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09-17-2009, 05:52 AM
| | "Are You Saved?" If Only!
. . Another article from This Rock magazine for your consideration: "Are You Saved?" If Only! By Tim Staples
"Do you know you’re saved so that if you were to die right now, heaven would be absolutely certain for you?" This "all-important" question is designed to bait [some Christians] into an ambush. When I speak at conferences around the country, I often ask the attendees how many have been asked that question by a Fundamentalist or Evangelical: Usually, over half of my Catholic audience raises a hand.
If the Catholic responds as any good Catholic would by declaring he cannot—apart from a special revelation from God—have metaphysical (or absolute) certainty concerning his salvation, the Protestant then springs his biblical trap, 1 John 5:13: "I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." Next he tells the Catholic that if he will but "confess with [his] lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in [his] heart that God raised him from the dead, [he] will be saved" (Rom 10:9-10). All we need do is confess Jesus as Lord, and salvation is assured. We can know it with certainty. Salvation is guaranteed regardless of anything we may do or not do in the future. What a deal! The Catholic Two-Step Response Step One:
The Greek word for knowledge (Gk. eideitei) in 1 John 5:13 does not necessarily equate to absolute certainty. We use the verb know the same way in English. For example, I may say I know I am going to get an A on my Greek exam tomorrow. Does that mean I have metaphysical certainty of this? Not at all. What I mean and what the verb know can be used to indicate is that I have confidence that I will get an A on my test tomorrow because I have studied the material thoroughly and I know it well.
The context of 1 John makes it abundantly clear that this is how "knowledge" is being used in 1 John 5:13. In the next two verses, John draws a parallel between the certainty we have concerning our salvation and the certainty we have when we petition God in prayer: "And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him."
Does this mean we have absolute certainty we will receive what we ask for when we make requests of God in prayer? Obviously not! John says we can have "confidence," but not absolute certainty. We cannot always know with strict certainty that our request is truly "according to his will." Moreover, Psalm 66:18 informs us: "If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." And 1 John 3:22 says, ". . . we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him." Can we always be certain we have not "cherished iniquity" in our hearts, or that we have not done anything that may have displeased the Lord? Step Two:
Our salvation is contingent upon many things according to the Bible. This indicates the certainty of our salvation is not absolute. Just a few examples include 1 John 1:8-9: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The text says we will be forgiven if. Thus, the sobering truth is: Unconfessed sin will not be forgiven. And the Bible is very clear that no sin can enter into heaven (see Hb 1:13; Rv 21:8-9, 27).
I have heard it said that if is "the biggest little word" in the English dictionary. Well, Scripture has lots of ifs. John, for example, also says: "Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life" (1 Jn 2:24-25).
This passage is plain. Our eternal life is contingent upon our choosing to abide in God. Can we choose the opposite? Absolutely! John goes on to explain: "No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. He who commits sin is of the devil . . . No one born of God commits sin . . ." (1 Jn 3:6-9).
On the surface, this text seems odd. We have already heard John say that everyone who is born of God does sin. Indeed, "all" sin. Yet, here he says those who are born of God do not sin. Is John contradicting himself? No: John makes a distinction between mortal and venial sins in this same epistle. In 1 John 5:16-17, John gives us remarkably plain definitions of both mortal and venial sins. "If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal . . . All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal."
In this context, we can reasonably conclude the one who is born of God does not commit mortal sin. If he were to do so, he would be "cut off" from the body of Christ and would need to be restored via confession to a state of grace (Cf. Gal 5:4, Eph 3:3-6, Jn 20:21-23). Three more texts about the contingency of salvation bolster the argument:
The Evangelical Counter
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-2: Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. (See also Matthew 24:44-51; Luke 12:41-46; Romans 11:22; Hebrews 3:6;14; Revelation 2:10; 25-26; 3:1-5; 22:18-19, for many more "ifs" and contingency clauses.)
- Colossians 1:21-23: And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard . . .
- 2 Peter 2:20-22: For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first . . . It has happened to them according to the true proverb, the dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.
