Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Question of Eternal Security, Part 6

Another objection I have encountered goes like so: God only seals obedient believers with the Holy Spirit. Also, He can be taken from a believer. I believe this teaching has surfaced due to a tragic and tangled misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit’s activity and function in the Old and New Testament. It is clear that the sealing of the Spirit began at Pentecost in Acts 2, and He has sealed the body of Christ since as part of the new covenant in Christ’s blood. The sealing of the Spirit was our guarantee, a promise of God’s fidelity that what He has begun, He will finish. Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us that having believed God (past tense) we were sealed; see also Ephesians 2:22. 2nd Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “He who has established us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” “Now He who prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee,” 2nd Corinthians 5:5.

The Holy Spirit also helps in our weaknesses, Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit makes intercession (same verse) for us, and so too does our Lord in Heaven, Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25! Paul writes, “Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:30-31. A believer walking carnally can grieve the Holy Spirit, but cannot lose the Spirit’s indwelling presence because he is sealed, Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; 1st Thessalonians 5:19.

Does God want us to be saved, and then go on to live a carnal life? Of course not; but there were instances of it in Scripture. The Corinthians (1st Corinthians 3:1-4), Demas (2nd Timothy 4:10), and the Laodicean church, (Revelation 3:14-21) were all carnal. But at their worst (in Laodicea for example) God still refers to them as His church, and exhorts them that those He loves He rebukes and chastens, Revelation 3:19; compare with Hebrews 12:5-11. He also invites them just after that to a deeper walk of fellowship with Him, verse 20. The idea of spewing them out of His mouth isn’t a forfeiture of salvation, but an act of rebuke to make them remember their need of Him, verses 15-18. “Without Me you can do nothing,” John 15:5. In the letter to the Ephesian church in chapter 2 the lampstand Christ threatened to remove did not symbolize their salvation; it didn’t symbolize any individual, it represented their church as a local entity in the body of Christ: “The seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches,” Revelation 1:20. Jesus did not threaten to take away their salvation, but to remove their lampstand, which signifies the closure of that local church organization, since they were no longer glorifying Christ.

Scripture informs us, “[Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them,” Hebrews 7:25. He always lives to intercede, to plead the worth of His blood. God does not look at us, lest it be through the blood of His beloved Son, and all He sees at that point is Christ’s righteousness covering us, Revelation 1:5. The word ‘uttermost’ in the Greek means, “completion or entirely.” Christ died for sins once for all (Hebrews 7:27), and He died for the sins of the whole world, John 1:29; 3:16; 1st John 2:2; 1st Timothy 4:10. He also put away (or abolished) sin by the sacrifice of Himself, Hebrews 9:26. If Jesus’ sacrifice did not cover every sin we would ever commit, then we must draw the conclusion that Christ’s sacrifice was incomplete or insufficient.

The fact that Christ died for every person on earth who would ever live does not mean everyone avails themselves of this free gift. The Jews who were liberated from Egypt were our example. They all left Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, ate the manna, saw the miracles, but did not believe, and received God’s wrath, Hebrews 3:16-19; 4:1-3; Jude 1:5. Likewise all mankind has access to the free gift of salvation available through Jesus Christ, yet many will not partake; all men are God’s stewards (see Luke 16:1-8), but not all are His children. To the one who is saved, however, we read: “When Christ, who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them…you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” Colossians 3:4-7, 9-10. We have our security in Christ (He is our life), and our reason for living a holy life (we shall appear with Him in glory, see also 1st John 3:1-3). We had a position once in sin, that is, being dead in sins and trespasses (you lived in them; Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13), and we presently have a position in Christ which cannot be removed (we put on the new man, 2nd Corinthians 5:17).

Paul expresses it very plainly: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise…and because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” Galatians 3:26-27, 29; 4:6. Contrast with Colossians 3:9-10. If we have been baptized into Christ we are heirs and sons, having been sealed with the Holy Spirit. Think of yourself as a letter. We are sealed within Christ, the folder that holds us; then that folder is sealed within the filing cabinet, which would represent the Father. It would take a power greater than God to wrest us from Him, and no such being exists; we give ourselves far too much credit thinking we can do what angels and demons cannot.
To be Continued.

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