“Keeping the saved, saved”?


The latest installment of the Christian Chronicle had an article titled “Are we loosing our young people?” Near the end of an informative article a heading reads “Keeping the saved, saved”. And then the next few paragraphs talks about a youth ministry in Florida that focuses on “keeping the saved, saved”.

This is rather odd language for this theological and Bible student. I most recently heard the phrase after a “door knocking” campaign when one of the leaders, while discussing follow up, mentioned the job of “keeping the saved, saved”.  This terminology is almost exclusive to the churches of Christ according to Google. When I Googled the phrase in quotation marks, of 152 references to this statement, I believe about 150 of them were quoting statements from church of Christ websites, ministries, or preachers.

So what about “Keeping the saved, saved”? I suppose if you saved them you can keep them saved. But if God saved them, He will have to keep them saved. If you believe people are saved, or stay saved by going to church, living a good life, not drinking and not being immoral, then perhaps you can keep them saved. However, if you believe the Bible then you know that no person is justified because of what he or she does or can do but rather wholly upon the merit of Christ.

The righteousness credited to the account of a new Christian is “by faith”, “a righteousness that is from God”, and apart from the law (our doing). (Romans 3:21-30)

The way to “keep the saved saved” is to get them saved to begin with. A man can be converted to a cause, a good and noble cause, and wind up in hell. A man can be converted to a church and end up lost. A man can be convinced to change his way of life and to begin a life of love and kindness and still be rejected at the judgement. Only those who come to God by Christ Jesus will be saved, and they will never be lost.

” But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (spoken by Jesus in John 10:26-28)

Only God keeps the saved saved.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

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33 comments on ““Keeping the saved, saved”?

  1. Great post! The false teaching that one can loose his or her salvation has always been a thorn in my side, I guess because it stems from a works based salvation which is no salvation at all.

  2. There is a great campus ministry here in Tampa, FL led by Lynn Stringfellow. He makes the point that for too long we used that expression and turned our youth and college groups into glorified babysitting services. He gets them to be active in helping others and asks the question – when was the last time you knew a Christian involved in serving others and putting their faith into practice fall away?

  3. I believe that if we make make disciples in which we are called to do. Then we have done our job. Discipleship is what we have beeen called to do. Jesus tells us “Go and make disciples…” Then, baptizing them, etc. Discpleship should be our main goal. A relationship with God and His one and only son Jesus Christ. Living a comitted life of discipleship. Understand that you have a body of Christian who are like you. Who are there to support you, encourage you, strengthen you, walk with you, help you.

  4. Hi! Great post 🙂 I guess the thing is that we can however turn away from God… even if we were truly saved, as God will never keep us against our own will.. and the Bible does warn against grieving the Holy Spirit…. I agree with you that it is not our works that saves us although once we know Christ our action will surely show that we live for Him! 🙂

  5. Thanks to all of you who have commented. Consider these things for a moment.

    Salvation is described as a “new birth”. Have you ever heard of any person or animal being “unborn”? Birth is not reversable. Christians are described individually as “a new creation”. Can one become “uncreated”? Another picture of becoming a Christian is “adoption”. Have you ever heard of anyone ever being “un-adopted”? Another picture is that we have been “made alive” in Christ. Yes, someone can die, but Christ said this life is “eternal” and that the believer “would never die”, “would not see death”, and that He would “raise him up in the last day”. Eternal life does not ever expire, unless Jesus does because it is after all His life. (“Christ in you, the hope of glory”)

    Will God be at man’s disposal?, to come and go at the whim of the sinful creature? Will God’s gift of eternal life be subject to the performance of a man whom God has already declared completely incapable of living up to His holy standard?

    When God saved you did He not know then what you would do in a few months, a few years? Did He not know all about you before the earth was formed by the word of His mighty power? Yes, and even though He knew you would be a moral failure He still loved you and in due time Christ died for you and paid in full the debt owed for ALL of your sins.

    “Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
    25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 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. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” (John 10:24-30)

    Jesus’ own words in this passage are either true or they are not true. I believe they are true. He said (…”I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH”). Now I am a simple man, perhaps a “C” student, so help me out here. If a fellow comes to your church and after you share the gospel with him Christ “GIVES him ETERNAL life” and then after several months he some how seperates himself from God, starts to follow Satan and winds up in hell in the end. Now, if this happens, only one time, what Jesus said is not true is it?

