Tag: salvation (Page 1 of 4)

Sustaining Grace (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

“who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless 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.” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

 

Who will confirm the believer till the day of Christ? A quick glance back to verse four reminds us of that answer. Paul had addressed his thanksgiving to God (vs.4a), the one who bestows grace (vs.4b). God is the one who calls believers into fellowship with His Son (vs.9b). And part of what makes that grace so amazing is that it is completely sustaining; it confirms believers till the end.

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Noah Found Grace And Was Justified By Faith

From an outside perspective it might have seemed as though Satan was going to be successful in his attempt to frustrate God’s plan to have the seed of the woman crush his seed (Gen. 3:15). However one splices the relationship between the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” of Genesis 6:2, it clearly was not a good thing and it did not produce worshippers (see also 2 Pet. 2:4-5; Jd. 6). Brutal men (i.e. the nephilim) had become the “men of renown” (cf. vs.4); every thought of men’s hearts were continually wicked (vs.5); and so, not surprisingly, the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (vs.11). It was indeed a world made well-rotten by sin and Satan.

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The Tragedy of Procrastination (Acts 24:25)

There are times in Scripture where we receive unique insight into the tragedy of procrastination. There’s the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25:1-13), five of whom prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival, and five that did not, but instead procrastinated and were shut out of the wedding. In Luke 9:57-62 we see instances of people who, instead of heeding Jesus’ call to follow Him, offered “but first” excuses. We don’t know what they decided to do after Jesus addressed their attempts to procrastinate but if they did put off following Him we understand what a foolish and dangerous decision that was. That’s the kind of procrastination that is the most tragic of all. Although procrastination in any form of life can be problematic, i.e. letting the sun go down on your wrath because you didn’t address it sooner (Eph. 4:26-27), this kind of procrastination is the pinnacle of folly.

The governor Felix was such a man. He had heard Paul’s defense after the Jews accused Paul of sedition and heresy. Felix postponed making a decision about the apostle, and then, after some days, he and his wife Drusilla sent for him and heard him concerning faith in Christ (Acts 24:24).

What happens next is startling.

Paul reasoned with Felix about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (vs.25). While we’re not told the exact details of the conversation we could imagine that when Paul spoke of righteousness that he spoke about the merit of Christ and our need to have a righteousness that was not of the law but one that only comes through faith in the person and work of Christ. Such is a theme addressed by Paul quite a few times in his epistles. When he spoke of self-control, he most likely described to Felix what the Christian life looks like. In the midst of a pagan world given to sensual pleasure and satisfaction, the Christian was to find contentment in the One who said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). And, as any good Gospel presentation will do, Paul spoke about the judgment to come. This Gospel wasn’t simply an option that Felix had presented to him whereby he could make this life better. The backdrop of the Gospel is the inevitability of death and judgment in light of a lifetime of rebellion against God. The Gospel is not simply an option, it’s the only way for a sinner to be made righteous, escape the torments of the lake of fire, and enjoy glorifying God forever.

What’s startling is – Felix’s response. The rest of verse says, “Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.'” (vs.25b)

As far as we know… that ‘convenient time’ never came…

When Felix heard Paul speak concerning faith in Christ and righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, he was afraid. It would be fair to assume he intellectually understood the Gospel and that he was afraid because he knew, at some level, that he was a sinner that was not right before God. Yet, like many of us have tried to do when we’ve been afraid, he suppressed it, and pushed it to the side. It’s one thing to push aside fears that the Lord tells us not to have, like worrying about tomorrow, or about food and clothing. It’s another thing to push away the fear that we’re supposed to have. The kind that the Scripture calls the beginning of wisdom: “the fear of the LORD”.

Whatever the case was with Felix, and whatever the internal workings of his mind were, he joined the foolishness of the Athenians who told Paul, “We will hear you again on this matter” (Acts 17:32).

That moment that the Athenians presumed would be there appears to have never happened.

The convenient time Felix appeased his mind by thinking about looks to have never occurred either.

If today, you hear the voice of the Lord saying, as it were, ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Believe the Gospel’, do not join the ranks of Felix and the Athenians, or those in Luke 9:57-62 who said, “I will…. But first….” As it is written, “Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and avoid the foolish tragedy of procrastination.

Is Once Saved Always Saved Biblical?

A common question often asked among Christians is, “Do believe that once a person is saved they are always saved?” The question is in essence asking, “Is the state of being justified before God something that a person can have and then lose?” We’ll unpack the answer in the paragraphs that follow but, for an immediate response, and to help frame the discussion, let me say that from God’s perspective salvation is a concrete plan from all of eternity and executed in time; while, from man’s perspective, it can look as though a person once ‘had saving faith’ and then ‘lost saving faith.’ I think the key to understanding the answer to the question lies in first deciding which perspective will help you interpret the other. If you say, ‘I know brother so-in-so was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit’ you will probably come to the Scriptures with a presupposition geared towards that belief; however, if you look at the Scriptural teaching regarding predestination, election, salvation, and eternal security, your view of ‘brother so-in-so’ will most likely change and become less resolute.

