11. SALVATION IN CHRIST AND THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER (Chapter 11).

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Chapter 11 Continued from Chapter 10

 

“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)

An Email Ministry for the Glory of God

A series of Bible studies on

SALVATION IN CHRIST

AND

THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER

 

PART B’: Which believer risks losing his salvation… (#2)

DANGERS OF LOSING ONE’S SALVATION: « Case studies »… (Continued)

ΜΠΑΛΤΑΤΖΗΣ-Σειρά Βιβλικών μελετών (11).

Now we will examine certain other cases:

4.  “Enemies of the cross”

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things(Php.3:18-19). The apostle Paul spoke about many ‘Christians’ and most probably about ‘Christian workers’! He was weeping for people, who were considered as Christians and especially Christian workers but who, in reality, were living an inconsistent or immoral life and were working for their belly, for their own glory and who minded earthly things.

            He does not accuse them as unbelievers or as non believers in the Gospel of the cross! They did not deny or despise the doctrine of the cross, but their ‘policies’ rendered them enemies of the cross and the name of Christ was blasphemed! Paul declares that their end is destruction! They were creating damage to the Church of Christ and were giving ground to speak despitefully against the Gospel. Such people existed in the days of Paul! Nowadays, to our eyes, such people do they exist? If yes, do we weep or do we simply consider them as weak Christians who need some spiritual support or a revival? May God have mercy on us!

Yes, Paul was weeping as he was seeing certain people walking in a way that rendered them enemies of the cross: Christian workers, enemies of the cross? Yes, enemies of the cross because their God was their belly, their glory in their shame and who minded earthly things… (Php.3:19 and Rom.16:18). He was weeping because they were destroying their own soul; they “harmed” Christianity and were giving an opportunity to the enemies of the Lord to speak disdainfully against Christians! An immoral or materialistic life is animosity toward the cross of Jesus because He died to make us holy and pious. Such a life shows that their heart was not committed and that they lived in known sin, that they did not love Christ and that they were absorbed by worldly affairs.

 

The various religions, Islam, Buddhism, etc. are, indeed, enemies of the cross! The worst enemies of the cross are, nevertheless, those that profess to be Christians but practice sin! Of course, there are others who are afraid and ashamed of taking an open position in favor of Christ; they give their vote in favor of… Barabbas and deliver Christ to be crucified…; for political or personal reasons, or for an economic or social profit, put on equal footing the teaching and the mission of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Tit.2:13) with the teachings of Mohamed or Buddha, etc.

In the same way, enemies of the cross are those workers of the Gospel who remove from their “gospel” the cross of Christ, the blood of Christ, the “rights” of God on their own life and on the life of other believers! Yes, people whose religion is just a pure and simple ritual mixed with erroneous traditions. Those who use only part of Christ’s words and avoid speaking about guilt, repentance, the cross of Christ, the blood of Christ, and about eternal destruction, but they mix philosophy, psychology, sociology and give false security and comfort! They say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us the right things; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits (Isa.30:10) in order to make us feel good… just because people have itching ears (2Tim.4:3). They belong to the group of those who are deceiving and are being deceived. May the Lord prevent us from such things on time, before it is too late! Paul knew very well that every doctrine that was not embedded in the cross of Jesus would lead people astray. How sad it is to see that the cross of Jesus, His resurrection and the invaluable blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and for our redemption are, in general, neglected or avoided and so rarely preached!

We understand that the enemies of the cross, about whom Paul was speaking, were ‘Christians or Christian workers’, not rejecting in words and confession the cross and the resurrection of Christ but were living in a manner, which showed or better proved that they were enemies to the pure gospel, most probably, in the following ways:

a)  By an immoral life; b) By living in the indulgence of known sins! And, c) By a heart that had never truly been given to God. Paul was weeping over them! I repeat: Do we?

 

I suppose that many of them HAD BEGUN WELL, but later, the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, CHOKED THE WORD, and it became unfruitful (Mark 4:19).