    The fact is that our fictional fellow likely was never really saved in the first place. Read John 10 and you will see that according to Jesus, His sheep “will NOT FOLLOW a stranger” they only listen to His voice.

    So, who should I believe?, Jesus or someones example?

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  6. AMEN AMEN AMEN! Oh, and did I mention AMEN!!!? This is such a sensitive subject in the Christians I am in contact with. It’s difficult to watch a born again friend try to live victoriously wondering if they are going to “lose” their salvation. I believe it is nearly impossible to enjoy the abundance of life that Jesus promises if we are constantly worried that spiritual death is just around the corner. If the blood of Christ can’t cover sins – past, present, and future – yes even gross rebellion against God – then what hope do we have? The most comforting and verse I have found regarding this subject is this:

    2 Timothy 2:11-13
    It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

    Once we are saved, the Holy Spirit resides in us, and even if we “lose faith” or “believe not” – God is still faithful! Hallelujah!

  7. Hbr 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.

    Luk 8:13 They on the rock [are they], which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

    1Cr 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

    1Ti 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

    1Ti 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil

    Hbr 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

    2Pe 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

    2Pe 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

  8. Laymond,

    Thank you for your addition to the comments. These are a scattering of “proof texts” used by those who believe one can be saved then lost, saved then lost, and on and on. (These by the way are not the best ones either.) I will not take the time now to answer each of these but I have previously in other posts.

    Still, you have avoided the question posed by my post. How can I, or you, “keep the saved, saved?” The only correct answer is that we can’t. It is a foolish and impossible proposition.

    Just for the entertainment value, lets assume you are right, and a man can loose his “everlasting”, “eternal”, life. I suppose you will agree with coC doctrine that a person becomes a Christian by being baptised for the remission of his sins. Of course belief, repentance, confession, etc. are included as well.

    John Doe hears the gospel, believes, repents, confesses, and is baptised in a coC church for the remission of his sins. Several months, or years later he leaves his wife, starts drinking excessively, runs with whores, and abandons his faith. According to the standard coC doctrine as I understand it, John Doe is now lost. He has “lost his soul”. (The idea is that if you and I could have kept him from these infractions we could have “kept the saved, saved”.)

    Now John Doe comes back to church one Sunday and stands before the congregation, states his sorrow and desire to repent, and he is “restored”. What does that mean? Why does he not have to be baptised again?

    1. He was not really lost. 2. He was not really saved. 3. Baptism is not essential to salvation.

    Being lost is like being pregnant. One is either lost or saved. There is not one hint in the Bible of any gray area about this. If a person is lost he is dead in trespasses and sins and must in some way approptiate the forgiveness and life of Jesus Christ to be saved.

    This is the most illogical teaching I can think of. If a person is lost he needs to be saved, not “restored”. And, if he is really lost he needs to do what any other unsaved sinner must do to be saved.

    It is dangerous when we create doctrine to fit anecdotal situations that we don’t otherwise have answers for. One thing is clear. Jesus said “few” would be saved and “many” would be lost. Those who claim to be saved and then live in a pattern of sin are more likely than not unsaved from the beginning. I have witnessed scores of people who made dry eyed confessions and obviously had no thought of changing the way they lived (repentance) and then left the waters of baptism and proved they had lied. Those folks are not saved.

    I recently had a well respected brother tell me that a man who has been married 5 times, was currently living with a woman he was not married to, and is a proven liar, was saved because he had been baptised for the remission of his sins. He was just “an erring brother”. One word aptly describes this sort of thinking. HOGWASH

    Much of what Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others taught was a lie if I can be saved today and lost next week. This is a human centered view of the Bible vs a God centered view.

    We, the created, do not call the shots concerning eternity, only the Creator has that perogitive.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  9. Well Royce, if we don’t work to bring people to Christ and work to keep them there, according to the Hebrew writer we can’t do much else.

    Hbr 6:4 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
    Hbr 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
    Hbr 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.
    Hbr 10:26 ¶ For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

    I understand these passages to say, after a person has accepted God and has been accepted into Christ’s church, then decides to turn on God. The only thing left is God’s judgment. What that will be is left to God.
    But there is no doubt that a Christian can fall from God’s grace. (once saved always saved is not in the book)

  10. Laymond,

    Lets try this another way. When Jesus says of those who have been saved they “shall not come into condemnation”. How many things can that mean? Whe He says “I give them eternal life and they SHALL NEVER PERISH”. What can that possibly mean except what He said?

