Wednesday, July 29, 2009

# 283: Can We Lose Our Salvation?

I was discussing spiritual matters with a friend of mine--a very intelligent man--and I was shocked when he mentioned, “A person cannot lose his/her Salvation.” I asked him if he was a Baptist. I found out that he goes to an independent church in California.

I asked him if that belief comes from the New Testament (NT). He could not give me any verses to substantiate that belief. Then he asked me to give him the verses that prove a person can lose his/her Salvation. I told him there are dozens of such verses in the NT. I thought this subject would be of interest to many who are Christians, including those who subscribe to the blog. So as I write to him, I am also writing to many bloggers.

To start with the basics in the Christian life: first we believe/have faith in Jesus Christ for what He has done for us, and we believe that what He teaches is truth. Then comes love for God the father, and love for His son Jesus Christ, and love for those in either spiritual of physical need. The next step, which is a stumbling block to many and is the most difficult to practice: obedience to all that He commands us to do or not to do.

In order to understand what the above paragraph’s teachings are, an accurate knowledge is needed of what is taught and not taught in the New Testament. It is utterly impossible to follow Christ’s teachings without that knowledge. That is where a vast majority of Christians fall short. They may think they know what the New Testament contains because of what many of those behind their pulpits have been teaching or not teaching for years.

I will now let the New Testament speak for itself, with only a few comments from the peanut gallery as to the erroneous belief that “Christians cannot lose their Salvation.” By the way, my friend did say that apostates are not included in the group he defined as unable to lose their Salvation. (By the way, the NT and I disagree.) An apostate is one who is guilty of apostasy. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the meaning of apostasy is an abandoning of what one has believed in, as a faith, cause or principles. That means Christian apostates once believed and were saved, and as they turned their back on what they once believed, their Salvation was lost, or forfeited.

This is one verse—and there may be others that I am not aware of--that allows some denominations to believe they cannot lose their salvation. Romans 8:38. “For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And still there is one condition not mentioned in the above verse, which is that we still have a free will, which cannot be taken from us. And when we use that will to continually do things that are not pleasing to the Holy Spirit that indwells us, that may be grounds for a separation. Let’s let the NT speak for itself.

John 14:21. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”

John 15:24. “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

1st Corinthians 16:22. “If anyone does not love the Lord--a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!

John 15:4-5. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you . . . If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” All Christians have a choice to remain in Christ. Of course, without obedience to His commands, people will unknowingly sever their connection with Jesus Christ. It is absolutely imperative to know and obey all New Testament commands. No excuses!

John 15:10. “If you obey my commands you will remain in my love.”

John 15:14. “ You are my friends if you do what I command.”

John 15:16. “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last.” When Jesus mentions the words “bear fruit,” He means to obey all His commands. Obedience to His commands and bearing fruit are synonymous.

Matthew 28:19. “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Colossians 1:22-23. “. . . to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation--if you continue in your faith, established and firm . . . .” To continue in one’s faith means to continue to be obedient to New Testament commands. No one is going to heaven without obedience, and that is exactly what a majority of preachers don’t like to dwell on since it is not a favorite topic with most atheistic Christians. An atheist is not only one who doesn’t believe in God but also one who doesn’t obey God. They are both in the same boat.

1st Corinthians 15:2. “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” The only way we can hold firmly is to continue to obey the New Testament and not what the slick-talking preachers teach. They purposely ignore the difficult verses. They don’t what to lose anyone as members of their church because their preaching seems unreasonable to implement.

John 14:7-8: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, SHOWING YOURSELVES TO BE MY DISCIPLES.” [emphasis added] Therefore, the main--if not the only--evidence that we belong to Christ and that our salvation is secure is the bearing of much fruit.

Then, to know what kind of fruit we must bear, we have to turn to the NT to learn what is expected of every person who calls him/herself a Christian. That means we must read, study and memorize all that is expected of us. This blog will be a good companion to the NT.

Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Ephesians 2:2. “. . . the ruler of the kingdom of the air, [the devil] the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Some Christians in the past had honestly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (salvation) and for whatever reason are now disobedient or disregarding Holy Scripture. This is clear evidence that the evil one is at work in their lives. No verses are more descriptive when we knowingly or unknowingly ignore Biblical commands.