In response, the Protestant apologist will sometimes say these texts do not indicate one who was truly saved could actually lose his salvation. The one who, in the end, did not continue with the Lord, never really knew the Lord in the first place. He only knew about the Lord. But this line of reasoning does not hold up under scrutiny. In 2 Peter 2, the Greek word used for knowledge is epignosei. This word means "knowledge," but it denotes an experiential knowledge. This text is very clear that the persons referred to have "escaped the pollutions of the world" through this "experiential knowledge" of Jesus. Only a personal relationship with Jesus can have this effect. Merely knowing about Jesus cannot do that. Moreover, the image Peter uses in verse 22 is of the sow having been washed in water. Water is the symbol Peter uses for baptism in 1 Peter 3:20-21. The connection seems obvious. The sow—female pig—which had been cleansed represents a person cleansed from sin; the sow returning to the mud represents the Christian returning to sin.
When seen in the fuller context of 2 Peter, this point becomes unmistakable. In 2 Peter 1:2-4, Peter begins with a description of Christians:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge [epignosei, experiential knowledge once again] of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge [epignosei] of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.
One cannot help but see the parallels between these two texts. The same Greek words, epignosei, apophugentes, "having escaped from," and a form of kosmos or "world," are used to describe what Christians have been freed from, as well as to describe the one who then goes back to his old ways and ends up worse than he was before he ever knew Jesus.
These are just a few texts among the scores we could examine, but the bottom line is Scripture is crystal-clear on this point: Once saved does not mean always saved. In Matthew 6:15, Jesus tells us that "if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." It does not matter how "born again" one may be or how many experiences one has had, if he does not forgive others, he will not be forgiven, according to the text. And remember—as we have seen—no sin can enter into heaven (cf. Hb 1:13, Rv 21:27). Further, the Bible says we can "fall from grace" (Gal 5:1-5, Heb 12:14-16), be "cut off" from the vine from which we receive divine life (Jn 15:1-6, Rom 11:18-22), have our names removed from the Lamb’s book of life (Rv 22:19), and it assures us over and over again that if we commit certain sins and we do not repent of them, we will not go to heaven (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-11, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3-5, Rv 21:6-8). Not Once, But Many Times
But what about Romans 10:9-10? Doesn’t the Bible say if you believe in your heart and confess Jesus with your mouth you shall be saved? Yes it does, but that doesn’t mean we need only confess faith in Christ one time. The Bible uses the same Greek word for confess, homologeitai, in multiple places and emphasizes we must continue to confess Christ if we are going to be finally saved. For example, in Matthew 10:22, 32 Jesus says, "You will be hated by all because of my name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.. . . Therefore everyone who confesses me before men, I will also confess him before my father who is in heaven. . . ." (NAB). The context here is one of holding fast to our confession until death (see also 2 Tm 2:12 and Heb 4:14; 10:23-26).
Finally, confessing Christ is done not only in word, but also in deed: "If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tm 5:8).
Notice, the man who neglects his family for selfish pursuits denies Christ in his actions. And as we have seen, the Bible records in many places extensive lists of sins whereby we can deny Christ, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God." Scripture never says the saved can do these things and still go to heaven.
Last edited by CatholicCrusader : 09-17-2009 at 05:54 AM.
09-17-2009, 12:14 PM
| | Re: "Are You Saved?" If Only!
Terry~ Excellent post. I'm hearing you on this subject. It seems perfectly sensible to me, and runs in line quite well with what I've always believed: If you love Him, you will naturally seek to do what is right in His eyes, and you will want to "work" for Him in life, in all you do. If you sin, you will be sorry, and seek His forgiveness. Then you begin again in your efforts to remain "spotless." You can't go thru the motions of being saved, murder someone in cold blood, be unrepentant, and still expect to enter the Kingdom--as someone once told me they, in fact, could do. If we love Him, we seek to obey in all things. I worry that, by ignorance, I may not know all things I must obey. (?!) That is why I try to remain open to new teaching. ~Nancy
09-17-2009, 11:57 PM
| | Re: "Are You Saved?" If Only!
