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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Feeling Secure.

I don't know about you, but whenever I read any of the four Gospels in the New Testament, I always get the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ felt secure in his Father's love. Of all the great men of God recorded in the entire Bible, it looks to me that only Jesus went about his business feeling 100% secure in his Father's acceptance. This was even endorsed while he with his three disciples up on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the Father passed over the summit in a cloud, uttering the words,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I'm well pleased, listen to him. (Matthew 12:1-13.)
But these were not the first words he heard the Father speak. Earlier, at the start of his ministry, as John was baptising him in the River Jordan, he spoke the same words, assuring John that he was indeed the Christ, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. For further proof, John watched as a visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in the form of a dove. Personally, I don't believe that Jesus and John were alone in the river. There must have been a crowd of onlookers who witnessed this extraordinary event, some might have been in the river itself, just a few feet away, waiting for their turn to be baptised. This experience alone would have left without any trace of doubt of the Lord's assurance of his Fathers love, with enough witnesses to establish a legend.
But going back to the incident on the summit of the mountain, believed to be Mount Tabor in the northern region of west Galilee, Jesus selected only three of his twelve disciples, leaving the other nine behind. Mount Tabor is only 575 metres (1,886 ft) high, so compared to other mountains around the world, it isn't that high, but enough for a revelation that had the three disciples terrified, yet gasping in wonder and glory at the same time.
Mount Tabor.
Whenever I read about this particular event, I have wondered what went on in the minds of the other nine followers at the foot of the hill. Did they believe that their Lord showed a certain degree of favouritism? The very fact that Jesus instructed his closest three - Peter, James, and John - to keep their experience to themselves seems to indicate the possibility of jealousy or envy arising in the hearts of the other nine. Indeed, favouritism does not endear friendships, but seems to be one of the main causes of division and rivalry. The Mount Tabor incident might well have been the underlying factor behind the disputes among the Twelve on who will be the greatest. Although I cannot be dogmatic here, as this is only a suggestion, but maybe the possibility of a growing hostility Judas Iscariot had felt towards Jesus might have originated here. At least, while they were milling around at the foot of the hill, the Father allowed a man with a demon-possessed son to attract their attention away from the inconvenience of the Lord's absence.
Jesus, who felt secure in his Father's love and delight, carried out his ministry without the slightest sense of fear of making a mistake and resulting in his Father's disapproval. It was, I think, his awareness of his standing with his Father that he was able to forgive sins easily and without reservation, to heal the sick, to comfort the oppressed, and to show compassion for the poor. His confidence in God's love and approval had impressed both his followers and the crowd in general, and aroused envy and anger among the Pharisees. I would say that the mock trial preceding their deliverance to Pilate was about searching for something he had said or done that was deliberately wrong, in order to convince themselves that he had fallen out of God's favour. When no charges could be brought before him, in exasperation, they all cried out to Pilate, Crucify! Crucify!
During his ministry, he showed a variety of emotions, from the joy he expressed to his Father about showing wisdom to babes and sucklings above the wise and prudent, to the righteous anger shown to the dishonest Temple merchants, to the tears over the fate of Jerusalem and the death of Lazarus. But he never displayed any fear about his relationship with the Father. Sure enough, he sweat drops like blood in the Garden of Gethsemane immediately before his arrest, but that was not for losing favour with God, but for the dreadful anticipation of suffering intensely while hanging on a cross. It is interesting too, that of all the prayers he requested and talked about to his Father, this one, asking God if he could take another less painful way, was the only one which the answer from above was "No". Then Jesus acknowledged his submission to his Father's will, knowing perfectly well of the tremendous reward of countless saints which would make up his future bride.
Jesus had a fervent love for his Father in heaven which motivated him to live a servant's life to the full. In him there was no fear of loss of salvation, no questioning doubts about his relationship, and no worries whether he committed any sins, or fell short of perfection. Instead he was constantly doing good to others and he did not squirm for one moment when he faced his enemies, instead, he had enough trust in the Holy Spirit within him to answer all their hard questions and to confound their accusations.

As a believer in Jesus as the Christ, Lord and Saviour, I too would have found the stresses of modern life much easier to cope if I had that same confidence in my relationship with God as Jesus had. With my beloved wife partially disabled, and myself awaiting assessments on my heart condition, the last thing I need to be told is that I could still walk away from God and lose my salvation, even if nobody else would be able to take it away from me. And so it happened while sitting at a friend's back garden over coffee one warm Summer evening in July with a couple of long-standing mates. What these two believed were the results of teachings percolating through many churches in our area, and across the land as a whole - the idea that nobody can take away a believer's eternal life in Christ - not even the Devil - but I can choose to simply walk away and be lost again. They, like me, were keen on Romans 8:38-39, which reads:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These two verses reflect the very relationship Jesus had with his Father while here on earth. And it looked as if Paul too, enjoyed the full security in his sonship with God as Jesus did. But these two in the garden insisted that despite all that, I can just walk away and lose the salvation God has given me. And this guy once was one of the elders in our church before moving on. I did not argue or defend my case when I stated that I believe in once saved always saved. But what I did find odd was that if neither angels nor demons nor any other powers, whether in heaven or on earth, were able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, then why would I want to walk away from the Father unless I was being led by another entity? If I simply walked away, then I must be actually going somewhere - which means that I have seen something more attractive than the Kingdom of God, or that my faith no longer appeals, which will cause me to find something more appealing. I either case, if such a carrot was dangling in front of me, who would be holding the rod?

