In Defense of the Faith
Friday, March 01, 2013
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." (Romans 11:25)
The "fulness of the Gentiles" -- that's the key phrase here. The word translated into English as 'fulness' is from the Greek word, "pleroma" which means, "completion, what fills (as in contents) what is filled (as container, performance or period) that which is put in to fill up, full, fulness."
So, blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the completion of the Gentiles have come in. Clearly, the reference here is to the complete number of Gentiles to be saved. And so also follows, just as clearly, that there IS a completed number of Gentiles to be saved.
Eternal security is a hugely significant doctrinal point that most Christians either miss altogether or refuse to acknowledge. Let's look at why they refuse to acknowledge it, first.
If there is a finite number of Gentiles that signify "pleroma" or completion, then it follows that God knows how many, and who they are. That freaks out Christians that cry "Calvinist" at the mere mention of predestination.
Because John Calvin included 'predestination' as one of the Five Points of Calvinism does NOT mean it is a "Calvinist" doctrine. It is a Bible doctrine that Calvin happened to get right, kinda.
There are plenty of Arminians (the opposite of Calvinism) that deny predestination and all other points of Calvinism, and yet believe in Bible prophecy. But if there is a difference between Bible prophecy and predestination, it is too fine a distinction for me to be able to see.
In Bible prophecy, God predicts what certain men will do at a certain time, and because He is omniscient (all-knowing), we can be certain that the prophesied event will unfold precisely as foretold, or, predestined.
Predestination simply means that God already knows what YOU will do at a certain time, but predestination is rejected because it somehow interferes with free will.
So when it comes to everybody doing what God says they must at a certain time, that's prophecy and therefore, doctrinally correct. When it comes down to God predicting the fate of an individual¸ that's Calvinism, and therefore somehow, not Bible doctrine.
Even though both describe precisely the same thing!
Arminianism rejects predestination in favor of doctrines that give all the power to the people, by denying that power to God. Opponents of predestination say that because God knows what you will do on a certain day, it affects your free will.
That might be true if you were God and knew what you would do in the future, but since you aren't, it has no effect whatsoever on your free will. The decisions you make are your own -- the fact God knew what they would be is irrelevant to free will.
The word 'predestinate' is used four times by the New Testament; Romans 8:29, 30, Ephesians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:11.
It is translated from the Greek word, "proorizo" which means, "to limit in advance, predetermine, determine before, ordain" or simply, "predestinate".
To summarize before moving on, you were predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son before the world began. The Bible says so.
"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)
The Bible says that you were elected to be saved.
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (1 Peter 1:2)
Do you see the three separate elements here? We are 1) elected according to God's foreknowledge, then we were 2) sanctified (hagiasmos- purification by a purifier) because of 3) the obedience of Jesus Christ Who shed His Blood for you.
What does the word "elect" mean? In Greek, it is eklektos and it means, "select, by implication, favorite: -- chosen, elect." So it means, selected, or chosen.
On to the next question: When were we chosen by God to be saved?
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9)
God saved us, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to His OWN PURPOSE, and given to the elect through Christ BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN.
Where are you in this narrative? Are you the hero of this story? Are you saved because you had an epiphany and turned from your wicked ways and now live a life of total dedication and purity to Christ? Did YOU do it?
Or were you saved because you trusted Christ's promise you are saved by grace through faith and by trusting that He can keep you saved by sending His Holy Spirit as your hagiasmos purification agent?
Did YOU make the decision for Christ based on your own best judgment of what is best for you? Or are you saved because the Bible says God elected you for salvation before the world began?
The doctrine of eternal security hangs entirely on those distinctions.
If you saved yourself by your actions or conduct, then it follows that you can lose your salvation by your actions or conduct. If you were saved by grace through faith, then your actions and conduct are irrelevant.
The Bible gives seven distinct and unassailable proofs that salvation is an eternal condition that begins when we are saved, not when we die. If you are saved now, you are saved forever, because you are not who you were anymore.
At the point of salvation, seven distinct and immutable changes took place. At the moment you were saved, you were forever;
- Converted -- your life is irrevocably turned around. (Acts 3:19)
- Sanctified -- purified by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:2)
- Reconciled - we are at peace with the Father (2 Corinthians 5:19)
- Regenerated -- or given new life (1 Peter 1:23)
- Redeemed -- purchased, or bought back for a price (1 Peter 1:18)
- Adopted -- made a permanent part of God's forever family (Romans 8:15)
- Justified -- declared righteous by God. (Romans 3:28 - 2 Corinthians 5:21)
From the very first second one comes to faith in Christ, all this becomes equally true for every believing child of God. They are what are called "positional truths" because they are unrelated to changing human emotions and feelings.