Much harm is done to the true religion because of such BELIEVERS! Nowadays, some are accused as homosexuals or immoral, some as lovers of money, some as dictators, some as behaving like worldly diplomats without sincerity, some as “teachers of false doctrines”, some as watering down the Word of God in order either to make it ‘more attractive’ or not to be considered as ‘fundamentalists’ but as being of a “broad mind”, etc. In Christian Churches many are those who believe sincerely in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ for their sins but who have never trusted their life in Christ and have never accepted Him as the LORD of their life! On account of such people, the Gospel of our Lord and Savior is blasphemed! “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (GR.: injustice or unrighteousness). [………] Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter (NKJV+NIV), he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work(2Tim.2:19-21).

 

What should we say about other erroneous teachings? Let me mention just one: “There is no ‘everlasting destruction’ (2Thes.1:9) because God is love!” They, however, forget that the basis of God’s throne is justice. Can there be love without justice? The Bible speaks clearly about perdition, everlasting destruction…! Their mere profession and fair speeches will never save them! They glory in things of which they ought to be ashamed: To be honored by the people, to secure wealth, to enjoy the pleasures of life, etc. They are not interested in religious conversations, but are ready to spend hours on speaking about worldly and trivial things!

 

A short parenthesis: The warnings and admonitions of the Bible, for example “watch”, “take heed”, “repent”, etc., were they given in vain? By no means! Warnings are valid for everybody, but mainly for those who play with sin, who walk disorderly. The Church is not in danger only from false prophets, erroneous doctrines and/or interpretations, but she is in great danger from people who make her go to sleep by saying “peace, peace”, while there is neither security nor peace (Jer.6: 14; 8:11; Ez.13:10, 22:28). Yes, such people comfort their hearers without giving them scriptural warnings! They do not want to ‘trouble’ them by the Scriptural warnings, which denounce sin, in order not to see them leaving the church! Such workers – I repeat it – try to make them “feel good”… If we do not warn our children and our brothers and sisters against dangers, we do not love them.

 

5.  Those that live in “worries…”

When worldly cares and worries absorb a man – and especially a Christian – he is hindered from developing a spiritual life. Common daily cares when mixed with anxiety and anguish, are transformed into sin. Then his spiritual life will be eaten away as from gangrene. The result will be unavoidably an unfruitful life:

  • “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection (Luke 8:14).
  • “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19).

The basic difficulty with such believers is: Will they be saved? Are they saved, “yet as through fire” but lose their works? Will they be lost because they bring no fruit? We see in the case of the “Parable of the Sower” that their ground is good and fertile. The seed sprouts normally. There sprout also, however, some other small weeds, which are worldly cares and secret desires (lusts) that also sprout. The people of this category fear God, but worship their idols, which are but their goods, their work, or members of their family:For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Mat.6:21). That means that they have never really given totally their heart to God! Can we call them “born again Christians” those who have not yet become “disciples”, worthy of Christ, since they have not responded to Christ’s requirements in spite of the fact that they believe in the person and Christ’s sacrifice!

It is not possible to discern them right from the beginning. God reveals them in due course through their works and attitudes. Some of them pretend to be zealous Christians, either because they are ashamed that other people might see their spiritual nakedness, or because they have certain financial, social or professional relations with the brethren and/or the Church! Or even, because they have become so spiritually dead and are unable to discern their true spiritual condition.

If that “illness” develops unhindered, it may lead not only to serious health problems but also to spiritual death. A life in such a way replaces, in reality, God by an object and/or by a job and/or by a person: That is a form of idolatry! And idolaters have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (1Cor.6:9-10, 10:7, 14; Gal.5: 20; Eph.5: 5; Col.3: 5; Rev.21:8, 22:15). All these warnings were addressed to believers! Were they addressed in vain? Property, work and personal relations, which are blessings in themselves, may become the worst obstacles; they may become idols in our spiritual life. They may suffocate the good seed of God and may lead to unfruitfulness and to spiritual death. This is the reason why the Lord spoke of the cost of true religion, which has to do with self-denial and faithful cross bearing (Luke 14:26-30).

Please, pay particular attention to Luke 21:34: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares” Was it by chance or on purpose that these words were written? Worries result in idolatry, in useless mental activities and to nonsense! How many believers have forgotten this warning, and live as if their life is safe and they are not afraid of the moment of judgment before God’s throne! On the contrary, to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mat.6:33) is the key to our spiritual growth and to our spiritual productivity. It constitutes the best way of honoring God’s love and His faithfulness! We are called not to “be anxious for anything”, “anxious for nothing” (Php.4:6) because God, our Heavenly Father loves us and takes care of everything (1Pet.5:7). If we put our trust in God’s care and providence, then God’s peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ’s Jesus (Php.4:7)! Let us, therefore, commit our way to the Lord, trust in Him and HE will act for our account (Ps.37:5-6)! The only means of getting rid of this situation is sincere REPENTANCE producing works worthy of repentance before it is too late!

