Once Saved – Always Saved?

I am a believer in eternal security, that is if we are genuinely born-again into God’s family we are secure, we will not lose that salvation. But I am also a very strong believer in the reality of pseudo-salvation, where a person thinks they are saved, adopted into God’s family but aren’t really.

I am not a proponent of overemphasizing our security to the point that we never question the validity of our salvation. I overhard a conversation between two people which began with one of them wondering if they were really saved based on their recent binge on sin. The other person said “sure you are, don’t let the devil try to get you to doubt your salvation.” I thought to myself, “I am not sure why the devil would do that, it seems like he would be doing the exact opposite!”

If someone wonders about their salvation to me, I don’t talk them into believing they are really saved, I lead them to Jesus again, and have them walk through the steps of faith again. If their name is already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, recommitting their life to Christ will just solidify it in their own mind.

One of the reasons for a pseudo-salvation in many is because of an incomplete presentation of the gospel that they responded to. I hear over and over the phrase, “invite Jesus into your heart”. The gospel is (1) Jesus is God, infinite, Almighty God, equal and one with God the Father. (2) Jesus emptied Himself of all that He was as God and became flesh, just exactly like us. (3) As a man Jesus live a perfect and sinless life. (4) Jesus was nailed to a cross and while He was there God the father took every sin I ever committed and put them on Jesus, and looked at Jesus as if He actually committed all of them, and then punished Jesus in my place, He died on that cross for me. (5) And then 3 days later Jesus rose from the dead, and is alive today.

There isn’t a single element of the gospel in the invitation to “invite Jesus into your heart, ” and it is certainly vague theologically especially to kids. It is the truth that sets us free, not a sincere feeling.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Bad Surprise

Matthew 7:23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Can you imagine standing before Jesus at the end of your life thinking you were going to be spending eternity in heaven and hear Him say these words. That would be a shocker for sure. There will be no second chance, no reprieve, no parole. In light of the consequences it would probably be a good idea for all believers to ask themselves if hearing Jesus say, “depart from Me” is a possibility for them.

2 Corinthians 13:5-6 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we are perfect, but it does mean that we want to be, that when we sin, there is guilt, grieving, a godly sorrow. Casualness, complacency, and comfortablness with our sin because, after all, we are forgiven is a sure sign that we may hear those shocking words at the end of our life.

Part of the reason for pseudo salvations is because we have interpreted “believe in Jesus” as giving mental assent to historical facts, like believing in Abraham Lincoln.

Believing in Jesus is personal and relational. I believe that He is God, that He loves me, that He wants me to be with Him forever. Believing is understanding that I have a major problem that keeps me separated from Jesus and that is my sin. I believe Jesus died for me, personally, He was punished for my sin in my place because He loves me and wants me to be with Him forever and was willing to pay that price. Because I truly believe in Him, I love Him and want to please Him with my life. Is that true for you?

I am Lost

Patty and I have been married for almost 52 years. I have divided our marriage in two parts, before Google maps and after Google maps. Before Google maps we would often get into a fight when we went on a trip or went to a location that I wasn’t familiar with. I would get lost and Patty would nag at me to stop and ask for directions and I would refuse, sure that I could figure it out on my own. At some point her frustration would boil over and she would say loudly, “why can’t you admit you are lost!”

When I talk to people about trusting in Jesus as their Savior so they can go to heaven instead of hell when they die, I get all kinds of resistance. I have come to the conclusion that people have this independent, I can do it on my own, pride that keeps them from trusting Christ. The first step to being “born again” is admitting that we are lost and can’t save ourselves. God requires perfection if we insist on earning our own way into heaven, it only takes one, little sin to disqualify us.

It is so hard for people to admit they are lost and can’t do it on their own, but until they do there is no salvation and when they die God will say to them, “depart from me” into that place of torment forever.

