A gracEmail subscriber in Africa asks for biblical insight regarding his present and future security as a believer in Jesus Christ, while a subscriber in China inquires about the scripture passages that warn Christians against falling away.
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Scripture contains many warnings and admonitions, and we must take them all very seriously. “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matt. 13:9). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). “Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).
In reading these statements and others like them, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees unless we keep the following larger picture in view. The books of the New Testament were written for the church on earth, not for the church in heaven. The church on earth includes two kinds of people: (1) believers, and (2) unbelievers who claim to be believers (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). This is why many will claim at the Judgment to know Jesus, only to be told that he has never known them (Matt. 7:21-23). Jesus told the parable of the wheat and tares to teach this very lesson (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).
Faith that is real is faith that endures. We are God’s household “if we hold fast” to the end (Heb. 3:6). Holding fast does not make us God’s household — it manifests our true identity. In the same way, a “faith” that is not genuine but is only superficial is sometimes demonstrated by permanently leaving Christ (Heb. 6:4-12; 10:26-31,39). Some scripture warnings do not concern final salvation but involve discipline, maturity or reward. Most, if not all, of the rest are telling us in different ways to be sure that our confession is genuine and our faith is real. The best evidence of all that, we will see in the next gracEmail, is that we keep our eyes on Jesus and entrust ourselves to him.
(to be continued)
I received this teaching in today’s email from Bro’ Edward Fudge.
I agree completely and Edward, as usual, stated these truths in such a succinct and powerful way I felt compelled to share what he wrote.
Agree or disagree and why?
Thanks for reading,
I guess I’ll have to wait and see the rest of what he’s saying, but so far I’m not convinced. It seems an easy out to say, “Well, if he fell away, then he never really believed.” How do we know that? How can we know that?
The warning language doesn’t seem to say, “Tell those people to come to faith in Jesus.” It says, “Hang on to what you have.” Encourage one another daily would need to say “Evangelize the non-believers among you.”
I’ve been doing too much work with the seven letters of Revelation lately to think that Jesus means anything other than what he says. Those seven letters to not reflect eternal security.
Grace and peace,
On this one I suppose we will have to disagree. You see I think Jesus also meant exactly what he said in John 6 when at least three times he promised resurrection to those who trust him.
This is a disagreement thousands of years old I suppose and good men on both sides of the issue, much more able than I, couldn’t agree. One thing I can’t find in the New Testament is any example of a person being born again, then being lost, then being born again, again which is exactly what is taught my many coC preachers. Interestingly I have never heard one who was supposedly “coming back to the Lord” be told to be baptized again.
I have several posts in the archives that state my position in detail so I will not go into detail in this comment. The main difference between me and most of my brothers in the RM is this. I don’t think there are nearly as many people saved as they do.
Jesus said in John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”. Until someone can explain to me when “never” and “eternal” expires I will remain unconvinced Jesus didn’t mean exactly what he said here.
I love you Tim and appreciate the great work you are doing for the Kingdom of Christ.
I realized after I submitted my comment that the “he means what he says” is a phrase that is often used in a condescending way. I didn’t mean it that way. As you said, there are godly, studious servants of God on both sides of this issue.
I’ll take some time and read some of what you’ve written on this subject. I find too many warnings written to Christians to buy into what Fudge is saying.
Thanks for your good writings and godly attitude. May God bless your ministry.
Grace and peace,
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