Chapter 26, Continued from Chapter 25
“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… (#10)
APPARENTLY INCOMPATIBLE DECLARATIONS OF THE BIBLE
Paul, if he believed that there was a risk not to be saved, he would have never declared: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2Tim.4:18). If we take a look at the previous verses, from 4:10 up to 4:18 and elsewhere, we will see a description of some dangerous events that took place in Paul’s life. The words “deliver me” refer to some “Christians” who had forsaken him, to his deliverance from the mouth of the lion, etc. The word “preserve” refers to protection from all kinds of physical and spiritual dangers. It does not refer to his salvation, although the Greek word “preserve” corresponds to the word save (save, in the ancient original text). In this case it refers to his preservation from all kinds of dangers! He who is already saved is he in need to be saved?
He trusted that God would protect him to the end. He expressed assurance! He knew that he that does the will of God stays forever (1John 2:17). He had the witness of God in himself about his salvation and protection because he believed on the Son of God (1John 5:10). In addition, we see with which certainty the apostles were speaking about the different crowns that God was going to bestow them! Paul was telling the Church of Philippi, that his only desire was to leave this world of frustration and be with the Lord! What a certainty about his salvation and security!
The apostle Jean declared: “We know that whoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1John 5:18-20). Someone might justifiably put the question: “Is there a relation or compatibility between the above mentioned verses and those that immediately follow”: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb.10:26)? Yes, both declarations of the Bible have their place in the Bible and are compatible according to the case, according to the kind of believer we are talking about: How can we sin willfully since as it is written that “Whoever is born of God does not commit sin (does not keep committing sin); for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1John 3:9). Let us pay attention to what it exactly tells us: it does not say that it is impossible to fall into sin but to remain in sin! This is one of the privileges of the true children of God! This is the reason why John reminds us the ‘security valve’: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1John 1:9-2:1). It is not, therefore, our justice, which saves us and makes us secure, but it is the blood of Christ by which we have been redeemed: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom.3:23-24). His blood takes away the sin and his grace adds the salvation”! We should not, however, forget that His grace reigns in our life if we live justly (Rom.5:21).
Please, dear readers, pay attention to the following passages:
a) Heb.6:4-8: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame [………]”.
It is very useful to relate these Bible verses with what the apostle Peter wrote: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than 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 to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2Pet.2:20-22); and
b) Heb.10: 26-31: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries […]. The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
We conclude, therefore, that the state of “sin willfully” (Heb.6:4-8 and 10:26-31) is incompatible with 1John 3, which declares that the man of God “cannot sin”. These two spiritual situations (“sin willfully” and “cannot sin”) cannot coexist in the same person.
Let us also compare with what is written in Ps.84:5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; in whose heart are the ways of them”, with the warning “For if we sin willfully” after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Heb.10:26). And again, “[…] Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother” (1John 3:7-10).
In all the epistles it is declared that we are children of God and the Spirit of God abides in us. Also that he that keeps his commandments dwells in Him, and HE in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us, by the Spirit which he has given us (1John 3:24). No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us (1John 4:12). Contradiction or incompatibility? We have to do with an incompatibility! The expression sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth (Heb.10:26) is incompatible for the same person and with “cannot sin”. Consequently, both scriptures are correct and have their value according to the believer!
I do not stop glorifying our Heavenly Father for the promise He has made and that He has also accomplished: To write His laws into the heart and the minds of His faithful! Incredible but true! This promise or declaration is valid for both the people of Israel, for someday, and for the true Christians, now: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, said the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb.10:16-18). These are the terms of the New Covenant, which are valid for all true children of God! This same promise was made to the people of Israel; we find it in the Old Testament (Jer.31:33)! The same promise we see once more with a slightly different wording in the same letter to the Hebrews (Heb.8:10-12).
PROTECTION: Self-protection and protection from God
Now, we will examine the protection of true believers from the following points of view:
- How the true believer protects himself through his correct and wise behavior in Christ; and;
- Under which conditions true believers are protected by God;
1. He who is born of God exerts a kind of self-protection
It is written that, “We know that whoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not” (1John 5:18). They who are born of God walk by faith with a pure heart and with a conscience clear of offense (Gal.5:21). They enjoy the witness in themselves, enjoy mercy and peace in their heart (Gal.6:14-16), which exceeds all understanding and are able to resist efficiently to Satan! In addition: They enjoy the certainty of their salvation: “And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life” (1John 5:11-12).
Here are some proofs concerning the self-protection we speak about:
- “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keeps his way preserves his soul” (Prov.16:17).
- “He that keeps the commandment keeps his own soul; but he that despises his ways shall die” (Prov.19:16)
- “Righteousness keeps him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthrows the sinner” (Prov.13:6).
2. God knows and protects those who love Him and keep His commands
As I was looking for in the Bible concerning the subject of the protection of the believer, I was astonished by the multitude of promises that God has made for the protection of the believer. I did not know which one to choose: Read carefully the few verses that I mention to you among the large number of those that I have found:
- “[…] The LORD preserves the faithful, and plentifully rewards the proud doer” (Ps.31:23).
