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Our Security In Christ

    When a person comes to Jesus Christ for new life and forgiveness of sins, how secure is his or her new position as a son or daughter of God? Is it possible for a true believer in Christ Jesus, having been saved, to ever become lost again? Within the following pages I would like to highlight some truths in the Word of God that have caused me to come to the conclusion that our position in Christ Jesus is an eternal position, safe in the arms of a loving Father. I will also be addressing many of the scriptures that seem to cast doubt on this position, and hopefully, add some clarity to the issue . It is for me, a precious and priceless doctrine, and one that in my opinion adds to the life, love and godliness of the true believer in Christ Jesus.

"Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."The Security of Predestination

    The Scriptures declare that predestination is a fact: "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself." Ephesians 1:4-5

    Predestination is not that God chooses some to go to heaven and some to go to hell, for the Lord is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 1 Peter 3:9.

    Rather, predestination is the working of God in accordance with His foreknowledge. God knows who will and will not receive Him ahead of time and makes sure that those who will receive Him will find Him.

    "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son…Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." Romans 8:29-30.

    The Eternal God who stands outside of time has already foreknown, predestinated, called, justified and glorified the true believer in Jesus Christ. Notice that this verse puts our future glorification in heaven in the past tense, it being a finished action in the foreknowledge of God. If this glorification is already completed in the mind of the Lord when He calls us, how then can a true believer in Christ subsequently become lost? In God's eyes our glorification is as much a fact as our justification and our calling, all of which was known beforehand by His foreknowledge.

    When in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me." John 17:6.

    Jesus said again: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out…And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." John 6:37,39. Jesus declares in these verses that every believer that God has seen in his foreknowledge will indeed come to Him and that He "should lose nothing."

    The Security of the New Nature

    John 3:6 says: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." We have been born again and our new nature has taken on His attributes for we are "In Him." Ephesians 1:4. Our new nature has been "created in righteousness and holiness" Ephesians 4:24, and by its very nature is righteous and everlasting, for He is righteous and everlasting. How then can one be unborn? We are a new creation in Christ Jesus and although our flesh sins and is sinful, our new nature cannot sin: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in Him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." 1 John 3:9. And Peter also declares: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." 1 Peter 1:23. Therefore how can this new nature ever become lost? Note the words of the Apostle Paul when describing a particular rebellious believer: "…deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." 1 Corinthians 5:5.

    The new nature, being born of the Spirit, is eternal as well as righteous. Jesus said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." John 5:24. If a true converted believer in Jesus Christ can be damned, how can "shall not come into condemnation” be true? or how can someone truly have everlasting life and lose it? If they did lose it, did they ever really have everlasting life to begin with?

    The Security of the Keeping Power of Christ

    Jude sums it up quite wonderfully when he writes: "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Jude 24. Again in 1 John: "We know that anyone born of God does not practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him and the wicked one does not lay hold on him." 1 John 5:18, Amplified Bible. Jesus also said in the book of John: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." John 10:27-30 (Italics removed).

One of my favorite scriptures says it most clearly: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39.

We know that hell by its very nature is separation from God and therefore separation from His love. Hell is everlasting punishment without redemption. Yet this scripture declares that nothing can separate believers from God's love. Demonic principalities cannot do it ("nor principalities"). So if a true believer can be tempted and drawn away unto damnation, how could this verse be true? This verse declares that not only the present but also the future can't separate me from God's love! Wouldn't that include myself, that I wouldn't leave God's grace? Again, how could this scripture be true if I could? Or consider the words "nor any other creature." How could these words be true if I were able to separate myself from Him? Remember, when we were born from above we received a new nature and spirit that "cannot sin." 1 John 3:9.

    The Security of the Sealing of the Holy Spirit

    Paul wrote: "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30. The scripture declares that we are sealed to the day of receiving our resurrected bodies in glory! This covers all the time during our pilgrimage on this fallen earth, within the tents of our sinful bodies of flesh.

    Again the Apostle writes: "…after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (or deposit) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." Ephesians 1:13-14.

