Passion Defined

My Story For His Glory

Well, it has been quite some time since I’ve posted in continuation of this theological series and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long. I’ve been extremely busy with school, teaching guitar lessons, and so much more, and checking the forecast predicts busyness, busyness, and more busyness, so I thought I ought to go ahead and bring this thing to a close! Given the time, I could probably go for another few posts and there is much more that could be said on these remaining topics, but this final post will have to suffice. Here is the last post in this series for now, and I pray that God has used this in a mighty way to encourage, strengthen, challenge, and sharpen my friends and fellow believers.


Introduction

The primary extent of this discussion thus far has concerned man and God before salvation and regeneration takes place (man’s spiritual deadness, God’s election and drawing, etc.). We’ve seen how man is spiritually dead and incapable of choosing Christ on his own, and how it is through God’s initiation and drawing that man can come to a saving faith in Him. Having seen this, we will now turn our focus to the radical change that Christ does when He saves an individual, and what that radical change implies for the future of the believer.

Regeneration

The theological term that we use to describe what Jesus called being “born again” is regeneration, which essentially means to be re-birthed, made new, or completely changed. It is regeneration that we use to describe the work that Christ does in the hearts of men when He saves them. The words of Scripture in John 3 confirm this when Jesus likened salvation to being birthed. John 3:3 says, “Jesus answered him, Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” This is a very neat comparison for two reasons: it confirms what we have seen previously in the total and sovereign work of God, and it describes the nature of the salvation that Christ gives.

The first observation we can make is one of confirmation. The way regeneration is compared to birth further shows how salvation is not in any way dependent upon man. From the moment a child is conceived to the moment it comes into the world, each and every part of that natural process is initiated by something or someone other than the child. When a baby is born, the pain and effort for bringing that child into the world is dependent upon someone other than the child. Under normal conditions it is the mother, unless there are complications and other procedures must be followed to ensure that the child arrives safely. But either way, it is not at all by the baby’s effort that he or she is brought into the world. In the same way, when Christ saves people, it is totally and entirely by His doing. Being dead sinners, there is no part of us capable of giving ourselves new life. That would be just as impossible as a baby conceiving itself and giving birth to itself. If any part could be attributed to man, then that would imply that some part of mankind is good and righteous enough to do what it takes to be saved according to his own works or ability. But, the language of regeneration further solidifies the fact that salvation is only and entirely through the work of the Savior. (For Scriptural support and further explanation, see previous parts of this series.)

The second observation we can make from John 3 is one of description and further clarification. Jesus clarified, as best as could be done, what it meant for someone to be born again. He first showed how the work is not dependent on the one being born, how the result is something totally new, but there’s also another analogy used in verses 7 and 8. Jesus goes on to say, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The wind is one of the most amazing and mysterious natural phenomenon in the natural world. We can’t see the wind or know where it comes from, and regeneration is just as mysterious! But, a neat thing about the wind is that even though we may not be able to see it, we can certainly see it working and see the effect that it has. Likewise, we can’t see regeneration happen, but we certainly can see the results of it and how the transforming power of the Spirit creates spiritual life.

As Ezekiel prophetically spoke, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” When God saves, He gives hearts of flesh for hearts of stone so that His people can walk in His ways and follow His commands. No longer are we dead in our trespasses, but alive in Christ Jesus, but not just alive to God, but also dead to the life that we used to live. Romans 6 asks us how we, who are dead to sin, can live in it any longer? We are made alive to God, dead to our former lives. 1st Peter 2:24 tells us that, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live in righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

The Eternal Implications of Salvation

The work of God in salvation is totally and completely by Him and through Him, from the beginning work of His Spirit to bring men to Himself to the final glorification of His saints when they are raised up with Christ (Romans 8:29-30). In these final thoughts, I will be sharing the Biblical evidence of the security that believers have in Christ and how none of His sheep can be lost. The remainder of this post will primarily be a list of Scriptures. I believe that God’s Word is more powerful than any of my words or arguments. I will include a few additional comments towards the end, and I will also spend some time talking about some of the passages commonly used by those who believe that salvation can be lost, as well as some of the problems that this belief poses to Christianity.

Scriptures

Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Jeremiah 32:40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts that they may not turn from me.

Matthew 18:12-14 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

John 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:47 Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will 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 the Father’s hand.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1st Corinthians 1:8-9 [our Lord Jesus Christ] who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

2nd Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

2nd Corinthians 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (Context talking about our heavenly dwelling)

Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Colossians 3:3-4, For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is you life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

1st Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

2nd Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 9:12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

1st Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1st John 5:11-13 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

Additional Comments

The life of a believer is not his own. His own former life is dead and his life is now hidden with Christ. Because Christ is our life, He has promised that when He appears, we also will appear with him in glory. Our future glorification is also talked about in Romans 8, and from God’s Word we see that our eternal security is based solely on the life that is given to us when we are saved. The finality of our salvation rests on God and the life (His life) that He has placed inside of us. Because our life is now Christ’s, to say that we can return to the spiritually dead state of an unsaved person is in effect saying that the life of Christ can be put to death. If the life we now live truly is Christ’s (as Colossians 3:3 clearly states), then that life would have to die if salvation could be lost.

Other Scriptures

There are some passages that are used to try and support the belief that salvation can be lost and I’m going to take some time to address a couple of the major ones. I realize that there are many more that we won’t have time for today, but my purpose here is to show how they fit into Biblical entirety and consistency.

