IS GOD LOGICAL IN HIS WORD?January 16th, 2009 ~ by the Generic Christian Mystic
I was thinking last weekend on the whole "lose your salvation" vs. "eternal security / everybody wins" vs. "perseverance of the saved" vs. the "once saved always saved with conditional, works-based overcomer / rewards theology / kingdom approval / inheritance earned by obedience" set of issues that many Christians in authority positions wrestle with nowadays. All these aforementioned ideas and permutated variants can be argued by each camp to be soundly biblical in their opinion and were taught even by Jesus and his earliest disciples. But all of the above CANNOT be correct. Somebody has got the word speaking what it isn't saying.
As a young Christian, I was taught once saved always saved and you need to live righteously cause that's what Christians do. You were to be an example to the unbelieving world and that thus by your lifestyle of good Christian values, your were a living testimony of Jesus. Well, that sounds pretty good until you find out that such teaching can easily lead one into hypocrisy, legalism, and living a life of consciously and unconsciously judging what is proper "Christian" or not. When you begin on this path, you risk the very fact that you turn people away from Christ by the easily recognized superficiality or no-deep-think-just-do-it way of your faith. It is simply a "Jesus and" way of living where preachers and lay people pressure believers into enforced spirituality. Very few escape this self-righteous trap, as it is hard to "walk away" from your church the more legalistically devoted they are. Instead of following Jesus freely, you subject yourself to a system. Many dear believers suffer this sicky, sweet mindtrap now.
Next step, beyond the above way of strangling the truth of the Gospel, is those who have tripped up themselves over difficult verses, wiped themselves off, got up, looked around and decided, "Hmm, Christians can become very carnal, even acting worse than the heathen! How can God excuse such rebellion? Ah, yes, here it is, read this verse and it shows how God can decide you have lost saving faith and have wandered away from the fold, back worse off than when you started. If you should die like that or the Lord comes back while you are sinning -- WHAM -- straight to hell you shall go!" Now these folks are sincere, refusing to accept Christians can live shamelessly and get away with such, seeing the Lord as a righteous judge, offering salvation to those that want it enough to not throw it away. Sound fair enough, right? Unfortunately, it is yet "another gospel", being clearly based on man's works to maintain a saved state. The word repeatedly teaches that salvation or justification before God is by FAITH ALONE and NOT BY WORKS. You cannot get around that! Jesus' salvic work is supremely finished and once a person calls out on the Savior, that person has eternal life, everlasting life. Words like everlasting and eternal mean exactly that. You cannot reach inside your spirit and remove the seal of the Holy Spirit or dig out the imperishable seed of God's Life. Your are His and that is that! Carnal, disobedient, hard-hearted, drunken, cursing, angry, liars and scoundrels is what we are when we are saved. Our nature is our nature, saved or not. Our flesh will always attempt to destroy us. The law of sin in our flesh fights with God in us daily. Sometimes Jesus is the ruler of our days and sometimes our flesh rises up to rule. We aren't condemned to hell because we lose this battle as saved ones. We may become carnal and sin even unto the death of our bodies but our spirit and soul belong to God and that eternal life preserves even the vilest offender. The bible is crammed full of this truth of eternal security. 'Nuff said!
Of course, there is also the camp of the Calvinist, election-driven, "saints will always overcome and persevere in ultimate holiness and success" because the eternal, victorious Spirit of God dwells in them and He does all that is needed for them to fulfill His will. Salvation is of course eternally secure because believers cannot fail in this viewpoint. This concept sounds solid overall but in the real world we see that this is an unscriptural idealistic viewpoint. When we see what Christians have done to one another, done to unbelievers and how carnal we can be -- it is obvious, even when we read the word, that believers are fully capable of using their God-given freewill to resist His highest will for them. Christians can as stated above sin unto death but still be saved. This school of thought will assert that extremely backslidden believers existing in a lifestyle of carnality must have never truly been believers. This is an ad hoc excuse and a blatant backpedaling pivoting that shows the fallacious basis of this way of thinking. They see this dance as win-win but to the unbiased seeker, it is a clear lose-lose school of approaching the word.
