Chapter 6 Continued from Chapter 5
“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 A’: SALVATION IN CHRIST (#5)
THE NORMAL SPIRITUAL LIFE
My purpose in this new series is to explain why I believe that both positions are correct under certain conditions. I strongly believe that the Bible speaks both on the security and on the non-security of the believer under certain conditions. I have never understood why believers of the Word of God take obstinately one stand or the other. The Bible includes both cases according to the position of the heart (or the will) of the believer and his walk with God. A lot of fuss for nothing! Everything depends on our heart’s choices (of our will), decisions and walk! EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE KIND OF BELIEVER WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. The way in which I express it can be easily understood but the understanding of the causes which make the difference between believers is not obvious and self-evident!
This point will be treated in the following chapters. Given that it has to do with a series of interdependent studies, there are inevitably some repetitions, as I have already mentioned, both from my previous chapters and from my previous studies and in the chapters that follow. Before I begin exposing my position, I deem necessary to give a description:
a) Of the root of sin, and
b) Of the genuine Christian life.
(A very short digression: A dear brother in Christ asked me the following question: “But to whom do you send these messages?” Here is my answer: “To believers and to non-believers! Everyone can take what he needs!”)
1. The root of sin
If we examine carefully the root of particular sins, in general, we will find out that the sins that we have already mentioned are due, in reality, to unbelief or lack of faith. Let me mention a couple of practical examples:
- He who tells a lie tells that lie in order to protect himself physically or to protect his goods or his dignity from the consequences of a bad act or to cover a previous lie. To achieve his illicit goals, he takes refuge in a lie and tries to hide himself behind it. Why? Had he believed that God would honor his truthfulness and would find ways to protect him and provide for his needs, he would not have told that lie. Therefore, lies are the product of unbelief.
- Someone commits a theft. Why? In order to meet a true or an imaginary need, or in order to satisfy his avarice or his covetousness. Had he believed that God loves him and that He would – no doubt – take care of all his needs, and that He would not leave him or abandon him, would he stretch out his hand to take something that did not belong to him or be led to greediness? Therefore, thefts are the product of unbelief.
- Why man lives in anxiety about the future, in fear and in despair? Isn’t it because of his lack of faith? Have you ever seen such people? I have… They already live in Hell as of now!
At this point, another extremely serious sin must be mentioned, which is caused by our unbelief or lack of faith and which is the root of the root of sin: “He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son » (1John 5:10). Notice please the following two verses: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:8-9). Let us see now which are the…
- 2. Practical consequences of faith and obedience
The first practical consequence of true salvation is to move away from sin, and the second one is to keep moving away from sin! “[…] For this is the will of God, your sanctification […] For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1Th.4:2-8). There is no salvation without sanctification and a pure and holy life! The third practical consequence is that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Ac.5:32), fulfills their holy desires for their spiritual progress and their usefulness, which become manifest! Man in order to progress spiritually in justice and bring fruit in sanctification, he must keep being converted to God with all his heart by presenting himself to God as a living sacrifice as it is written in the New Law of God, the New Testament. Yes, to progress spiritually it is needed a ‘once-and-for-all’ surrender to God and by a constant everyday renewing of his mind! And elsewhere God says: “[…] now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness […]” (Rom.6:19-23 and Rom.12:1-3). When this condition is fulfilled and keeps being fulfilled, then man, and only then, becomes “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” So, apart from salvation, God makes His elect useful in God’s work.
Religious or church activities are good and commendable but what counts before God is not what we do for God but what we do with God and especially what we are for God. When we live in sin or in sinful compromises, or when there is a known sin, which is not confessed and abandoned or when we know that our brother has justifiably something against us is it ever possible for God to bless our works or our ministerial activities? The Bible says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? […]” (1Cor.6:9). Also that “[…] unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat.5:20).
Now, let us examine the expression… “Vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor”.
