Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Access denied...?

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.   Hebrews 7:25

We have been in an extended study of our eternally secure relationship with God. I am endeavoring to cover all areas of this important and vital subject. It is vital to know and understand that you can never lose your salvation. One's relationship can never grow or be strong when there is a chance that the relationship can be severed.

Loving it, leaving it or losing it.

The title of our series explains it all. We love the Lord and rejoice knowing our salvation is secure. The two objections to eternal security is that we can leave our salvation or we can lose it by our deeds. As we began last time I am addressing the false idea we can leave or walk away from God. So let's look at two more passages that some believe promote the idea we can leave our salvation.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23
I must admit when I was a babe in Christ this passage terrified me. Why? Because taken at face value and out of context it left me wondering who then can be saved? Who then can have assurance of their salvation? I thank God I found the truth when studying the Word in context and in the original Greek.
The Objection to eternal security goes something like this; these people Jesus is talking to worked miracles in  His name. This must mean they were once born again and now lost. Is this correct? If one only read this passage in context and define the words properly you know this argument is erroneous.

In context Jesus began addressing false prophets and false teachers. Of course, under the influence of demonic activity some appear to be working miracles. It isn't the genuine power of God. So that is the first clue this isn't talking about believers. 

Secondly, Jesus stated clearly that He never knew them. Never means what? Never! Jesus did not say I once knew you but now I don't. He stated clearly, I never knew you. The literal Greek gives even more clear a definition of this word. Never means never, not at all and not at any time. If He never knew these folk, then they could not have been once saved and now lost. This is a very weak objection to our eternally secure salvation.

Now the strongest objection of leaving one's salvation is this next passage.

        This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
 If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.  2 
Timothy 2:11-13

This passage at face value seems to indicate if we walk away we are eternally lost. If we deny Him, He will deny us. This means if we harden our hearts we can give back the gift of salvation correct?

Let's take this passage as it was intended. It seems to be a stanza that Paul is reminding Timothy of. I believe we can discover the truth if we break it down verse by verse.

Eternal life

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
This passage reveals our eternal life in Christ. When we get saved our old life is dead and we walk in newness of life in Christ. This is good news not bad.

Eternal rewards

12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

This is the controversial portion of this stanza. Notice what How I labeled this. I truly believe this passage isn't referring to our salvation or our eternal destination. After much study I am convinced this is talking about eternal rewards for following God. 
In context Paul was admonishing Timothy to be a good soldier for Christ. He was encouraging the saints in Christ to be strong and not to quit under adversity. It is not about quitting your salvation but about not continuing in faith.
Now allow me to say the doctrine of eternal rewards is a Biblical principle. Now our salvation and growth is all by grace. It is not by one being better than the other. It is though, one who has chosen to allow the grace to grow inwardly and empower spiritual growth. This grace growth produces fruitful living. It produces the fruit of obedience and acts of service. No one can boast in Heaven.
James the first chapter refers to a crown of life for endurance. If we get mad and throw a spiritual "tantrum" whenever things don't work out the way we think they should, are we enduring or are we "quitting"? If people don't recognize our "labor" or "works" of service do we get mad and walk away or quit? Under persecution it is easy to give up. Paul was admonishing don't give up. I am convinced this is not talking about quitting your salvation.

Eternal security 

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Can you see the progression in this stanza? Our eternal life begins at salvation, our eternal rewards throughout our Christian life and the assurance and security of this great salvation. 
Now how does this portion even remotely agree with the idea that you can give your salvation back? It obviously doesn't. In context then how can we then interpret these three verses as referencing one who has walked away from their salvation? 
Even if one could "give it back"who says He would accept it? If we believe not He is faithful. He cannot deny Himself. Why does Paul use this phrase? Because once we accept the free gift of grace and receive the Lord we are adopted and the Lord lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. So how can God tell Himself I quit you? How can the new creation heart, with the agape love of God shed abroad within it, where the Spirit of God abides "harden" to the point of quitting and returning the gift of eternal life? It is an impossible equation. This verse proves this! Even if you say you quit He remains faithful. He is forever faithful. 
This is proven truth because the very faith we have to believe in Him and accept His free gift is His faith to begin with. Faith comes by hearing His Word. His Word like seed is planted in our hearts and harvests faith that we then respond with and receive the Lord Jesus in our life and heart. Again, how can His faith deny Him the author of our faith?  How can the Author and Finisher of our faith lead us to a place where we reject Him? He authored our faith and He will finish it to completion presenting us faultless before the throne. 

The more we simply study the Word of God it becomes abundantly clear this salvation is completely secure in Him. We can't leave it or lose it. He is forever faithful. I trust this lesson has blessed you. May His grace grow big in you! 


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What about Hebrews 6?

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.  Hebrews 7:25

We've been studying as of late concerning our eternally secure relationship with God. Now that we've covered the undeniable proof from the Word that we are in fact secure I would like to address the what about this passage or this verse objections. 

We've titled this series, "Loving it, leaving it, losing it". Now we will explore the leaving it portion. Some, will always resist God's goodness and overwhelming love and grace. They feel compelled to create a straw man argument that free will means we will reject and walk away from such love and grace. Does the Scripture actually support this? I think not. We will begin by tackling the biggest passage that most critics site. What about Hebrews 6?

 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.For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.  Hebrews 6:4-8 

Many cite this passage as proof that one can renounce faith in God. That they can just walk away from God. Is this really what this passage is referring to? Is this the main point God is making here? I think not. 

The biggest concern with the traditional interpretation some have attributed to this passage is one word. That one word is the word impossible. Many state this passage proves that one can renounce their faith or that they can lose their salvation by some bad deed. Yet, when pressed about this view, most believe that the one who walks away or renounces their faith can at some point return to God. Yet it clearly states it is impossible to renew one to change. It is impossible to come back. 