    The Security of Grace

If it is possible for a born again believer to lose his salvation, what must we do to keep it? What is the work? What is the "keeping effort" that one must maintain? What good thing must we continue to do in our own effort? The scriptures declare that we are "not under law but under grace" and also "If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Romans 11:6.

    But you may say, "If you teach grace as true grace, won't it promote sin?" On the contrary! In fact it is the law that promotes sin and not grace, as it is written: "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." 1 Corinthians 15:56. Paul again states: "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14.

    True grace will lead us into a loving relationship with our heavenly Father, and thus produce the fruit that the law never could produce. "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Romans 7:6. And again: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Titus 1:11-12. Paul wrote again: "…that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…" Philippians 3:9.

    Notice that Paul did not rely on his own righteousness, nor did he glory in his own faith, but in "the faith of Christ" in him (KJV & Greek). If a true believer in Christ Jesus can lose his salvation, then what law is he under that he must maintain to keep his salvation? What is the source of the possibility of God's wrath upon him that he must beware of? Scripture says "The law brings wrath: but where there is no law there is no transgression." Romans 4:15 (RSV).

    True fruit always comes about in an environment of love. Growth may require some correction, but never condemnation. Again "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. How can this verse really be true if, as a born again believer in Christ Jesus with a regenerate spirit, one can then be damned? How else can we interpret the words "no condemnation" if there is the possibility of some?

    The Security of Jesus' Eternal Sacrifice

    We can usually grasp that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross covers all our past sins and even present sins, but what about our future sins? Does His sacrifice cover these as well?

    The first thing you might ask yourself when looking at this question is how many of your sins were future when Jesus died for them 2000 years ago? Were they not all future? In fact, when we receive Christ as our personal Savior, we enter into His finished work on the cross which He accomplished long before we were even born. Scripture bears this out quite plainly when it states: "But this man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God." Hebrews 10:12, and again, "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Hebrews 10:14. Again: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:14.

    If Christ's sacrifice covers all my sin, what sin can remove me from Him?

    But someone might ask, what about the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said it would not be forgiven? (Luke 12:10). We must keep in mind that when Jesus spoke of the blaspheming of the Spirit, He was speaking to unregenerate individuals who were attributing the works of the Spirit of God to the works of Satan. It is this very Spirit that brings about conversion and the new birth. Individuals who knowingly and willing with their heart blaspheme the Spirit of God prevent the very Spirit of repentance to grant them this repentance and eternal life. Christians do not fall into this category because they have already received eternal life along with a new spirit “created in righteousness” (Ephesians 4:24) that cannot blaspheme the Spirit. I suppose one could make the argument that if that law exists for the Christian, then that very law could provoke the flesh nature in its rebellion to blaspheme the Spirit (i.e., you could be so afraid of doing it, that you do it). But this is the flesh, and not the real man of the new nature in Christ that God sees. God looks at the heart. Consider again the scripture: "Whosoever is born of God (i.e., that new nature within us) doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in Him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." 1 John 3:9. Again: "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.' 1 Corinthians 12:3.

    But what about Uncle Ernie? Was he really saved?

    We all know people who have professed a belief in Christ and then proceeded to live like the devil. Or they may have walked with Christ for a season and then lived like the devil. Am I really saying that this is what the grace of God is all about? Not at all! Here is where a big question comes up: Was Uncle Ernie really saved to begin with?

    True conversion will bring about fruit. Maybe not immediately, but eventually you will indeed know the tree by its fruit. Some believers are drawn away for a season, only to return to that true nature inside of them. Loss of fellowship with Christ will ultimately bring about misery for the believer. There is no joy for a Christian who walks in the flesh. It brings about sin, sadness, disharmony, loss of eternal rewards and ultimately, if need be, physical death. (1 Corinthians 11:30). The Lord in his mercy will discipline His children in love to draw them back to His green pastures, but He will not condemn them (Romans 8:1). God is dealing with them as sons and not His enemies. (Hebrews 12:5-11).

    Others, however, may never have been converted to begin with. It is amazing to me how many admonitions are in the New Testament Epistles regarding false believers within the church.

