You have it in your heart to please God all the time. Imagine yourself at worship during a church service. As the music plays, your hands are lifted up in the air, a symbol of your soaring heart as you focus on him who loved you enough to save you. Ah! A little bit of Heaven within you.
Then after the service is over, it is coffee and doughnuts at the back hall, sometimes referred to as "fellowship". Your patience is put to the test as you stand in line and wait to be served your coffee. The person being served talks and talks, and you watch as you see the steam rising from the pot diminish as the black coffee cools. Eventually it is your turn to be served and the milk jug runs dry. The server turns to the fridge and mutters,
"Oh no! So and so had forgotten to restock the milk!"
You decide to go without the refreshment at the same time you feel the crave for a hot, steaming mug of coffee in your stomach. Then a ten year old child runs towards you with a cup of orange juice as he plays a game of chase with another boy, accidentally jolts as he runs past, spilling his juice down your leg. Finally your temper snaps, and to the child you shout:
"CAN YOU BE A LITTLE MORE CAREFUL?"
You decide to get in your car to drive home. Along the way, an incredibly stupid or blind driver cuts you up and you slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. The language pouring out of your mouth cannot be included here.
During the service, you were soaring the heights of holy devotion. Now at home you see yourself as a vessel of iniquity with the inability to pray, as you're still consumed by anger and frustration. You feel cut off from God and harbour the idea that if you were to die at that moment, it would be Hell, having lost your salvation, at least for the time being. So according to the teachings of your church which holds the "Arminian" view of constant faithfulness, human will and free choice. But if you calm down enough to pray, and confess your sin, then your salvation will be restored, providing that you have not gone beyond the point of no return, from where there is no more hope.
But here I wish to present a very different truth, which my long-term Christian experience seem to back up. Let me share an incident while I was a volunteer at a Christian Conference Centre, ran by the Church of England, in Israel, 1994.
If a volunteer offends, he or she was driven by car straight to the airport after a flight back to the UK was booked by the Centre's Director. Just previous to my arrival, two volunteers were escorted straight to the airport from the Centre. Their offence? The young man and woman fell in love and they were caught petting, to the offence of staff and other volunteers.
After two months of volunteering myself, a massive disagreement arose between me and several other volunteers, the differences of opinion having came to a head that evening. The Director decided that I should return to the UK. But he also commended on my work done at the Centre, and my commitment to the project. That was why I was not escorted to the airport. Instead I was given a sum of pocket money and allowed to remain in Israel until I was ready to fly home, with which I had to make my own flight booking. They escorted me as far as the local bus station, where I was "dumped" there.
I spent a full month at a small backpackers hostel within the Old City of Jerusalem. I was so devastated on what I saw was a miscarriage of justice. I did not believe that a better educated member should be treated with greater favouritism, hence the dispute. I was so fed up with Christianity altogether, I decided to renounce it all, and go my own way. To Hell with the consequences. Day after day, when the other backpackers went out for the day, I lay on the bed, contemplating. I lay face down, burying my face in the pillow.
But after a while, I began to hear, or should I say, feel, a still small voice calling within me, "Frank, Frank..." - Maybe not unlike that of Elijah who fled from the clutches of Jezebel feeling equally disillusioned after serving God so faithfully. (1 Kings 19:1-18).
I began to respond, calling on the name of the Lord. By the time I flew home at the end of the month, my faith was restored, but I still remained emotional devastated which gradually tapered off until I flew out to New York on the very first anniversary of my flight home from Israel.
Our future is in God's hands. Did you know that long before you were even born, God knew every single day of your life? He not only knew exactly how many days you will live, but he also knew when you first believed in Jesus, the time your heart soared to Heaven and he knew also of the coffee line up afterwards, the spill of juice down your leg and the careless driver, all before you were even conceived. He knew who your parents will be, where you will be born, and he knows exactly when you will be called home. Every single work, thought, belief and action were already written in his book before you ever existed. Likewise he also knew of my rise in faith, the fall and restoration in Israel, as well as, as I stood on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem, receiving a vision to fly to the USA the day before I flew home to the UK. It was something I had not anticipated, but God knew all along as I lay on that bed in the hostel.
And this is where I find prophecy so fascinating! The very first judgement God passed to Adam and Eve after the Fall contained a promise of the future Messiah (Genesis 3:15). Later, King David wrote a song which contained accurate and well detailed prophecy (Psalm 22). He described himself as hanging on a cross with a crowd of people staring up at him, mocking him, after having both is garments either given away to someone by casting lots, or cut up into four parts. In fact, David gave a vivid description of the Crucifixion a thousand years before it came into existence. Isaiah too, also gave a thorough description of a suffering servant who took upon himself the iniquity of many, so that they will be healed. (Isaiah 53).