    If I get saved, “live right” for 25 years, then loose my salvation and go to hell. I never had “eternal life”, or “everlasting life” did I? I had 25 year life.

    The sad truth is that lots of folks, (in every church, including coC churches), are not saved. They are committed to the church, a cause, an idea, but are not born again. and it can be said of them what the disciples said long ago, “They went out from us because they were not of us”.

    Do you really think there will be people in hell who can honestly say, “I was saved by grace, I had eternal life, but I screwed up and lost it, now I am in hell”. Jesus promised I would never come into condemnation but I guess He was wrong. No, this will not happen.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  11. Royce I believe we might not understand the point at which a soul is saved, I don’t know where Jesus said a soul is saved at the point of baptism and cannot backslide. I understand salvation or condemnation is locked in at the point of death of this earthly body, that is why we need to remain faithful until the end. whether it comes by death or the comming of Christ. I don’t believe anyone can remain sinless after baptism but we can remain faithful in our belief in Jesus Christ and our God to forgive us of those sins.
    The reason for fall from grace is loss of faith and trust in God not sin. I read a true story about a man who was raised in a christian family going to church attended a christian university became an advisor to young christians at a university. He said the more he read the more he doubted and finally came to the conclusion it was all bunk. this man was baptized lived a christian life into his thirties or forties. Is he saved although he has come to his conclusion ? I’m just asking.

    Laymond, First Jesus never said “a soul is saved at the point of baptism” and neither did Peter or Paul. You say “salvation or condemnation is locked in at the point of death of this earthly body”. Of course it is but I believe it is “locked in” ,to use your terminology, at the moment we are saved. Futhermore, a careful reading of Romans 8 for instance will clearly show that in God’s mind our salvation was “locked in” before the foundation of the world.

    One of the biggest mistakes we make is to assign human characteristics to God. He has never been disappointed with you Laymond because He knew you before the earth was created and knew then and know every thought you will have, every sin you will committ. Knowing that you and I are hopless and helpless sinners, just at the right time Christ died for us and paid the sin debt we owed for our sins (past , present, and future ) in full. When He said “It is finished” my salvation and yours was done, it was really finished. We can’t add to what He accomplished when He died in our place becoming the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

    We want to claim we are saved by grace, apart from our good works, then turn around and teach that we will be finally justified from the moment we are saved until we die by our own good works. That is heresy. A man is justified only upon the merit of Christ Jesus. Our only righteousness that God approves is a righteousness which is by faith, apart from our good works, credited to our account when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said it had to be by faith so it could be by grace. If I can lay claim to any minute part of my salvation Christ died in vain.

    The example you gave of the man who was raised right, educated right, and lived right, was lacking one thing. He had not been born again. You see, if this man had never left the church he might still have wound up in hell. We are not saved by going to church, living right, treating others kindly, reading the bible, being baptised, praying, etc. We are saved only by believeing the record God gave about His son and placing our trust in Him. Then, and only then, are we to be baptised, go to church, and do good works, because we were created anew to do them.

    Our salvation is complete outside of us and our experience. We only contribute one hopless sinner each to the equation, God does the rest.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  12. Royce you said;(Laymond, First Jesus never said “a soul is saved at the point of baptism” and neither did Peter or Paul. You say “salvation or condemnation is locked in at the point of death of this earthly body”. Of course it is but I believe it is “locked in” ,to use your terminology, at the moment we are saved. Futhermore, a careful reading of Romans 8 for instance will clearly show that in God’s mind our salvation was “locked in” before the foundation of the world.)
    This is the place where you and I disagree (the point of salvation) I believe we are saved from eternal damnation when we come before the judge at the last day, and as I see what you are saying, you understand we are saved at some point in time in this life or even before this life begins. until we can cone to an agreement on the point at which a person is saved from eternal death and is rewarded with eternal life with God, we can never agree whether a Christian can fall from God’s grace which they accepted at baptism. Some say we are saved by grace alone, I say we are saved by grace and works (and so does the bible) we are not waiting on God to fulfill the grace part (he already has) he is waiting for us to fulfill the works part. (which will not be fulfilled until we either die or Christ arrives back on the scene.
    I believe we will be saved (or condemned) at judgement. if you are saved while on this earth, what is the book of life for ? and why should we need to come before the judge.? I will need to re-read Romans 8 but if you read it again you might find “The plan of salvation” was before the foundation of the earth.