Many dear souls think that they have been born again because they have joined the church and have been baptized. Every saved person ought to join the church and be baptized. But joining a church and being baptized does not make one a Christian. Water baptism is not designed to give birth to your soul. Only God can give birth to a soul. Water baptism is a symbol, and is designed to picture death, burial, and resurrection. Remember that water baptism made no change in Judas Iscariot, neither in Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9.24). The only change these men had was a change of clothes! There must be a change in heart in order to be saved.
Without Bible assurance of your salvation you could neither be happy nor useful. How could you enjoy something you did not know you had, and how could you be happy unless you knew that you were eternally saved? You could never be happy with the thought that you are saved now, but that you might be lost tomorrow. My beloved, there is quite a difference in holding on to a limb and in being in the limb. Born again people are not holding on to Christ: they are in Christ. Read Rom. 8:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20.
The word “know” is a very interesting word in the New Testament. Forty-two times the word know or its equivalent appears in I John alone. This epistle was written that we might know some things, and the new birth is one of them. In 1 John 2:12 God says: “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.” Now if there is not some way of knowing that our sins are forgiven us then these words have no meaning. In this epistle John goes on to show how you may know that you are born again.
1.We know by our faith in Him, In I John 5:1 God says: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one loveth him loveth him also that is begotten of Him.” The last part of this verse is the result of the first part. The first part of this verse has to do with our faith in Christ, which gives birth to our soul.
Christ is Prophet. Priest, and King and as such He is able “to save unto the ‘uttermost’ all that come unto God by Him seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25).”
You will observe from I John 5:1 that we are to believe that Jesus is the Christ. He could not be our Jesus (God-Saviour) unless He were the Christ. He could not reveal the way of salvation except He were a prophet. He could not work out that salvation, except He were a priest. He could not confer that salvation upon us, except He were a King. He could not be prophet, Priest, and king, except He were the Christ. Christ is the only begotten Son by generation: we become begotten sons of God by regeneration and adoption.
Paul says I know whom I have believed and not what I have believed. You see, salvation is in a person and not in a system, or a creed, or in a ceremony. Yes, salvation is in a person, and that person is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. We know by the witness of the Spirit. I John 5:10 God says: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” The witness is God’s Spirit dwelling in us and witnessing that Jesus is the Lord; the Christ; the Son of God. So the Witness is God’s Spirit bearing witness with our human spirit that we have been born again. In Gal. 4:6 we read: “And because ye are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Here we see that believers receive the Spirit of Adoption, “putting them upon the duty of prayer, and enabling them in prayer to eye God as a Father” (Matthew Henry). So we become sons of God by our believing in Christ. If we do not have the witness of God’s Spirit in our hearts then our salvation is very doubtful. (See Rom. 8::9).
3. We know by the witness of God’s love. We read in I John 3:14 that “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” If you do not love the people of God, then it is very doubtful if you have been born again.
The Divine love of God is an “exotic plant that is brought down from the throne of God and placed in all regenerate hearts” (Charles Spurgeon). This imparted love will make you love people who are not lovable. Christian religion will make you love your enemies: it takes an inwrought Divine love to do this. This is where Christianity jumps by Mohammedism. Buddhism. Zoroasterism. Confucianism, and all others.
This Divine love is the Christian’s badge of identity to the world, and is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Please read John 13:35, Rom. 5:5 and I John 1:7-8.
4. We know by the witness of overcoming. There are two classes in the New Testament: Overcomers and the overcome. The unsaved are overcome by the devil, while the saved are overcomers. How do they overcome? By their faith in Christ and by the blood of the Lamb. In I John 5:4-5 we read: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” Then in Rev. 12:11: “And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb.” The Lamb is Christ.