    Jude writes about "ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Jude 4. He also goes on to call them "clouds without water" Jude 12 and again, "These are they that separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." Jude 19.

    Jude specifically refers to them as not having the Spirit, therefore not being born again. Peter calls this same class of individuals as "false teachers" and "spots and blemishes," as well as "wells without water." 2 Peter2:1,13,17.

    Peter goes on to say: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them that the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, 'The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the pig that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.'" 2 Peter 2:20-22.

    This is a strong admonition, but is Peter really talking about those who have put a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ or have only "known the way of righteousness?" Is he speaking of those who, “through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” have been saved or merely “escaped the pollutions of the world?” Let's take the case of Judas. He was one of the twelve. He walked with Jesus and was sent out with the twelve to cast out demons and to heal the sick. Yet Jesus said after washing the disciples feet: "Ye are clean, but not all" John 13:10, and again, "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." John 13:18 and again, "Have not I chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil? John 6:70.

    In these verses, Jesus is declaring that although Judas was chosen to walk with the disciples, He was never chosen in the spiritual sense, for He said "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen." Jesus went so far as to call him a devil. Notice that Jesus didn't say that he will become a devil but is a devil. So how could Judas have truly been part of the twelve? Would Jesus call a true disciple a devil? Though Judas was part of the twelve and "tasted …the powers of the world to come" (Hebrews 6:5) he never was of the twelve. Which brings me to one of my favorite scriptures on this subject.

    "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." 1 John 2:19.

    Within this verse we see an amazing revelation in scripture. The "of us" and the "not of us." It pops up in several other places in the Epistles as well. John here is saying that some followers have left the Christian fold, but if they really were "of us" or true believers in Christ Jesus, they would have "continued with us." He declares that they left because they were never "of us" to begin with.

    What a precious promise to true believers that we, by His grace, will continue with Christ.

    In fact John also writes: "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." 1 John 2:24. And if I might add my own paraphrase of that verse: If the tree takes root, it will live!

    So we see that this verse again confirms what we have noted concerning Judas and false brethren. In fact you will find that many of the difficult scriptures concerning this truth have to do with false believers. Notice, in the scripture mentioned earlier, that Peter says that a dog returns to its vomit again. Why? Because it is still a dog, and that is a natural thing for a DOG to do. Again, Peter said a pig, after being washed, returns to its wallowing in the mire. Why? Because it never stopped being a PIG. In the same way, those who have only a head knowledge of salvation, without truly repenting within their hearts, will ultimately return to what they always were…a natural, unregenerate person.

    There are many other scriptures that bring this out.

    The book of Hebrews has two in particular that talk about people who have tasted of the things to come, and have tasted of the heavenly gift - and fall away, and yet the writer declares "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation." Hebrews 6:9. Therefore the situation the writer was writing about did not accompany salvation in the first place, because he was writing about those who were not truly saved.

    Again Hebrews talks about those who "sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth" and those who have "counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace." Hebrews 10:29. We must remember that the blood of Jesus was shed for the entire world, not just believers. The blood has sanctified us all for forgiveness, but forgiveness is only imputed upon by our faith. When one receives Jesus as personal Savior, he or she enters into the "sanctification of the Spirit" 1 Peter 1:2.

    It is like the parable Jesus spoke of concerning the man who purchased an entire field just to own the treasure he had found hidden in the field (Matthew 13:44). The field is the entire world that Jesus bore the sins for and bought by His blood, and the treasure is the called out believers who, by faith, receive Him as Savior. An individual who rejects the sacrifice that Jesus accomplished on the cross has no future hope of atonement. Another Jesus will not come and die for the sin of rejecting Christ's sacrifice. Thus "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth (i.e., there is no faith here, only knowledge), there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement…" Hebrews 10:26-27. Notice what the writer goes on to say at the end of his admonition: "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Hebrews 10:39. Sound a little familiar? Remember John's "of us" and "not of us" in the scripture (1 John 2:19) previously mentioned? Interesting!

    Further Thoughts…

    What about Ananias and Sapphira?