  13. Yes laymond, I agree with your premise. Unless we can agree on when a person is saved, we can never find common ground on the other topics. I must quickly add that even more important than “when” are we saved, is “how” are we saved.

    My guess is that 95% of church of Christ folks 25 years ago would haved agreed with your position that we can not know we are saved until the judgement. And that we are saved by grace AND works, and that “God does His part” and we must “do our part”.

    I think today that number would be more like 75% of coC folks who would agree with you. This is the most important topic we could discuss.

    Why do you think Jesus died on the cross? Did He die there to forgive your “past” sins (a common teaching) and to give you a new start? Many people believe that when we are baptised our past sins are forgiven but from that moment on we are on our own and depending of how well we perform we might make it to heaven in the end. I boldly reject that teaching and declare, that is not grace at all! Our salvation must be “by faith” that it might be “by grace”.(Romans 4:1-16) We are saved by believing the record God has given of His Son and trusting Him alone. When even one tiny bit of human effort, (personal righteousness), is added to the mixture it is no longer “by grace”. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

    Laymond, “eternal life” is not only “something” God gives a repentant sinner, it is “someone”. Jesus IS the resurrection and the life and it is His life that is given to the believer. It is called the “mystery of godliness”, “Christ in you the hope of glory”.(Colossians 1:27) This is why Jesus could say, “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish”. He gave them Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit to live in them.

    Romans 4, 5, 8, Ephesians 1, 2, and scores of other passages all speak in the past tense concerning our justification from our sins. It is a past event. Jesus did not say “one who believes on me will someday possibly have eternal life”. No, He said “he who believes on me “has” eternal life. Eternal life is a present possession secured for us in the past. So, John would later say “These things I have written that you may KNOW that you have (present tense) eternal life” (1 John 5:1-13) There is no eternal life, no forgiveness for sins, no acceptable righteousness, no justification, no heaven, no inheritance with the saints, outside of the person, Jesus Christ.

    One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is that His presence in our lives is God’s “seal” or “ernest”, or “guarantee” of our eternal salvation and that one day future even our bodies will be saved. (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13 and others)

    If we think of salvation as an insurance policy it would be a “comprehensive” policy. It covers every risk, or peril. ALL sin, ALL the curse of sin, All the penalty for sin, breaks the power of sin, and will remove us finally from the very presence of Sin. And, the reason the gospel of Christ is called “Good News” is that it is a “gift”. We do nothing to earn it, deserve it, or merit it. It is a gift. (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8)

    As for the judgement? If you are not saved you are already condemned right now. You don’t have to wait for that. The Great White Throne Judgement of Revelation 22 will only confirm what Jesus said of those who reject Him that “they are condemned already” as opposed to those who believe on Him who will not come into condemnation ever. If you will read that chapter you will see that these unsaved masses will give an account for deeds done in the body but then an interesting thing is said. “And those whose names were not in the Lamb’s book of life were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death”. You see, even in the judgement of the unsaved dead, what matters is the Lamb of God. One gets into the Lamb’s book of life by trusting Jesus. And those who have not done so and accepted that wonderful gift of eternal life are lost forever.

    There is another judgement called the Judgement Seat of Christ. Here saved folks too will give an accounting of deeds done, but here it will not be about salvation, but of rewards. Some will have greater rewards than others and some will have greater places of authority in the everlasing kingdom of God than others but they will ALL be saved who have Christ by faith. (Roman 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5).

    Laymond, it is not about you or what you can do, and it is not about me or what I can do, nor is it about the church of Christ and what it can do. The bottom line is this, It is all about Jesus and what we have done about Him.

    “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man (Jesus) whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31

    Your righteousness will be measured by Jesus’ own righteousness and if you only have yours, and not his, you will not be saved. The way to get His righteousness credited to your account in the place of your sins is to do what Abraham did (Romans 4), What Peter did (Acts 4) What the woman at the well did, what the theif on the cross did, what Paul did, and what every other person of every age has done who will be finally saved.

    I close with these verses from 1 John “9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

    10He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

    11And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

    12He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

    13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

    Prayerfully read these verses and ask God to let you know what they mean. This is the “Good News”!

