Friday, April 16, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life, Part 2

One may question, “If you cease to believe, does that not disqualify you from eternal life?” It is a valid question, and one that the Bible does not fail to answer in simple terms. Romans 11:29 states, “For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Eternal life is God’s gift to us, and He will never rescind it. Our security in Christ is not measured by our faithfulness, but His, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith (or faithfulness) of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me," Galatians 2:20. This only makes Scriptural sense if one takes into account that Jesus is our life (Colossians 3:4) as well as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We are kept only and entirely by God, 1st Peter 1:5. If you have placed your faith in Jesus alone as Savior, then you are eternally saved, even if you should at some time fall into sin. Why is that? “If we are faithless (or unfaithful), He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself,” 2nd Timothy 2:13. He has given us the Holy Spirit as a seal and a pledge for the day of redemption. We are purchased property, as Scripture plainly declares: we are bought with a price, and we are temples for God the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us (see 1st Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, 20; Romans 8:9). David is inspired to write, “Though [a good man] fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His right hand,” Psalm 37:24. The terms eternal and everlasting would be misleading to say the very least if we could forfeit our salvation. It would nullify the entire idea of the comfort God wishes to bestow upon us. John writes, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and the Lamb!” Revelation 7:10. Clearly salvation’s work is entirely God’s doing, from beginning to end.

Consider the irrationality of falling away. Hebrews 6:4-6, if removed from its context, could be used (and is warped) to teach that anyone who fell away could never be renewed to salvation! Viewed thus, anyone who sinned after being saved would sever themselves again from Christ and be unable to be saved a second time. Likewise, the idea of living in gross sin habitually is ambiguous, to say the least. How much sin? What type of sin? Recall the Corinthians, who were very carnal Christians. Paul did not tell them their salvation was in danger, though they had spent years in carnality and immorality; in fact God had killed some of their number for their sin. Paul spoke about this behavior, and the punishment the Lord wrought: "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world," 1st Corinthians 11:31-32. Apparently God would bring us home before losing one of us! Note that those who come before Jesus at the judgment will not be told, "I once knew you, but you fell away," they will be told, "I never knew you," Matthew 7:23. This implies such people were never saved, since Jesus knows His sheep, John 10:14. This is not an encouragement to commit sin; do so at your own peril, for the Bible is clear that if you indulge in such a lifestyle you have no reasonable hope that you are truly saved. Believers who continue to transgress willfully shall receive a severe judgment from God, Hebrews 10:26-31, though never loss of salvation. See “A Considerate Look into Hebrews.”

It is in Jesus alone we have reconciliation with God. We are reconciled through Jesus Christ; and if we are not, then nothing we contribute will serve to appease God. In fact, in both Leviticus and Hebrews we're informed that only the shedding of blood gives remission of sin, Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22. This serves to show us that sin’s penalty was death; only shedding of blood could remove sin’s offense. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” on the cross, He indicated payment for sin was eternally finished. He is our propitiation (satisfactory payment) to the Father. Jesus did what He did once for all; His sinless sacrifice in our stead was proof that He was fully God as well as fully Man, “put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit,” 1st Peter 3:18. Were He not, then His sacrifice would have to be repeated infinitely (as Roman Catholics insist in their Mass) to affect salvation. Either the infinite pays once or the finite pays infinitely. To earn eternal life, one would have to be eternal to begin with, to live long enough to merit it! At any rate, one can’t pay for or earn grace. Grace is defined as the unearned favor of God; It’s freely given, Romans 11:6! The shedding of Christ’s blood never needs to be repeated, unlike the Jewish animal sacrifices. It is efficacious for all time, for all people, and for all sins, Hebrews 10:10-14.
To be Continued.

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