    In the book of Acts we find the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5:1-14). They were two individuals who deliberately lied to the disciples and more significantly, the Holy Spirit, while the Lord was building His early church. It is important to note that their sin had nothing to do with the keeping back of some of their money, but of the lie they told the church. In this story there are a couple of very telling scriptures that give us some insight into who Ananias and Sapphira were. After both Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead by the Lord for their deception, we read: "And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things…and of the rest did no man join himself to them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women" Acts 5:11,13-14.

    Here we read two different things. On one hand "of the rest did no man join himself to them" and then "believers were the more added to the Lord." Who were the "of the rest" of? Again, what was the group referred to as "of the rest," who no longer joined themselves to the disciples, part of? It would seem that they were of the rest of those just previously mentioned, Ananias and Sapphira. This class of people: "of the rest," who no longer joined themselves to the disciples, are in direct contrast to the believers who "were the more added to the Lord." Therefore, the "of the rest" of whom Ananias and Sapphira were a part, were unbelievers or even more accurately false brethren, joining the infant church. Is it no wonder that the Lord would protect and watch over His flock? The result was clear: "of the rest did no man join himself to them." The judgement of God kept other individuals from joining the church for other reasons than true faith. This verse is speaking of a judgement of God on false brethren within the church and not of condemnation to the believers.

    Peter, in his rebuke to Ananias, goes so far as to say: "Why has Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" Acts 5:3. Jesus summed it up when He said "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth food fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." Matthew 7:15-18.

    What about the verse "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Ph 2:12)?"

    Many Christians take this scripture to mean that we are to always have fear and trembling regarding our eternal security. But that is not what it says at all. Paul was speaking to the Philippian church and telling them to "work out" the salvation that was already in them. For the very next verse reads "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13. It is a scripture encouraging believers to work out of them the eternity that was put within them. It is a question more of growth than eternal security. It is the working out of a salvation that has already been given to the believer, and to which the Lord Himself sees fit to continue to work within the believer.

    What about the verse "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved?" (Mark 13:13).

    The first thing to realize concerning this verse is its context. It is written about the time of the end concerning the tribulation. It is during this time when those believers, born again after the rapture of the church, will face martyrdom for their faith. But nevertheless, who are they that endure to the end? John writes: "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5:4-5. Again Paul writes "…so that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:7-8.

    What about the verse "If we deny Him, He will deny us" (2 Timothy 2:12).

    As mentioned in many of the previous scriptures, those who deny the Lord ultimately never were saved to begin with. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." 1 John 2:22-23. Again, the scripture mentioned earlier says it all: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." 1 John 2:19

    It's important to note the precious promise that follows the verse we are here discussing, namely: "If we are faithless, He remains faithful: for He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13. Why does He remain faithful in not denying himself when he remains faithful to us? Because He is in us and we are "in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1). This is a beautiful verse regarding the security of our life in His.

    What about the verse "ye are fallen from grace?" (Galatians 5:4).

    The Apostle Paul, in admonishing the Galatian church not to return to Judaism and the keeping of the law wrote: "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." Galatians 5:4.

    This verse in context is speaking of the individual who looks for salvation in works and not by the grace of God and the atoning work of Christ. Such an individual truly has fallen from the grace of God to a system of effort and law that provide no salvation. It is not a verse for individuals who fall back in the world, but for those who fall back into Judaism. Again, John wrote so clearly: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19).

    What about the Scripture that says "because thou art lukewarm…I will spue thee out of my mouth"? (Rev 3:16).

    This verse is found in the letter that was written to the church of the Laodiceans, in the book of Revelation. Because it was written to the church (as were the rest of the letters in Revelation, chapters 2-3), it has often been understood that a true believer could lose his salvation. It we look at this verse a little closer and in context, we will see once again, that this verse is really talking about those who are merely pretending within the church. The entire verse of Revelation 3:16 reads as follows, with Jesus saying:

    "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev 3:16).

