Advertisements

How To Find Peace With God (Part 9)

(The following is taken from the e-book, “How To Find Peace With God (Answers From The Book About Salvation).” If you missed the first part of this series, please Click Here.  If you would like to receive the entire e-book (in PDF format), please write me at loren@answersfromthebook.org)

Can We Lose Our Salvation?

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.” (John 10:28-29)

No thorough discussion of Salvation would be complete without looking at one of the most hotly disputed, controversial issues surrounding it: Eternal Security. Is it possible for someone who has been genuinely saved to lose their Salvation? Or as many like to put it, Once saved, always saved?

In the last chapter, we looked at ways that a person may know for certain that their Salvation is real and their faith authentic. We considered how a person can be sure that they are saved. In this final chapter, we will look at whether or not it is possible to ever forfeit that Salvation once it has been secured.

Sheep In The Hands Of The Shepherd

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

It is no accident that the Lord Jesus Christ often used the analogy of a shepherd caring for his sheep when referring to His own care of those who belong to Him. In the pastoral culture of First Century Israel, those listening to Jesus speak would have been very familiar with the imagery of sheep and shepherds. The characteristics of a flock and their overseer would have been well known and understood by the Lord’s listeners. As the Lord Jesus’ human ancestor King David had conjured up images of a little helpless lamb being completely cared for by a loving and merciful Shepherd in the Twenty-Third Psalm, a similar picture would come to the minds of His own listeners when Jesus spoke the words recorded in the Tenth chapter of John’s Gospel.

Like sheep in a flock who must be guided, the child of God is utterly lost apart from our Shepherd’s leading. Jesus said that we hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). Imagine a shepherd who left it up to his sheep to find their own way home from the pasture. What kind of a shepherd would that be? Sheep are lost apart from the leading of their shepherd and would never be able to find their own way back. If a human shepherd cares enough for his own flock to lead them every step of the way, how much more does the Great Shepherd guide His flock?

Sadly, a lot of Christians believe that, after they have come to Christ for Salvation, it is up to them to stay on the “path” that leads to Salvation, never wandering off it. They feel that it is the believer’s responsibility to find their own way “home.” But if we are really one of the Lord Jesus’ “sheep”, He will make sure that we make it through to the end.

In the parable of “The Lost Sheep” (Luke 15:4-6), Jesus reminds those listening to Him that any good shepherd having a hundred sheep would leave the ninety-nine in order to find the one lost. He would search far and wide until he found it, rejoicing greatly when he did. We understand this parable to apply to the lost sinner who has never known Christ, but would it not apply all the more to the sheep already belonging to the Lord? Does our Good Shepherd only search for us that first time, leaving it up to us to find our own way back to Him if we wander away again? Would any shepherd do this? If the man with the hundred sheep should lose one a second time, would he not go after it? Or would he sigh in disgust saying, “Well, I went after him once, let him find his own way back to the flock!”

All Sheep Accounted For

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)

There is a lot of mind-boggling truth wrapped up in these two verses, but for our purposes we should notice that it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who is taking care of every single step in the process from the “foreknowing” to the “glorifying.” Those whom He foreknew, He predestinated, those whom He predestinated He called, those whom He called He justified, those whom He justified He glorified. There is only one Subject in all of these sentences, one Person doing all the action: Christ. From start to finish, we have no role in securing our own Salvation. There is not one single “if” or “but” in this entire passage, nothing that suggests the end result of our Salvation (spending eternity in Heaven with the Lord Jesus) is contingent upon anything!

What does all of this mean? This means that if our Shepherd has 100 sheep in His flock, then all 100 are going to be there at the end. Regardless of how many get “lost”, or how many times they get “lost”, if they are one of His sheep, they will make it to the end. Just as the Lord Jesus did not “lose” any of His true disciples (John 17:12), neither will He lose any of those who are trusting in Him now.