What follows is an outline of some of the major points involved in coming to a Biblical conclusion to the aforementioned question.

1. Romans 8:30, Ephesians 1:4-6, and the Doctrine of Predestination.

Romans 8:30 reads, “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” From God’s perspective there is a ‘golden chain of salvation’ that is seen as complete and decided in eternity past. All whom God predestines end up being called, justified, and glorified.

Ephesians 1:4-6 is also helpful in this regard. There Paul wrote,

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

God chose the redeemed before the foundation of the world (vs.4a) and predestined His own to the adoption as sons by Jesus Christ (vs.5a) to the praise of the glory of His grace (vs.6a). So again, for reasons found in the good pleasure of God’s will (vs.5b), we see God has planned the salvation of the redeemed from eternity past to be definitely completed in time.

2. Connecting Point One with the New Birth.

If it is agreed that salvation is the plan of God from eternity past (Eph. 1:4), executed in time (Rom 8:30a), and that the inevitable end of predestination is glorification (Rom 8:30b), then it would not make sense that God would grant someone new birth from above if He knew that someone was going to be ‘un-regenerated’ at a future time. Remember, according to John 1:13 the new birth is not according to the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. Furthermore, and this is important, when the Scripture speaks of a person being ‘born of God’ the clear implication is that they will overcome and cross the finish line in faith. As it is written, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 Jn 5:4a); and again, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning”, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 Jn 5:18 ESV); and again, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 Jn 3:9 ESV).

3. Understanding the Nature of Saving Faith.

One reason why many people hear the phrase ‘once saved always saved’ and shudder is because they have heard it referenced as an excuse, or license, for sin. That characterization is not an accurate one. Saving faith is of such a nature that the Christian begins to produce fruit (Gal 5:22-23; Mt 7:16), walks in the good deeds that accompany salvation (Jas 2:18; Eph 2:10), and does not live in a lifestyle of habitual sin (1 Jn 3:9; 5:18). The one who says, “I know Him” but does not do what God commands is a liar and the truth is not in him (1 Jn 2:4). Therefore, to say ‘once saved always saved means a person can live however they want and still be saved’ is a mischaracterization; a truly saved person is expected to walk in the light and bring forth evidence of salvation through a life of faith and obedience.

4. The Numerous Scriptures that Testify to the Believer’s Security.

Besides the previously mentioned points there are a number of Scriptures that unambiguously teach that a person who has been justified by faith in the person and work of Christ will be saved and not unjustified at a later point in time.

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn. 6:37-40)

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (Jn. 10:27-29)

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1:13-14)

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Phil. 1:6)

who [speaking of the elect, cf. 1 Pet. 1:2] are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (Pet. 1:5)

19 They [speaking of former professing Christians] 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (1 Jn. 2:19)

18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! (2 Tim. 4:18)

 

5. The Lack of Scriptural Evidence to the Contrary.

As you can see from the previous four points there is a tremendous amount of Biblical evidence, spread across various Christian doctrines, which support the reality of God keeping those whom He saves. Additionally, the texts that are often used to argue against eternal security either: (a) endorse eternal security (i.e. Hebrews 6:4-6, 6), or (b) do not contradict what the doctrine of eternal security teaches about the Christian life (see Point 3 again).

Closing Exhortation

With that being said, the exhortation to conclude this teaching is two-fold: (1) may you be exhorted to grow in your ability to articulate why you believe what you believe. Many people have misconceptions about Christian doctrines because they have heard them explained erroneously or inaccurately. Lord willing, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior we’ll become increasingly able to show how the doctrines of Scripture exist within a coherent system of God’s revelation. And (2), since many Christians struggle with this doctrine, may you be exhorted to lovingly and gently defend the doctrine of eternal security, pursuing love and peace among brethren to the glory of God. This doctrine is an important one; it glorifies God as the beginner and sustainer of salvation; but in contending for sound doctrine it is essential to, at the same time, pursue love among those brethren who are justified by faith alone in the person and work of Christ but struggle understanding a doctrine like this.

Saved by Faith and From Judgment (Jeremiah 39:11-18)

The day finally came. The prophecies of the Book of Jeremiah had been driving to this point. The year-and-a-half siege that began in the ninth year and tenth month of Zedekiah (Jer. 39:1; 52:4; 2 Ki. 25:1), yet had a brief intermission as Babylon temporarily withdrew to deal with an Egyptian threat, finally penetrated the city walls in the eleventh year and fourth month (Jer. 39:2; Jer. 52:6,7; 2 Ki. 25:3,4). It was the unthinkable; even though it should have been the foreseeable. Jeremiah predicted the coming of the Babylonian sword, starvation, and captivity (Jer. 15:2); he predicted that the siege would so disrupt the city’s food supply that cannibalism would occur (19:9); he predicted that staying in the city would lead to death but that surrendering would lead to life (21:9); and he predicted that the land would be a desolation and a horror, in servitude to Babylon for seventy years (25:11). And it all happened just as God had spoken through him.

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