Chapter 20, Continued from Chapter 19
“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
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART C’: Which believer does not risk losing his salvation… (#4)
- 1. The “strait gate”
In one of my previous chapters we have examined the main characteristics of the true Christian. In this chapter and before I continue exposing other arguments concerning those who have responded positively to the Father’s invitation in order to have their salvation sure and certain, I deem necessary to refer to one of the best descriptions of the true Christian life. I call it: “The narrow gate”.
Matthew and Luke speak about the narrow gate in the following terms:
- “Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Mat.7: 13); and
- “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).
“Strait gate” (narrow gate) means that the door or the way which leads to salvation is narrow and one cannot enter through it easily with the baggage of bad habits, desires and ambitions of his old life. In reality, our Lord Jesus refers to the difficulty that many have to make the good choice to GIVE Him their HEART (their will) unreservedly, take their cross, deny themselves and follow (obey) HIM. Those who have not entered at the strait gate will never be able to become “elect”. They neglect what the Lord solemnly declared! The following verses give an excellent description of the “strait gate” life:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-26; Mark 8:34 and Mat.16:24). Consequently, loses his life he who does not deny himself, does not take up his cross to follow Him and he who is ashamed of Him and of His words!
A short parenthesis: In the spirit of many there is an ambiguity as to the meaning of the phrase “take up his cross”. The answer is very simple: it means that I accept to do with pleasure and not grudgingly whatever God wants me to do or to suffer in my life. This is not possible if you do not love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment… (Mark 12:30). In other words, to yield yourself to God, as one that is alive from the dead (Rom.6:13)! Also, it is not clear to many the meaning of the phrase “deny himself”. The meaning of this expression is very simple: One dethrones himself and enthrones Christ! I deny my position and my rights and I yield them to the service of Another… and in favor of my fellow men, in order to serve them. Now I live not for myself, but for Jesus Christ and for my fellow human beings. Let us close this parenthesis and let us return to our subject!
- 2. A serious warning
I deem necessary to include in this part of our study a very important passage from the epistle to the Hebrews:
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst you became companions of them that were so used. For you had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward. For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back to perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb.10:22-39).
A bit further, we see that the author comes back and says: “See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven” (Heb.12:25). Elsewhere, he has written: “They profess that they know God; BUT in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate” (Tit.1:16). In that category we may include certain church people who are considered Christians just because they go to church since their youth and remain in it traditionally up to the end of their life, but, in reality, they have never truly passed through the narrow gate by a choice of their heart true and irrevocable and in full knowledge of what they do!
- 3. Christ’s work and the condition of salvation
The work that Christ has done, by His sacrifice on the cross, is more than enough for our salvation, for our everlasting life AND for the safety of those who REPENT SINCERELY AND WHO TRUST HIM WHOLEHEARTEDLY! Yes, for those who do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Rom.8:4). Yes, for those who prove by their life that they truly believe on Him. This is why they are ready to suffer because of His name, present their whole being to their Savior and resist sin to blood. They know in Whom they have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which they have committed to Him (2Tim.1:12). What have they committed to Him? They have committed to Him their will, their life as well as the protection of their salvation. They do know that they belong to His sheep! The Father of Christ, who gave them to Jesus Christ, is greater than all and for such Christians there is no danger to be plucked out of His Father’s hand (Joh.10:29) nor to draw back to perdition.
Let me reinforce this principle of security by the following verses: “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all your commandments” (Ps.119:2-6). When men love what is true and just with all their heart and live in the fear of the Lord, then the Holy Spirit opens their heart or their spiritual eyes as in the case of Lydia (Ac.16:14), and of the ‘honest’ criminal on the cross (Luke 23:40-43) and of the two disciples walking towards Emmaus (Luke 24:31). He opens their spiritual eyes in order either to be saved and/or to be edified (for example Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene and others).
