ETERNAL SECURITY Questions To Ask Yourself

 

ETERNAL SECURITY
Questions To Ask Yourself
 

Thanks to Charles Stanley 

My Answer and questions to Mr. Stanley.

I found these question by Charles Stanly on the net. My responds to Mr. Stanly is based on the simple belief that we are saved in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in a loving relationship with Christ and His Father. This relationship is entered through faith and is maintained by faith. However, I believe a person can lose their faith and fall out of this loving relationship with Jesus and be lost.

QUESTION #1

If Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, and yet we can somehow become unsaved – and therefore undo what Christ came to do – would it not be wise for God to take us on to heaven the moment we are saved in order to insure we make it? Isn’t it unnecessarily risky to force us to stay here?

Satan and Man have been undoing the things of God since the fall. If this was not the case, we would have no free will. If we have no free will, we are simply a part of a comic rerun where everything has all ready been determined.

I  personally have not reached the point where I can judge what is wise for God to do, or not to do. I guess Mr. Stanley has.

It seems that Mr. Stanley’s questions come from the presumption that Gods eternal purpose is to save mankind.  Really?  Is mankind the center of Gods purpose? I was under the impression that God and Christ were the center and their purpose is, and was, to restore Gods rule or the kingdom of God? Could it be that God only wants the tried and the true to serve him in his kingdom?

If a person cannot be unsaved who was saved before, how can a small child who is saved or at least safe become unsaved? If people are elected in eternity to be saved how then did they become lost or unelected requiring Jesus to die for them?  Why did Jesus  come, to seek and to save the lost, if saved people cannot become  lost people and the unsaved people could not respond to his preaching because they were not elected in eternity? Is the coming of Christ just a cosmic deception or joke?

QUESTION #2

If our salvation is not secure, how could Jesus say about those to whom He gives eternal life, “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28)? If even one man or woman receives eternal life and then forfeits it through sin or apostasy, will they not perish? And by doing so, do they not make Jesus’ words a lie?  Is Christ a liar???

The gift of eternal life is given to those that hear and follow Christ, which means that the promise of eternal life is conditional.  In verse 10:27 of the book of John, He tells us who his sheep are. They are those that hear his voice and follow him which are two conditions.  In this section of scripture Jesus says nothing about the gift being free or coming without conditions, or by some prior election by God.  These ideas are read into the passage by Mr. Stanley. In actuality, the text has nothing to do with whether a person can fall away from Christ (stop hearing his voice and following Christ). This section of Scripture is not talking about the sheep falling away, but rather them being force or captured against their will by Satan. It is very similar to the thoughts of Paul when he says that no temptation is to great to overcome the believer (1 Cor 10:13). The real question is can a people lose their faith in Christ and stop listening and following Christ? Does a person lose their free will when they become a Christian?

When Christ gives a gift, he surely guards the gift so that no one can take it from the one receiving it. However, he does not force one to accept or keep the gift. If that was the case we would not have free will, something I wonder if Mr. Stanley believes in. Where in the Bible does it teach that a person loses their free will when they become a Christian? Can something be rightly call a gift if it is forced on someone?

Moreover, from the context it is very doubtful that Jesus is talking about people losing their salvation through personal sin. Rather, he seems to be talking about Satan pulling the Lord’s sheep out relationship with the Father. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:29). Jesus is simply saying that God  will never let Satan tempt us beyond our ability to endure. He is not talking about eternal security. In Christ we enter the protective care of God, similar to the relationship that Adam had with God in the garden. He was protected from the power of Satan (Satan powers were limited), but Adam had the free will to succumb to temptation and walk away from his relationship with God. It was Satan who told Adam “you will not die”. Do not let anyone tell you, you will not die. Satan is still saying you shall not die and God is still saying, “The wages sin is death”.

QUESTION #3

Why should God let you into heaven? If your answer includes words such as try, my best, church, believe in God, Sunday School, teach or give, chances are that you still haven’t come to grips with the simple truth that salvation is by faith alone. 

The Bible teaches us that we are saved by grace through faith. Why does Mr. Stanley add the word “alone”. Could you please give me a passage in the Bible where the phase “by faith alone or by grace alone” is used? Can real faith be separated from obedience? What is real faith? Is true faith simply mental assent?