Colossians 1:12. “. . . giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you/us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

Colossians 2:18. “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize.” That prize is, as the above verse states, a share in the kingdom of light (heaven).

These two verses teach that it is God who qualifies us for salvation, and by our actions we can be disqualified. God can make us and/or break us, according to how we live. The way we live tells God if we have faith, love and obedience.

1st John 1:24: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.”

1st John 3:24. “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.” It is critical to know and obey the commands that promote love for God and neighbor. Those commands are found in the NT.

1st John 2:15-17. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the [silent] boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (emphasis added). These verses tell it all. We are so hooked on the things and pleasures of the world that it would be almost impossible for many of us to break clean of the enjoyment and entertainment our enticing world offers.

You see, when many people first accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and thus have Salvation, it is great. But when some learn of the restrictions Scripture places on worldly activities, they may think again and somehow innocently incorporate worldly activities into their Christian life. At that point, their Christianity is tainted with sin, and thus unknowingly, they have forfeited what they previously had: Salvation.

This large number of verses with a few more to come is getting a bit repetitive. This goes to show how important this topic is. But I must continue with just a few more.

John 8:31. “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The only way we can hold on to Christ’s teachings is first to know what they are and then to obey them. And don’t think you can learn what they are by proxy through a preacher; you have to go straight to God and dig into His Word yourself. This may not sound very interesting, but this way you will be sure no one is pulling the wool over your eyes.

Listen to this one: 2nd Peter 1:10. “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election SURE. For if you do these things, you will never fail.” The things Peter is talking about start in verse five of this chapter. [Emphasis added].

Hebrews 6:11. “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”

James 4:4. “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” If anyone chooses to be a friend of the world after their initial conversion, their salvation goes out the window. No one can be an enemy of God and still have His Salvation.

Do you desire what is detestable to God? This is a tough one. Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Jesus is talking about money, as that paragraph indicates. Ouch!

If you don’t think obedience is of great importance, listen to this one: Hebrews 5:9. “. . . he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

The word “overcome” is used several times in the book of Revelation and about a dozen times throughout the NT. “Overcome” in Biblical terms means to overcome all the cynical powers and persuasive schemes of the evil one, Satan the devil. To verify the meaning of “overcome”, check 1st John 2:13-14.

Revelation 2:7. “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Revelation 2:11: “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”

Revelation 2:17: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.”

. Revelation 3:5. “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never erase his name from the book of life.” This verse implies that those whose names will be erased from the book of life are those who will lose their Salvation.

Revelation 3:12. “Him who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.”

Revelation 3:21. “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne . . .”

There are at least three apostates mentioned who were disciples with the apostle Paul and then willfully left the faith. Let me bring them to your attention:

2nd Timothy 4:9. “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has left me and has gone to Thessalonica.”

Colossians 4:14: “Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.”

2nd Timothy 1:15. “You know that everyone in the providence of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.”

There are a dozen or more verses that repeat many of the same truths, but enough is enough.

In conclusion, with all this Biblical evidence, even one who is not very smart can come to the conclusion that Salvation is conditional. But to make positive corrections in the lifestyles of many will be the difficult part. My unanswered question is how such a large number of churches could teach the opposite of all the above-mentioned verses, and get millions to believe this utter fabrication? I would guess because the Christian lifestyle the clergy have propagated for years is easy. It is not easy to live a life of selfless love, and that is what genuine Christianity is all about. Your comments will be appreciated. jc

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

# 282: The Mystery of Christ’s Spirit Revealed

I am going to attempt to explain one of the problems with modern Christianity: first and foremost, mere Holy words are useless until/unless those words are put into action. That is simple enough to understand, and yet, the vast majority of people who claim to be Christians never get beyond only Christian words. With just words alone, the mystery of Christ can never be penetrated.

When Holy words are put into action, that continued action would verify one’s acceptance of Christ as their Lord and Savior. Put another way, when New Testament teachings are activated by obedience, then and only then is the mystery revealed.