5. We know by the witness of God’s word. God cannot lie, and He says in I John 5:1 that if we believe that Jesus is “the Christ” that we are born of God. God is faithful, and He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. (Heb. 13:5.6)
In John 5:24 we have another promise: “Verily. Verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death into life.” I believe God’s word, and God says that His word will stand forever (Luke 21:33; Pet. 1:23, 25).
09-18-2009, 04:56 PM
| | Re: "Are You Saved?" If Only!
Originally Posted by preachergirl
Alright Lewis...Islam...just a pun.
LOL... I like that pun.
I think I am going to use it... if you don't mind? I really liked your post by the way.
09-23-2009, 01:31 AM
| | Re: "Are You Saved?" If Only!
I came across the article while doing a search. It is long and I am sorry for that but it is a very good read.
Eternal Security of the Believer
By Dr. Harry Ironside
Can A Believer Ever Be Lost?
It has been announced that I will speak to you on a subject which has occasioned a good deal of controversy among the people of God. I want to take as a starting point--not exactly as a text, because we shall be looking at a good many Scriptures--Romans 8:38-39: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." This is the inspired answer to the question of verse 35: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" That is, once we have been justified by faith, who is there, what power is there, that can separate from the love of Christ? And the answer, how full, how clear, not a shadow, not a doubt, not a question left, when the apostle says that neither death nor life shall separate! Can you think of anything which is neither included in death nor in life? Neither death nor life shall separate!
No unseen powers can separate the believer from Christ, "neither angels, nor principalities, nor powers." These terms are used again and again in the New Testament, particularly in the Epistles, for angelic hosts, good and evil. When our Savior rose from the dead He spoiled principalities and powers, that is, He defeated all the hosts of evil led by Satan; and so we may take it that the angels referred to here are good angels, and the principalities and powers are possible evil angels. But there is nothing that good angels would do and nothing that evil angels can do which will result in the separation of the believer from Christ. And then further he says, "neither things present nor things to come." Again let me put the question, Can you think of any experience through which a believer might ever go which is neither a thing present nor a thing to come? And the Holy Ghost says that neither things present nor things to come shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ. As though that were not enough, He speaks in a more general way when He says that neither "Height nor depth (nothing in heaven, nothing in hell), nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." It looks to me as though we are safe if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eternal Security: Its Meaning
When we speak of the eternal security of the believer, what do we mean? We mean that once a poor sinner has been regenerated by the Word and the Spirit of God, once he has received a new life and a new nature and has been made partaker of the divine nature, once he has been justified from every charge before the throne of God, it is absolutely impossible that that man should ever again be a lost soul. Having said that, let me say what we do not mean when we speak of the eternal security of the believer. We do not mean that it necessarily follows that if one professes to be saved, if he comes out to the front in a meeting, shakes the preacher's hand, and says he accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, that that person is eternally safe. It does not mean that if one joins a church or makes a profession of faith, is baptized, becomes a communicant, and takes an interest in Christian work, that that person is forever secure. It does not mean that because one manifests certain gifts and exercises these gifts in Christian testimony, that that person is necessarily eternally secure.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said to the people of His day, as recorded in Matthew 7:21-23: "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." Such people then may have been very active in what is called Christian work--they have preached, they have cast out demons, that is, their influence has been such that men and women have found deliverance from satanic power through their ministrations in the name of Jesus, they have professed with their lips, they have accomplished many wonderful works, but they are found in that day among the lost, and when they plead their great activity and their earnestness in Christian testimony, the Lord says to them, "I never knew you." Notice, He does not say to them, "I used to know you, but you have forfeited My favor and I do not know you any longer." He says, "I never knew you."
