Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Question of Eternal Security, Part 2

Some biblical writers address the former sins we have been cleansed from, committing them in ignorance; other writers address the reality that believers have assurance that salvation is a permanent investment by our Lord. John writes that anyone sinning (after being saved) has an Advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous, 1st John 2:1-2. Though John presses the point that the new life imparted by the Holy Spirit should result in a radical transformation from the inside out, he concedes that sins will yet manifest in our outer man (the flesh); his goal was to remind and comfort Christians that sin will not separate a believer from his God so far as salvation is concerned. Does it cause severance from fellowship or usefulness? Yes, but not salvation. Christ’s ability to save and preserve His chosen is at stake, John 6:37-40. Verse 39 declares without stipulation: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” Paul also wrote, “[we are] eagerly waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1st Corinthians 1:7-8.

While the establishment of the old covenant was by the blood of animals sprinkled upon the law and the people, the new covenant was established by the blood of Christ, which is eternally efficacious in payment for all sins. The state of Israel’s blessing was determined by their obedience; their spiritual fervor was the barometer of the temporal blessing they could expect from the Lord. While their temporal state was in question at any given time due to their conditional agreement with God, the salvation of those who trusted in God was not. “Behold the proud. His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith,” Habakkuk 2:4. The Christian life is not lived by our faith so much as by Christ’s faithfulness, “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 of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20. Jesus was put to death by God on our account. The sin which needed to be punished for God’s justice to be satisfied has been. Now we are dead to sin, the law, and death, but alive to Christ. “Because I live, you will live also,” John 14:19.

Let’s examine the life of King Saul. A brief reading reveals valuable insights regarding obedience and salvation. Samuel told a young Saul, “the Spirit of God will come upon you, and you will prophesy with [the prophets] and be turned into another man,” 1st Samuel 10:6. Later in his life, after great unfaithfulness, the Spirit departed from Saul (1st Samuel 16:14), and a distressing spirit harassed him. When Saul visited a witch in Endor she tried to summon a familiar spirit, but God permitted Samuel to return to rebuke Saul one final time for his sinful conduct. Despite that, the prophet tells him, “the Lord will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me,” 1st Samuel 28:19. Samuel assuredly went to Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise at that time, so his assurance that Saul and his children (including faithful Jonathan) would be with him was a testimony of God’s unfailing ability to save, despite our conduct. David writes, “Though [a good man] fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand,” Psalm 37:24. “Have You not also kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” Psalm 56:13.

Lot is another example of salvation by grace, sans obedience. He was an awful example of a believer, ending his record in Genesis by fathering two children at the hands of his own daughters. He loved the world, and the things of it, 1st John 2:15-17. Yet Peter calls him righteous, 2nd Peter 2:7-8. Lot was barren and rebellious, but was saved nonetheless. He is like those described in 1st Corinthians: “If anyone’s work which he has built on [the foundation of Christ] endures, he will receive a reward (salvation is a gift, not a reward). If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire,” 1st Corinthians 3:14-15. Our works in this life are tried in fire at the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10), and how holy (or carnal) we live determines reward or loss of reward, but it never determines loss of salvation. This is why Jesus said, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out,” John 6:37. Paul writes, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life…nor any other created thing (our sins are created things), shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:38-39. Nothing created can remove us from our position of salvation. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand,” John 10:28-29. Jude wrote: “To those who are called…preserved in Christ Jesus…unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” Jude 1:1, 24. We are “kept by the power of God through faith ready to be revealed in the last time,” 1st Peter 1:5. Finally, “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down,” Psalm 145:14.

David testifies, “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit,” Psalm 51:11-12. David did not plead for his salvation, but for the joy of his salvation to be restored. Fellowship had been severed by his willful act of murder and adultery, and he was pleading to have the joy of his relationship with God renewed.
To be Continued.

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