That doesn't sound like good news at all. That doesn't leave the sense of mercy or grace anywhere. If indeed, this is the right view, then if anyone walks away out of emotional turmoil or momentary grief they are lost forever. Why then do we see so many alter calls in churches to come back to God? Because the heart cries for mercy and grace. The mind and emotions, on the other hand pull for some sense of "getting even". That God avenges that old sinner for turning on Him. Thanks be to God this is not the right view.

Who is Hebrews written to?

The book of Hebrews was written to two types of Jewish people. Those who had received the Lord Jesus and were receiving much persecution from their fellow Jews. It also addresses those Jews who had heard the good news of the New Covenant and new life Jesus brings but have stopped short of receiving Him. These are they who are at a straight between two paths to follow. Follow through in faith and receive new life from the New Birth or stay with the system of law and sacrifice. 

In fact Jack Hayford's Bible handbook credits this as one major interpretation of this difficult passage. "Jews who stopped just short of faith in Christ". This is what I see Hebrews 6 is really talking about. Those who hear the truth and stop just short of salvation and turn away from God. I venture to say that many of us at one time have witnessed to someone and saw God tugging on their heart with His love and grace to receive the free gift of righteousness and yet they choose what is familiar and reject the free gift. That same one then never received the Lord and stayed in sin and reaped the consequence of rejecting new life in Him. I've seen this before. It is truly sad. 

So who is it then that it is impossible to renew to change? If you dive further into this passage it actually interprets itself. Verses 7 and 8 talk about rain and herbs and bearing fruit. What, did the writer finish his thought and stop to teach on farming? No, it is all one thought. He is teaching that as rain waters the soil and it bears fruit so God's Word and love is poured out upon human hearts. One heart is fruitful and the other heart is unfruitful. What is the difference? The nature of the one receiving the Word reveals what the end result will be. So who falters and falls away? The one who hears the Word and not allowing the nature change to take place will fall away and not return. 

If a field keeps harvesting faulty negative crops after it gets sufficient rain and sun then the soil is faulty. This perfectly illustrates the heart exposed to the light of God's love and grace and rain of His Spirit but has no resulting fruit. In other words it's not experienced a true nature change. So once again proof positive that a unchanged heart is what falters and falls away. The heart that has the nature change is what is eternally secure.  

I believe when we rightly divide the Word there is no more "scary" passages. It all reveals love and mercy and His grace. Even passages such as this. It reveals that if you choose to reject the free gift through the hardness of heart you will have what you chose. 

To summarize, this passage isn't addressed to a born again child of God. This is addressed to one who is hearing the Word of salvation and the sun and rain of the Spirit are shining and refreshing and the heart chooses to harden and not receive the goodness offered. To that heart which has chosen to reject forever this gift it is impossible to renew them to change. Knowing the Word brings life and freedom. Now go forth in confidence knowing your relationship is secure in grace.

I trust this post has blessed you. May the Lord and His grace be with you this week. 

photobyAleksandr Kutsayev,courtesyfreedigitalphoto,net

Monday, December 1, 2014

Once for all time...

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.  Hebrews 7:25

We have been in a study entitled "Loving it, leaving it, losing it". Today I want to conclude the "loving it" portion of it. I have used the Word to offer proofs of our eternally secure relationship with God. I've shared five proofs so far and today I want to share proof six and seven. 
Let's proceed with some marvelous good news.

The Word of God reveals something special about our relationship with the Father. We aren't just born again when we receive Him. We are also adopted into the family of God. 

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:15-17

We've been adopted. We've been made sons of God. We are in God's family. Most Christians rejoice that we aren't slaves but sons of God. However, if somebody blows it they immediately wish to put their sonship on the line. I believe Jesus Himself revealed great truth in His parable of the prodigal son, (read this account in Luke 15:11-32). 

The prodigal left his father's house. He seemed to want the father's possessions just not his presence. In the midst of wild living he squandered all he had. What picture do we see of the father while this is taking place? He hasn't disowned his son. He is still his son. When the son returned wanting to become a slave, the father loved him, and restored him to his position as a son in the father's house. So it is with our Father God. No matter how deceived or rebellious a Christian is they are still God's children. 

So proof number six is that we are adopted into God's family. Once a son we are always a son. Some may say well we can renounce our sonship. We will be dealing with this more in the next article but suffice it to say this, in the natural you can change your name. You can move away, and even change your appearance. Yet you will always be a member by birth of your family. So it is with God. You will always be His child if you have received Him.

As for our final proof let's look at Hebrews 9.

With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Hebrews 9:12

By His blood we are redeemed forever. His blood has made us clean forever. We are pure in His sight. This is the final proof. We are cleansed by His precious blood. By His cleansing blood we are redeemed forever. 

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. Hebrews 1:3

Proof enough, He has made us clean and pure by His blood. Notice this is not just our past. He said sins plural. All sins. He has cleansed us and forgiven us past and present and future. We are forever secure in Him. Knowing we are cleansed and pure transforms our hearts desires. We pursue Him not lustful passions. Again, this is motivation for devotion to God. 

In review here is the seven proofs of our eternal security:
It is God's will that none who come to Jesus will be lost.
Jesus revealed this plan of salvation as a secure hope. None that come will he cast out.
We are forever secure in our Father's hand and no one can take us out of His hands.
We have the Spirit of God indwelling us as a guarantee of our eternal redemption.
He forever makes intercession for us.
We are adopted into the Family of God never to be abandoned. 
His blood has secured our eternal redemption. We are washed and cleansed by that same blood. 

I pray this portion of study has blessed you and encouraged you. I pray His loving hands comfort and guide you into success and victory this week.