God Shut Noah In The Ark

And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” Genesis 7:15-16)

Noah accepted God’s invitation to come into the Ark, and God Himself shut the door behind him. I know that Hollywood has depicted the scene of Noah and his family huddling behind a door sealed from within while those on the outside beat their fists against it, pleading to come inside. But that’s not what the Bible is telling us here. God wasn’t sealing the door to keep the lost out, He sealed the door to keep the saved in. As strange as it might seem, I highly doubt that there were any who were wanting to come into the Ark even after the rains began, anyway. Look at the reactions of those mentioned in Revelation when the judgment of God comes upon them: they blaspheme and curse God, they don’t repent and turn to Him (Revelation 16:9-11). No, the sealing of the door of the Ark by God was for the benefit of those inside the Ark. Its main purpose was to keep them in, not to keep others out.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13)

For those who are “in Christ”, it is God Who has “shut us in to Him”, as well. God invited us to come into Christ, and then He shut the Door behind us, sealing us in by His Holy Spirit. That Door which is sealed for us is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (John 10:7-9). Like the Ark, God has sealed the Door for us, not to prevent others from coming in (though the time will come when the Door will be forever closed to them), but to keep us shut in to Him.

Since the earliest days of the Church, there have always been those who want to argue and dispute over just how secure that Door is by which God has shut us into Himself. I wonder how Noah would have responded to some of the debates that have arisen concerning this. Someone might ask Noah:

“Noah, do you believe that once in the Ark, always in the Ark?”

“Well, I hadn’t really thought about it. God invited me in here and I suppose He will keep me in so long as He wants me in here.”

“What about losing your salvation in the Ark. Is that possible?”

“Well, I don’t really see how that could happen. God shut the door behind me.”

“Yes, but isn’t it possible that you might fall out of the Ark? What happens if you decide to jump out of the Ark, isn’t that possible?”

(By now I think Noah might really have a puzzled look on his face), “Well, like I said, God shut the door behind me, I don’t see how I could fall out and I’m certainly not going to jump out of here!”

“OK, but what if you mess up, what if you disobey God? What happens if you really commit a lot of sin, how about then? Won’t God kick you out of the Ark?”

“No, God told me to come into the Ark. I did what He told me to do, I plan to keep doing what He told me to do because I am grateful for what He has done for me. I guess if I ‘mess up’ then I will confess it to Him and repent and ask for forgiveness.”

“Yeah, OK, but what about the door? Is it really locked tightly behind you? What if someone comes up and breaks it down or picks the lock, huh? What will happen then? Isn’t it possible that you yourself might backslide and decide to kick it down and jump out yourself?”

“Look, I don’t know about all of these questions you are asking me. All I know is that God Himself told me to build this Ark, He told me that He was going to save me from judgment, He invited me to come inside, and then He sealed the door behind me. It has been His actions that have brought me to the place of security where I am now and I am trusting Him to keep me there!”

Who Shall Separate Us?

If God sealed the door of Noah’s “salvation” so securely, how much more does He do so for those in Christ? It is not our own deeds and actions that save us in the first place, nor is it our own deeds and actions that keep us saved. It is the work of God from first to last. Our Salvation is as secure as the One Who is securing it: the Spirit of God. If it were up to us to “maintain” our saved status, then we would certainly have something to worry about. Yet we rest upon the Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ, knowing that He will keep us in His safety until that day when we live forever with Him.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words of assurance to the believers in Rome:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, 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.” (Romans 8:35-39)

If none of these things can separate us from the Lord Jesus Christ, what can? I absolutely love those words, “Nor any other creature”, because that would include me. All of the powers of darkness, all of the forces of the enemy are completely incapable of separating me from my Lord and Savior; am I able to separate myself? Is it possible for me to “sin” my way out of being saved?

Since faith in Jesus Christ is all that is required to obtain Salvation, it follows that faith in Jesus Christ is all that is required to maintain it. We will all sin after we come to Christ, no doubt about it, but there is no suggestion in the Word of God that a believer can ever forfeit Salvation through sin. There are always consequences to sin, but losing our Salvation is not among them.

Is it possible to lose our faith to the point where we no longer are trusting in Christ? Not for those who are truly in Christ. If we have met the criteria of being genuinely saved, then it will never get to that point; the Shepherd will lead us back to the fold. We can all think of examples of seemingly devout Christians who eventually turned their back on God and walked away from the Faith, but it is suggested in the Bible that those who do so never really belonged to the Lord in the first place (1 John 2:19). Those who are genuine will always find their way back to the Lord while those who are not will eventually turn away.