Hebrews 6:1-6 “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

This is one of the most misunderstood passages in the entire eternal security dispute. Many point to the phrase “…have fallen away…” to say that this passage implies that salvation can be lost. There is much to this passage and it will take a few minutes to explain, so stick with me! Basically what we have in this passage is a statement containing four phrases to describe salvation in the midst of a declarative statement. The statement begins in verse 4 with, “For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened…” and ends in verse 6 saying, “…and then have fallen away to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying cone again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” In the midst of this statement we have a description of the “them” in the end of verse 6, clearly describing the results of those who are truly saved. These are those who have been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come. So, this is what we have: We have a description of a truly regenerate person in the midst of the statement, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, and then have fallen away to restore them again to repentance…” In other words, if it were possible for a Christian to lose his salvation, then it would be absolutely impossible for him to regain that salvation because it would in effect be crucifying Christ a second time so that the person could be saved all over again. If this passage can be used to say a believer can be lost, then we must be consistent with the text and say that basically you have one chance and if you blow it, too bad. Once you’re lost, you’re lost. But, there’s another aspect of this passage that we must also consider. In the original Greek text, the author used a philosophical argument called “reducio ad absurdum” which means “reduction to an absurdity.” This essentially means that the reasoning tactic employed by the author was one to show the absurdity of the notion that salvation can be lost. The author reduces this idea to an absurdity in two ways: First, through the evidences of a regenerate person by describing the life of a soundly saved person in verses 4 through 6, and second, through the argument that Christ died one time and one time only for sin (also seen in Hebrews 9 and 10). So the conclusion we can draw form this passage first and foremost is that it truly is impossible for a truly saved person to lose that salvation, and also that if it were possible, then there would be no possibility for that person to be saved again.

Matthew 13:3-9 “And he told them many things in parables, saying: A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds feel on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The argument used here is that we have four examples of those who were exposed to the seeds of truth, three of whom showed visible signs of life at one point or another. Some will say that the signs of life indicate a saved person who lost salvation, because the plants later died due to the scorching sun or choking weeds, but in Scripture, the idea of “showing life” is not what is given to indicate a saved person. It is fruit. Anyone can appear to have “spiritual life,” and 1st John 2:19 talks about those who seem to show life but truly aren’t saved. It says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Yes, there can and will be those who profess Christ, but deny Him by their works and fruits. Titus 1:16 describes it this way: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” Only one of the four examples in the parable of the sower was truly saved because it was the only one that bore fruit. John 15 also talks about how a true believer bears fruit. Galatians 5 likewise describes the fruits of a saved person.

One last argument often used comes from Galatians 5:19-21, which says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” People will say that this verse says that those who practice these things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven and guess what? That’s entirely true! It is true because based upon the context of this passage this list of sins is describing an unsaved person, or someone who follows the deeds of the flesh. These are the works of the flesh, not the works of the Spirit and as Christians we are told to live by the Spirit. Yes, we will always struggle with sin since we live in a body of flesh, but we should not be characterized by the fruits of the flesh. Our lives ought to bear the fruits of the Spirit, which Paul goes on to list in verses 22-23, and a John 15 tells us that we were chosen and appointed to bear fruit. True believers will bear spiritual fruit because that’s what we were made to do. Yet, some still say that if believers commit one of these sins, then they will lose their salvation and not have part of the kingdom of God unless they repent and get saved again. The problem that comes with that is we then have to account for thoughts, and here’s what I mean by that. In Matthew 5:21-30, Jesus said that anger is the exact same as murder and lust is the same as adultery. Since the thought is the same as the action, then I can without much doubt say that every single professing Christian today and throughout history has lost their salvation at some point. Jesus equated the thought with the action, so if this passage is saying that anyone who commits one of these things will result in lost salvation, then anytime a man has a wrong thought about woman, he loses his salvation.

Conclusion

In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul wrote, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The fact that a true Christian can’t lose his salvation doesn’t give a person an excuse to abdicate his responsibility to live according to the Bible. Neither does it allow a believer to live any way he wants to and still go to heaven. Romans 6 tells us that God forbids that we should live in sin because we died to sin. Philippians 2 tells us that we do work out our salvation, but how are we able to do that? Through God, who works in us both to will and to do his good pleasure. We do work out our salvation, but only because God has given us both the desire and the ability to work out His will. We can be confident and rest in the assurance that once we are saved, Christ will keep us until the day that He will raise us up with Himself in glory. He is faithful and will never let us go. Philippians 1:6 assures us, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Founder and the Perfecter, and we are promised that the work that He has begun will be finished. What a glorious assurance! I pray that as you serve the Lord that you would rest in the promise that the Lord will sustain you and that you can never be snatched from His hand.

To an Audience of One,

Joshua

2 comments:

Nancy said...

It may be long, but it's well written, well worth the wait, and well worth the read. I especially appreciate your thorough grounding in scripture. Thank you for putting it together. :-)

Joshua said...

I thought of one more very powerful verse that has furthered my belief that a Christian cannot lose his salvation. Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Fahter who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."

If salvation could be lost, then that would mean that the Lord would have had to have known those people at one point who did great things for God but later lost their salvation. But no, Jesus said that in that day there will be many, and that He NEVER knew them. There will be many who think they're saved but truly aren't. If someone has seemed to lost their salvation, they were never truly born again in the first place. They were never truly known by God.

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