This is a blurb from my book Will the Real Christianity Please Stand Up – to be released soon.
Hand in hand with the sinner’s prayer is the doctrine of eternal security. The most common phrase used to describe that is “once saved always saved.” I was so fascinated by this subject that I brought up the topic in my book All the Stillness of the Wind. I can see where some people might believe in eternal security, but I don’t think the doctrine stands up to the scrutiny of the scriptures. Let’s examine further.
There are a couple of passages where it is mentions that Jesus will hang on to his sheep. However, at what point does one become a bona fide sheep and not a goat?
Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. This phrase is repeated five more times in Matthew and Mark.
Paul, the author of most of the text that promotes salvation by grace was worried about his own disqualification as he described in 1 Corinthians 9:27.
There is a website that lists 36 scriptures that argue against eternal security athttp://www.bible.ca/cal-P-refutation.htm
I told you I granted equal opportunity for dissenting arguments. For a favorable support for the theory of eternal security, here’s the link to an article by Charles Spurgeon,www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2120.htm
Very persuasive wasn’t he? Spurgeon didn’t get the reputation as one of the greatest orators of the kingdom for nothing. However, let me offer another scenario. Check out this site dealing with a former evangelical pastor and tell me how you can justify eternal security for people who used to convert people to Christ – and perhaps believed in Eternal Security – but is now engaged in leading people away from Christ. www.debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/
If those reverse missionaries don’t make your hair stand up on end, nothing will. Evolution had a role to play in the de-conversion of these debunkers. Ironically, Hector Avalos is now contributing to that site. He is the director of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, but happens to be a militant atheist. It seems the wolves have now been placed in charge of the sheep. I have to wonder how something like that happens in the middle of the Bible Belt.
Here’s another good example. A former born again Christian challenged people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only sin that Christ said would not be forgiven. None of us know precisely what comprises this sin, so these radicals just basically tell the Holy Spirit they’re blaspheming him and tell God to go to Hell. It seems that the poor lad gave up his salvation willingly. He went from a born again believer to a blasphemer of the Holy Ghost. Now tell me that once you are saved always you are saved. And now he has helped drag many others to the gutter of life to join him. You can see this blasphemy challenge which has been viewed by over a million people on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7QVbJnSPQE&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blasphemychallenge.com
Some theologians will bring up the argument that these people were never saved. I find it extremely hard to swallow that rebuttal. In that case how does anyone know they’re saved? This situation follows my belief perfectly. If they continue to follow Christ their entire life – even if they stumble and have to confess some more sin – they will endure to the end and be saved. However there is no way that someone who tries to persuade people to give up their faith in God and His son Jesus Christ are going to be present at the wedding feast. The scripture says that the Spirit does not always strive with men and at some point the Lord turns them over to their own wickedness.
Am I the only one who has these crazy ideas about salvation being a little more complicated than “Jesus, please come into my heart and save me?” Luckily I’m not, or I might not have found the courage to expose my ideas to a world that doesn’t want to hear them.
Andrew Strom and Paul David Washer are two of the finest speakers I have encountered. You can find both of them on YouTube. Washer is the most animated and passionate supporter of the gospel I’ve seen. He is not reticent to make statements like “the sinner’s prayer has doomed more people to hell than anything else.” Strom is not quite as emotional but he is very disturbed by the state of the lukewarm church and by the lack of the preaching that repentance is necessary in order to follow Christ.
My testimony here is weak. You need to check out the words of men greater than I. Here is a link to an Andrew Strom article on the practice of asking Jesus into your heart:http://www.revivalschool.com/ask.html Paul Washer declares war on the Sinner’s Prayer on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZyzzSw0Log
Here’s another YouTube video that speaks volumes on this subject:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXYu6x9ywLU&feature=related
Just for the record, I’m not insisting that those who say the sinner’s prayer are going to Hell. Far from it. I’m saying that those who say that prayer as an insurance policy so they can feel good about living a life of sin are misled, misguided, and in jeopardy. If you truly are making the statement that you are submitting yourself to Jesus Christ and His Father, you will be on the path to salvation. If you’re just copping your bets (a gambling expression meaning making sure you can’t lose), I’m afraid you’ve been deluded. Washer uses an expression that I like. He mentions the discrepancy between regeneration and decisionism in regard to being born again. He maintains that being born again is something God performs as an act of recreating us as a new creature in comparison with a decision we make to be born again through confessing faith in Christ. Washer makes a compelling argument that those who are regenerated hate sin, love holiness, and manifest works.
