Monday, August 22, 2011

An Inclusive Response to "Once Saved, Not 'Forever' Saved"

Thank you for waiting patiently for me to respond to your comments on "Once Saved, Not 'Forever' Saved". Instead of tackling each comment separately, I have decided to respond with an all inclusive post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

After much searching through Scripture, prayer, and consideration, let me share with you my conclusions and address your comments...

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Daniel, I too believe "God, Who is soveriegn and omniscient, knows the future." He knows and searches the hearts of men (Psalm 139:1-4, John 2:24-25). He is the Creator, Ruler, and Sovereign Lord over all creation (Isaiah 40:28, Revelation 1:5). Nothing will ever surprise Him, whether it be the trials we experience (consider Job 1-2), the corruption of the church, the rise of evil rulers, natural disasters...or a person falling away from saving faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I agree with the statement "if a person professes faith at one point in their lives, but that person will not profess faith at the end of their lives, I believe God already knows that."

Hannah, you quoted Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." To this I say: absolutely! Amen and amen! I wholeheartedly believe this verse! Salvation is not earned by any good works, as Galatians 2:16 (and many other portions of Scripture) also confirms: "yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified in Christ." Now, after we are reconciled to the Father through belief in Jesus Christ, we are to do "good works" and conform our lives according to Christ's life (James 2:14-26, Romans 12:1-2, 2nd Timothy 1:9, 1st Peter 1:14-16)), as Ephesians 2:10 goes on to say, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." But that's a different topic, of course.

We were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), but God, rich in love, mercy and grace, has provided the way of salvation through the death and resurrection of His perfect, sinless Son, Jesus Christ and has made us alive in Him (1st John 4:10, Ephesians 2:4-7, John 3:16, Colossians 2:13-15). (And yes, Amy, just praying a "sinner's prayer" does not save you.) This clearly dispels "decision theology" and "making a decision for Christ", but again, that's another topic.

We cannot "keep" our salvation by good works. God is the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). "And I am sure of this, He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6) Just as our good works or "righteousness" cannot save us, we cannot keep our salvation by it. It is only by the grace of our Lord and His work on our hearts which draws us to Himself; He sanctifies us through His Word as His Spirit works on our lives. But, we can harden our hearts and reject the salvation He so freely gives. We can fall away. Our precious Lord Jesus Christ even solemnly said, "I have said all these things to keep you from falling away." (John 16:1) [Emphasis mine throughout quoted Scripture in this post.]

The Bible clearly warns us time and again of this:

"Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." 1st Corinthians 10:12

"Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard," Hebrews 2:1-3

"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to eternity." 2nd Peter 3:17-18

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons," 1st Timothy 4:1

"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful." 2nd Timothy 2:11-13

"...Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some." 2nd Timothy 2:17-18

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." Hebrews 3:12-14

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

Amy, you said "If a person 'falls from the faith', then it is evidence that he/she was never truly saved in the first place." Amy, an unsaved person cannot depart from the faith because they never had faith to begin with! As God's Word clearly says, a person who falls away from the faith previously believed, and as Jesus said in Luke 8, the cares, riches, pleasures, and trials of this life, as well as their own sinful nature, choke their faith, causing them to fall away. So to claim those who fall away from the faith weren't actually saved is not Biblically correct...or logically correct for that reason, either.

>>> "If this did mean you could lose your salvation, then it would mean when you do lose it you can never get it back again. That is a wimpy salvation."

Hebrews 6:4-6 is speaking of those who have hardened their hearts in unbelief and are unrepentant. Because they have turned away from the Lord - after knowing Him - and reject the gracious gift of salvation (thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit and sinning the 'unpardonable sin' [John 5:16, Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 6:29-30,), there is no forgiveness for them, as they are not seeking it. But if they eventually do come to repentance, there is forgiveness. Consider Peter; after he denied our Lord, but then repented, Jesus reinstated him in John 21:15-19, and also Romans 11:

"Then you will say, 'Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.' That is true. They were broken off because of their disbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again." Romans 11:19-23

>>> "A person can have a lot of knowledge of the truth and not truly be saved. Knowledge does not save you."

I will agree with the statement "Knowledge does not save you", as only belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will. But knowledge is part of belief and knowing is part of salvation.