The Sheep Of Christ
You remember how He speaks of His own in John 10:27-30: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one." Of His own He says, "I know them." Of these others, in spite of all their activity, in spite of all their accomplishments, He says in the day of judgment, "I never knew you." That is a very solemn thing. That answers a question that is frequently put to us. I do not know how many times I have had individuals come to me with a hypothetical case like this: "Suppose a man who joined the church, who professed to be saved, who for a number of years was a very active Christian worker, perhaps a Sunday school teacher, perhaps an elder or a deacon in the church, maybe a minister, but after some years of apparent consistent Christian living and helpfulness in testimony he turns his back on it all, returns to the world, utterly repudiates Christianity, and now denies in toto the gospel he once professed. How does that square with your doctrine of the eternal security of the believer?" That does not touch the matter at all. The apostle John tells us how we are to understand a case like that. He says in 1 John 2:19, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us," or literally, "That they were not altogether of us." That is, it is possible to do all the things that I have spoken of and yet never be regenerated. It is quite possible to join a church, to make a Christian profession; it is quite possible to observe the Christian ordinances, to teach and to preach, and yet never be born again. If one teaches and preaches the truth, it will produce good results and will do men good whether the teacher or the preacher be real or not, for it is the truth that God uses. Of course He can use the truth to better advantage when it is proclaimed by a holy man living to the glory of God than when it is proclaimed by a hypocrite. Nevertheless, God uses His truth regardless of who may proclaim it, and that explains how people may do mighty works in the name of Christ and yet never be born again.
Christ's One Offering
When we say that the believer in the Lord Jesus is eternally secure, we base it upon a number of lines of scriptural testimony. In the first place, we rest it upon the perfection of Christ's one offering upon the cross. Personally, I never can understand how thoughtful people, taught by the Holy Spirit of God, can carefully read the Epistle to the Hebrews and not see that throughout that Epistle the writer is contrasting the many sacrifices offered under law with the one sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. That to which he particularly calls attention is this: under law every time an Israelite sinned, he needed a new sin offering, and every year the nation had to celebrate the great day of atonement when a new offering was presented to God for the people. Why? Because those sacrifices could never take away sin, they simply covered sin for the time being. But we are told in Hebrews 10 that when the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world and offered Himself without spot to God, the effect of His sacrifice was eternal. Verse 14 makes this clear: "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Perfected for how long? "Oh," says somebody, "as long as they are faithful." No, that is not what it says. "He hath perfected for ever." Why? Because the sacrifice is all-efficacious.
I am sure my brethren who deny the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer do not realize that in so doing they are putting a slight upon the finished work of Christ, they are reducing the sacrifice of Christ practically to the level of the offerings of bulls and goats in the Old Testament dispensation. I am sure they do not mean to do that, for they love their Lord just as truly as I trust I love Him, and they do not want to dishonor Him. But they are afraid that this doctrine will lead people to be careless about their lives, and therefore they stress the possibility of a man losing his salvation after he has once been justified by faith. But they do not pursue that to its logical conclusion; they do not see that it is a practical denial of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved eternally because the sacrifice of Christ abides.
When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ and put my trust in Him, not only were all my sins up to the day of my conversion forgiven, but all my sins were put away for eternity. When a young Christian, I was taught something like this: I thought when I was converted that all my sins, from the time of dawning accountability up to that night when I put my trust in the Lord Jesus, were put away, and now God had given me a new start, and if I could only keep the record clean to the end of my life, I would get to heaven; but if I did not keep it clean, I ceased to be a Christian and I had to get converted all over again. Every time this happened the past was under the blood, but I had to keep the record clean for the future. What a God-dishonoring view of the atonement of Christ that is! If only those of my sins that were committed up to the moment of my conversion were put away by the atoning blood of Jesus, what possible way would there be by which sins I have confessed after that could be dealt with? The only ground on which God could forgive sin is that Jesus settled all upon the cross, and when I trust Him, all that He has done goes down to my account.
What Of Future Sins?
A lady came to me one day and said, "I do not understand you there. I can understand that Christ died for the sins I committed up to the night of my conversion, but do you mean to tell me that Christ died for my future sins?"
I said, "How many of your sins were in the past when Christ died on the cross?"
She looked puzzled for a moment, and then the light broke in, and she said, "How foolish I have been! Of course they were all future when Jesus died for me. I had not committed any of them."