Just Going to Take my Chances

I was talking to a fellow about becoming a Christian , and he asked me why he should, what would change in his life? I responded that the issue was what happened after he died, was he headed for hell or heaven. He assured me that he had been a pretty good person, and was confident that God would let him in. I told him that the requirement was that he was perfect, never having sinned once, not even a little one. He scoffed at that as being ridiculous and unattainable by anyone. I told Him, yep, you are right, the only person who was perfect was Jesus, and that is the point. God put my sins on Jesus, all of them, and Jesus was punished by God the Father in my place, he paid my bill. He died on that cross, was buried and rose from the dead 3 days later. Our part in receiving forgiveness and eternal life from God is to acknowledge that we can’t save ourselves and accept the free gift of God by believing the gospel. He told me the most amazing thing, “I will just take my chances.”

The consequences of failing on those odds are very serious. Eternity in hell with no parole or second chances once you find out that your gamble didn’t pay off.

Fear of Death

The fear of death has controlled most of the world for this last year, especially the United States. That fear has separated people and messed up many families, friendships, and churches. A great gift from God is freedom from the fear of death. We are celebrating that gift tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday at JBC.

Hebrews 2:14-15
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

The Apostle Paul was’t afraid to die, in fact, he was looking forward to it. Why would anybody who truly believes they are headed for heaven want to stay here any longer than they have to?

Philippians 1:21-23 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;

Jesus died on a cross and paid the penalty for our sins so that we could live forever with Him. We are celebrating His death tonight at our “Good Friday” service and His resurrection on Easter. If you would like the “hope” of eternal life to be part of who you are, I invite you to join us.

We are celebrating at Jefferson Baptist Church at 7:00 pm tonight, 7:00 pm Saturday night, and 9:00 and 11:30 am on Sunday morning. The “Good Friday” service and Sunday 9:00 am service will be on Youtube so you can watch it from your home.

God’s Voice

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

The Bible gives us very clear instructions on how to be born again into the family of God, how to have eternal life in heaven with God. Jesus said that He was the only way into heaven, there aren’t multiple ways, there aren’t even two, just one way, only one.

Some have asked, “how do you know that the Bible is really the Word of God?” When a person who is seeking God or answers from God reads the Bible the Supernatural power of God works in their inner person, and their is an experiential proof that the “Word of God is living and active,” you just know that what is being read is true. The problem is that many don’t take the step towards being a seeker. God promised that if a person would seek Him they would find Him, God will see to it, He will become real to them and the Word will come alive as they read it.

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

1 Chronicles 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God;

1 Chronicles 28:9 for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him;

Finding God

Year’s ago when I was still in High School a lady gave a testimony in our church right before she was baptized, and she said “I found God!” She then laughed and said, “He was with me all along, I just didn’t know it, so I guess what I mean is, I chose to follow Him and to obey Him as Lord of my life, and my baptism is a picture of my surrender to Him as Lord of my life. When I go under the water I am dying to self, that is, I am no longer in charge of my life, Jesus Christ is, and when I come up out of the water it is a picture of me being raised from the dead with Jesus Christ, and He is now in charge of every detail of my life.” At that point in my Christian life I had never chosen to be baptized, but that ladies testimony prompted me to choose to be baptized the next month. Every morning now I declare Jesus as Lord of my life. I remind myself of my baptism, I have died to me being in charge of my life, Jesus is king, I have been raised from the dead to newness of life. It has been an uphill battle ever since, but it has been uphill, I am growing closer to Him every day!

Freedom

In the Middle Ages, governments had power and control over people and their rights, and the church also had much power and used it to control people. There was a constant battle between governments and the church over who was most in control. One of the doctrines that had evolved in the church was that a person had to be a member in good standing in their church to go to heaven. So the church began to use the threat of ex-communication, which was basically kicking people out of heaven to control them, especially government officials. The government used courts, laws, prisons, and the threat of death to control people, especially church leaders. If you read much history of this period you will read of people getting burned at the stake, drowned, hung, pulled in two by horses, thrown to animals, thrown off of high places, and starved to death. Executions were made public and cruel for the sake of intimidation and fear which was essential to controlling people.

Through the Reformation years, the struggle for power and control continued, and hundreds of so-called heretics were burned at the stake. In a number of recorded executions the children of those being burned were forced to light the fire that killed their parent. John Fox wrote his book, “Fox’s Book of Martyrs, ” in 1563 with many detailed descriptions of executions that were fully intended to put fear into those who watched and heard of the awful deaths of those who refused to be controlled by tyrants.