    If Jesus is referring to born-again believers with a new heart and spirit, why would He rather them be cold over being lukewarm? Wouldn't it be better to be at least lukewarm rather than cold toward the things of God? The verse itself doesn't seem clear unless we begin to see Jesus as speaking to those in the church who are merely religious - and not in a personal relationship with Christ. In this context, the Scripture indeed begins to make sense. It is better in God's eyes to be cold toward God, obvious in your sin, than to be like the Pharisees of old. These men were outwardly religious, but inwardly they were "a brood of vipers" (Matthew 3:7). Why? Because it is easier for those who are cold to come to the realization of their need of a Savior (as the prostitutes and tax collectors did in Jesus' day), than for those who think they are righteous in their own eyes (as the Pharisees were). The religious self-righteous person, who is in the church externally but not internally, has no true relationship to Christ. To know Christ is to receive Him in the heart, trusting Him as your Savior. Those who are merely playing church are not in the true body of Christ, nor are they assimilated into it. Thus Jesus uses the strong words written here: "because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." He is saying that they are not part of Him. They never were in the first place. If we read on in this letter to the Laodiceans we see even more evidence of this. Jesus says in verse 18:

    "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see."

    Here we see the counsel toward those who are spiritually poor. They do not have white raiment as clothing, they do not see, and they are in the shame of their sin, naked before God. This could hardly be true of those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. For Jesus gives us His righteousness as a garment, He opens our eyes to the truth, and clothes us with forgiveness and mercy, through His sacrifice on our behalf. He has bought us and brought us back to the Father by His precious blood (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Reading on in this same letter we see a very popular Scripture. It is nearly always used when ministering to unbelievers. It is verse 20:

    "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Here we have a clear invitation to someone who does not have Christ in the heart already. It is no surprise that we find this in the letter to the Laodiceans, which is full of correction for those in the church who are not of the church - the lukewarm, who, just like the cold, need to receive Jesus as their Savior.

    What about Galatians 5:21 where it says, "they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God"?

    In the book of Galatians Paul writes: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, factions, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and the like; of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

    We read the truth in this Scripture that those who live in and practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is good news because if this were not the case, then heaven would not be heaven. There cannot be perfect peace and love and harmony where wickedness dwells. If but one person were to swear in heaven, then heaven would cease to be heaven.

    Paul emphatically declares that the kingdom of God is not of such as these. But is Paul speaking of those who know Christ as their Savior, having a new nature, and then fall into some sin? Are they therefore lost, excluded from the kingdom and all the promises God made to them? If this were the case, what would happen to all the verses we have thus far mentioned? Is God's word then broken? Is there now some condemnation for those in Christ? Of course not!

    If we look at this verse a little more closely we will see that the Apostle makes a distinction between this class of people, who live out their lives in the works of the flesh, and those who bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in their lives (verse 22). He is comparing two different types of people: those without Christ and those who are Christ's. This comparison is made clear in verse 24:

    "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."

    Again he states in verse 25:

    "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

    What Paul is saying is that those who continually walk in the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God because they really are not Christ's at all. This is the root of the matter. If someone calls himself a believer, but after time shows no fruit of the Holy Spirit in his life, it is highly questionable if he really gave his heart to Jesus at all. In these verses Paul is causing the Galatian church to recognize this.

    It is as Jesus said, "a good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:17,20).

    Does this mean that true Christians never fall into sin? No, but it does mean that something has happened in us. We have been "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6) and we "are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit" (Romans 8:9). It doesn't mean we won't walk in the flesh (though we aim not to), but that we are not in the flesh. Isn't it nice to know we live in the Spirit? What a nice place to have a home! This is where our heart is, and it is the very reason why we grieve over sin.

    But notice the order here: We live, then walk. This indeed is salvation by grace and not works. It could have been written: We walk, then live. But praise God, it wasn't! Paul is speaking here of a people, a different type of people than those previously mentioned who will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is a people who are alive in Christ. Paul is telling us in these verses to live out who we really are. He warns that those who are alive only in the flesh, with no fruit or life in the Spirit, will not see the kingdom of heaven.