God reveals that mystery when He gives a person a replica of Himself by giving that person His Holy Spirit. Some may say, “What else is new?” Here is the problem: a vast majority of people who claim to be possessed by that Holy Spirit never went beyond mere words, and are therefore powerless to live as the Spirit of Christ dictates.

The Holy Spirit cannot force anyone to adhere to the holiness that He advocates. It must be freely desired with no coercion. Divine action on the part of the individual will allow the Spirit of Christ in that person to live and do all that He requires.

How can one be certain of being possessed by the Holy Spirit? When through their thought process, the Spirit’s Holy prompting (to continue the work that Christ started) will collide with our natural worldly desires. That is pretty good evidence that one has the Spirit of God. But then it is obedience to those promptings that will keep the Spirit of Christ from leaving that person. He has no choice. It is that simple. The Holy Spirit isn’t given to someone just for the hell of it, but to do extremely important work.

The person who has actually accepted and activated God’s Spirit will be the same person outwardly, but inwardly is becoming a totally new person. Worldly desires will start disappearing while being replaced with all that is Holy and good.

I am certain everyone has heard of people who are possessed with evil spirits. Those people can’t help but live as that evil spirit commands. That spirit and its much-needed human accomplice are literally inseparable. The same inseparably is true when obedience is practiced, to all who actually have the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

When obedience to Biblical commands is not visible in anyone who claims the Holy Spirit, you can bet your bottom dollar they have not gone beyond words. And if active changes do not become apparent in a short while, that person may be fooling him/herself. The apostle Paul, in not so many words, wrote this in Romans 8:9. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Mystery solved.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

# 281: Do God and Heaven Really Exist?

This is a valid question. Could the Nation of Israel and first-century Christians have fabricated the whole story about God and Jesus Christ? In the minds of some, they could have. There may be several reasons for unbelief; the first is that seeing is believing. How can anyone bank his or her whole life on an invisible and demanding God? And I can understand their grievance.

But when we look at the whole picture of life on earth and the vastness of the universe, this question must be confronted: why/what is its purpose? If there isn’t a purpose for life and the universe, then why does it exist? You see, atheists cannot answer that question. And the next question I ask of nonbelievers is this: how did physical matter make its appearance? We all know that according to our laws of physics, physical matter cannot create itself.

That leaves an opening for a super-powerful force to make its appearance in the origin of physical matter. If this force had intelligence, there would be a reason for its creation; but atheists and agnostics cannot give a reason. That goes to show that in a court of reason, their logic would not hold up as even a possibility.

And yet, the scientific community contends that there does not have to be a reason. With that said, their whole theory as to the genesis of the universe is hogwash. Of course, then they will mention the Big Bang theory. As I have said several times before in this blog, if by some chance the universe was created via the Big Bang theory, it was God who was that super-powerful force with intelligence and a purpose who made it happen.

I truly believe that anyone who doesn’t believe there is a God must have a very small brain, like that of a chimpanzee. Then some don’t want to believe in God so that they won’t have to live under His thumb; they desire to live as they see fit.

You see, the more intelligent people are, the less likely they are to believe in the existence of a God. Most intelligent people live by the rule that seeing is believing. And that is a good way to live unless it involves God.

Can anyone imagine what this world would be if everyone had no one to answer to (God) for how they lived? God is a moral God and therefore His rules/laws are moral. That moral code can be summed up in one short sentence: believe in God and love Him, and love others as one would love oneself. Then, Jesus Christ came to fulfill that law of love.

God’s reason for the existence of intelligent life that would spring from His universe was for a single reason: since God is an individual, He desired to be in the company of like-minded individuals. And this He does by putting all humans under a test here on earth to see who would conform to living as love dictates. He would bring those who pass the test to his abode (heaven) to enjoy the full measure of His love along with the selfless love of others for all eternity.

Therefore, all logic seems to point to the fact that it was possible for some sort of extremely powerful force with intelligence to exist. On this planet, that force chose to display His intelligence to the Hebrew people through the belief/faith process, as recorded in the Old Testament. His name is Jehovah God.