I was deeply impressed by the first part of verse Eze.43:11, which says: “And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof[…]” When repentance enters in a man’s heart then God opens his mind, begins to teach him, give him light and spiritual insight!
Let me use some examples of believers who are safe from all points of view and for always:
- Those that the Father gave to His Son (John, chapters: 5-7, 10, 14 and 17 and other similar Bible verses);
- Those that both the Father and the Son keep and protect;
- Those in whose heart God has given His laws in their hearts and written them in their minds (10:16 and Heb.8:10).
- Those who by a willful choice have entered in by the strait or narrow gate, and have chosen the narrow path, which is mixed with many tribulations (Mat.7:14, Acts14:22 and Tim.3:12) but which leads to life now and for eternity. (Great is the importance of a correct and good beginning, according to the Gospel!)
- Those who have drunk of the water that Jesus has given them and who have really quenched their thirst and which water has become a well of water springing up into everlasting life…, will they go back to the desert where there is no water? (John 4:14). In addition, Jesus said that he that comes to Him shall never hunger, and he that believes in Him shall never thirst (John 6:35).
- Those whose soul is held by the Lord in life and suffers not their feet to be moved (Ps.66:9) and Who preserves the souls of His saints (Prov.2:8 and Ps.97:10).
- Those in whom God has put His love and His holy fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Him (Jer.32:40); and
- Those in whom He has entrusted His Holy Spirit.
Yes, they are safe in every way and for always.
The true believer cannot support, and cannot tolerate sin in his life. He hates it, he abhors it: “He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother” (1Joh.3:8-10). The apostle John has also written: “We know that whoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not” (1Joh.5:18). In addition, the true child of God honors the Word of God and obeys the Word of God. He does not twist it!
- “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1John 5:4)
- “And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1John 5:11-13).
- “And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever” (John 8:35). For the servant, lack of security! For the son, security!
Let me repeat in other terms what I have already written! The true child of God is not excluded (exempted) from committing a sin, but he does not remain in sin, he does not continue practicing that sin: This is why he is safe! In addition, and primarily because Jesus Christ and the Father protect him! The true child of God has no guile in him: “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Ps.32:2)
If we continue reading this Psalm we will find out that it has to do with a man who has confessed sincerely his sin: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity I covered not; I said, I will confess my transgressions unto Jehovah, and *thou* forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Ps.32:5 – Darby).
Let us not be mistaken! Our straightforwardness, the inexistence of guile, our merciful spirit, the lack of cupidity, our righteousness, etc., protect us but partly. On the contrary, God’s power protects true believers COMPLETELY. God is with true believers! Who or what can separate them from Him? Can we forget that Jesus had prayed that Peter’s faith should not fail? Was Jesus’ prayer ineffective? Was His prayer without results? Why did He pray for Peter? Because He knew that Peter, despite his weakness, was sincere, he was honest and that he loved and respected Jesus! If such virtues do not exist in us, then the Lord will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the WHEAT into His garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable (Luke 3:8-17). God cannot protect those whose heart is divided; who walk disorderly and have not accepted Jesus Christ as the LORD of their life and do not respect His Word. When I say “Lord of their life” I mean that the Lord has the ABSOLUTE PRIORITY in everything they think, say and do! HE orders and they obey! They do not do anything without having examined if it is not according to the will of God! Please notice the following verses:
- “The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. “The LORD preserves all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy (Ps.145:18-20).
Conclusion: He who has made the good choice and has truly entered at the strait gate; he who has denied himself; he who has taken up his cross and followed Christ and has become a true disciple; he who has tasted that the Lord is good and has enjoyed the endless pleasures of Christ’s love and peace that surpasses knowledge, will he ever abandon that wonderful life (Ps.16:11)? Will he turn back to go out through the straight gate? In other words, He who has satisfied the hunger and quenched the thirst of his soul when he met Jesus, will he go back to the desert of this world to quench his thirst and satisfy the hunger of his soul…? The answer is: “NEVER”!
To be continued…