    But there is another place in the Scripture where Paul makes this even clearer. It is in the first book of Corinthians. Here Paul states almost the exact same thing:

    "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

    Paul goes on to clarify his thoughts in verse 11:

    "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

    So Paul declares that those of whom he was speaking, who shall not inherit the kingdom, are not the same as those who were washed, sanctified, and justified. Notice the beauty of verse 11. Our sanctification is not only in the name of the Lord Jesus (Who died for our sins), but also by the Spirit of God (Who keeps us from sin). Hence, we are not only saved by grace; we are kept by it as well! Oh, what a great salvation! (Hebrews 2:3).

    What about Romans 11:21-23 where the scripture speaks of branches that are "cut off"?

    In Romans 11:21-23 we read:

    "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them who fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again."

    In this chapter 11 of Romans, it is important to remember that Paul has been speaking of nations, or rather, the Jews and the Gentiles (those not Israeli-born). The entire context of grafting in and being cut off has to do with these two families of peoples. At the present time, the Jews are considered cut off from the gospel (though not entirely because many Jews are finding Jesus as their Savior - the Apostle Paul was one of them). Initially, it was the Jews who were meant to receive Jesus as their Messiah and spread the gospel to the Gentiles. Jerusalem was (and is) to be to the world as Washington D.C. is to America.

    But the Jews rejected Jesus and in the foreknowledge and plan of God, the gospel when out to the highways and byways to whoever would come in (Luke 14:16-24), and the believing church, made up mostly of Gentiles, carrries this message. This is the age we are in now.

    But even in Old Testament times, when the Gentiles were "cut off" as a nation from knowing God, the God of Israel was still saving them. A perfect example is king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:34-37). He came to know the God of Israel as His God (see also Cyrus- Isaiah 45:1, Rahab- Hebrews 11:31, Ruth- Ruth 1:16, the people of Nineveh- Jonah 3:5, etc.)

    This Scripture in Romans is telling us that mercy has been shown to the Gentiles as a nation. If they continue in it (as a whole) they will not be cut off - they will continue to hold forth the light. But if, as a whole, they boast and hold their head high and refuse to believe the gospel, then they can be cut off as well. And the Jews can be grafted in. Indeed, the Bible states that after the last of the gentiles comes into the kingdom, then all Israel shall be saved: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in you own conceits: that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved" (verses 25-26).

    So this chapter in Romans is not speaking of individuals who are grafted in and lost, but of nations that are either in belief or unbelief. There is, however, a portion of Scripture that does talk of individuals being cut off. Jesus said in John 15:1:

    "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

    This is again, like so many of the Scriptures we have been discussing. Those who bear fruit are manifesting that they have been saved and are truly in Him. Those that are not will eventually been seen for who they really are and be removed.

    Remember those words of Jesus when He said: "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit…by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:17,20).

    Again, Jesus says: "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matthew 12:33). Do you see what He is saying? The whole issue is how the tree is made in the first place (i.e., is it born again or not?). As Jesus said to Nicodemus: "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

    Those who are in Christ will remain in Christ; those who are imitators will go their own way. As John made clear: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19).

Again the Apostles states: "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father" (1 John 2:24). Again those sweet words of Jesus: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).

    One of my favorites!

    I thought I would wind up this study with one of my favorite Scriptures concerning this study. I'm not ending here because I've answered all questions, only God can do that. I've only desired, with the help of my Lord, to share some of the comfort in the Scriptures that He has given me. Look to Jesus, "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Seek Him and let His word dwell in you. Ask Him questions and wait upon His understanding. His word is like a good stew. Sometimes it takes time and prayer to simmer in our hearts.

    Peter said: "We also have a more sure word of prophecy, unto which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in you hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). Jesus has promised us that His word will make us free: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). And He has promised us that the Spirit that He has given us will "guide…into all truth" (John 16:13).

    The Word of God says in Hebrews 3:12,14:

    Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God…For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."

    This verse is much like the verse we have previously spoken of (see section on "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved"). But what is so interesting to me about this verse is what it appears to say and what it actually does say. Obviously the beginning of the Scripture (verse 12) is speaking of those with an evil heart. How can a believer with a new heart, with the Holy Spirit now dwelling in him, be categorized as having an evil heart? As it is written in Ezekiel 11:19: "I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out…" Our flesh is still sinful, but our hearts have been made pure (Ephesians 4:24, Romans 8:10, 7:22-23).