If anyone who is an atheist or agnostic and is reading this post, please leave a comment telling us what life is all about other than caring for self and company. Without a God, other than our intelligence, how are we any different than the animal kingdom?

When God, through the Holy Spirit, gives us a taste of His Divine love--which He gives us freely with conditions--this is the primary ingredient that makes us potentially valuable to Him, and then we become heirs to His love kingdom. With that hope, we can surmount any and all obstacles with joy. What keeps me and most true Christians going is the fact that there had to be an unknown force (God) that started it all and with a good reason.

I think that many people don’t believe in God because they watch the ungodly lives of many people who call themselves Christians. I can honestly say that there are many atheists and agnostics who live better and more loving lives than so-called “Christians.” You see, people who call themselves Christians and ignore/disobey critical teachings in the New Testament are unknowingly atheistic Christians; for them, it is as if there is no God.

That is why I have said several times in this blog that those type of fake “Christians” do more harm to the Christian cause than any atheist can do. That is one of the main reasons for the genesis of this blog: to expose false Christianity. And if these people don’t start living as the New Testament dictates, their punishment will be more severe than any atheist’s. It is never too late to change, even though it won’t be easy. In fact, it may be impossible for some to live as required, even if they truly desire to change. The reason is that the genuine Christian life, as the Bible teaches, is the most demanding life in existence. Has anyone ever heard that said by a preacher?

Let me repeat myself: when unbelievers don’t use logic--and logic is an important part of Christianity--in how they believe and live, their lives are lived on a theory that uses absolutely no reasoning. Therefore, they have no foundation to their belief that there is no God. Of course, to believe there is a God and then to live as they like, is just as bad--or even worse--than believing there is no God.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

# 280: “Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead”

Jesus Christ said this to one of His disciples in Matthew 8:22: “But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” The question I have is: Why did Jesus act so impatiently with him, and what was behind what He said?

It could be that the most important part of that verse was the two words “Follow me.” While Jesus was teaching His disciples, “follow me” actually meant to physically follow Him so that disciples could learn what He was teaching; in turn, they could eventually pass the gospel message to others. At the present, the term “follow me”’ means to follow/obey His teachings and all the implications connected to them. Those teachings are preserved in the New Testament for Christians to read, learn, memorize and obey.

Now as to why Jesus didn’t feel it was important enough to let this disciple go and bury his father . . . since that event must have been of great importance to the disciple, He was most likely implying that joining with people who are dead spiritually is a major distraction from the importance of teaching and being with those who are alive spiritually.

This advice/teaching is for us also. There are so many things in the world that are important to us yet distract us from our primary duty of being in the company of Christians, and getting others involved with Jesus Christ. Remember this: Our obligation as Christians is to live holy and obedient lives and to continue the work that Jesus started, with no exceptions. It is a disgrace to God, Jesus and to our Holy Bible to say that is not the case. Most people who call themselves Christians are concerned with their own spirituality and say to heck with the dead who are all around them.

Many people who think they are Christians may be dead because of not knowing and practicing what the New Testament teaches: topics that may not be mentioned in most, if not all, churches. That is the main reason for this blog: to disclose—as if they are hidden—the difficult functions of many of Jesus’ teachings, which will be obeyed by those who are serious about their religion.

There are many ways for us to know who is and who is not, to separate, at least in our minds, the dead from the living. Here is a strange thing: It is much more difficult to teach and convert those who claim to be Christians but are not than to teach and convert those who don’t believe anything about Jesus Christ.

One of the best ways to discern the difference between the real Christian and one who isn’t is by applying the teaching presented in 1st John 2:15-17. “ Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” Also, this is a Biblical truth that many will not accept: When people have, desire or live for things that bring worldly pleasures, it could be evidence of inside emptiness. A perfect example of what money and great wealth can never satisfy is Bernard Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Even one of Christ’s dedicated disciples—who worked with the Apostle Paul in the Christian ministry—deserted Paul, because of his love for the world. 2nd Timothy 4:10. “. . . for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”

I truly believe that love for the many things the world offers is the main reason why many people who claim to be Christians will never make the cut to eternal life; and they may be the last to know it on judgment day.