 

6.  Those that were “called”, who have accepted the invitation but did not conform…

Yes! People who have been called and have accepted the invitation but did not conform will be cast into the outer darkness…, according to Mat.22:9-14. Jesus concludes that parable by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mat.22:14). Do you remember the case of the man who entered without a wedding garment? It was customary for the man who made a marriage to provide garments of marriage for those whom he invited and prepared a feast. In this parable, the Master shows us that we cannot enter God’s “feast” without having accepted the garments of the righteousness He offers through Jesus Christ on the basis of the terms He has established, that is, of our repentance and authentic faith in Him! God will check who want to participate in the feast with their own “clothes” of self justification, pride and hypocrisy.

            “And he said to him, Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless” (Mat.22:12). You see there are people who want to participate in God’s salvation feast without having been “dressed up” properly! What is the proper suit? Is it not sincere repentance and faith in God, which lead to be truly born of God? Does it not, also, mean purity of heart (Μat.5:8) and a clear conscience (1Tim.1:5)? “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen (Mat.22:13-14). Verses 13 and 14 have a special importance: They help us understand that he was invited to the wedding, but he either neglected or refused to conform to the regulations of the invitation in order to be included among the chosen ones. This is the reason why he was cast into outer darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Was he saved?

This is why Paul, the apostle, exhorts believers to accept to conform to the rudimentary exigencies of repentance and faith and then to put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and long-suffering (Col.3:12). So, let us never forget that there are people who have been “called” (invited) but who have neglected to become “called, and chosen and faithful(Rev.17:14).

Do you know…

  • That only for the elect’s sake the days of the Great Tribulation shall be shortened (Mat.24:22)? His elect will be gathered together (raptured) when the trumpet will give the great sound (Mat.24:31 and Mark 13:20, 22, 27)?
  • That God will avenge only his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bears long with them! (Luke 18:7)?
  • That God will justify and bless the elect (Rom.8:33; 2Tim.2:10; 1Pet.1:2)? (We will come back to this point of the “elect”).

 

7.  “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back…”

“And Jesus said to him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Anyone who enters the Christian life has to do it with all his heart and for all his life! He who comes to Christ and whether he looks with nostalgia what he has left behind or he does not want to leave what he has and what the world offers him is not fit for the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ or nothing! Is half-hearted commitment acceptable?

Only those who have made Jesus Christ THE LORD OF THEIR LIFE (Rom.10:9) will be saved, and not those who cherish the world, or who for a piece of bread become “traitors” whether for money or for a position or for the glory that comes from men, etc. Yes, such ‘Christians’, although they know the truth and believe it, they do not obey it! Such people have they really given their heart to God?

 

Jesus refers to people who appear to have begun well (they had put their hand on the plough) but in the middle of the way they turned their eyes back to the world with secret worldly desires! Are we permitted to include in this group the case of Demas, one of Paul’s collaborators? Such people, such ‘brothers or sisters’ have they ever presented their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their reasonable worship? Have they refused to conform to this world? Are they transformed by the renewal of their mind, trying unceasingly to discern what the will of God is and obey to what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom.12:1-2)? If they go on sinning deliberately after having received the knowledge of the truth, is there still a sacrifice for their sins (Heb.10:26)? They have fallen from grace (Gal.5:4)! Are such ‘believers’ in a position to say: The world is crucified to us, and we to the world? (Gal.6:14). Are there, according to the Bible, “almost Christians”?

Should we not add them to the group of believers who hold between two opinions…? (1Kgs.18:21). May such people who hold between two opinions repent on time and take a firm stand for Jesus!

 

John BALTATZIS

baltatzis@skynet.be

 

To be continued…

ΔΙΑΔΩΣΤΕ ΤΟ ΑΡΘΡΟ ΣΕ ΦΙΛΟΥΣ ΣΑΣ