So what we have left is, (what I find the most logical currently), the often maligned and grossly misunderstood view of "once saved always saved with conditional, works-based overcomer / rewards theology / kingdom approval / inheritance earned by obedience" (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) stance. In a nutshell, this concept as I see it, answers quite well, essentially all the hard verses that seem to indicate loss of salvation, (which are actually concerned with losing inheritance or ownership rights in the coming kingdom of God), explains all the conditional promises to Christians that seem to indicate a works-based justification, and dovetails the New Testament perfectly with many Old Testament truths that seemed somehow hard to understand. This (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) teaching will cause many a preacher and pastor to go nuts once it is shared with them, sadly asking the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) Christian to cease this "other gospel" or be disciplined. The (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) truth-seeker will find themselves in a minority of Christians that can understand or even accept the teaching. Unfortunately, even in the few tens of thousands out there, believing and walking the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) -- there are vast differences of opinion about the issue of what really happens to the unfaithful or non-overcoming saved? More on that later.
Typical complaints and criticisms that are very poorly argued against the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) teaching ignore one very good reason to accept the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) way of reading the bible. What is that? The (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) is the obvious best answer because it logically explains most all the very divisive scriptures in the word. Consider this. Why does a God who provides eternal salvation, as taught in the word, tell believers to endure, to hold fast, to diligently strive, to run, to fight to be approved? Why does a God that declares FAITH ALONE and NOT WORKS gains eternal life, then say, "Now do these works or you will suffer loss, not enter my rest, lose out, miss the promise, not make the grade, etc, etc?" Even Paul worried that he might be found unapproved, a castaway, a failure at the latest days of his saved life! How are these things resolved?
When I and others have offered the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) teaching as the answer, typically pastors and seminary students will say the following . . . "We are already overcomers now! We ALL will be rulers and kings in the kingdom! We are 100% successful right now in Christ and are all going to inherit eternal life and the kingdom glories." They have favorite parroted, proof-texts of these ideas they offer but in the final analysis, in the passage's larger context, and set against many other teachings of Jesus and Pauline et al writings in other parts of the bible -- the obviously conditional promises walk of saved believers is addressed over and over.
Please, someone explain this: Why is there ANY mention of needing to overcome, to endure, to hold fast, and all the conditional "if" verses about suffering to gain anything? IF, believers all have it all that is promised as available, automatically through Christ, and it is a done deal -- then why do Jesus, Paul and others ever mention the need for overcoming, conditional promises, and believers being called to suffering to learn obedience? Why does Jesus bother mentioning foolish virgins, unfaithful servants, and those unprepared? Jesus, Paul, and others are speaking to believers when these warnings are given. If as these pastors, seminary students and teachers assert, we can simply rest now because God is happy to give us our full kingdom inheritance, kingship, authority, crowns and such, even if we are very carnal, then the mere mention of the many warnings, etc to believers in the bible is illogical. It makes no sense!
Only the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) teaching lets God's word be logically understood. Only the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) truly explains why Christians must strive to be godly. Only the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) best illuminates ALL the bible's odder passages that seeming very paradoxical.
God doesn't say one thing in His word and then contradict His word elsewhere. He doesn't tell us to accept things we find illogical in His word. He WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND His word. Only our pre-set systems and pet-theologically-tinted eyeglasses make His word paradoxical, confusing and illogical. By the Spirit of truth we are able to come to see the amazingly rich truths hidden within the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) approach to His word.
And guess what? If the Spirit shows me an aspect or core idea of the (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) concept, that is an obvious error I missed, I will honestly share that error and "move on" to a renewed revelation. The (OSASwCWBO/RT/KA/IEBO) is not a box for this believer, just a currently very helpful and enriching way to more understand my amazing God and His Eternal Purposes.
May the Lord reveal His Christ to every area of our life and deliver us from darkness of pride and the inevitable errors of men seeking to rule over the flock . . .
E-mail me if you have comments or questions.