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  14. Royce I readily admit I am “Old School” church of Christ (without the judgmental attitude) I was raised that we were the one and only correct church. Thank God I did not retain that attitude. Now Grace and works. you said I do believe, that if we had to perform any kind of works in our salvation, then it is not ‘Grace” . I do believe we see God’s Grace differently also, I don’t mean to place words in your thoughts and please correct me if I am wrong. As I read what you say it appears to me that you see grace as an individual one on one action. I see grace as a blanket action that covers the whole earth. God showed his grace when he gave his son as a gift to the people of the earth, the act representing God’s grace has already happened “The giving of the gift” but that gift does nothing for anyone unless it is accepted, that is where the individual works begin. First we have to accept “the gift” Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior, and confess our love for him by following and obeying his instructions, given in many places in scripture. I don’t believe we can accept such a gift and then go on our merry way and expect another gift “eternal life” at the day of judgment. The first gift was Jesus “the way” if we follow Christ and his teachings we will receive the second gift or reward of “eternal life” , If we do not follow Jesus and obey him by doing the “works” he commanded we do, then we will receive the reward of Satan “the second death” eternal death.

  15. Laymond, I doubt that we are accomplishing very much here. You obviously did not read the Bible passages I included in my last comment or did not understand them. ( They are pretty clear..)

    God bless you in your quest to live for Christ.

    Royce

  16. I believe the quote “keeping the saved, saved” only means that we have a responsiblity to our brothers and sisters in Christ to offer encouragement with includes compassion, love, mercy and forgiveness while we are all wandering down the Jericho road.

    How are you Royce? Don’t see you around much? 🙂

  17. Royce, I do believe you are right when you say no minds are being changed, we are both to old for that to happen, your new church of Christ may take the place of the old school one day but it will be through the death and replacement of members, not conversion. the 25% of which you speak that agrees with you and disagrees with me are people who are partially converted from the Baptist Church or are the younger generation not brought up in the Church of Christ. I hope you can come to a conclusion whether you want to be CoC or baptist. may God bless

  18. Laymond, I made that decision long ago. I agree with Alexander Campbell. I am a Christian only, but not the only kind of Christian.

    Did you read those passages? If so, did you ask God to help you understand them?

    If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. It is dangerous to rely on what you have been told rather than to rely on what the Word of God plainly says.

    Grace to you,
    Royce

  19. Royce one more question and I will stop bugging you. You said on Gary’s blog the following;
    “I will only suggest that what should be even more alarming is the dinosaur doctrine that teaches men are saved largely by works, by hitting the bases of the “5 step plan” and then “being faithful” to the most “traditional” form of church of Christ doctrine and practice.”

    Question; If a man continues to work to become more like Jesus and follow in his footsteps, do you believe that man is lost because he is trying/working to hard, is that what you are saying, Did Jesus not say pick up your cross and follow me?

  20. Laymond, You are not bothering me at all.

    What I consistently teach and have for over 40 years is that we are to trust only upon Christ for salvation. He is the only way. Imitating Him, following Him, is a natural outpouring of our love for Him because of His great love for us which He desplayed on the cross.

    A man who only imitates Him, trys to keep all the law, lives by the golden rule, etc will die in his sins unless he repents from his self sufficiency and turns in faith to Christ.

    Genuine faith in Christ will make us want to be obedient to all God wants us to be and to do beginning with submission to water baptim.

    We believers do good because we have been made righteous. We are not made righteous because we do good. Jesus said “without me you can do nothing” and “the flesh profits nothing”. What is done with the best intentions in the energy and ability of the flesh alone will come to nothing. On the other hand what is done in the power and authority of Christ in the life a believer can get God sized results.

    I hope this helps you to see my point of view.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  21. Dear Royce,
    What do you believe the points are of Hebrews 10:26 and 1 John 1:7? If you already addressed the teachings of these two passages, please let me know. I would be glad to read them.

    Thank you, and have a great day!

    James Jones

  22. wow, glad I stopped back by here. I missed all the comments. A flaw of bloglines.

    only a small point or two.
    the transformation into a increasing likeness of Christ is a work of God’s not our own. Not that true faith will sit back and not produce good works but I for one can’t work myself into being like my master.

