Friday, October 28, 2011
Eternally Secure in Our Savior
What we believe impacts the rest of our lives. This is especially true when it comes to what we believe about God and His gift of salvation. If we believe that this gift is absolutely free – something we will never loose – we will be filled with gratefulness, motivating good works (Titus 3:3-8).
If instead, we believe that it’s not a done-deal, our focus will be a self-focus, not a God-focus, examining ourselves to see whether we are making the heavenly “cut-off” point. We will then have either of two responses. Either, we will be confident that our faith is genuine enough or our works adequate enough to gain us entry. In this case, our faith is not only in God but also in self! We therefore assure ourselves that we have whatever it takes to cross the finish line. Consequently, we will also look down on others who have failed to make the grade.
The other possibility is that we will not be confident about our standing before God or in our ability to adequately please Him with either our faith or obedience. This will lead to depression and probably resentment towards God for setting the bar too high. Either scenario undermines the Christian faith.
Instead, it is imperative that we understand that salvation is absolutely free, lest any should boast (Eph. 2:8-9), not just at the point of receiving it, but also throughout our entire lifespan as faith carries us home to be with our Savior. I’ll try to set forth a brief Scriptural case for the fact that once we believe and are “sealed” (Eph 4:30), we can be certain about our eternal destiny:
1. EVERLASTING LIFE:
So many verses assert that we already have everlasting life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:40; 10:27-28; 4:13-14; 6:51). The nature of this gift implies that it can’t be lost. If it could be lost, then we never had everlasting life, because everlasting life by its very nature lasts. If we loose it, it means we never really had it:
• But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (Hebrews 3:6)
If we don’t “hold on” to it, it means that we never had it.
2. IT WON’T BE REVOKED:
The gift of salvation isn’t like being on parole. We need not fear that it might ever be revoked. Paul even referred to God’s gift to the Jewish people as “irrevocable”:
• As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11:28-29)
The same also pertains to our gift of salvation:
• For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Here, Paul covered the entire range of possible threats, concluding that there is nothing in this life or the next, present or future, that can wrench away from us His gift of salvation. Even the Old Testament prophecies assert the permanency of this New Covenant promise:
• I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (Jeremiah 32:40; 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:25-27; Isaiah 54:9-10; 59:21)
According to these New Covenant prophecies, our confidence is not in ourselves to keep the conditions of the covenant, but in God who guarantees that we “will never turn away.” Other verses assure us that He will keep us until the end (1 Cor. 1:8; Jude 1; John 17:12; 6:39-40).
3. NOT OF OURSELVES:
We are explicitly warned to not taken credit for any aspect of salvation. If we did, we would boast (Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-28) – the very antithesis of what God had determined to accomplish. He even chose the disdained of this world “so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:29). To believe that we are somewhat responsible for keeping our salvation works against His intentions. Yes, we are commanded to work hard, but God should get the entire credit even for this, as Paul affirmed:
• But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)
Although we play an instrumental role in our salvation and remaining saved, it’s all about Him and His guarantees. He promised that He would bring His saving work in our lives “to completion” (Philip. 1:6). This means that once we’re His, we remain His.
The Bible assures us that we are forgiven once and for all:
• "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant…For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:17)
This guarantee is reiterated throughout the Bible. The promise that He “will remember their sins no more" reinforces the promise that there is no longer anything that can separate us from Him. Consequently, Paul affirmed that there will never be any condemnation for His people (Romans 8:1).
5. NO BASIS FOR ANY INDICTMENT:
We are no longer under the law but under grace. This is because the requirements of the law have already been fulfilled in us through the Cross. The law demanded death for our transgressions, and Christ paid that price by dying for us,
• Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:14; Eph. 2:15)
To suggest that we can loose our salvation is to say that the law requires us to die twice for our sins. It also suggests that Christ’s death wasn’t adequate for us. Instead, there is no basis for any charge that can potentially separate us from our Savior. Besides, He promised that He will work all things together for good on our behalf (Rom. 8:28). However, if falling from grace was a real actuality, then Christ failed to work all things together for our good.
6. NO BASIS FOR ANY TRUST IN SELF:
We mustn’t trust in ourselves to keep our salvation. Instead, it’s something that God guarantees for us (1 Peter 1:5; Phil. 1:6). He tells us to not worry about anything (Phil. 4:6-7), even our own salvation. To trust in ourselves to keep our faith is an affront to God and His gift:
• This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD…But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” (Jeremiah 17:5-7)
Trusting in self is antithetical to trusting in God. When I saw people leaving the faith, I determined that this wasn’t going to happen to me. I wouldn’t let it happen. However, my Savior graciously, yet painfully, showed me that I couldn’t even keep my own faith. It was far beyond my ability (John 15:4-5; 2 Cor. 3:5). I had to learn to trust in Him. Consequently, when I find my faith under serious attack, I don’t collapse, nor do I futilely determine that this isn’t going to happen to me. Instead, I cry out to the “author and finisher” of my faith to maintain me (Hebrew 12:2). He has taught me to place no confidence in myself (Phil. 3:3), and how liberating this has been! Consequently, my focus is no longer on me but on Him, where it belongs.
Paul warned against the foolishness of starting out by trusting the Lord, only to revert to the human default of placing trust in self (Gal. 3:1-5). He warned that this would alienate us from a trusting and saving relationship with our Lord (Gal. 5:2-4).
There is great joy and liberty in knowing that we are totally in His keeping. Let nothing – no theology or philosophy – get in the way!
Admittedly, there are a number of difficult verses. I would be glad to discuss them with you, preferably on my blog: www. Mannsword.blogspot. com.