Let me explain it this way: If I had just stumbled across your blog and read a post or two, I would believe you existed. But since I have met you personally, have talked with you on several occasions, and do try to keep up on your blog, I not only believe you exist, but know you exist and my knowledge of you grows as I get to know you better. This is what Scripture most often means when the words "know", "knowledge", or "knowing" are used to describe our relationship with Jesus Christ and salvation through Him. Consider God's Word:

"For I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." 2nd Timothy 1:12

"This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1st Timothy 2:3-4

"...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

"Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:8a

"...and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-8

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2nd Peter 1:5-11

Knowledge is part of sanctification and spiritual growth. When Hebrews 10:26-29 mentioned "the knowledge of the truth", the writer is speaking of those who have believed and have known Jesus, and have fallen away. How tragic for those who depart from the faith!

>>> "Some people make a commitment to Christ that is not genuine..."

Yes, I can agree with this statement. They are imposters, and fit well with the description of Jude 1-16.

>>> "1st Timothy 1:19b-20 ~ Apostates do just that."

The definition of "apostate" according to Webster's 1828 Dictionary is as follows: "One who has forsaken the church, sect or profession to which he before adhered, has abandoned his religion;" And "apostasy" means, "An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one's faith or religion." So yes, apostates, like Alexander and Hymenaeus, do reject their faith and fall away from belief.

And yes, Amy, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (John 10:27-29, Romans 8:33-35, 38-39) - as long as we continue to believe in Him. This is eternal assurance, not eternal security.

Does this seem unreasonable? Truly, the things of God do seem unreasonable to us human beings and at times "foolish" (Romans 1:18, Isaiah 55:8). We must only accept what He says, with faith like a child. "Oh the depths and riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable His ways!" (Romans 11:33)

Yankeegospelgirl, one point I do want to make is, yes, we are not condemned to hell by our sins; Jesus provided forgiveness for our sins. Sin does not condemn us; but it is unbelief that condemns us (Mark 16:16). We are saved only through the precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ and God's amazing grace.

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This has turned into an extremely lengthy post. I have spent many hours of research and typing, but it has been worth it...for me, at least.

I have not written these words lightly, but with much consternation, concern, consideration, study, and prayer. I have been spurned to greatly search the Word of God and made to consider many things through your comments. This has driven me deeper into God's Word, for which I thank you. :) If God's Word can be proven wrong by God's Word, not by any interpretations or implications of man, I will gladly reconsider my beliefs. I do not desire to be deceived by misconceptions, and I strive to cling to God's Word above all things.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one take you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-8

I pray you would consider God's Words and seek His truth above all things. I consider all of you friends and brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I trust you consider me the same.

This is good discussion. Let's do it again sometime! :shock:

Your sister in Christ,
Taylor

Friday, August 19, 2011

Once Saved, Not "Forever" Saved - Expanded

[Since I had great time constraints yesterday, I did not write out the Bible references I shared. So, here this is the "expanded" version of this post.]

A few days ago, I read on a blog the story of a woman whose husband committed suicide. She is sure (well, mostly sure) he is in heaven because her pastor assured her that her husband had made a commitment to Christ in his presence just weeks previous, and thus he was saved forever. (Paraphrased.)

Yesterday I read a comment on a different blog which said thus: "...that once he is saved, neither he nor anyone else can do anything to change that."

And today I turned on the radio and heard a well-known preacher state: "Your sins are forgiven, you become a child of God, your name is written down in the book of life, and you are forever secure."

After hearing this three times, I decided to refute this misinterpretation on my blog, instead of fuming inside, as I generally do when I hear bad doctrine.

Once "saved", your salvation is not eternally secure.

Let me repeat: Once "saved", your salvation is not eternally secure. It is extremely dangerous to believe so, as this belief promotes the thinking of "Oh, I'm saved forever. I can do whatever I want and know it won't affect my salvation", thus causing many to neglect their faith and spiritual growth.

I won't spend much time with my own words, but will instead direct you to God's Words, as the Bible is the ultimate authority on all things which pertain to the Christian life! (If you can show me where in God's Word where I am wrong for refuting the doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints", then I'd gladly reconsider.)

Hebrews 6:4-6
"For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt."

Hebrews 10:26-29
"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sings, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Holy Spirit?"

Ezekiel 18:24
"But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die."

Luke 8:13-14
"And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature."

1st Timothy 1:19b-20
"By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme."

Galatians 5:4
"You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace."

And consider Demas, who in Colossians, was a brother in the Lord and fellow worker to Paul:
"Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas." (Colossians 4:14); then in 1st Timothy 4:10a, Paul says thus: "For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica."

