, they can be purified from all sin by repentance and faith in the blood of Jesus and they can become, vessels to honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use and prepared to every good work (2Tim.2:21)! This is the reason the Word of God calls upon those whose spiritual condition is at stake and have put into oblivion the purification of their former sins, to repent… The apostle Peter urges such believers to give diligence to make their calling and election sure… (2Pet.1:8-10).
2. The basic characteristic: Absolute surrender to God’s will
The Bible says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom.12:1-2). A preacher preaching on these verses said that the application of these verses is optional! I was profoundly troubled… How is it possible not to present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God and have a progressive transformation by the renewing of their mind? Then their service to God will never become reasonable, but it will remain unreasonable! And how can there be a continual renewing of their spirit? They will never become disciples who learn… Is it ever possible to be a true Christian and not to be a disciple? If one does not conform to these instructions, what is going to be the impact on one’s salvation because of his disobedience? I do not know, only God knows! There is, however, one thing that I do know: It is very dangerous to resist God’s will and exhortations! God is a consuming fire!
Does it suffice to belong to a Christian nation or to lift up his hand when there is a call from the pulpit to be considered as a Christian? Those who call such people Christians base their argument on the verse: “[…] He that believes on me has everlasting life” (1Joh.5:1), as well as to certain other verses such as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47. Very simple! It may be true, but it may not be true! However, what does that verse imply? In Matthew 16:24 we read: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Also in Mrk.8:34 and Luke 9:23 with slight changes). In Luke 14:26-27 we read twice: “[…] And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.” The last expression is very clear: No cross, no discipleship! One cannot be His disciple unless he denies himself and takes up his cross.
Sin must have no more place. Priorities must be radically changed… He reckons himself to be dead indeed to sin, dead to self, but alive to God through Jesus Christ his Lord (Rom.6:11). Is it ever possible to be a true Christian and not be taught and not be transformed during all one’s days, particularly when one has not a pure conscience and a contrite spirit (Ps.34:18; 51:17), without a loyal heart and a spirit well disposed (1Chr.28:9)? Only real Christians, whose heart is humble, completely oriented toward God and living for God and according to His will can ever become true disciples and worshipers. Is it ever possible to become a true worshiper without having adopted the spirit of the prodigal son who said: “… Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (Luke 15:21)? Is it ever possible to be a true Christian without seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…? (Mat.6:33). Is it ever possible to be a true Christian without having given the absolute priority to Christ in everything?
3. Pure heart towards men and God
We are called to love our brethren with a pure heart fervently (1Pet.1:22) and have fellowship with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2Tim.2:22). If this is true, (and it is true), how much more should we love our Lord and Savior out of a pure heart, a good conscience and a faith unfeigned (1Tim.1:5)! How important and meaningful is the following passage: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Ps.24:3-5). Believers who walk according to the principle of a pure heart do not lose their eternal life (John 10:28), their forgiveness (1John 1:9), God’s presence (Heb.13:5) as well as their access to the Lord through prayer (Heb.4:15-16). They shall see God (Mat.5:8; Ps.15:2; Ps.24:4; Heb.12:14)!
4. God’s inner work in His “elect”
The Bible says: […] For many are called, but few are chosen (Mat.22:13-14). All those who have been called have not responded positively to become “elect” or chosen. They have neglected or resisted the exhortations and warnings of God to put on the garb of the wedding. Those who have responded positively have become “elect”! God knew in advance those who would become “elect”!
God has given his elect one heart and one way that they may fear God forever. God has made an everlasting covenant with them, that He will not turn away from doing them good and that He will put His fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Him (Jer.32:39-41). Also that the LORD, their God, has circumcised their heart and the heart of their descendants, to love the LORD their God with all their heart and with all their soul that they may live (Deut.30:6). God recommends His elect to the conscience of men (2Cor.4:2 and 2Cor.5:11). God has promised them that they will be given the possibility to discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves Him not (Mal.3:18). The Holy Spirit has put in their heart aversion for any kind of sin and deep love for the truth and righteousness! Also, a merciful and peaceful spirit!