Let me ask the question another way: What are you trusting in, to get you into heaven? Is it Christ plus something? Or can you say with confidence that your hope and your trust are in Christ and Christ alone

Mr. Stanley is right if you are a person who trusts in their own effort and goodness to get themselves into heaven. No human being can obligate God to save them by being good enough. Questions like those above are appropriate when talking to a people who are self righteous.  However,  their presumption really doesn’t have much to do with the question of unconditional salvation, for that question hinges on the definition of faith. What is saving faith and what does it do, i.e. what does faith look like?

QUESTION #4

If salvation wasn’t permanent, why introduce the concept of adoption? Wouldn’t it have been better just to describe salvation in terms of a conditional legal contract between man and God?

The Bible teaches that our adoption is finalized at the resurrection, not at the point of faith (Rom 8:23).  After one has put their faith in Christ they enter a time of testing and growth just like the first Adam, Israel and Christ himself. Unfortunately, like the Israelites in the wilderness some will not pass the test. Was the promise of entering the Promised Land conditional or unconditional? If unconditional then why did so few make it in?

QUESTION #5

The authors of the New Testament left us with detailed explanations of how one becomes a child of God. If that process could be reversed doesn’t it make sense that at least one of them would have gone into equal detail explaining that as well?

In the letter of 1John the apostle John go into great detail about who is a Christian and how they can have the security of knowing that they have eternal life.  His letter rules out the majority of people that claim to be Christian, and his criteria for knowing that you have eternal life would limit that knowledge to very few (Matt 7:13-14).  By the way, he does not list believing in unconditional security as one of the proofs of salvation or even being a Christian.

QUESTION #6

What is the significance of a seal that can be continually removed and reapplied? What does it really seal?

The seal is not a seal like the one you put on a jar of canned goods. It was the mark or seal of the king. Yes, we are sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit. The mark of the Holy Spirit is a life lived in holiness and love. If one continues to live in sin after believing in Jesus he probably was not saved to begin with and therefore never received the seal of the Spirit (living like Jesus). Then you have those who become Christians and begin to live like Jesus which is the seal of the Spirit and then they fall into sin. At that point they simply no longer have the mark or seal of the Spirit, which is living like Jesus. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.  Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:3-6

The seal of the Spirit is not some mystical mark or seal. It is simply living like Jesus. This is too simple for those who want to live like the devil and at the same time have the good feeling that they are eternally secure in Christ by accepted Jesus into their heart sometime in the past which the Bible nowhere tells people to do for salvation.

QUESTION #7

If a man or a woman ends up in hell, who has at some point in life put his or her trust in Christ, doesn’t that make what Jesus said to Nicodemus a lie? Or at best only half true?

In his discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus was not talking about a person losing their salvation.  Again as in many places, Mr. Stanley uses the silence of the Scriptures to argue his point.

QUESTION #8

If my faith maintains my salvation, I must ask myself, “What must I do to maintain my faith?” For, to neglect the cultivation of my faith is to run the risk of weakening or losing my faith and thus my salvation. I have discovered that my faith is maintained and strengthened by activities such as the following: Prayer, Bible Study, Christian Fellowship, Church Attendance and Evangelism. If these and similar activities are necessary to maintain my faith – and the maintenance of my faith is necessary for salvation – how can I avoid the conclusion that I am saved by my good works?

 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.  Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall. “ Peter 1:5-11   How does Mr. Stanley’s ideas square with what Peter says?

Here Mr. Stanley shows his real colors in making faith, a good work. He misunderstands Paul’s understanding of good works and in doing so, embraces the totality of the teaching of Calvinism, which one would have to do to be logical and consistent in accepting unconditional security. It appears that Mr. Stanley believes that faith is a gift from God and is given to those that God elected in eternity. In this Mr. Stanley demonstrates himself as a true Calvinist. I respect Mr. Stanley’s consistency, but totally reject his Calvinism.

In Ephesians 2:8 the apostle Paul says, “For it is by grace  you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves for it is the gift of God”. Calvinists misunderstand this passage and interpret the gift as faith. However a close reading of the passage seems to indicate that God’s  gift is salvation, not  grace or faith. The gift comes out of God’s grace and is  accepted by faith. The gift is salvation or eternal life. The wages sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:23).

QUESTION #9

If our salvation hinges on the consistency of our faith, by what standard are we to judge our consistency?

Can we have doubts at all? How long can we doubt? To what degree can we doubt? Is there a divine quota we dare not exceed?

