Chapter 18, Continued from Chapter 17
“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
An Email Ministry for the Glory of God
A series of Bible studies on
SALVATION IN CHRIST
THE ISSUE OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
PART C’: Which believer does not risk losing his salvation… (#3)
We will examine this point on the basis of two excerpts, slightly modified, from the “Parable of the Sower”, which I have developed it in my message #054, particularly the third group in the first place, and then the “good earth” group in the next Chapter:
A. THIRD GROUP
- Luc 8:14: “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.”
- Mark 4:18-19: “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
The basic difficulty with this parable is: What is going to happen to the third group? Will they be saved? Are they saved but they lose their fruit? Will they be lost because they bring no fruit?
Their characteristics are:
- 1. Their “ground” is good and fertile. The seed sprouts normally. There are, however, some weeds, which sprout together. It is assumed that the wheat plants will not let them grow and will choke them. Unfortunately, the weeds prove to be stronger and choke the good crop, either by stealing the nutrients from the ground and its moisture or by twisting around them in order to “choke” them.
- 2. Their effort to worship God and Mammon. They try to combine light with darkness. They fear God but they worship their idols which are their goods, their work and the members of their family: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mat.6:21). That means that they have never really given their heart to God!
- 3. The cares of this world. The cares of this world devour them like gangrene. They sin against God, because the cares of this world is sin in the form of idolatry and of lack of trust in God as well as a useless mental activity and foolishness (Mark 7:22).
- 4. The deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things (Mark 4:19) make men fall into temptation and snare them into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men into destruction and perdition (1Tim.6:9). For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1Tim.6:10). When they become rich or they no longer have finances they put God aside (De.8:13). In conclusion, they become sterile and “naked” and are hindered from entering the kingdom of God. The result of all these things is that the Word of God that gives life is choked. If what gives the life is blocked, then where is life? In other words: They start but never finish…
As I was preparing this message, I was reminded of a sermon delivered many years ago by an American theologian, Professor of University and leader of one the greatest Bible colleges in Europe, who, speaking on the same parable, said that those plants, that is, the people who do not bring fruit are not condemned to perish but simply to suffer damage! I was perplexed by his interpretation. Encouraging interpretation, but was it correct? Was it compatible with other statements of the Lord Himself as well with the spirit of the whole Bible? That sermon was the spark that ignited my spirit and pushed me to begin searching everything that had to do with that interpretation…
Later, another preacher said that the born again believer must become a “disciple” of Christ. I used all my good will to examine this question but the conclusion was quite the opposite. Let me explain: For the first two categories (or groups) there is no question about their perdition. For the fourth category (or group) of people there is no doubt about their salvation, but what about the people of the third group who can be compared with those who have received the seed among the thorns (Mt.13:22)? They hear the Word but the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and they become unfruitful…
Here are some key passages:
- “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt.7: 19; Mt.3:10 and Luke 3:9). Also that “every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).
- “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me” (Mat.10:37-38).
- “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
- “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom.8:14).
- “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal.5:24). And many other similar verses…
What is finally going to happen to them? Can we call them truly born again Christians who have not yet become disciples, worthy of Christ, if they have NOT yet responded to the requirements that Jesus Christ Himself has established?
And something else: What is the true meaning of the Bible verse: “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1Cor.3:14-15)? Let us make clear, right from the beginning, one thing: This passage speaks about the work of true Christians and their ministerial activities. It does not refer to the Christian’s character, to the worker’s spiritual fruit, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, manifested by his Christian virtues, by the holiness of the Christian’s character! In fact, it does not mean THAT IF A MAN SINS, HIS SINS WILL BE BURNED (that is forgiven) BUT HE WILL BE SAVED, YET SO AS THROUGH FIRE. If a Christian and much more a Christian minister leads a life, which is not worthy of his high Christian calling, worthy of the Gospel, but sins, his sins cannot be burned – that is forgiven – unless they are confessed and rejected sincerely.
If a Christian tells lies (Eph.4:25; Rev.21:8) and makes doubtful compromises; if he makes promises privately or publicly and does not keep them; if he acts like a diplomat rather than as a Christian; if he always finds or invents ways to justify himself; if he thinks one thing, says another thing and does another thing; if he is not a man of principles and values but is a man of opportunities; if he does not resist against sin to blood (Heb.12:4); if he is after dishonest gain, escapes paying his taxes or if he lords over those entrusted to him (1Pe.5:2-3); if he preaches Christ even from envy and strife and not in purity (Php.1:15-16); if his faith and his love are with “dissimulation” (Rom.12:9 and 2Tim.1:5); if he is an evil worker… enemy of the cross of Christ whose end is destruction, whose God is his belly, and whose glory is in his shame, who minds earthly things (Php.3:2 and 18-19); if he does not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but his own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceives the hearts of the simple (Rom.16:18); if, as many people, he corrupts (waters down) the Word of God (2Cor.2:17); if he has a tendency to accuse and to judge; are his sins going to be burned unless he repents sincerely on time? Certainly not!
Christ will “… cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mat.24:51). On the contrary, if that person confesses his sins sincerely and rejects them, then he is IN ORDER! Sincere repentance and the rejection of each and every known evil constitute the most important form of fruit! But, what is going to happen if he is possessed by an unrepentant spirit? Let us stop and think! Do you remember what Paul said to the Corinthians? “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found to you such as you would not: lest there be debates, contentions, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, arrogance, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall mourn many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (2Cor.12:21-22).