By now, you might have the impression that I’m a rebel. Maybe I am. That would put me in good company since Jesus Christ was the biggest rebel in history. Like him, I’m not the kind of rebel who prescribes violence to overthrow a kingdom or country. I advocate love and truth to bring down hypocrisy, deception, and pride. How do I rationalize the disparity between my own beliefs and those of the majority of evangelicals in the area of salvation? Let me give you an example in the form of an analogy.
Suppose that heaven was just on the other side of a chasm. The bridge that used to connect that area collapsed with the fall of Adam and Eve, isolating man with no way to reach his Creator. Then Jesus came along one day and stretched his arms across the chasm and became the new span of conduit, the bridge of life. Now men can walk across Christ to get to the Father. Jesus has provided salvation for mankind. Without him no one would make it to Heaven. But, Jesus says that no one can walk on his back without taking off his track shoes, golf shoes, baseball and football cleats. Even though Jesus has provided salvation for everyone, those who refuse to remove their footgear with the metal spikes will be denied the right to walk across that bridge.
That’s how I see this scenario. For those who preach that only Jesus can provide salvation, I can nod in agreement. Only Jesus could bridge the gap for all of mankind. But then comes the second part of salvation as outlined by Jesus in that passage with the young ruler. Go ahead. Throw the accusation at me that I’m preaching a gospel of works and not grace. I’m man enough to handle it. I like to think I’m like James. I’m showing my faith in Christ by doing the works that he commanded us to do. As I’ve stated previously, the great commission was to go into all of the world and baptize men in the name of the Trinity and teach them to obey everything that Jesus had commanded.
If you want to believe that you can accept Christ and reach Heaven without obeying Him, that’s your prerogative. If you fall short of your goal, you can’t blame me. My goal here is not to prove myself right. One of my favorite phrases is: “it doesn’t matter who is right; it matters what is right.” I’m not sacrificing my time writing this to convince you of the truthfulness of my words for my sake. My desire is just to offer a counter viewpoint to what many churches are presenting as the gospel of Jesus Christ. What you do with this information is up to you.
From analyzing this situation, it seems the primary objection to works based salvation, which most will probably say that I am promoting here, is that it would cheapen, or even render of no importance, the death of Jesus on the cross. I can understand why we would never want to do that. As I have previously stated, without his atonement, our works alone would never suffice to scale the heights and storm the gates of the Holy City. So, even though we have a part to play, we must always be grateful for the blood of the Passover lamb and apply it liberally to our lives.
Let me mention briefly the event of Passover, one of the principal Jewish feasts. The Lord instructed the Jews to kill a lamb without blemish and sprinkle the blood on the sides and top of the doorframes of their residences. When the firstborn of every family was struck down by the angel of death, those under the blood would be spared. This presents a definite type and shadow for the arrival of Christ on Earth as an unblemished sacrifice to prevent the death of those under the blood. But what if the firstborn of a Jewish family had been out carousing the night of the Passover? Would the blood over the door of his family’s home have saved him or would he have forfeited that protection by wandering away from the source of immunity? I’ll venture that living in sin is symbolic of being outside the walls of the home. Even though the blood was applied, it could have been rendered of no effect by the failure of the victim to fulfill his responsibility of staying under that blood.
One of the most salient passages in the Bible to me is Mathew 7:21-27. It is worthy of quoting here.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
I’ve heard a bunch of different interpretations here to dance around the question. One noted preacher even claimed this was proof that God did not honor works. This exile banished to eternal destruction had done works of prophesying and casting out demons, etc, but apparently never accepted that works were not only not required but would be damning. I nearly tore out my hair upon reading that interpretation.