Another astonishing prophecy is found in Zechariah, which reads:
I told them, "if you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, then keep it." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter"- the handsome price of which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter. (Zechariah 11:12-13).
Here is the spot-on prophecy concerning Judas Iscariot, who received thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus Christ to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Afterwards he threw the money back into the Temple and went and hanged himself. The Council then used the money to buy a potters field, to bury the dead of foreigners. (Matthew 27:3-10). Certainly God knew exactly what Judas would get up to, some 460 years before he was even born.
The book of Daniel contains some prophecies of astonishing accuracy. One concerns the dating of the coming of Jesus, from the day a decree was sent out to rebuild Jerusalem after it was razed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BC. Daniel received a divine vision that after the decree is made, seventy "weeks" will transpire before the land is fully restored after the Return of Christ. We understand that these "weeks" are actually seven years, not even days. If true, then what this Scripture is saying is that Israel shall continue without a king for a further 490 years after the decree to rebuild the city, about the duration the nation was a kingdom from the start of the reign of King Saul to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
The decree is detailed in the book of Nehemiah, who received it from the Persian King Artaxerxs in the twentieth year of his reign, or 445 BC. Daniel then records that from the decree, there will be seven "weeks" and sixty two "weeks". The seven weeks, or 49 years marks the end of the Old Testament canon, after the prophet Malachi finally puts down his quill. The remaining 62 "weeks" or 434 years was the period leading up to the cutting off of the Messiah, "but not for himself", but for the salvation of others. If we add 434 to 49, we get 483 years, which is seven years, or one "week" short of the initial 490 years as first given. From the decree given to Nehemiah in 445BC to the Crucifixion, there will be a time period when Israel will not be a kingdom, a duration when Israel was a kingdom from Saul to the destruction of Jerusalem. Read the whole of Daniel chapter 9, which also has the prophet's wonderful prayer of intercession. As for the remain one "week" of seven years, many scholars believe that this week will immediately precede the Second Coming of Christ. Seven years earlier, the Rapture of the Church to Heaven will begin the "week"- during which the future Antichrist will arise to reign over the world and trouble the Jews, until Christ arrives to rescue Israel from destruction and to sit on the throne of his father David.
Daniel also gives a graphic detail of the coming Greek empire from after his passing to the start of the Roman Empire, and the Jewish subjection under such cruel Greek masters who will desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem. (Daniel 11). The prophet even gives the detail of a future maiden who will be given to a rival king to secure his own kingdom. Scholars have identified her as Berenice, the daughter of Greek King of Egypt Ptolemy Philadelphus, who will give as wife to Antiochus Theos, King of Syria. (Daniel 11:5-6). But then, why did God foretell the actions of future Greek kings with such intimate detail? Because God also knew that the duration of the Greek Empire is the only period when the Bible will not be written. Malachi, the final penman of the Old Testament, wrote his book during the Persian Empire. Matthew, whose Gospel is the first book of the New Testament, was written, as with the whole of the New Testament, during the Roman Empire.
Yes, this this is getting rather academic. And on top of this, I only gave a small, but rather stunning set of prophecies. But I use these examples to demonstrate that we are all in the hands of God, especially to those who believe, or trust in Jesus Christ to save us from the penalty of our sins, to friendship with God.
It is because of this, the stunning accuracy of prophecy and the full foreknowledge, or omniscience of God, that I believe in the Perseverance of the Saints, or if you like, Once Saved always Saved. But after listening on You Tube and reading other people's articles on this issue, I tell you what Once Saved Always Saved does not mean. It does not mean:
I once asked Jesus Christ into my heart, and lo! I'm saved. I can do anything I want now because I won't be going to Hell. I can have my fill of sin, knowing that I will go to Heaven when I die.
If you think that the above statement is what being eternally saved is all about, then that's proof that you have never known what salvation really is, that you are still in your sins and you are not a child of God. Yet there are many "Arminian" Christians who think that is what we believe!
To be eternally saved is to have a new heart planted within you, a heart that wants to know God, wants to love him and who wants to be cleansed from sin and have no part in it. But we do still sin, and God says through John that if we confess our sins, he he faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Because of the new heart, created by God and planted within our souls, I don't believe that a true believer can ever fall away. His desire to know God and communicate with him just keeps on growing within him. I watched some people in our church grow in grace to such an extent, and one young man in particular, young enough to be my son, I fully support him as an elder in our fellowship, respecting his authority.
And if you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then I want you to be fully assured that everything that happens in your life, both good and bad, have all been foreseen by God. Nothing ever happens by chance or coincidence. And let me encourage you that your future is in his hands, a loving Father.
With his prophecies of such stunning accuracy, how can we not trust in him?
And would he really save you if he already knew that some time later you will lose your salvation? In the light of fulfilled prophecy, this does not make sense, does it?