    For a second point…I don’t know about the percentages but agree it will take death and not ‘conversion’ but that’s not new either. it seems that God will often let a generation pass and raise up one to follow after/ trust/ rely upon him. Think wanderers in the desert. That’s probably too harsh. But TOO many rely not on Jesus to do what he has promised and instead rely on their understanding and hitting the bases as you have put it.

  23. Thomas, glad to see you have been here. You make some excellent points. Transformation is God’s work and not our own as you said. “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phillipians 2:13)

    Genuine, Biblical, saving faith will never “sit back” and do nothing. James did not say in vain “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26) The mistake many people make is that they think works results in faith which is the opposite of truth. Works do not in some way complete faith or make it full. Works show that our faith is real. Just as faith without works is dead, so is works without faith is dead as well. The term is “self righteousness”.

    Unless something radically changes, when the “baby boomers” (I am one of them) finally die off, much of the most traditional (conservative) coC’s will be about gone. The Christian Chronicle has published a series of articles with science to prove up what I am saying. Following the “pattern” and calling it worship is not reaching our young couples and teens. They want and need a radical encounter with Christ that will change them for time and eternity. That experience is not tied to a church and for sure not some man devised pattern.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  24. James Jones,

    Thanks for stopping by Grace Digest and for your questions. I’ll try to answer the best I can.

    To better understand 1 John 1:7 lets see the context. John says in the opening some things about Jesus and that eternal life is in Him. Then in the last part of verse 5 he says “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all”. What a contrast! Light vs. darkness. Then in verse 6 he continues this contrast by saying “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” You can’t be with Him (in the light) and live in the darkness. When a man tries that He is a liar and does not practice truth. Walking in darkness indicates a pattern of wrong, sinful living. Then in verse 7 he says “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Note, how we walk (live) shows if we are truely Christians or not, it does not make us Christians.

    In the second chapter verses 3-6 John makes what I said abundantly clear.
    ” Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

    If you want to know if you are “in Him” ask yourself “am I keeping His commandments?” If you say you are “in Him” and do not keep His commandments you are a liar. So if a fellow says “I know Him”, “I am a Christian”, “I have been baptised and joined the church”. God says to that fellow, “If what you are saying is true, you will “walk just as He walked”. (In the light)

    Mark it down, if you know a fellow, or if that fellow is you, and the person’s life is one of walking in the darkness, not keeping Christ’s commandments, that person is not saved and has never been saved. The only way you and I can tell since we can’t “see the heart” like God is to watch how a man lives. If we are walking in the light we are saved and if we are not we are lost, very simple. The “walking” though does not translate us from the kingdom of “darkness” into the kingdom of His dear Son, trusting upon Christ and Him alone does that.

    John continues these contrasts through the rest of the book but in the final chapter he make it crystal clear that we are not saved by works.

    “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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.” (1 John 5:9-14) We are saved by believing or lost because we do not believe. Works shows our choice.

    As for Hebrews 10:26, again context is very important. In the 10th chapter the author has made it clear that the animal sacrifices never took sins away (verse 4) and because of that God prepared “a body” (Christ’s) (verse 5) to be the once for all final offering for the sins of men. (verses 10, 12, 14)

    He has made it plain the only way to have sins forgiven, removed, not remembered any more is by the offering of Christ and beyond Him there is not other offering for sin. The author is writing to a mixture of saved and unsaved Jews. His whole case is that Christ is superior to the priests, the angels, the sacrifices, the offerings, and that He Himself, in His flesh is the only payment for our sins.

    Now in your verse 26 he says, once you know this to be true and go out and sin willfully, trample under foot the Son of God, you are going to hell! There is no other sacrifice for sin, Christ is it. If you miss Him you miss heaven. Every sinner who has heard a clear presentation of the gospel about Jesus has “a knowledge of the truth”. That sinner will either believe on Him and be saved or reject and be lost.

    If you interpret this verse to mean that if a Christian who has been purchased with the blood of Jesus commits a willful sin that he is at once lost for ever then much of what Jesus taught was a lie. And much of what you read in 1 John is a lie. Both views cannot be true. After what we just read in 1 John about how to spot a Christian (he walks in the light) but does have some sin and if he says he does not he is a liar. Do you really believe it is a Christian?, who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit?, who tramples the blood of Christ under his feet? God forbid such a thought.

    No, he makes a clear comparison in verses 28 and 29. Those who rejected Moses’ law died without mercy and in the same way those who reject Christ will be lost as well.

