Search This Blog

Friday, November 30, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Part 9: The Other Side

It is so true, there are indeed two sides to every argument. That is what I am now addressing in at least two posts, the other side, hoping that someone will broaden my understanding of their position in a concise and kind manner.


This is what I hear consistently from my friends who vehemently deny the doctrine of eternal security, "People who believe this believe that they can do anything they want to do now that they're saved. My sins are all forgiven and I'm eternally secure so I can do whatever I want to do. I can commit adultery or get drunk or whatever. I'm saved." *See my earlier post that mentioned the straw man approach to arguing. And for an outstanding example of this, go here.

I do see this argument as a strawman. This isn't a real argument addressing the truth or falsehood of the doctrine of eternal security. It merely takes a "what if" kind of approach pointing to a hypothetical situation.

It doesn't take into consideration the nature of those who choose to continue living in sin and the rejection of the plain word of God or the nature of those who are genuinely regenerated. And it unduly lays on our shoulders the blame and the guilt of those who so continue to live in sin.  However, having said that, I see it as a valid and sincere concern on the part of those who see the doctrine of eternal security as serious error or even as one friend repeatedly says of it, "it's a damnable heresy." And it is their thinking that sees eternal security as giving folks permission to sin with impunity that raises one of their most serious arguments against it. Are they right to be so concerned?

We have all seen within the visible church those who blatantly live in sin while professing faith in Jesus Christ. Not all of them believe nor will they confess that it is because they believe they are eternally secure. Some do; some don't. But it does in fact happen. I have a good friend who has said as much to me. I also worked in a warehouse where one of the truck drivers who delivered goods to us told me that since all his sins are forgiven he's going to enjoy them. Really. He actually said that. There are those deceived souls who can't see past their noses and recognize that there is something wrong with this picture.

While holding to the doctrine of once justified, always justified as Scriptural, I also preach and teach
the whole counsel of God regarding how we are to now live out our lives as those who are born again. I do not intimate nor say that we can now sin freely. For instance, I preach and teach that we "know" that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is plainly taught in the word of God that those who live in "filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting," and are "fornicators, unclean persons, and covetous" have no "inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience" Paul says in this section of Ephesians 5, vv3-5, "For this you know." I know and so I preach.

Again, the word of God is so clear on this matter that one would have to be spiritually blind, spiritually dead in order to believe that one can sin willy nilly. Romans 1:18-32, I Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, and Colossians 3:5-7, cannot be dismissed, lightly or otherwise except by the most depraved, lost people. If one is pursuing these things then that one is not pursuing righteousness. That one does not want to pursue righteousness.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Why I believe salvation cannot be lost:Part 8: God's divine blotter


Have you ever pondered the possibility of having your name blotted out of "the Book of Life?" Well, perhaps you should ponder Revelation 3:5, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." Isn't that saying that some who are named in the Book of Life could have their names blotted out, that being contingent on their overcoming? No, in fact, it isn't saying that at all. Let's look at the context.

Revelation 3:1-5 is addressed to "the church in Sardis," a church clearly described by God as being "dead" (v.1). This is a fact as pronounced by God through His angel. This deadness however isn't applied to everyone in the church at Sardis.

V.4, "*But, you have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy." These are the ones to whom God makes the emphatic promise that He will not blot their names out of the book of life. By emphatic I mean this, the English words "will not" come from the Greek double negative, ou meouv mh... meaning that He will absolutely in no way ever blot out their names from His book of life. And, to really mark the difference between the dead and the living, this verse begins with another emphatic, *"But," alla, avlla

Back in v.1, "I know your works," and their works fall far short of perfection before God, v.2. To these who have defiled themselves through attempting to work their way into the kingdom of God, who are satisfied with themselves and the "name" they think they have earned, He offers to grant them repentance (vv.2-4; Cf. 2 Tim. 2:25-26). This is a call to those who "have received and heard" through the gospel but have not come to faith in Jesus yet. They have defiled their garments through unbelief, by rejecting the grace offered them and have relied on their works, not works of righteousness but works of law, works of merit (Isa. 64:5-6). Unless they repent and call upon the name of the Lord these defiled ones will be judged by the things written in the other books that will be opened on the day of judgment (Rev. 20:11-15. Note that in this passage there are "books," plural, and there is "the Book of Life," singular. From the "books" those not in the Book of Life will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Perhaps those who are at last "cast into the lake of fire" are those who had their names blotted out of the Book of Life. It is guaranteed that these are not of those who are counted "worthy" by God).