- “[…] Who keeps the covenant, and shows mercy to your servants, that walk before you with all their hearts” (2Chr.6:14)
- “[…] You maintain my lot” (Ps.16:5).
- “The LORD preserves the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me” (Ps.116:6).
The Word of the Lord endures forever (1Pet.1:25)! He who loves the Lord and hates evil, the Lord will preserve his soul! Many are called, but few become ‘elect’ and enjoy the preservation of their soul by God.
3. God assumes man’s protection when he makes good choices
I will begin with negative examples:
- Hymenaeus and Alexandre who… having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck concerning faith (1Tim.1:18-20) and
- Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2Tim.2:15-18).
Conclusion: Men of God must keep faith and a pure conscience! Otherwise, they will make shipwreck concerning their faith and their teaching.
Elsewhere it is written: “JUDE, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1:1). This verse means that those who have been called and who have really accepted His invitation are sanctified by God the Father. This is the reason why they are preserved and will continue to be preserved. What does the word “preserved” mean? Those who are chosen, the “elect”, as they have accepted the invitation, God the Father sanctifies them (separates them), that is why He preserves them. We see therefore that Jude 1:1 corroborates the message of 1John 5:18 in the two ways we mentioned before: Protection from God and self-protection “We know that whoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not.”
Special attention should be paid to the following guarantees, which concern the protection of the righteous, the faithful (with faithfulness), the upright and the humble: God promises that “… He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps.55:22), and that He “… shall establish you, and keep you from evil” (2Thess.3:3). Moreover, He guarantees us that “The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them” (Ps.34:7), and that He “… saves such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps.34:18).
I was especially impressed by certain verses from my favorite Psalm 37: [“For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholds the righteous” (37:17). “The LORD knows the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever” (Ps.37:18)… Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholds him with his hand (37:24)… “For the LORD loves judgment, and forsakes not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off (37:28) … “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (37:31)… “The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged” (37:33)…]
Finally, let us not forget all those who have believed in God and in his Gospel of salvation that are sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph.1:13). They are His possession! He has purchased them from the slavery of the enemy of their soul and has made them His sons! Who can pluck them out of His hands? Whom does the Lord seal? Does He not seal the faithful believers, the just, the upright and the humble? Moreover the Lord intercedes for us, for our blessings and for our perfection. They are protected by faith!
4. He is able to keep that which I have committed to him…
Paul said to Timothy: “Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but suffer evil along with the glad tidings, according to the power of God; WHO HAS SAVED US, AND HAS CALLED US WITH A HOLY CALLING, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages of time, but has been made manifest now by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has annulled death, and brought to light life and incorruptibility by the glad tidings; to which I have been appointed a herald and apostle and teacher of the nations. For which cause also I suffer these things; but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE TO KEEP FOR THAT DAY THE DEPOSIT (παραθήκην μου – ancient original text) I HAVE ENTRUSTED TO HIM” (2Tim.1:8-12 – Darby).
Paul, by using the Greek word “παρακαταθήκην”, (παραθήκη – in the original Greek text) he evidently meant his life, his ministry and mainly his salvation. He knew that he was unable not only to be saved, but also to be kept saved. This is the reason why he had committed to God the “protection” of that most precious thing that God, in His mercy and grace, had offered him. This brings to my memory what the apostle Peter says: “Who are kept by the power of God […]” (1Pet.1:5).
What did Paul trust, commit to God? His life, his soul and the security of his salvation! But how, however, did he do that? No doubt with his own will! Consequently, he committed his will, his heart, his way, and his ministry! HERE IS WHAT HE DEPOSITED TO HIM! Why? Because he was wholly persuaded that he himself could not but God wanted and was able to do it! God accepted Paul’s deposit because he knew that Paul was stable and sincere. “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Prov.29:25)! The Lord is the guarantor of the Christian who is upright! Salvation is for all those who are upright in heart regardless of whether they are weak and imperfect (Ps.7:10-11). Let us also remember the case of the apostle Peter…
So, we come to the conclusion that God’s protection and blessings are assured under certain conditions. In general terms: Love Him wholeheartedly, take up our cross and follow Him, present our body as a living sacrifice, have a pure heart and take care so that our conscience does not condemn us for living in known sin!
The young girl who was later to become my wife told me a few days after we first met: “When I was converted to Christ, I found out – as I was reading carefully His Word – that I was unable to obey all His commandments! Then I told Him: If You help me and if You want to be the guarantor for my Christian walk, then OK. The next day He gave me His promise: “Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it” (1Thess.5:24)!
The result was that she has been kept by the power of the Holy Spirit up to her last day and, on the other hand, she held fast the good deposit which the Holy Spirit had entrusted her (2Tim.1:14). Later, God, her Heavenly Father, put her in trust with the gospel and to serve Him with all her heart and with a willing mind (1Thess.2:4; 1Chr.28:9), both by her life and by writing excellent Christian articles and books.
“Now to him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty,
dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen » (Jude 1:24-25).
To be continued…