Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 6

The Christian’s life after being saved is no longer about staying saved, but about being sanctified, Hebrews 10:14; John 15:1-8. The language of Hebrews is too strong to suggest anything less: “For by one offering He has perfected forever (past tense; continual tense) those who are being (present tense) sanctified.” I know that some want to make much of Jesus’ words in Revelation 2-3 which speak of the overcomer, using these verses to suggest that faithfulness equates into salvation’s retention. Yet did John not write: “For whoever is born of God overcomes (same Greek word) the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1st John 5:4-5.

To imply that salvation’s retention depends on continued faithfulness changes God’s “free gift” into wages we are earning. Faithfulness yields reward; that is, reward at Christ’s judgment seat for faithful service; salvation is not a service but a gift. Listen to the usage of the word “overcome” again: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son,” Revelation 21:7. Did God tell us to faithfully work so we could achieve sonship/salvation? Or did He tell us to believe on Jesus Christ and we would become sons of God? “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent,” John 6:29; “But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:12-13.

“Can’t we agree to disagree on these points?” I am sure many may be thinking that. I humbly answer “no.” The gospel’s integrity and purity are at stake, and there are souls in need of the salvation found through simple faith in the risen Lord. I stand here convicted that this is the truth, whether I am agreed with or not. I leave you to discern whether or not what I say has validity. Just remember, when Paul went to Corinth he told them he had been sent only to preach the gospel; which not even water baptism was a part of, 1st Corinthians 1:17. Paul makes the distinction clear. Also bear in mind that when Paul summed up the gospel which we must hear and by which we are saved, no ordinance is mentioned or needed, and no possibility of falling away is hinted at, 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. The danger lies in believing in vain (i.e., not exercising saving faith in the message preached).

I plead with anyone reading: simply listen to Jesus explain the gospel to Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:25-26. The security and simplicity of eternal life lay in Christ’s promises. He would supply to those who believe eternal life. Note that sacraments were not mentioned; falling away was not intimated. The promise is only as good as the one making it; were it incumbent on us to earn or retain eternal life no man would be in Heaven. Christ's sinlessness is required, which is why believers are placed in Christ (the universal church) the instant one believes. Otherwise one sin after being saved would ruin our apparently non-eternal salvation, because one sin is all it requires to separate man from God.

The promise was that if we believed that Jesus’ sacrifice was done for us as payment for sin, and that He arose from the dead as proof that His payment was satisfactory, we would live. We are set free from in to live for God, , Romans 12:1-2. This is why water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not meritorious; it would be additional payment tacked onto the infinite price Christ paid for every ransomed sinner. Our security is genuine because God, who cannot lie, promised eternal life to those who believe, Titus 1:2. Our salvation is based on God’s promise, not our performance, Hebrews 6:17-20. Believest thou this?
To be Continued.

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