Mr. Stanley is great at asking questions.  Questions that are similar to the faulty and loaded questions, such as  “When did you  stop beating your wife?” or “Who created God?”  However, I do not find them helping his position on unconditional security. Here are a few realistic questions. Can you find one plain passage of Scripture that teaches that a Christian has unconditional security?  Is the term unconditional security or any of its equivalent phrases such as, “once saved always saved” or even “eternal security”, ever been found in the Bible? Why  has the doctrine of unconditional security  not been found in the early Christian fathers manuscripts which record the historical faith for first 400 years of the Christian movement, right up to the time of Augustine? What about the hundreds of warnings in the Bible that teach that a person must have faith to be saved and the fruit of faith to know that they are saved?

To answer Mr. Stanley’s questions about faith and doubt, Jesus said that if we had the faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains.  It does not take a lot of real faith to be saved. The question is, do we have any? Moreover, true faith does not spend its’ time introspectively looking at itself. It is too concerned with doing the will of the Father. It is the faith of the  Gnostic who would  look inward for confirmation. True faith looks outward at its fruit. The fruit does not make the tree, but  it sure tells you what kind of tree it is.

Watch the following video to see what the early Christians believed about this subject

 

Wrangling About Words

Wrangling About Words

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm” 1Tim 1:5-7

When I read material written by evangelicals about salvation, my mind often goes into a tailspin. They talk about salvation by “faith alone”, yet the bible only uses that expression one time and  claims that it is not true (James 2:24). The Bible simply says that we are saved by faith.  Why add the “alone” to the equation?  I am sure that many people add alone to the equation because they believe it clarifies what the Bible teaches on salvation.  However, the question is does it clarify or does it just confuse the issue?

Before we dig deep into this expression “faith alone” I would like us to find the source of this expression and see if we can learn a possible reason for its introduction into the equation of evangelical salvation messages.  I think most historians would agree that it was Martin Luther the Protestant reformer who was the first to use this expression or at the very least popularized it.  If we go back and look at his reason, it may help us to understand its true meaning.

Luther lived in a time when the church had reached an absolute low. The clergy had run amok and the church had become nothing more than the handmaiden of the aristocracy.  It was using the fear of hell to oppress the people financially and politically. The atmosphere was one that you had to pay the church for your salvation by purchasing indulgences and absolution for your sins.  The church stood between the people; and God mediating salvation to the people.  In this environment, the idea of good works was reduced to buying your salvation from the Church.  This left the appearance that one could obligate God to save you, which of course is foolishness.  However, foolishness has been the norm for the masses.  What Luther wanted to do was break down everything that stood between the people and God and thus the emphasis on “faith alone”; no indulgences, absolutions or church, nothing but the faith of the individual, thus “faith alone”.

With this background information, we might ask has this concept of “faith alone” gone amok.  Well, the only way for us to answer that is to look at what the Scriptures say about faith.  As mentioned above, the bible only uses the expression “faith alone” one time and it teaches that true faith is never alone (James 2:24).  However, it does says that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  It also says that we are saved by faith apart from works, that is the works of the Law of Moses, or you could say the works of religion. In this, Luther was right when he said we are saved by “faith alone”. That is faith in Jesus apart from the works of religion.  However, some modern-day evangelicals take it much farther than Luther or the Bible.  They leave the impression that a person who believes in Jesus can do anything and live any way they wish and still be saved by a simple confession of faith uttered sometime in the past. Is this  what “faith alone” means or should we stick to the Bible and say that salvation is by Grace, through faith? Should we not try to define faith by what the Bible says about it?

I personally think that the expression by “faith alone” today is very confusing to the average person. Instead of clarifying, it confuses and darkens the true meaning of faith. In a real sense faith is never alone for by its very nature genuine faith produces the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5).  If there is no obedience, there is simply not a true faith.  The closest word we have to faith in English is the word trust.  If you trust God, it seems logical that you would trust that his will for your life is the optimal thing for you to do and humans usually do what’s best for them.  Therefore, if there is no obedience there is no true faith.  This would imply that true faith capsulate trust and obedience.

In much American religion, we see faith reduced to mental assent. By that I mean that one accepts intellectually that there is a God, a Christ, and that he died for your sins. However, this mental assent alone is the dead faith that James says that demons have, and he adds,“they shudder”.  Some have said that James talks about two kinds of faith, a living faith and a dead faith.  Actually he talks about three kinds of faith. The third kind is the faith of demons.  This faith creates fear in them to the point that they shudder.  Of course, their faith does not lead them to repentance because they hate God.  James infers that the faith of demons is greater than those who have a dead faith, which does not lead them to repentance and doing works of love.  At least  demons believe enough to be moved to fear. Of course, if I had a dead faith, I would like to believe that some metaphysical surgery could separate faith from works, so I could be saved by a dead faith. Maybe the expression “faith alone” accomplished this surgery in the mind of some.