"Worthy" seems to say that this worthiness was somehow earned, that these "few" were good enough to "walk with Me in white." But that flies in the face of the whole counsel of God. Romans 3:9-26 and Ephesians 2:1-10 makes it abundantly clear that man on his own is not worthy and cannot make himself worthy. Ephesians 1:3-6 and 2:4-10 lays out clearly how those who are dead in trespasses and sins are made "accepted," and that is by the grace of God, "by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." "To the praise of the glory of His grace."

This warning and call to repent of unbelief and vain, damning works whereby they had defiled their garments, is parallel to what Paul warned the churches in Galatia of in that letter. Galatia was very much like Sardis. See especially 3:1-4 and 5:1-4 of that important letter.

For your perusal concerning the word translated "blot out," here is every occurrence in the NT:
"blot out, wipe out or away, eradicate"
Acts 3:19; Col 2:14; Rev 3:5; 7:17; 21:4

Acts 3:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Colossians 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Revelation 3:5 "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

7:17 "for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

21:4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Why I believe salvation cannot be lost: Part 7

So God promised to give eternal life to all who by His grace come to faith in Jesus Christ. "To the praise of the glory of His grace" (Eph. 1:6). And in doing so, in calling the ungodly to His Son (Rom. 4:1-5; 5:6; 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4; 2:1-4), in drawing sinners to His Son (Jn. 6:44) by the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13-14; Jn. 16:8ff), and giving them life and light and faith in order to save them (2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 2:1-10), He, knowing the nature of the "old man" of the ungodly that will ever plague the now justified ungodly til the day we go to our final glorified state having ordained it so (Rom. 8:30; Col. 1:27; Rom. 7-8:4) that no man might boast as though he has saved himself or contributed the least to his salvation (1 Cor. 1:30-31. Read all of ch.1 for the full impact of how ridiculous it is for us to boast), made gracious provision for all our trespasses and sins, including repentance and confession and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His written word and the fellowship of believers who can restore the one's who have erred in any way (Rom. 6:1-11; 8:9-13; 1 Jn. 1:1-2:2; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Col. 2:13-15; Gal. 6:1-2; 1 Cor. 5). God has, as we say, covered all the bases.

Now back to our words "eternal life" and "everlasting life" (I will refer to eternal life for the rest of this post since both phrases come from the same Greek phrase).

Eternity is a concept that we cannot even begin to grasp. It is a truth that only our Creator understands. But we do understand that it means something like "without beginning or end." We know also that that is what the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul eludes to when we read Ephesians 1:4 and 2 Timothy 1:9. It is mind boggling but true. We were saved somehow before the foundation of the world and before time began. That's actually quite reassuring and comforting to me. I don't fully understand it but I believe it because my heavenly Father has convinced me of its truth and not my flesh and blood. Believing in Jesus and thereby receiving life that is eternal is the gift of God, the act of God, the work of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 16:13-17; Jn. 3:16; 10:28; 1 Pet. 1:6-12; 1 Jn. 5:13).

Do you remember, or, did you know that those who by the grace of God are saved or justified are called to eternal life? "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on ("grasp tightly what you possess") eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Tim. 6:12). And if one is called by God to eternal life will God, does God, can God ever issue a recall? I don't think so. "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29). These gifts and calling are irrevocable not because God can't revoke them but because He knew what he was doing before He gave them and issued them and has no reason to recall them.

What we have been graciously given is eternal life. That means "life without end" as the old hymn put it. As simple as it may sound and as silly as it may seem to be, eternal life means eternal life. If the life God gives us after He has foreknown us, called us, predestined us, justified us, glorified us, sanctified us, washed us, bought us with the blood/life of His Son, and reconciled us to Himself was intended to be eternal but conditional based on what believers do following salvation, then it couldn't be called eternal life by anyone, not even by God Himself. He wouldn't have cancelled the Old Covenant and His law. And the word "grace" would never have entered into God's vocabulary. It would be illogical and non-sensical to call something that is conditional eternal.

If the life that God gives were not eternal then He would have told us so. And, He would have, could have, should have called it "contingent life," contingent on whether or not we keep His laws and live morally upright lives. But it isn't called contingent life because it isn't.

"Once Justified, Always Justified:" Why I believe salvation cannot be lost: Part 6


It's called "eternal life," or, "everlasting life." The two terms found in the New Testament come from the same Greek phrase. Either way the life promised by God Himself is eternal.

Eternal life is the gift of God, just like faith and sunshine and rain. No one earns or deserves sunshine or rain, they're just there. No one deserves or earns the right to be born, we just are. And not by our choosing.