Why can’t we read this just as Christ said it and intended it? Those who live as a law onto themselves without heeding the admonishments of the Lord concerning sinful behavior are taking advantage of God’s grace. They think they are like ambassadors from a foreign country to Washington, DC, immune to the laws. We can’t choose Christ’s blood without taking his yoke upon us. Why can’t theologians accept that practicing sin will separate people from God – even those who confess belief that Jesus is the son of God. Is a smoker immune from lung cancer because they believe that smoking is harmful to their body? Their belief is only of benefit if they put it into action and toss the cancer sticks in the trash.
I’m not saying that none of us sin. There is a big difference from messing up occasionally as the result of anger or from a sudden temptation and a life of sin where the sinner knows he is breaking the commandments of God, but he continues in the sin. I’ll stop here on the subject of sin so I can concentrate on that in another chapter. I know this is a topic that most Christians want to avoid – unless they’re talking about the sins of other people.
Jesus said that the duty of man is to believe that He is the son of God. Nowhere did he state that he did everything on the cross, and we have nothing left to do. The quotation of Jesus on the cross “It is finished” is misconstrued to signify that everything is done and nothing else should be attempted. Jesus meant His mission was over. The cup that He asked to have taken from Him had been drunk. The atonement was completed and the door to Heaven was open to those who choose to walk the path that leads there. That didn’t mean that it was finished for humans. It certainly didn’t mean that the fight with the devil was over. In fact, that battle only intensifies as time passes. Let me quote Matthew 16:24-27.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.’”
I suggest that you might want to look over your life and see if perhaps you have not lost your life for Christ. After all, the Bible says that we should judge ourselves so that we won’t be judged by God. If you’ve been skating through life with the idea that you’re saved only by a little prayer you might have said when you were a child or when you were surrounded by friends who urged you on, or during an emotional upheaval, you might want to make some adjustments to line up your life with God’s desires.
One of the things I want to accomplish here is to give those who seek a logical explanation to salvation something that makes sense to them. There are groups who believe in obedience to God in addition to accepting Jesus as the son of God in order to reach Heaven. The majority of those sects have their own baggage that caused me to intellectually reject their doctrine and claims of being God’s true church. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the true church of Jesus Christ is not a religious body, but the collective group of those who have devoted their lives to him. We must not be spinning our wheels paying allegiance to an organization when only the Creator of the world is worthy of our devotion.
I don’t want intellectuals to reject the gospel because they can’t find sense and order in Christianity. God is a deity of order, having formed the universe with the precision that makes a fine watch maker jealous. If they only find Christians who promote the sinner’s prayer, which the seeker cannot find anywhere in the Bible, the book claimed to be the inerrant and infallible word of God, they will face an intellectual tug of war. Christianity, in a way, should be a hard sell where the buyer is informed that the price cannot be reduced, taxes and shipping need to be paid, and that the product is going to cause great anguish in the life of the buyer. Of course the fact that the guarantee is out of the world should be mentioned.
Evangelists have reduced the decision to claim Christ to a no-brainer for those seeking the easy way which includes lavish promises of the good life and no mention of any responsibilities involved. They literally tell the listeners that the gift is free. Recipients don’t have to do anything to obtain this gift. Most people will want to sign up for those benefits. And we wonder why Christians have a divorce rate as high as the secular world. And we ponder why Christians are prone to falling prey to other issues that plague the ungodly: drugs, pornography, gambling, violence, and abortion. If people don’t believe there are consequences to their actions, why should they lose sleep over the dearth of integrity in their character? Why should they agonize over their unfaithfulness to a Savior who took the ultimate in punishment in their behalf?
Ironically I was just at a banquet for a bible based drug/alcohol center. The director in his speech made the comment that humans only place true value on the things they earn themselves. Things given to them are taken for granted.
One of the most rewarding things in life is given the name “job.” I think we put excessive emphasis on our employment, but we should be grateful we have a means of supplying our daily bread for ourselves and our families through honest effort and the sweat of our brow, just as God decreed. We can work twenty-four hours a day, but if we are not receiving compensation for it through an employer, our efforts are wasted. The same goes in the world of the Christian. Through the death of Jesus on the cross, our good works becomes meaningful. Without Jesus purchasing our salvation through His death, our efforts would be in vain.
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