I am only sharing exactly what God's Word says, and will let God's Word stand.

Lacheln!
Taylor

Post Temporarily Down for Expansion

Opps! While expanding my latest post: "Once Saved, Not 'Forever' Saved", I accidentally removed it from my blog. :) So, for those who may be looking for it, it will be up again soon, and I will respond to comments as time permits.

-Taylor

Monday, August 1, 2011

2011: A Year of Deepening

2011 has been a year of growing and deepening.

Last year was a traumatic year for me, searching my heart and discovering what I truly believed. I despaired of faith and life; I wondered why I existed; I doubted God's presence and forgiveness in my life; I was depressed and went through each day burdened; I questioned, "Is marriage worth it? Is family worth it? Is life worth it?"

During that time, I had written a quick email to my pastor which summed up the period of confusion in my life:

God must really be working on my heart in someway, because it's hurting! :) Please keep me in your prayers as I question everything about life and wonder if it's (i.e. Christianity, family,
marriage, life) really worth the struggle. I have never felt so distant from God, so [kind of] rebellious, and have never felt such a battle for my soul. I feel on the verge, at a crossroads, in a way. Oh well...I'll get through it, I guess.

My pastor responded with an email which made me cry, especially this part:

"It's all worth it, Taylor: life, faith, God, love, marriage...all of it. Even when you can't see the tremendous blessing for what it is, it is and will remain a blessing in this life preparing us for life everlasting. It is my prayer for you that one day you will know the love of God reflected in marriage. I am so proud of you and your purity stance. I was checking out your website a couple of months ago and I like the analogy you used about handing your one-day husband a broken heart in pieces and saying "here you go...I know it's all busted up...but it should still work somewhat." Wait for that true love and life that God has planned for you. It will be a bumpy ride at times, but its beauty - the love of family, spouse and friends that reflects God's love in Christ - has no equal.

"Keep that chin up. When you feel down, I want you to go find a family member or friend and do something nice for them. Life is what you make it, and God created a beautiful world for you to celebrate that in. Live each day in His shelter and trust and comfort and rest. When you lay your head down on the pillow each night, have no regrets about how your day was spent and be excited about what a new day will bring because of the God-given newness of each day.

"Smile Taylor. Life is worth it. You're worth it. You mean so much to God that Jesus died for you. How cool is that?"

Through the encouragement and patience of my parents, my pastor, and others, I began to creep out from the shadows of my despair and started claiming foundational Biblical truths to be my own, really solidifying my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

A friend at the time sent me a lengthy letter of encouragement when I confided my struggles to her. In it she wrote:

"Every young person comes to a point (usually over a few years span, not usually just over a few days) where they question everything they’ve learned, needing to know what they believe and why. You have to make convictions your very own and founded on God’s Word, the Word of Truth. If you don’t, you’ll stray away from those who love you most, from God, from Truth, wavering and unstable in everything, not knowing between right and wrong, etc."

That was exactly what was going on in my life. Our family has witnessed the ages 17-18 to be extremely critical in shaping a young person's life, worldview, and faith.

This year, my 18-19th year, I am deepening in my relationship with the Lord. I came to fully know I truly believed in Him last year, and now I am beginning to really KNOW Him. I am trying to daily spend personal time in the Word (motivated by Loving the Lord's Summer Pursuit Challenge), and have been examining areas of compromise in my life. It has been a year of deepening of my faith.

It has been so evident I need time with my Lord every day. I am so much more at peace and more purposeful during my daily tasks when I start my day with Him. My vision is usually more focused and I am apt to respond to situations more calmly and respectfully. Of course, I haven't been faithfully reading my Bible first thing in the morning (sometimes it's at 1:00 at night because of a given day's circumstances!), but I am learning to yearn for the quiet time of prayer, reading, and journaling.

Well, that's not exactly what I was planning to write today! But I felt I needed to share past words of encouragement shared with me, and also what I am learning currently. Perhaps someone needs to hear the words above.

I have more to write, but it is time to get out lunch! (*Edit: I obviously drafted this earlier today.) Catch y'all later!

Lacheln!
Taylor

P.S. Speaking of growing/learning: two weeks ago I published my first Dreamweaver-built, totally-designed-by-me, HTML/CSS/Flash website and customized my first Wordpress blog for a client. THAT was a challenge, and my brain is still a little fried from spending entire days working on computer! But if you'd like to see the results of my amateur attempts at web designing, visit here: http://www.4hislove.com. :)