Just by asking such a question exposes the fallacy of such teachings. Not to mention the denial of God's omniscience, which means that God does not know what will happen next. This in itself is a blasphemous travesty against all the prophecies found in Scripture, which demonstrates the omniscience of God spanning all eternity. Then another problem would arise if I did walk away and end up lost again - where exactly in my spiritual life is that line, once crossed, I'll be lost forever? No teacher, preacher, or evangelist can locate this point of no return, neither the Pope or any Catholic or Protestant clergy. But the Bible itself can. In James 2:10 it reads:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

This reminds me of a simple act done by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They took a bite of a fruit from a tree God said not to take from. It wasn't much of an act - eating a particular fruit - but it was sin, a transgression of a simple command, and it was the cause of the Fall. And this wasn't just an act they just decided to make. Rather it was Lucifer himself, in the form of a snake, who first tempted them, calling God a liar. After the Fall, mankind was born sinful ever since. This narration shows that the line is crossed the moment a sin is committed, even a very small one.

Then to believe that I can lose my salvation by simply walking away puts me under the law, as I must hold faithful to be saved. That is law, something I must do, something I must keep. And if, heaven forbid, I do something that is not of the faith, then I sin, and according to James 2:10, I'll be lost forever, having forfeited eternal life. This is disastrous for every believer who has ever lived or will ever live. The end result, as I said to those two mates of mine, was that not a single soul would be saved - from Adam to the present day. It would mean that men of faith - Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, King David, all the prophets, Peter, Paul, all the other apostles, and every believer to this day - would be eternally lost unless they lived a perfectly sinless life since conversion. Not believing in eternal security is all about the believer's past sins forgiven only, a concept I could see will only lead to failure. All I can conclude from this is denying the truth of eternal security, or once saved always saved, is a complete denial of Christ's atonement made on the cross. That is to say, if nobody can be saved due to everyone being a law-breaker, then the coming of Jesus Christ to die for our transgressions was a total waste of time and effort on his part. Hence the devastating state of both Christology and Soteriology among those who deny the truth of eternal security of the believer. Yet there are many preachers around the Christian world who continue to expound this lie to the detriment of those who listen and absorb.

So how do I find all this in practice? Well, could it mean that I have a greater burden than Jesus or Paul to make sure that I remain in the love and acceptance of God? For example, if someone insults me, then, according to these preachers and teachers, I'm expected to forgive him or else my present and future sins would not be forgiven. At least Jesus had no sin in him which needed to be forgiven, so he wasn't burdened with the problem. If the offender refuses to apologise or change his mind and ways, and as a result I don't feel any forgiveness in my heart, then I stand condemned, according to them. Believe me, I have met and dealt with some of the nastiest people who could ever walk this planet, insisting that they were always right, then disappear out of my life, leaving me venting with rage with no escape route for such feelings to be let out. If this rage continues on and on week in, week out, for many months to follow, as they did with me, and then I cross the line of no return and lose my salvation, in that case, all what Paul had written in the 8th chapter of Romans becomes meaningless - a lie, in fact - either that, or Paul had never had the experience of rage at the level I had experienced.

Believing in Once Saved Always Saved has strengthened my walk with God to no end, and holding to this doctrine does not entice me to sin, especially against other people. I would go as far as to say that anyone who rejects this doctrine as a licence to sin is still harbouring a desire to sin in his heart, which he keeps in check through fear of punishment. That is quite different from the desire not to sin through a fervent love for God. Furthermore, believing in eternal security has helped me through some testing times in my life, particularly with my wife's illness, her long stay in hospital. and my daily visits to her bedside. Also the medical team has recently discovered that I have heart failure, and further assessments are required to determine whether I need open heart surgery for a valve replacement. Security in Christ goes a long way against panic, and through this I can give glory to God through praise and thanksgiving for each day of life he has given me. Eternal security in Christ has allowed me to give credit to God where credit is due, and recognising in myself that I have nothing to boast about. Rather, I'm saved purely by the grace of God, totally undeserved mercy, and as such must also be kept by the power of God, for I don't have the power to keep myself.

Secure in Christ - on holiday, 2014

I was created by the Father, redeemed through the Son, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit - a triune God who knew me from eternity past, predestined me to conform to the image of his Son, and will see future glory. This is the true God I have a longing to know, to worship, to enjoy intimate fellowship and to spend eternity in glory.

Losing my salvation? No chance! God sees his gift as far too precious for that. The price the Lord Jesus paid for this gift was way too high to be forfeited.


  1. Amen, Frank.

    As you said, to reject eternal security denies that God knows what we will do and still promised eternal life. It also implies he has lied in saying that we have eternal life and are kept by the power of God, which as you pointed out, is blasphemy.

    So many of those who fear losing their salvation give up after doing some wrong action and go deep into sin because they already lost their salvation anyway, when those who believe in eternal security realize they only need to ask for forgiveness for that lapse in judgment. They no longer need to live in fear.

  2. Dear Frank,
    I have seen saved people, mostly from Pentecostal backgrounds, who struggle with their eternal security because of teachings they have heard. It totally undermines their peace and joy in the Lord, and it is very difficult for them to shake their insecurity even when exposed to all the many Bible proofs of once saved, always saved. Our preacher is doing a great study on eternal security now. One of his many points is that if God were to kick us out of His family every time we sinned (which basically would be daily), then we would be removed from His chastening hand of correction. No matter how disobedient our children are, we can never disavow that flesh-and-blood tie, and instead we try to shape their character and behavior through discipline. God does the same with us when we stray from His path, which would not be possible if we were not still His child.

    Thanks for the great post! Praying for your heart and for Alex's health.
    God bless,