The term "eternal life" occurs 32 times in the New Testament (in the NKJV only in the NT). The term "everlasting life," 13 times, once in the OT book of Daniel (12:2), the rest in the NT. Both terms in the NT and the occurrence in Daniel in the LXX come from the Greek zoen aionion,  zwh.n aivw,nionĂ…

Here are a few English examples from the NJKV of "everlasting life" and "eternal life" for your perusal: *I will post this page now and continue on eternal life later today.

John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

4:14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

5:24 " Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

6:47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

12:49 "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 "And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

Romans 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believen on Him for everlasting life.


Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

John 3:15 "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

6:54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

6:68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

12:25 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

17:2 "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Acts 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

6:18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Titus 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,

Titus 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

1 John 2:25 And this is the promise that He has promised us -- eternal life.

5:11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.








Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Piper on Paul the apostle, chief of sinners.

John Piper is astounding. Not perfect, but certainly a man of God. His sermons and books have contributed to my growing in grace and knowledge over the last decade and I would like to share this with you in hopes that he may assist you along your way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Why I believe salvation cannot be lost: Part 5


Yes, they are. Here's how and why.

I am forgiven. I am forgiven.

The forgiveness of one's sins isn't some impersonal act whereby God forgives mere acts; God forgives the person committing those acts of sin; God forgives people. I am forgiven. In my future I will still be me; I will still be being kept by the power of God through faith for my salvation ready to be revealed in glory.

My forgiveness goes with me into my future. Our forgiveness goes with us into our future.

Romans 8:1 uses this very important and much overlooked word, "now," to inform us that those who are in Christ are not condemned "now." But that word now is applied to the rest of our lives. Everyday is "now;" every hour is "now." Next Saturday now will still mean now. Next year now will still mean now. We can say everday "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Now always means now.

I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am redeemed. God does not redeem "things" but sinful ungodly "people" who by His grace have come to faith in Jesus Christ. I am redeemed.

I am justified, sanctified, washed and reconciled to the Father through the death and resurrection of His Son. I am justified, sanctified, washed and reconciled to the Father. My sins aren't justified. I am.

Whether one recalls one's past sins or present sins or wrestles with the fear that he or she will sin again in the future, if that person has by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ, is born again, born "from above," they have received the Holy Spirit, are sealed by the Holy Spirit for safe keeping, guaranteed by this sealing of their future inheritance in the kingdom of God, are made alive by the Holy Spirit and will continue to be this redeemed person forever. The believer's sins do not change who that believer is. And God does not recall defective saints.

Check these out: Col. 2:13-15; Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Cor. 6:11; Rom. 5:1-11; 4:1-8, 13-5:2; 7:24-8:4; Jn. 6:63; Rom. 11:29.

Briefly I want to point out that the apostle Paul warns the church that it is possible and even likely that there are those in the visible churches to whom he wrote who are not saved/justified. One example is 1 Corinthians 15:2, "by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain."



In other words, what does your mind focus on when you sin? Your "old man" or your "new man?" Do you look at the deeds of your flesh, your "mortal body"? Or do you zero in on the body of the One who finished the work of your justification and redemption on His cross? If you're beating yourself up because of your sins (and we all do if we're serious about our relationship with our Father) then you're not living by faith but by sight. As some great thinker of the distant past once said, "the closer we get to God, the more sinful we realize we are." The longer we walk by faith and not sight, the clearer it becomes that we always need the gospel.


Be it repetitious or not, it must be repeated nevertheless. "God never gives His children permission to sin. But He has made gracious provision for their sins."

I read the same Bible you read. Maybe I read a different "version" (I use the NKJV alternately with the NASB). But our Bibles all remind us, inform us that there is a way of living that is fitting our high calling; and there is a way that is not. And sometimes we find ourselves in both.

I sin, you sin, all God's children sin. But we no longer "live in sin." How can we, being that we have died to sin? If one who professes faith in Jesus Christ is yet living in sin, usually some form of sexual immorality or other lustful types of sin, then that person has reason to doubt his or her having ever been justified or saved. And those of us who are "spiritual" are Scripturally bound to confront them in love and with great caution, having in mind either their repentance and restoration or their salvation (Rom. 7:14-25; Gal. 6:1-2; 1 Cor. 5; Eph. 5:3-7; Col. 3:5-7).

Remember, the justified one will resist, fight, and hate his sins, not embrace them or pursue them. And the justified one knows to whom to turn, the "author and finisher of our faith."

The justified one will continually throughout his or her life rely on and work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:9-14). We do not believe that now that we're safe and secure from all alarm we are free to do as we please. We reject the strawman set forth by many that charges us with encouraging our hearers to freely sin. Some preachers do indeed inadvertently give this impression on occasion. But such error is welcomed only by the unregenerate among us and the woefully ignorant. It is the unregenerate in the visible church about whom Paul says "unless you believed in vain."


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Amazed In His Presence: Once Justified, Always Justified: 3

Once Justified, Always Justified: Why I believe salvation cannot be lost: Part 4


Well, concerning your being made right with God (which only God determines and proclaims), yes; that really is all of God, all of grace. But after God graciously saves/justifies you the ungodly, there is a standard of living that is to line up with who we now are in Christ. And even that is only possible by the Holy Spirit working with us as we grow in grace and knowledge and strength (Rom. 8:9-14; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 1:19; 3:14-19; 2 Pet. 3:17-18).

Ephesians 4:1-3, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Cf. 5:1-7; 1 Thess. 2:12).

As one who believes the word of God from cover to cover and in "once justified, always justified," I vehemently reject the notion that that doctrine is a damnable heresy, giving license to Christians to live as they please. Those who do take this truth and abuse it are either unregenerate or willfully ignorant and rebellious in the manner of the Corinthians and will answer shamefully for their twisting of God's grace (Willful ignorance is referred to 8 times in the first six chapters of 1 Corinthians by the recurring phrase "do you not know" Cf. 3:10-15; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:10). And by "unregenerate or willfully ignorant" I do not mean those who object to this doctrine based on their understanding of Scripture. I apply that to the "I can sin with impunity" bunch.

WE STRUGGLE WITH OUR OWN SINS EVERYDAY ... BUT WE DON'T EXCEPT THEM AS ACCEPTABLE TO US OR GOD. We confess them, meaning we say the same thing about them that God says, we repent, knowing (repentance is, after all, a change of one's mind about Jesus and how we are conducting ourselves) that we have sinned against our Savior, and we move on with thanksgiving in our hearts for the wonderful grace of God and the good news (1 Jn. 1:5-2:2).


Millions of people for a variety of reasons, flirt with religion, staying on the periphery, never giving themselves to whatever religion they involve themselves with. They are often described as "cultural" or "nominal" members of their particular religion. In studying Islam I became aware that not all Muslims are truly Muslim, many are "cultural Muslims," Muslims in name only. Some are even atheists (President Obama's father and step-father were both Muslim in name only). I have seen that in Christianity as well. It's true across the board for all religions.

However, there are people who name the name of Jesus who are blatantly living in sin with little to no fruit of repentance who by their very profession of faith give the believer the Biblical duty to judge them and rebuke them in love for their own good and the good of the body of Christ. Yes, I said we are Biblically bound to judge such church-goers (1 Cor. 5, esp. vv.9-13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). But church discipline has been regrettably neglected and even rejected by many pastors, elders, deacons and everyday Christians, all under the misunderstanding of what love really is and what it really does.

Those who name the name of Christ yet live in a manner unworthy of the calling with which they supposedly have been called have put themselves in the very unpleasant position of being disciplined and us in the very unpleasant position of having to discipline them (Gal. 6:1-4). They give very little reason for anyone to believe that they are regenerate, "born again," "born of the Spirit."

Without providing a long list of do's and don'ts that some have used to describe those who are genuinely justified by the grace of God, I'll simply say that the once-justified live in a manner albeit sometimes inconsistently, that is worthy of their heavenly calling. They reflect on the outside who they are on the inside. And it is the inner man who is born of God. It is the inner man who fights the sinful tendencies of the outward man. It is the outward man who is perishing. It is the outward man who is yet corruptible (1 Cor. 15:50-56; 2 Cor. 4:6-5:7). The inner man, the once-justified man, is the one the church and the world is supposed to see.

More to come.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Part 3

Justification is the actual legal proclamation by God that those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ are right with Him. God writes down on their account, as it were ("imputes"), that they are righteous (Rom. 4:23-5:2, 9). This justification is freely given to all, without exception, who have come to faith in Jesus (3:21-26).

It has to be said over and over again that not all who "go to church" are justified, saved. Some of these folks are easy to spot by their ungodly behavior and the heresy that pours from their mouths (Mt. 15:16-20). Others are not so easy (1 Cor. 5). Some of them are convinced that they will "make it." Others aren't so sure. But they nevertheless refuse to come to the One who can give them life and light and hope.

And it's nothing new. Paul addressed the reality and possibility of unbelievers being among the saints in his letters to the Romans, ch. 16:17-18; the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 13:5; Galatians 1:5-9; 5:1-6; Phil. 3:18; 1 Tim. 6:3-10; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; and Tit. 1:10-16. The apostle warned the Ephesians about the "savage wolves" who will rise up within the church (Acts 20:28-31) as did Peter (2 Pet. 2:1-3) and John (1 Jn. 2:9-11, 18-19) and Jude. These false believers, false prophets and false teachers will be very popular among the lost in the visible church, false shepherds leading false sheep.

In one of his letters to the Corinthians, our First Corinthians, ch.6, vv.9-11, Paul reminds the Corinthians and the church through all time, that we were all at some point numbered among the unrighteous who were not going to "inherit the kingdom of God." But then he also reminds them that God brought the gospel to them, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." Each verb in that verse, "you were were were justified" is passive, meaning that we did not wash ourselves, we did not sanctify ourselves, we did not justify ourselves, it was all the work of God upon us. And to make himself perfectly clear, he introduces each verb with the emphatic "but," alla, the strongest adversative in the Greek language. "But you were washed...," etc.
Salvation, justification, is all of God and all of grace.

In chapter 1 of First Corinthians, the Holy Spirit points out just who God chose to be His (vv.20-29), and it's not a flattering picture. In Romans 4:1-8 Paul refers to this same motley group of the chosen as the "ungodly." In ch.5, he reminds us that at one time we were God's enemies, the ungodly, sinners, yet we were the ones whom He intentionally saved and reconciled through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross (vv.5-11). And undergirding these descriptions of those whom God saved solely by grace and for His purposes we find Ephesians 2:1-3, a very disturbing picture of who we were before grace interrupted our lives.

Don't miss what Paul writes in Romans 5, v.10, "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled (and don't forget the "having now been justified" of v.9), we shall be saved by His life." Beloved, we were enemies, a fact. We were reconciled to God, a fact. We shall be saved by His life, a fact. These are facts that are out of our hands and in the hands of the One who loved us and gave His life for us, the ungodly. And that is faith (4:5, 20-5:2, 6).


Once foreknown, always foreknown.
Once predestined, always predestined.
Once chosen (elect), always chosen
Once elect, always elect.
Once called, always called.
Once justified, always justified.
Once glorified, always glorified.
Once reconciled, always reconciled.
Once a new creation, always a new creation.
Once renewed, always renewed.
Once washed, always washed.
Once sanctified, always sanctified.
Once born again, always born again.
Once saved by grace, always saved by grace.
Once redeemed, always redeemed.

All of the above goes with our calling. In fact, the list above They cannot be separated. And they come straight out of Romans 8:28-30; 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Eph. 1:3-2:10. Every action in the above list is an act of God, purely, solely, and absolutely an act of God on behalf of those who were formerly His enemies, the ungodly. These are "once-for-all" works begun and finished by the Trinity "before time began" (2 Tim. 1:8-10; Eph. 1:3-6; Tit. 1:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:1-5. Cf. 2 Pet. 1:2-11).

This three word phrase is really important. It comes from one Greek word, ephapax, evfa,pax
meaning depending on context, once, one time, at the same time, and of course, once for all. Here are it's occurrences in the New Testament as it's translated "once for all:"

Romans 6:10-11 involves us in the once-for-all finished work of Christ: "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The preceding 9 verses of this chapter reject the notion that Christians can continue to live in sin because they're under grace and not the law (5:20), making it clear that we have in fact died to sin (6:1-2). We are "dead indeed to sin" precisely because we are "alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Thus we can logically "reckon" ( logizomai, logi,zomai ) ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The question arises from v.10, for all what? He died to sin once for all, for all time, for all sins, for all people, for all who would come to faith in Him? The question may be irrelevant. We can know for certain that all who are in Christ are included in the resulting "you also" in v.11. Which leads me to conclude that Christ died once for all who by God's grace come to faith in Him. But because Scripture interprets Scripture, I am also persuaded that this refers to the one time sacrifice for sins referred to elsewhere in the New Testament. For instance,

Hebrews 7:26-27, "For such a High Prienst was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." One sacrifice by the spotless Lamb of God eliminated the need for yearly/daily sacrifices by earthly priests. And He did this for His enemies, sinners, the ungodly. For us, there is no sacrifice to be offered for our past, present, and yes, our future sins. The once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ eliminated that need.

And, Hebrews 9:12 (and please check the context on this one, keeping in mind that this epistle was written to Jews who were seriously considering returning to the sacrifical system of the law), "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." It becomes clear that Christ's sacrifice is for all time, for all sins, for all people, ordained so by God Himself. God bought us with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:7; 1 Cor. 6:20).

What kind of redemption? "Eternal redemption." And it makes sense. If there was a final, once-for-all sacrifice, and there was, then it's end as obtained by Jesus would be eternal. And furthermore, it makes sense that our being "in Christ" means that we have eternal redemption. Where is eternal redemption and eternal life found? In Christ.

One more, Hebrews 10:10, "By that will (speaking of Jesus doing the Father's will, v.9) we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."


Friday, November 16, 2012

Once Justified, Always Justified: Why I believe that salvation cannot be lost: Part 2

Part 2

"You can't mean it! You're telling me that you believe that no matter what a person does who says he or she is saved gets away scott free?" No, may it never be! I'm telling you that Christians sin, sometimes heinously, and that God has made provision for their sins in the finished work of His Son on the cross (by "the cross" I mean what Paul means, the entire work of Jesus, from birth to His present reign). The difference between what you're thinking, however, and what I'm saying and what you think I'm saying when I say "no matter what" is that for the child of God, the one who has been justified, sanctified, washed, declared righteous, reconciled to God, born of the Spirit, filled by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, bought with the blood of the Lamb, crucified with Christ, raised with Christ, dead to sin, alive to God, chosen by God before the foundation of the world, the elect (all who are saved are the elect and the elect are all who are saved), knows the word of God, and knows that all this applies to who they now are, that one doesn't decide to live as you charge and indeed doesn't desire to live that way. It's the difference between being one of His sheep and not, between truly born again and not.

One who knows that God has done all the above for him or her and loves the Lord Jesus isn't going to be quick to say, "Oh, boy! Now I can sin with abandon!"

Does the child of God sin? Of course he or she does. Does the child of God ever desire to sin? Of course he or she does. That's the result of our living in these mortal and corruptible flesh and blood bodies in a dark and fallen world "with devils filled" (1 Cor. 15:50-56; Rom. 7; Gals. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:6-16). The ones who are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by the gospel alone, for God's glory alone, and for our eternal good, still occupy what the Bible calls "the flesh." We have "remaining corruption," not "reigning corruption."

Like it or not, every believer will continue to sin throughout his or her life on this planet. We "grow in the grace of and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ" as we mature. But we will always sin. And like it or not (and some hate this idea), God has made gracious and amazing provision for our sins, those past, present, and future.

Are you familiar with the argument whereby one party creates a "straw man?" A straw man, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[3] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.[3][4]

Though the straw man is always a part of the argument of those who reject eternal security, it isn't by any means the whole of their argument. Most opponents of this doctrine refer to Scriptures and the writings of those with whom they are in agreement. We all should do that. But their argument without exception as far as I have experienced raises the possibility of the abuse of the grace of God as though that were the rule. There is a fear among those who reject eternal security (an understandable fear) that if one believes he or she is eternally secure they will then jump head first into some profligate lifestyle, sinning willy nilly, thinking God has given them His unspoken permission to do so. I mean, why not? Why not sin as we wish? Why not "live in sin," as they say if we really are that secure? Why not? Because we know better! And while it is true that this does happen with some individuals, their "fruit" reveals unregenerate and spiritually dead spirits.

Does the doctrine of grace encourage Christians to sin with abandon? No. It is the fallen unregenerate nature of man that does that. But some who hear that one's eternal life and forgiveness are secure because of the finished work of Christ on the cross have said that now they can enjoy their sins without feeling guilty (I heard this very thing from a truck driver I know personally and he never manifested any fruit of justification). It happens. But their continuing to "live in sin" is contrary to the word of God concerning those who are in Christ, not as the result of living according to the truth of God's word. Not as a result of living under grace.

And this sin-as-you-please fallacy is contrary to the work of God within everyone who is born again by the Holy Spirit. The "I-can-sin-with-impunity" response is purely a concoction of the unregenerate mind or a believer who has a lot to learn about life in Christ. Thus we have the word of God and His servants to correct such error (Rom. 6:1ff; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 5; 10:11).

Here's what the Bible says about that, and this is what I believe at the same time I believe in once justified, always justified. Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" The question in v.1 is rhetorical, posed by the apostle as he anticipates the very response to grace that the non-eternal security side say happens to those who do hold to the doctrines of grace and eternal security.

Paul's answer to his own question is emphatic, "Me genoito," mh. ge,noito which translates "May it never be!" Or, "Certainly not!" And that's what I say.