If your salvation was conditional on your performance, consider what that means. It means that God must reverse all these actions in the lives of uncounted millions every single day. Then, assuming you get born again (again) He must change it back (again.)
Some Christians believe that at the moment of salvation, God only forgives the sins committed to that point. From that perspective, it is only logical that a person could lose his salvation.
But look at the logic. It also means that a Christian, once saved, can never sin again. If he does and loses his salvation, he would have to be born again. (Again).
But that not only violates Scripture, it violates Christ Himself.
"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 unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)
Let's look at what it doesn't say here, first. It doesn't say it is impossible to fall away. What it says is impossible is to be renewed to repentance. IMPOSSIBLE!
The reason it is impossible is because it would put the Lord to open shame. Why?
"But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." (Hebrews 10:12-13)
He offered ONE sacrifice for sins, FOREVER, and then He sat down. Why is that significant? Because He was done. It was finished.
It is impossible to justify a person twice. Why? Because it would mean that His sacrifice wasn't good enough the first time. The Scriptures say differently. Note it carefully:
"For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)
"Aha!" you say. "But what about the Bible's command requiring us to confess our sins daily?"
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
Confession is necessary for us to maintain communion with Christ, but NOT to maintain union with Christ. Union with Christ is a function of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Communion with Christ is what we have when we pray.
Nowhere does this verse link confession with salvation. It links confession with cleansing, not regenerating.
I've noticed that those who discredit eternal security as a false doctrine often avoid giving specific answers to questions about their position.
For example, if one can sin oneself out of God's grip, which sin is the soul-killer? Is it a particular sin? A pattern of sin? How much sin? How often?
How can an individual know he has lost his salvation? If there is a way of knowing, is there a way of recovering it? To get saved, one must believe and have faith. How does one believe again? How does one have faith -- again?
Are there any Scriptural examples of saved Christians who lost their salvation and then recovered it?
My email box is eager to receive concrete answers to any of these questions. But what I anticipate in reply are different questions, like, "Oh yeah? What about this verse?", instead of answers to the ones I posed.
In hand-to-hand combat, there are certain target points each combatant must protect. The Apostle Paul used hand-to-hand combat as an analogy for how believers should prepare for spiritual combat:
"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Ephesians 6:14-17)
First, the truth. Note the anatomical analogy Paul uses. In battle, that is an extremely vulnerable target. Strike a serious blow there, and the victim is rendered helpless.
Secondly, the ‘breastplate’ of righteousness. The torso is the biggest and easiest target to strike, but it is also the easiest to armor. If one is covered by the righteousness of Christ, the heart is protected.
Thirdly, the feet. A battle tactic commonly employed in Paul’s day was to sow the battlefield with nails and other sharp objects. Foot soldiers with injured feet are not very effective. If one is fully prepared (‘shod’) with the Gospel, one can engage the enemy uncrippled.
Fourth, Paul says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (v16) If one is certain of his standing before God, the enemy’s whispering campaign falls on deaf ears.
Finally, Paul says to, “take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:”
The ‘helmet of salvation’. In battle, the most effective way to take an enemy out is a head shot. If the enemy can convince you that your salvation is in doubt, he has sidelined you as a threat.
Without truth, the righteousness of Christ, knowledge of the Gospel, faith in its promises, and the certain knowledge of your standing before Christ, the Christian’s only offensive weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” is pretty much useless.
And without the Sword of the Spirit, the Christian is defeated before he even steps onto the field. Opponents of the doctrine of eternal security sometimes deride it as the 'doctrine of demons'.
Scripture -- and logic say exactly the opposite.
Why would 'demons' promote a doctrine that renders the Christian invulnerable in battle, rather than the one that guarantees the Christian's defeat -- since all Christians sin?
Bottom line: If eternal security is a false doctrine, then we are defeated, and even Jesus can't save us from ourselves.
"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
If He began it, and He will perform it, then I can be confident. Because if it is up to me, well . . . let's just say I know me better than to count on me to perform it.
I've already let me down, lots of times. I'd be a fool to trust me with anything this important again.
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