Who do you mourn for? For the living or for the dead?
On the contrary, “What man is he that fears the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Ps.25:12-14). The Word of God says in an irrevocable way: “… therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Mat.3:10). The believer who does not bring forth fruit can be compared to the fig tree to which Christ comes to find fruit and he does not find any, He makes it wither (Luke 13:6). He can also be compared to that lukewarm man that Christ will spew out of His mouth… (Rev.3:16). The end for such people who bear thorns and briers is to be rejected; they are near to cursing, whose end is to be burned (Heb.6:8), unless they repent before it is too late.
B. Our sins are not “burned”! They are forgiven under certain conditions
Our sins are forgiven if we sincerely admit them, repent and reject them. What is burned down are the useless activities of the believer! Worthless activities will perish! If his doctrines are of minor importance and are not according to the Bible: I have met married Christians who believed that they should not bear their wedding ring, because this constitutes a sin. There are, however, other more serious errors (for example; that God hears our prayers through deceased saints or Mary the Holy Mother of Jesus, although it is written that there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1Tim.2:5). The idea is, therefore, of a man who has lived in errors or who has spent his time and strength to little purpose, say, for his personal publicity! There are church leaders who work themselves to death in order to build big, beautiful and luxurious sanctuaries or to write wonderful books but who, in fact, have a character full of pride, full of ‘thorns and briers’! How are they going to be judged? On the basis of the sanctuaries they have erected and/or the books they have written, or on the basis of the Christian virtues that they lack?
The character and faith of a man will be examined; and that which is good will be approved; and that which is false and erroneous will be removed or destroyed. The idea is simple: that which is genuine and valuable in his doctrines, works and activities will be rewarded. This is the reason why the apostle John says: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2Jo.1:8). And elsewhere it is written: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Heb.2:1).
Let me also refer to an example, which has nothing to do with the ministerial work (but it has to do with the loss of our efforts) and which constitutes a good example, which can help us understand the passage in question: But “after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, «Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss” (Ac.27:21). You see the Centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul (Ac.27:11). Everything was lost, the ship and its cargo, but their lives were saved! How often, do we pay attention to other peoples’ opinions, such as ministers, doctors, members of our families and other people that love us, or to our soul’s spurring, our activism mentalities, pressures or opportunities, etc., and do not stand on the principles and promises of God?
A dear person to me, who reads my articles regularly made me the following remark: ‘You come again and again to the same point: Give your heart to God; if not, you cannot be really saved. Who can be sure that he has given his heart totally to God? Are we going to be saved by our works?’
Giving your heart to God is not equal to salvation by works! God does not say: If you are perfect then you will be saved! HE says, on the contrary, «For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God» (Eph.2:8-9). Will God’s grace, however, save someone who has not repented, who has not put his faith in God and has not entrusted his life to Him? Repentance and faith are not “works”! They are position of our heart, of our will! If it were not so why then is it written among many other truths the following ones?
- “My son, give me your heart (not just your brain), and let your eyes observe my ways” (Prov.23:26).
- “Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus (as the Savior and the Messiah) as Lord (Lord of your life), and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom.10:9).
- “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30; Deut.10:12; Luke 10:27, etc). If our heart is truly given to Him, then all our conduct will become better and better! We will move into perfection! The progressive walk into perfection is impossible without God’s help. The God who calls us to this progressive and practical santification, will do it as He has already promised: “And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it” (1Thess.5:23-24).
People who have lived extremely sinful lives, when they are converted to Christ, they are full of joy and gratitude towards their Savior! They think that is all! As the time goes by, they find out they are weak and are badly in need of God’s power in order to respond to Christ’s requirements for living a holy life and serving Him properly. It is God who requires from those who want to please their Savior, that they must accept Him also as the Lord of their life! So they understand that they must give their heart (their will) to Him, take up their cross and follow Him! They also understand that they are called […] by the mercies of God, that they present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is their reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be they transformed by the renewing of their mind, that they may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom.12:1-2). Some people take these steps one after the other, and others take them together at their conversion! God gives them the internal testimony that they belong wholly to Him (Rom.8:16). When these steps are taken, God gives them spiritual power, spiritual discernment and keeps filling them with His Holy Spirit! If what is mentioned before were not possible, God would be unreasonable! HE would never demand such a position of heart, such a decision from man if it were beyond man’s possibilities! In the whole Bible, this requirement is mentioned repeatedly.
Let me close this chapter with the following remark:
All those who believe in Jesus-Christ do not all have given all their heart (their will) to Him, do not live for HIM and have not made HIM the LORD of their life! In other words, one may be fully convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the Savior of the world but may not have entrusted his life to Him…
To sincerely believe in Christ’s work for you, this does not mean that you are sincere in your life. To believe in Christ does not mean that you are and remain faithful in the sense of faithfulness… You may know for sure that Jesus Christ has done everything for you but do not keep the conditions that Christ requires of you. What counts is: To believe in Him sincerely, repent sincerely and love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30)!
Closing this Chapter, my question is the following: Is it possible to see a true spiritual character, according to God’s terms, and true spiritual/ecclesiastical activities without a heart totally given to God, while “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful”?
May the Lord help us not to fall in such a trap…
To be continued…