- 3. Vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor (general remarks)
Verse 2Timothy 2:20, speaks about vessels “for honor and some for dishonor”. The first thing that must be said is that true believers are earthen vessels whether they glitter as gold and silver or not. Indeed, the believers, even if they have the divine treasure within them they remain ‘earthly vessels’ so that the excellence of the power should be attributed to God and not to them (2Cor.4:7). In addition, it must be said that God, the divine Potter, in His sovereignty, has power over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honor and another for dishonor! The word “dishonor” does not mean “rejection” but fitness for a certain commonplace kind of use. It does not mean “uselessness”.
Many are those who understand this verse as meaning purification of the church. No doubt, it can be applied to the purification of the Church from false teachers or bad workers but it mainly refers to personal purification: “if anyone cleanses (purges–purifies) HIMSELF”. It does not say, “Cleanses or purifies the Church” but “if anyone cleanses HIMSELF”. That man must depart from any kind of iniquity. Then and only then, can he become a vessel for honor! Of course, if a church is dishonored by people who are false teachers and who lead a sinful life or live in disorder, and if the church is tainted with pernicious, damnable errors relating to the doctrine of faith, and if it is purged from such people, there is no doubt that that church will become sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work, yea, meet for the Master’s use… God will honor that Church… This principle is also valid for States and Governments… Let us examine this point of personal purification carefully in combination with the scripture: “Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us purify ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear” (2Cor.7:1).
- 4. Vessels for honor
In a great house, says Paul, comparing the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of truth, with a great house (1Tim.3:15), there is a variety of vessels of different matter and for different uses, some of great value for honorable uses and some of smaller value for non-honorable, for meaner everyday uses. The word “vessels” corresponds to us “believers”. Some vessels are of gold or silver or porcelain or crystal, which are intended to be used in receptions or banquets, and some of clay or wood or plastic for everyday common use. If the Prime Minister or the King of this country pays a visit to you, you will not use plastic dishes or cups but the best and most precious vessels that you possess in order to serve and honor him. So, there are believers in local churches, who are comparable to gold and silver for their excellence. They are full of talents, gifts and abilities, with degrees and doctorates in the sciences or in theology, with cleverness, eloquence, knowledge of many languages, and maybe with a lot of money and are of noble origin! They glitter like silver or gold, and their presence in the church bestows on the church fame and glamour. If these persons have the necessary purity, both of doctrine and of life as well as of spiritual solidity, then they are truly “vessels” of gold and silver, designed for honorable service and to the honor of Christ! BUT what should we say about those who, in spite of all their talents, gifts, degrees, etc., their doctrine and/or life or attitude are not pure or worthy to be praised? What if they claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit but the things that grieve the Spirit do not grieve them? They cannot, IN FACT, serve the Lord in spite of their talents, gifts, activities, etc… Why? Because, “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walks in a perfect way, he shall serve Me”, says the Lord (Ps.101:6)! The prophet Jeremiah says: “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved […]” (Jer.4:14).
- 5. Vessels for dishonor
In local churches there are people without reputation, obvious talents and gifts, without eloquence, money, degrees, knowledge of foreign languages, and who are of humble origin and situation, without high social position and fame, etc. Some of them are even poor political or economic refugees. They look like vessels made of wood or clay! If they are pure and love the Lord with all their heart, what are they? Are they not vessels “sanctified” giving honor to their Heavenly Master, prepared for every good work? However, if such vessels have no pure life and are of bad character, are they useful, fit for the Master’s use? Of course not, unless they purify themselves.
- 6. How all vessels can become useful for the Master?
We conclude, therefore, that a believer cannot become a vessel for honor, fit for his Master’s use, unless he purges himself from known sins and from the iniquity of the holy things (Ex.28:38). Every vessel must be pure in order to be useful!
Notice, please, that according to Ac.6:3 even those ‘who serve at the tables’ have to be of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom… Notice, please, the following verse: “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer” (Prov.25:4).
To be continued…