The child of God never needs to fear that they will fall out of relationship with the Lord. Our Salvation is secure in Him.

 

Advertisements

6 responses

  1. Thank u Loren: You are certainly correct. If i may make a further comment!
    There is also a responsibility to respond to the Lords calling on the part of the sinner. In the instance of the good shepherd there is the option of the sheep to “HEAR HIS VOICE”.
    The Sheepherder calls but the sheep must hear the call of the shepherd. The sheep must respond to that call. The faith continues because we know the voice of our Shepherd.
    The falling away comes because we have wondered outside the range of our Lord and master. We become “shipwrecked” so to speak.
    Nothing can separate us from the LOVE of Christ, for he loved us from the beginning of the world, That is why Jesus wept. He wept for those that would not “hear his voice” He would have none of us lost.
    WE are his from the beginning of creation. Mankind must answer to the call of the Shepherd, and one day they will be judged on their response to that call. The one that is saved “HEARS MY VOICE” and responds to that call.
    That is when we are secure in HIM
    God Bless you and your work.
    Rakau.

    Like

  2. […] How To Find Peace With God (Part 9) (answersfromthebook.org) […]

    Like

  3. Good to hear from you again, Rakau :)

    Excellent comments, thank you!

    The option to hear and respond to His voice is certainly there. I think that this is what our Lord meant with His oft repeated phrase: “He who has ears, let him hear.” Those who belong to the Lord Jesus hear His voice calling clearly to them; those who do not belong to the Lord fail to distinguish His calling from other “voices” and do not respond.

    “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

    Those who open the door to Him are His sheep.

    Thanks again, Rakau, may God bless you during this Christmas season!

    Like

  4. Thank you, Loren

    There is something about the “nothing shall separate you” passage that makes my heart feel secured in Him.

    (And to think I didn’t have to buy or earn my way! So thankful for the plan of Salvation!!)

    Blessings,
    ann

    Like

  5. So excellent, Loren! I like that you tackle the hard and hotly debated subjects. ;) A couple of things came to mind as I read.
    1. I remember accepting Jesus as a young child, during a vacation bible school time. I didn’t fully understand everything, but I cried . . .not really understanding that even. There was no follow up. I didn’t go to church there or anywhere and I told no one else about it. Just those in my little class may have known. Then all those years later, after several suicide attempts, I am once again being told about Jesus and I quickly respond. A case of Him coming after one of His sheep, even if I didn’t know I was His?
    2. With my daughter who has PDDNOS, there was so much to read and to implement, to do and to make as goals. Too much. Overwhelmingly much. Everything had to be about her learning, gaining skills, working toward goals in every area of her life. What I learned is that much of it worked itself out, just given time. Some things got better, some didn’t. It’s not the end of the world. And this to me applies to when we worry and fret about our salvation and all the what ifs, and how abouts. He has us and is working in us and it’s not so much about what we do as it is about what He is doing and will do.
    God bless you, Loren. This book is such a blessing!

    Like

  6. Debbie: If our Lord was so gracious to a thief beside him on that cross, and that thief never having met him before, how much more does he show grace to those whom have believed and walked with the risen Lord. The reprobate on that cross, never knew a baptism, a house of worship, an inspired preacher, nor the words written in red. The last one under the “law” to be given a place in paradise with his saviour
    If a soldier, a Centurion no less, that had helped nail the Christ of God to a wooden post and witnessed the cry of the Christ to his Father, witnessed the very death of the Savior of the world, and then make the bold statement “Truly this was the Son of God”, the first in history to have believed and found salvation through the sacrifice of the Christ of God. This un-wavering Grace of our Savior. How much more then, in-spite of our weakness. In-spite of our timidity. Even though we may not understand all things. It is this same CRACE that will encompass and infill and keep us till the end. Overshadow us as a hen with her chickens.
    When our Lord cried out “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. He cried out for you and for me. Even in this day, that cry is still resounding down through the centuries. WE KNOW NOT WHAT TO DO!!!
    I know that I can be no more than one such sinner saved by this Grace and you are as well. We only have to believe in our heart and if you can do that then you will also boldly confess with your mouth, that Jesus Christ is indeed, LORD…..

    Like

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: