Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not losing salvation, just throwing it away...

A recent online discussion led to some serious introspection regarding a belief that I have held without much examination for some time. For a long time, I had looked at the issue of eternal security as being a question regarding whether a Christian could lose his or her salvation. Believing that allowing my salvation to be dependent upon my vigilance at avoiding an accidental loss of faith would make my salvation extremely tenuous, I argued against such a possibility with vigor and confidence that my position was fully supported by the Scriptures. No passages of warning shook my confidence regarding this, because my confidence was in the ability of the Lord to keep me from falling and present me faultless before His throne.

Something happened to me on the way to the Second Coming. I firmly believe that God gave us the Scriptures for a reason, instead of allowing Christianity to be spread and framed totally by oral historians. In God’s wisdom, words matter, so much so that His only-begotten Son is identified as the Word of God, and, He sent His Word into the world, transformed into a human being, in order to save the world by His Word.

What does this have to do with Eternal Security? I think that we have been arguing the wrong thing, and, as a consequence, we may have been guarding the wrong gate. The Bible says nothing about “losing” your salvation, but it says a lot about “rejecting” it (1 Tim 1:19), “turning from” it (Gal 1:6), and “drawing back” from it (Heb 10:38-39). The difference is significant, because it deals with intention. Losses happen through circumstance, accident, or negligence, but in general, you only throw something away because you do not value it enough to keep it, and, instead, think that it is worthless.

When we choose the works of the flesh over walking in the Spirit, we really make a choice. We know from the Word of God that there is a difference between the two, and we even know the eternal consequences, because the Word tells them plainly. “Whoever does these things,” Paul wrote in Galatians 5:21, “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Nevertheless, to indulge the flesh is appealing, comfortable, and familiar, while the consequences are vague to us, since few of us have ever died, experienced the wrath of God, and returned to talk about it, and there is no consensus regarding the stories of those who say that they have had such an experience. For this reason, many if us have become inclined to put off being concerned about our actual position before God, believing that He won’t allow our foolish humanity to thwart His divine desire to save us from the eternal consequences of the “passing pleasures of sin.” We were wrong to do so.

The problem here is not that we could accidentally stumble into the wrath of God, but rather, that we will stubbornly choose to believe that God does not mean it when He says we must obey Him, and that it is so important that we do so, that He even, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live inside of us – our humanity and fleshly history notwithstanding. God, who is Holy, in order to deliver us from His wrath, not only pays our debt, but takes up residence within us, to enable us to do what we all agree we cannot do – obey Him. With such a huge investment in our lives, what excuse do we have when we fight against Him, willfully walk contrary to Him, stop our ears to His word, and come up with clever arguments as to why we owe Him nothing more than lip service?
My moment of clarity came from reading the close of Hebrews 10. Just before launching into Chapter 11’s discussion regarding faith, the author says ““NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb 10:38-39). God offers both comfort and warning; comfort, in that my ability to live is anchored “by faith, not of works,” and warning, that if I pull back, He will take no pleasure in me, and that the end result of my doing so will be destruction. I can monitor my will much better than I can keep up with my emotions. My choices, I can control, even better than I can keep up with my glasses, car keys, and wallet.

Therefore, starting today, I will say to everyone who asks of me a reason for the hope that lies within me, that, by God’s grace, I have been enabled to see clearly the choices that I have been given, and the eternal consequences, and have chosen life. I am confident that my choice will, in fact, hold up, because God has empowered me by His presence, so that I can live consistent with that choice, and that I will not reverse that decision for any reason, for there is no reason which merits my doing so. I know that this is true, because, while once I was blind, He opened my eyes, and now I see. Like that other man who was born blind in order that the works of God might be displayed in him, I decided to worship the Son of God as soon as I found out who He was, and I shall continue to worship Him, for there is none other. I invite you, if your eyes are opened, to do the same.
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