    There is no more sacrifice for sin, Christ was the one perfect, final offering. And when He had offered Himself, He sat down on the right hand of God. Our salvation was complete and now He is there to be an advocate when we fall into sin to plead our case to the Father. His blood is sufficient!

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  25. Royce, Thank you for your response. I have been in and out of town for the past three weeks. I apologize for taking so long to respond.

    Let me make sure I understand your conclusions. You believe from your study of Hebrews 10, that verse 26 is only to the non-Christians? I always thought verse 29 indicated that a person who had been sanctified was a Christian.

    I have in my ESV, and some other translations, “if we go on sinning deliberately…”; I do not believe it refers to one sin. I hope that will help in where I am coming from.

    I want you to know that I wholeheartedly believe that without the blood of Jesus, and his redemptive work, I would never be saved. I know I could never, ever earn my salvation.

    I do believe I must trust him, and his direction. When I hear that he wants me to be baptized for the remission of my sins, I must respond by faith.

    Are we on the same page, and just wording things differently?

    I appreciate your time. Again, I apologize for taking so long to respond.

  26. James,

    There are some rules of Bible interpretation that should be closely followed.

    Two opposites cannot possibly be true. God cannot and will not contradict Himself. It is foolhardy to take a few “proof texts” (sometimes out of context) and attempt to use them to teach the exact opposite of scores of other very plain, clear, scripture texts.

    Another way to put this is to always follow the “weight of scripture”. If you find 50 verses that clearly state a truth don’t try to take a dozen that are not so clear and try to teach the opposite, both are not correct.

    There is an old saying, “Let God be true and every man a liar”. I will add to that, even if the man is well respected in your faith tradition, your preacher, or your elder. God is always right and man is not always right. I must quickly add, I am not always right.

    I refuse to believe any teaching that if I believe it makes Jesus’ words untrue. He promised that those who trust in Him would be given eternal life and that they would NEVER perish. There are at least 50 passages in the New Testament alone that teach the same truth. I can not reconcile any teaching that goes against so many crystal clear passages of Holy Scriptures.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  27. You are right: God cannot contradict himself. I am glad he will not.

    Could the trust be a life of continued trust, just as we are to conitnue to walk in the light (“if” we walk in the light…).

    When you wrote:
    “to take a dozen that are not so clear”
    Which passages were used that were not so clear? I brought up 1 John 1:7 and Hebrews 10:26. You addressed both of them without a hint of uncertainty. So, I apologize if I missed something.

    Why was this written: “I will add to that, even if the man is well respected in your faith tradition, your preacher, or your elder.”? Trust me, I am asking questions of different people. I am not doing it for any respect of a preacher (Galatians 1:10). I am trying to prove all things (1 Thes. 5:21).

    Your articles have been very straightforward, and I like that. I hope my straightforwardness hasn’t been misinterpreted. I am just trying to study so I can better serve my Lord.

  28. James,

    1 John 5: says, “9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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.”

    I was speaking in general terms and not addressing you specifically. There is no doubt that in the churches of Christ there are many who rely far to much on “the witness of men”. Much of what we fight over is about what happens in “the building” on Sunday morning, about how the Lord’s Supper is served and who serves it and when, Sunday night “faithfulness” and little is said in the Bible to support some of our strongest held positions.

    As for the “dozen or so that are not clear”, again I was making a general observation, not talking about you specifically. I will not take the time here to quote many of those verses but those who hold to a salvation either received or kept with a mixture of grace and works attempt to prop up a false doctrine with passages taken out of context, or pour into them a meaning the author never intended.

    Salvation is wholly by grace, wholly upon the work and merit of Jesus Christ, and those who are depending upon themselves and their “faithfulness” to gain or keep God’s favor are deceived.

    We will be faithful if we are saved, we will do good works if we are saved, we will walk in the light if we are saved, but not we will not be sinless. Not one of these good things will persuade God to save us or to keep us. He keeps His promises.

    My original thought was that I can do absolutely nothing to keep another person saved, (“Keeping the saved, saved”) nor can I do anything to keep myself saved. Salvation is a work of God not a work of man. The idea that any mere man can add to the perfect work of Christ is an affront to a Holy God. That is exactly what men do who attempt to frustrate the grace of God by depending on good works and Christ, instead of Christ alone.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

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