I am certain there are many varied definitions of what “love of the world” implies. As I have experienced in my youth and even later in life, what love of the world means is to get involved in pleasant activities that are offered by worldly people, or even by ourselves, who don’t know what genuine Christianity is all about. Doing these activities and getting so involved in these things distract us from having our minds on Christian matters. To those of us who are real Christians, the main thrust of our lives will be Jesus Christ and what He will have us do. To modify JFK’s most famous saying, “Ask not what God can do for you, rather ask what you can do for God.”

It is sad to say that many church-going Christians who are good all week long—who may even read the Bible, tithe and pray to God—will not be swayed by this teaching of abstaining from worldly pleasures. This command may be the most difficult command to obey. Some may ask: What is wrong with having a little worldly pleasure now and then?

Therefore, we can easily tell the difference between those who may or may not be dead from the activities they are involved in. Will their activities promote Christianity or not? I can just hear many bloggers bad-mouthing me at this time. They say, “The heck with your type of religion; I am going to continue to eat, drink and be merry.” Luke 12:19-21. “And I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Are you and I rich toward God, or could we be dead without knowing it? 1st Timothy 5:6. “But the widow [this also goes for the male gender] who lives for pleasure is dead even while she [he] lives.” Having and seeking pleasure is one of the most sought-after emotions in the Christian world. Isn’t it funny that Christmas, the holiest day of the year, is a time to eat, drink and be merry? How did it get this way? This is a perfect example of the way we live colliding with the teachings in Scripture.

What can Almighty God do to challenge this long-standing trend of sonic proportions concerning dead Christians who claim to be alive? This blog can only reach so many Christian bloggers. And even then, there are not many who will adhere to this idea that people who claim to be Christians are dead because they engage in worldly activities. I personally don’t have the answer. I will keep writing and living as the Word of God commands, and hopefully a few serious people will start removing worldly ways from their lives. It won’t be easy. But it is of great importance that we replace the time spent on worldly things with spiritual matters. It can’t be emphasized enough how important this subject is to having the approval of The Almighty. We certainly don’t want time on our hands with nothing to do. That would leave room for Satan to trick us, if he hasn’t already.

To tell you the truth, I think all the verses, and there are many, that speak adamantly on this topic are a waste of words for modern people who love to be entertained. But it couldn’t be any other way. One of the reasons for wanting the world to entertain us is because of all the technology we grew up with, which they didn’t have 2,000 years ago when Scripture was written.

That is where in the last several hundred years, organized religion slowly but surely molded Christianity to fit the desires of the masses. The clergy will pay the heaviest price for this deception of silence and trickery on the day of reckoning.

Here is a truth that most, if not all, church-going Christians have never heard: The single most important function in Christianity is to accept what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross: and save us from hell. That acceptance automatically made Him the Lord and Savior of our lives.

Once He is our Lord and Savior, then comes the difficult part: obedience to all that is commanded in the New Testament. Some denominations, for obvious reasons, don’t believe obedience is necessary. They believe that once a person accepts Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, there is nothing more a person can do to become more saved, thus throwing obedience out the window. They call it “Once saved, always saved.” Those churches that believe that way are as dead as doornails, the clergy along with the laity. In fact, 25 years ago or so, a Baptist preacher and friend of mine bluntly told me to my face: “Once saved, always saved.” My rebuttal was not accepted.

I believe the main reason that belief was started many years ago was to keep their parishioners from becoming discouraged, for various reasons, if they were unable to live as Scripture dictates (and then leave their church). That is why we now see so many Christians who are do-nothing Christians. They may be dead or dying, and the preachers are to blame. Therefore, when the occasion calls for it, it is easy to separate the dead from the living. Are you and I alive or dead? We must honestly answer this question.

In conclusion, if anyone has a Biblical challenge to this topic, please leave a comment, and if it has teeth, I will publish it on the main section of this post with my response, if it is needed. In fact, that goes for any post in this blog. If, by some chance, there are no responses, it will be assumed that everyone agrees with what the Bible teaches and that they are not on their way to hell with no brakes to stop the fall.