Paul knew full well that the teaching of the grace of God is scandalous. It goes against our opinion of a just God. It is so utterly contrary to our view of how God handles sin, or how we think He should handle sin, whether it's the sin of His children or the sin of unbelievers. Those who reject the notion that God saves once and forever seem to be like Dirty Harry, they have a death wish. They have the paradoxical notion fixed in their heads that they deserve God's wrath now that they have been saved as much as they did before.

They defend the idea that saints can sin away their salvation. And oddly enough, the men I know personally who so vehemently oppose this doctrine have all lived lives steeped in sexual immorality. It's as though they are the ones who are saying "no matter what."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

God is the author and finisher of our salvation

At the Liberate site of Tullian Tchidvijian comes this article that pretty much sums up what I hold to.

Once Justified, Always Justified. Why I believe that salvation cannot be lost. Part 1

Part 1

It's not a doctrine I believe because I want to believe it (but I certainly do want to believe it), its a teaching I see in Scripture and always have seen since God graciously saved me in 1974. This is what naturally occurred in my mind and in my spirit while I continuously studied Scripture over the first 35 years of my Christian life. And it never once occurred to me that from now on it is okay to sin.

On the other hand, I have several dear brothers in Christ who hold to the opposing viewpoint that a true believer can in fact lose his or her salvation. And, likewise, they see their viewpoint supported by Scripture. In defending their position, those who reject the idea of (I hate to use this phrase) "once saved, always saved" (I personally prefer "once justified, always justified) often get more than a little testy and I can understand why. If they believe my stand to be unscriptural, then they should get stirred up by it. And sometimes I get intimidated by their defense and run home with my tail between my legs. So, while I'm sitting here alone in the safety of my little loft, I'm going to argue my position. Those in the other camp may feel free to argue their viewpoint in writing or in person (post Scripture they feel supports their position. In fact, I would really appreciate a list of such verses).

One doesn't have to be familiar with the Bible's original languages in order to rightly divide the word of truth; but it certainly makes a huge difference when one uses language helps for the English reader. We can discover verb tenses and moods and noun cases and such things as conditional clauses that shed a tremendous amount of light on the word of God by consulting Bible study tools. I am so grateful for being a student of the Greek New Testament for many years now. And I strongly encourage those who haven't studied Greek or Hebrew and Aramaic to use the plethora of study tools available. I will suggest several such works in the bibliography.

The following I believe is the gospel truth. I will address each statement individually in another post. But for right now:

Once foreknown, always foreknown.
Once predestined, always predestined.
Once called, always called.
Once elect, always elect.
Once justified, always justified.
Once redeemed, always redeemed.
Once glorified, always glorified.
Once reconciled, always reconciled.
Once a new creation, always a new creation.
Once renewed, always renewed.
Once washed, always washed.
Once sanctified, always sanctified.
Once born again, always born again.
Once saved by grace, always saved by grace.

All of the above goes with our calling; this is the "call." They cannot be separated. Each item makes up and unbreakable chain, logically flowing from one to the another and back and forth. And they come straight out of Romans 8:28-30; 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Eph. 1:3-2:10. Every action in the above list is an act of God, purely, solely, and absolutely an act of God on our behalf.

Unlike auto makers, God does not issue recalls

Do you remember the many recalls that Toyota had to issue? And not just Toyota. Other automobile manufacturers have had to do the same thing because of some defect in their product. Even grocery items are recalled occasionally as well as certain over the counter medicines. Nothing in this world is perfect.

Can you imagine the horror that some drivers experienced when their gas pedals stuck to the floor and they were racing down the freeway or street unable to stop their vehicle? Have you as a Christian ever been horrified at something you did, something you are perhaps right now going through? That's understandable and not to be dismissed lightly. And God doesn't. He doesn't dismiss our sins; they must be dealt with. And He, He has dealt with them in and through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Because of Christ's once-for-all sinless life and sacrifice, we may now "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need," in true repentance, confessing our sins to Him, and rejoicing in the truth that we are forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness (Heb. 4:16; 1 Jn. 1:5-2:2).

The apostle Paul, writing under the moving of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21), informs us that "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29). And in Romans 8:28-30 he informs us that we have been called by God into life in Christ. Remember how we are saved? "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." And God does not revoke what? His gifts and calling. He doesn't revoke His calling to salvation nor His life-saving gift of faith. No matter what. I will discuss that can of worms later.

That word in Romans 11:29 translated "irrevocable," or, "without repentance," comes from a Greek word ametameleta avmetame,lhta (the form that appears in the Greek text) and means "not to be taken back, not regretted, not to be recalled." Our modern day term "buyers remorse" is the antonym for this word. God bought us with a price and has never once experienced buyers remorse. And it is, after all, God who would decide such an important matter, not you or I (Rom. 9:14-24).