God saw all your sins, and He laid upon Jesus all your iniquity. Therefore, when you trusted Him, you were justified freely from all things. Do you say, "Does it make no difference then if a believer sins?" That is another question, and it would take a whole evening to go into that, but here is the point: the moment you trust the Lord Jesus as your Savior, your responsibility as a sinner having to do with the God of judgment is ended for eternity, but that same moment your responsibility as a child having to do with a Father in heaven begins. Now if as a child you should sin against your Father, God will have to deal with you about that, but as a father and not as a judge. That is a line of truth that stands by itself and does not contradict what I am now teaching. It explains some things that bewilder people when this doctrine is brought before them.
The Spirit's Perseverance
In the second place, we base the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer upon the perseverance and omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit of God. Look at Philippians 1:6. Writing to these saints, the apostle says, when he thanked them for their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Do you see that? Who began the good work in you if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus? The Holy Spirit of God did. It was He who convicted you of sin; it was He who led you to put your trust in Christ; it was He who through the Word gave you the witness that you were saved; it is He who has been conforming you to Christ since you first trusted the Lord Jesus. Having thus taken you up in grace, the Holy Spirit has a definite purpose in view. He is eventually going to conform you fully to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He never begins a work that He does not intend to finish. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." If when you were a poor sinner the Holy Spirit had power sufficient to break down your opposition to God and to bring to an end your unbelief and rebellion, do you think for one moment that He does not have power enough to subdue your will as a believer and to carry on to completion the work that He began?
People say, "I see you believe in that old Baptist doctrine of 'once in grace, always in grace.'" Or another says, "I understand you hold that old Presbyterian idea of 'the final perseverance of the saints.'" I do not know why this should be called either Baptist or Presbyterian, only to the extent that Baptists and Presbyterians agree with the Book, and the Word of God clearly shows that once God takes us up in grace nothing can separate us from the love of Christ so that evidently the expression, "once in grace, always in grace," is a perfectly correct one. But, on the other hand, I am not so enthusiastic about the other expression, "the perseverance of the saints." I believe in it; I believe that all saints--all really belonging to God--will persevere to the end, for the Book tells me, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13), and if a man starts out and makes a profession but gives it all up, he will never be saved, because he was never born again to begin with, he was never truly changed by grace divine. On the other hand, the reason he endures to the end is not because of any particular perseverance of his own. What I believe in, and what the Word of God clearly teaches, is the perseverance of the Holy Spirit. When He begins a work, He never gives up until it is completed. That is our confidence.
Experience And Faith
Forty-three years ago the Spirit of God in grace led me to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. I have had many ups-and-downs since then, as the old folks used to sing in a camp meeting I attended:
I am sometimes up and sometimes down,
But still my soul am heavenly bound.
I have had varied experiences, but the wonderful thing is this, the Holy Spirit of God has never given me up. And if at times I have been wayward and willful and did not immediately bow before God and repent of my waywardness and willfulness, then I found I had to come under the rod, my Father's rod, and He whipped me into subjection until I came to the place where I was ready to confess by failure and be restored to fellowship with Him. But I was just as truly His child while getting a good whipping as I was when the effects of it had restored me to fellowship. Your child does not cease to be your child when you have him over your knee and are using the slipper on him. It is because he is your child and because you want him to grow up to be a well-behaved boy that you do that. And so we believe in the perseverance of the Holy Spirit of God, that having begun the work He will carry it on to completion.
In the third place, we base the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer upon the fact of the new creation. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." That verse may be rendered like this: Therefore if any man be in Christ, this is new creation; old things have passed away, and all things have become new.
What do we mean by new creation? Just this: we were once in the place of death; we were once utterly lost and ruined. How did we get there? Follow me now. It was not by any act of our own. Do you say, "I did not get into the place of spiritual death by any act of my own?" No, you did not. Do you say, "I was not lost because of any act of my own?" No, you were not. But why were you numbered among the lost? Because you were born into the world a member of the old creation of which Adam the first was the head, and every child of Adam's race comes into the world lost and is under sentence of death. And so we read in verse 14, "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead."
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