¶Someone might ask, “When is faith obeyed enough, to become a saving faith?” Likewise, you might as well ask, “When does a person believes sufficiently enough to have a saving faith?”  In the New Testimony it appears that faith was accepted by the body of Christ when a person was  led to confessing Christ and  was baptized (Acts 2:38, 22:16). The act of baptism was a public identification with Christ and his Church. If you were not identified with Christ you were not saved (Matt 10:32). This may be why baptism was done immediately in the New Testament when people believed on Christ. Note the examples of conversions in the book of Acts (Acts 2:36-38, Acts 8:9-13, Acts 8:26-40, Acts 9:1-19, Acts 16:29-34,Acts 16:13-15,Acts 19:1-8).

For the identifying marks of a true believe read the epistle of first John.  “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).  John is the only New Testament writer that addresses the question of how a person can know if they are a true believer and he does not base it on the notion of assurance by “faith alone”. Rather John says it come from keeping the commandments of Christ and walking as he did (1Jn 2:3-6).

In Hebrews the eleventh chapter, the writer gets into what constitutes real faith.  He begins by saying, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  However, in verse six he gives us some insight to what constitutes faith “And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  In this Scripture, we see three ingredients of true faith. The first is mental acceptance, which is an intellectual belief in His existence. The second is a trust that he will reward you in the resurrection. In other words, you believe his promises as Abraham did (Rom 4). The finally ingredient is being earnest in seeking him and his will.  To be earnest is to be sincere and diligent in seeking and doing his will “Seek first His Kingdom”.  The Hebrew writer goes on in Chapter eleven to give a number of examples of what real faith looks like in actual man and woman. After reading the chapter you come away with the image that real faith is a dynamic force that moves men to action for God.  Read the chapters then look at our churches, filled with people with little or no real change or power in their lives, filled with emotions that are paraded as actual faith and yet few good works to support its claim.

However, the scripture says that it is impossible to please God without a true faith and that faith constitutes trust, the obedience of faith and a will that is seeking the heart of God.  To reduce faith to a one-time confession of intellectual beliefs or just a mental assent to some facts is to teach a false gospel that is not taught in the New Testament. Watch out for the “faith alone” doctrine.

Is Repentance Moral Reform? Acts 2:38

Is Repentance Moral Reform? Acts 2:38

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”Acts 2:38

The question I want us to focus on is, Does “to repent” in Acts 2:38 mean moral reform or something else? I have heard it taught as moral reform or as simply a turning to God. However, there are some problems with both interpretations. First, it would seem unlikely that the Apostle Peter would tell devout Jews that they needed to reform morally or turn to God. In the context of Acts 2:38, repentance or turning would seem to mean turning to Christ or to believing on Christ. In essence, Peter was telling his audience simply to believe in Jesus. This would echo the words of Jesus to His disciples in John 14:1, “You believe in God believe also in me.”

However, the text seems to indicate that a necessary part of this turning to God includes baptism or what we might call a bodily and public expression of this turning or repentance. Baptism then would be viewed as the initiation act that puts a person into Christ where His blood cleanses from sin and where one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Rom 6:1-3, Gal 3:26,27).

It is also important to note that Peter’s statement is a commandment not a request. Man left God by breaking a commandment, and he must returns by keeping a commandment. Therefore, he is commanded to believe on Jesus or believe the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8). Adam’s sin began in his heart and was consummated in his outward disobedience. In like manner, man returns to God by believing and acting out his faith in baptism and a life that bears the fruit of repentance (Acts 26:20). This is why Paul uses faith and baptism as synonymous. “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ (Gal 3:26-27 ASV).

We can summarize the teaching of Acts 2:38 by saying that God commands two things: faith in Christ and baptism into Christ. These two acts constitute turning toward God (Acts 3:19). To those who turn to God by belief and baptism, God promises two things: the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It would be fair to ask the question, Does faith and baptism in themselves remit sin? Absolutely not; nothing but the free action of a forgiving God can do that. Faith-baptism simply puts a person into Christ where one has access to the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, both of which are in Christ (Eph 1:7, Rom 6:3).