Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Question of Eternal Security, Part 3

The new covenant has a new Mediator, and was ratified not with animal blood, but with Christ’s blood. “Not with the blood of goats and calfs, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption,” Hebrews 9:12. Again, the past tense in the verse indicates that our positional salvation is secure; it does not hinge on our obedience through the Spirit, but by Christ’s obedience. “By one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous,” Romans 5:19. If all of our sins were not paid for by Christ (as conditional salvation must maintain), then the first time we sin after being born again we forfeit salvation. Why? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. “The soul who sins shall die,” Ezekiel 18:20. “You are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all,” James 2:9-10.

Here is the golden thread that undergirds conditional salvation: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame,” Hebrews 6:4-6. James says that one sin is all it requires for separation from God, and the rest of Bible resonates with this idea (see Isaiah 59:2; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 3:6). I have treated this passage (Hebrews 6:4-9 specifically) at length in “A Considerate Look Into Hebrews” so I won’t address it in great detail, save to say that this passage does not deal with loss of salvation, but having our works inspected and burned at the judgment seat of Christ. Fellow Christians, we must all take great pain and caution that we are not twisting Scripture deliberately or unintentionally in a bid to “win” our argument.

What if we quote out of context? What if we misunderstand what the author is saying? Many people use Mark 16:16 (quoted verbatim) to “prove” that water baptism is essential for salvation. Jesus said nothing of the sort, if you simply examine the passage. Jesus also said, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God,” Matthew 19:17. Certain religions like Jehovah’s Witnesses use this verse to verify Jesus denied being God, when the question of His deity actually wasn’t even the issue! Jesus merely wanted to know why the young man called Him good; the young man needed to be shown that if he did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as God, and therefore “good,” then he had no right to use that word to address Him. Yet sects which use these verses have scores of others they would supply on demand to “prove” they’re correct in their theology. Proponents of conditional salvation speak of believers falling away to provoke men to live godly lives. I know one who even went so far as to say that the threat of falling away is better than the idea of security, which generates licentious behavior. I would argue that conditional salvation also provokes pride; performing for God in a way He approves. It is a sin that certainly creeps in with those “keeping the faith” in order not to fall away.

It is indeed deplorable to teach that eternal security is a license to sin. Knowing we are eternally secure should provide our greatest desire to serve God in the Spirit and live for Christ, not ourselves. If someone uses this doctrine as a cover for their vices they are steeped in gross error, and have entirely misunderstood the gospel of grace. “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God,” 1st Peter 2:15-16. “Cheap grace,” is anyone who peddles drivel that promotes a Christ who died for sin so we can live freely in it. But the cross stands as a symbol of executed judgment and those who have died with Christ have died to sin. One who

is dead to sin, being born again, is no longer involved with it in a legal sense, 1st Corinthians 6:12; 10:23; Colossians 2:14. Christ dealt with sin completely and entirely. He is the shelter from the wrath of God which is coming upon an unrepentant world. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him,” Nahum 1:7.

If salvation is a free gift (which Scripture clearly states) then why do you suppose God attached stipulations and conditions to this gift? We cannot earn salvation and are unworthy of eternal life; how then does this change once we receive it? Where in Scripture does this transference of responsibility occur? “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, then it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work,” Romans 11:6.

We cannot fall away from something we did not attain by our merit. We received salvation freely by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice. The darkness on the cross, when Christ cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and “I thirst,” (Matthew 27:46; John 19:28) was the wrath of God being poured out on Christ, our Sin Bearer. Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath, and for those who are in Christ there is no more wrath to be had because Jesus took that punishment for us. Conditional salvation robs our Lord of His greatest triumph by asserting that there are sins uncovered in a believer’s life that merit having our eternal salvation stripped from us. Can we in good conscience teach that every sin a born-again believer sins after being saved, Christ did not die for?
To be Continued.

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