The earliest of immigrants to America from Europe came seeking religious freedom and freedom from the fear mongering that was still the normal way of controlling people in Europe. Those who wrote our Constitution and the Bill of Rights which followed were very much aware of European history and wrote a document designed to maintain people’s freedom from oppression. It is said that no document that was ever written has the power to protect against despotic autocracy as our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights do.

The Bible is the ultimate document of freedom. It teaches the importance of not trying to control others, how to live in peace with others, how to live in freedom from fear, living free from the power and control of our own sinful nature, and how to be set free from the devil and the kingdom of darkness. It is worth reading every day, and following as a standard for living life in freedom.

Hard vs Easy or at least Easier

When I was a teenager growing up an hours drive from timberline of Mt Adam’s, one of the unwritten but fully understood “life rules” was “climbing Mt Adam’s is hard, very hard, but that is why you choose to do it.” In our culture today there are still a few who operate by that principle, but we have steadily moved in the direction of “hard is bad and easy is good.” One of the main messages of Jesus was “if you want to follow Me you must pick up your cross everyday.” Crucifixion was the most torturous, painful death invented by man, and the cross was a symbol of that pain. When Jesus said, “you must pick up your cross,” He was saying, “following Me is hard, very hard!”

One of the main selling points used today to persuade people to trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior in America is “Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life.” In many countries in the world today to become a Christian is to be ostracized from your friends and family, to be guaranteed a life of poverty because no one will hire you, and very possibly to be martyred for your faith.

Why would anyone choose to convert to Christianity then? Because only those who are followers of Jesus will inherit eternal life in heaven. Life is a blink of an eye in length and heaven is forever. To choose hard here in this life to get heaven forever is the smartest move anybody can make. Part of the problem is that people confuse free with easy. Salvation is free, Jesus paid the price of our sin, we don’t have to reach a certain level of holiness to get into God’s family, but once in we are asked by Jesus to “suffer hardship” as we serve Him.

Most Christians in the United States don’t suffer much because they choose not to do much with their life for the Lord. One little example is prayer, prayer doesn’t require any straining, sweat, or effort, you just sit there. But those who enter into the kind of praying that changes other people experience “hard.” It is a mystery in what makes it hard, and a little, convenient praying isn’t really very hard, but the number who choose to spend some serious time interceding for others is small, and it is small for a reason.

JBC started our “Five Days of Prayer” this morning. We pray from 5:00 to 10:00 am each morning and 5:00 to 10:00 pm each evening. Many in our church choose not to come at all, some come for an hour or two, but there are some who choose the hard way and spend several hours each of the five days praying because they believe that it will make a difference in the eternal destiny of many.

Being Right or Healthy Relationship, Which is it

I get a lot of questions from people about conflict with other people. They desire to resolve it and have peace in the family, at work, in the church, or with a neighbor. I regularly see people creating tension in their relationships because they don’t know how to manage differences of opinion. They tend to make their opinion and the rightness of it more important in the scheme of things than it deserves. There are a few opinions that are worth making a fuss over but not very many. A fool makes a fuss over differences that are not worth making a fuss over. When a difference causes a distancing to take place in a relationship it ought to be worth the cost of that relationship. A fool can’t seem to accurately determine if being right is more important than the unity and closness of their relationship with the person they are having the conflict with. This has become much more prevalent in our present culture, and many people are ending relationships over really stupid things. As I listen and counsel people I often think, they must not value their relationship with this other person much because they are willing to end it over a difference of opinion that really isn’t that big of a deal. It often appears to me that it isn’t the importance of a particular view, but the pride of being right that drives much of this conflict.

Proverbs 20:3
Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man,
But any fool will quarrel.

Proverbs 18:2
A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind.

Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

Relationships with other people are such valuable things, and it us so sad to see people almost flippantly ending relationships with people they have known for year’s over opinions on masks, political views, methods of doing things, and theological views that aren’t critical to eternal life. Relationships with people take years to develop and they shouldn’t be damaged over trivia, but so many do.