Conclusion: “The Lord knows those who are His”. He blesses them! His children “are known by their fruit” (Mat.12:33 and Luke 6:44). One of the best proofs of true spiritual fruit is the genuineness of our faith when it is tested by the fire of affliction and, instead of grumbling, is found to praise, to give honor and glory to their good FATHER (1Pet.1:6-7).
5. The true believer’s security
There are certain promises, but also conditions, which are so clear and so reassuring that only ignorant and pervert minds can refuse to accept them (The following verses are just a small sample):
- “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to me [………] Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me has everlasting life” (John 6:44-47).
- “He that walks uprightly walks surely: (and vice versa) but he that perverts his ways shall be known” (Prov.10:9).
- “The righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth. (Prov.10:30).
- “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believe you this (John 11:25-26)?
- “He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal” (John 12:25).
- “And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Here is the passage, which gives the sense and feeling of security: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world [………] Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, HAS ETERNAL LIFE; and I will raise him up at the last day [………] He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him……… As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me” (John 6:51, 54, 56-57). That is what a sincere, honest and faithful believer does!
6. Protection of the believer from God: Security
Let us give once again the Word of God the possibility to speak to us:
- “But let all those that put their trust in you rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them: let them also that love your name be joyful in you. For you, LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor will you compass him as with a shield” (Ps.5:11-12).
- “My defense is of God, which saves the upright in heart” (Ps.7:10).
- “Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle? who shall dwell in your holy hill? He that walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (Ps.15: 1-2) [………] He that does these things shall never be moved. ” (Ps.15:5).
- “Jehovah hath rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me” (Ps.18:20). This last verse is of special importance because it proves that God hears our prayers not according to what He knows about us but according to whether our conscience condemns us or not! What condescension! Alleluia!
On the other hand, there are certain words that Jesus uttered, which give another dimension to the issue of the believer’s security and insecurity. We clearly see that in John 6:64 and John 6:70 that there was someone who not only believe, but also was ready to betray Him: “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him” (John 6:64) and [………] Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil (John 6:70)? It was Jesus who had chosen the twelve. He knew that one of them was to become His traitor! He had His special reason! Jesus’ foreknowledge (prognosis – GR) “discerned” those who were true believers and the one who was not a true believer; those who were secure and the one who was not secure. His prognosis did not hinder those who did not really believe to become true believers. His prognosis is clearly seen in John ch.17. He knew that one of them was to become His traitor! His prognosis did not oblige Judas to become His traitor. His prognosis simply knew that he would make that bad choice!
Let us pay attention to the following statement: “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2Thess.2:13).
All God’s exhortations and warnings are intended to make all believers secure… That is why Peter exhorts believers: “But he that lacks these things (the virtues or fruit of the Spirit) is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Therefore, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall” (2Pet.1:9-10). We see that he puts the responsibility on the believer and not on God for making their calling and election sure!
We can clearly see that the Father gives and sends certain people to the Son. He knows whom he gives to the Son. Not false brothers or disobedient believers! The Son accepts them and protects them for eternal life. Many had followed Jesus. Some of them were attracted by his “magnificent” personality others because they ate of the loaves and were filled, and others because of the healing miracles HE was doing (John 6:26). However, we can see that many of His ‘disciples’ went back, and walked no more with Him (John 6:66), because of the hard word that Jesus said. All those who were with Him had the liberty to go away any time they wanted (John 6:67). Peter and the other apostles, who had “tasted” who Jesus was, that HE had “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68) and had already become partakers of a lot of His blessings, did not want to go away…
Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Paul (for example) were called just as many of us, according to God’s foreknowledge! They were “called’ and “elect”! For each of them, Jesus had prepared certain ministry to accomplish. God had “predestined” them for certain tasks, but not for their salvation. Their salvation was the product of their own choice! HE simply knew beforehand that they were going to make the good choice.
To be continued…