    Note also that the verse is speaking of an evil heart of unbelief. As has been said throughout this study, and as the Scriptures make abundantly clear: there are many in the church that are not really "in" the church. They still possess a heart of unbelief. Remember that keynote Scripture in 1 John 2:19: "they went out from us but were not of us, if they were of us they would have continued with us." This little verse in I John is like a hub that ties all the spokes together. Those who really are saved stay saved, and those who do not, never were.

    But what really gets me is verse 14. We read a verse like that and think it says "we will be partakers of Christ if we hold fast our confidence to the end." But that is not what the Scripture says. Notice again the tense. "We are made partakers if we…" The NASB Bibles says it more clearly: "We have become partakers of Christ if we…" This verse is saying that by reason of us holding our confidence to the end, we are manifesting who we were all along already. For it will be known that you already have become partakers of Christ by reason of the fact that you remain in Him. And why should this surprise us? Doesn't if fit perfectly in harmony with the words in Philippians which say:

    "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hash begun a good work in you will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

    Amen and Amen!

    Winding Down Thoughts…

    As we have looked at these Scriptures it is good to remember some things. First of all, God's word is perfect and does not contradict itself. It's funny how we can read a hundred Scriptures affirming our security in Christ, but if we read one that seems to say otherwise we tend to lean toward it. I believe this is because we live in a world where it's hard to be comforted. What I mean is that it's easier to believe in what we fear than what we hope for. But bless God, His word is true and He indeed is good. This is why it takes revelation from Him to understand Him. He is not like the natural world around us that takes and takes. He gives and gives and gives even more, and this is foreign to us. Indeed, it is of another kingdom, based on love.

    Secondly, we must keep in mind that scripture interprets Scripture. Paul encourages us to be "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), beholding "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Sometimes a Scripture can only be understood in light of other Scriptures. To me it is like putting together a puzzle. As they come together here and there, a picture starts to be formed. And that picture is Jesus!

    Think of it. When putting together a puzzle do you ever throw out all that you have already put together for the little piece that your not sure of? No, rather you keep what you have become convinced of and build on it. I think the Word of God is the same way. Just as Paul wrote to Timothy: "abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of" (2 Timothy 3:14). This is really how we know a truth for sure. We become assured of it through the Holy Spirit.

    The Bible was never meant to be a biology book, where we study, using our mental energies and power. No, in fact the reason why sometimes it doesn't make sense to us is because God ordained it so. It's not that it's difficult…it's impossible! (on our own). God reveals it to little children. As Jesus said: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25).

    That's just it. He wants us to humble ourselves so that He may reveal it to us. He doesn't want us to understand it on our own, without Him. Know why? Because God is much more into relationship than knowledge. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and it never brought them (or us) closer to God. But praise His wonderful Name, when we receive Jesus, we partake of the tree of life. We learn and grow by His Spirit. We grow in the knowledge of Him, and by Him. This indeed is true knowledge…and true life. As Jesus says: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

    Closing Thoughts

    I hope this was of some help. What's so important about knowing your security in Christ anyway? One word…grace. Maybe another…love. How can we know love when we are striving in some way to earn what has been freely given to us?

    Many years ago I was with a friend of mine in Boston and I purchased three roses around Valentine's Day to give away for free. My friend just put up with me, but I was thinking of God's free gift of grace and wanted to give some flowers away to some people I thought were lonely. As I proceeded to give the flowers away, I came to realize what a difficult task I had undertaken. Nobody wanted to take them because they couldn't believe it was really for free…no strings attached. In fact, it took me all day to give away those three roses.

    On one occasion I was pleading with a woman to receive the rose. I said "Please, I have been trying all day to give these away; you can throw it away in the trash if you want to, but please take it."

    She finally did take it, much to her unbelief and my joy. How hard it is to let go of our pride and receive. How pleasing it must be to our God to give, and have us receive the gift of His Son and everlasting life.

    May we all remember the words of Jesus when He said "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." (Luke 7:47). I think it safe to therefore conclude: To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much.

       In Christ Jesus,

                   Richard Webb



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