Since we were saved, all of us who are saved or justified, have experienced many defects in our vehicles, our mortal, flesh and blood bodies. We have sinned. We have sin. We do sin. Yet God hasn't recalled us, or worse, sent us to the sinner's junkyard. And He's not going to; He promised.

After the election of 2008 and the swearing in of Barack Obama in January of '09, many of the people who voted for him experienced "buyers remorse." It happens in every election. But in the kingdom of God, He is the One who elects. He is the One who "vetted" us. He knows us better than we can ever possibly know ourselves and yet He elected us to salvation. Whom does God justify? The ungodly. With whom is God reconciled? His enemies. Whom did Jesus come to save? The lost, sinners. And He has never regretted doing so. He knew what He was doing before He did it and He knew what He was getting before He got us. He ordained it so. If God doesn't elect sinners, then He would have no one to save.

Who are the "elect?" All who are genuinely saved. All who are genuinely saved are the elect. All who will and all who do "call upon the name of the Lord" and are genuinely saved are the elect.


"Brothers, we are not sisters."

This is from an article over at Desiring God, John Piper's ministry, that I find very logical and important, not to mention interesting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Prodigal Jews: Luke 15:11-32

The longest of the "lost" parables, the parable of the prodigal son continues the Lord's warnings to the Jewish leaders of the impending consequences of their rebellion against their God and King and the only solution possible, grace (13:34-35; 14:15-24, 34-35).

The two parables that immediately precede the prodigal parable both demonstrate the grace of God in finding the lost when the lost are completely and utterly helpless to remedy their lostness (neither sheep nor coins have the innate ability to find their owners). The prodigal, however, is a warning to the Jews, all the Jews of the Lord's day, to come to their senses, see their dilemma, repent, and return to their Father, lest they perish in a foreign country with the stench of swine on their garments and on their breath. And God the Father through Jesus the Son promises grace and forgiveness, an embrace and many gracious kisses from our loving Father.

The parable of the prodigal Jew is a lesson for all mankind and reminds us of the nature of man that convinces him that a profligate lifestyle without a god is the best way to go. The lost (and occasionally the found) see worldly pleasures as the only way to achieve satisfaction in this quickly passing existence.

For the lost God extends grace through the gospel and sometimes grants grace that they might come to their senses and escape the devil's hold (2 Tim. 2:24-26). For the now found, the parable is a reminder of who we once were and how our loving heavenly Father granted us grace and light and life and faith. And without condemning those who are in Christ Jesus, we're warned of the damaging effect of rebellion (Rom. 5;7:24-8:4;2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The word to all? Repent.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ahhhh, but does that apply to you? When Scripture is taken out of context.

I'm sitting here this morning checking out some of my favorite news sources and at the same time reading in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:1-6, realizing how often this passage is taken out of context by well-meaning brothers and sisters. The question I ask when reading a verse or passage or book in the word of God is "how/does this apply to me?" Sometimes I have to admit I can't apply this or that verse to myself.

Don't get me wrong. We can always apply the lessons of Scripture to our lives if we are living according to that particular truth being taught. For instance, two of the most misquoted verses of Scripture are found in Paul's letter to the Philippians. How many times have we heard Christians boldly proclaiming "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?" (4:13). And v.19, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Does anyone take the time to check the context of these two verses? Apparently, seldom.

Paul says (and indeed can say), "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" solely on the basis of having "learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Few brothers and sisters I know, including yours truly, have learned the lessons Paul learned that made his statements true in his life.

And what about v.19? "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Can we really apply this, or "claim it," as so many of our brethren carelessly do to ourselves? Well, lets look at its context.

Beginning in v.14, that comes after v.13 you see, Paul speaks of the distress that he found himself in because "no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving...but you only." All pastors, evangelists have financial and material needs (we need food and clothing. Imagine that) just like all of humanity has. But the apostle/itinerant evangelist/prophet Paul was receiving no support from the churches where he had ministered with the  exception of the Philippians.

But Paul wasn't seeking support for his gain but for God's glory and the good of those who gave (vv.17-20). Yes, he had to have support. No man or woman of God should be abandoned by the church as many of the churches had chosen to leave Paul to fend for himself. And for those believers in Philippi who had sent "a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God" to him, he promised and could promise with authority "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Now, can we honestly claim this verse for ourselves? Perhaps. But not all can.

So I'm sitting here reading the 2 Corinthians passage in context realizing that so many of us quote it freely out of context.

Check it out.