Monday, November 9, 2009

Once Saved, Now Lost - Part 2b


God not only continues to admonish us to abide faithfully in Him, He gives us several illustrations for what happens when we don't.

Cast From God's Body

"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Revelation 3:14-19

Laodicea is the last of the churches Jesus addresses in Revelation. Some say that one reason for this is because it provides a depiction of the end time church.

He describes a people who are lackadaisical about God. They are neither for Him nor against Him; not in profession but in deeds! They verbally confess to belong to Jesus, but their lives deny Him. They are middle of the road. Jesus also says that such are blinded to their true condition because of compromise with the world. They have replaced faith in God with worldly prosperity and success. Many people live their lives this way now, indifferent to the things of God.

Well, let me tell you, HE is not indifferent to them. He has a very visceral reaction to such people: He will spew them out of His mouth.

Jesus exhorts us to be passionate about Him. He calls such persons to not only repent, but to be zealous to repent. The consequence of not doing so is that we are removed from the Body of Christ. Him "spewing us out of His mouth" is a graphic depiction of us being in Him and being expelled from Him. One can only spew out from one's body that which one has ingested. If you have never taken it into your body, you cannot spew it out.

Remember, this is God's word to His CHURCH. He is not speaking to those who do not know Him.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." John 15:1-6

In this parable, Jesus says He is the "true vine". The Father is the keeper of the vine.

He starts off stating "every branch in Him." This tells us very clearly who the branches are. The branches are the members of the Body of Christ. Scripture tells us that the only ones who are "in Christ" are those who belong to Him.
  • Redemption is found in Christ (Romans 3:24)
  • There is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1)
  • Those in Christ are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)
  • The church as a body reside in Christ (Romans 12:5)
  • The saints of God are in Christ (I Corinthians 1:2 and Philippians 1:1)
  • The vail between God and man is removed in Christ (II Corinthians 3:14)
  • One must be in Christ to be made a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17)
  • Those in Christ have liberty (Galatians 2:4)
  • The faithful are in Christ (Ephesians 1:1)
  • Spiritual Blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
  • Those saved by faith are in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10 and II Timothy 1:9, 2:10)
  • Eternal life is found in Christ (II Timothy 1:1)
  • Those in Christ are God's children (Galatians 3:26)
No Scripture says those who are unbelievers, unconverted, or unsaved are part of Jesus' Body. Since Jesus is speaking of every branch "in Him", we can know from the Scriptures that the individual born again believers are the branches. Further Jesus tells us such (verse 5).

Jesus goes on to say that the Father takes away those branches "in Him" which don't bear fruit and purges those who do. Again, this is another graphical depiction of believers being removed from God's Body. If we are "taken away" from the vine (Jesus' Body), then we are no longer members of His Body.

If there is any ambiguity about that, all we have to do is look at what Jesus says happens to those branches the Father has removed: "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."

Christians cannot bear fruit in and of ourselves. Any righteousness we would attempt to offer is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The development of fruit in our lives is a work of the Holy Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:9). If we could develop Godly fruit on our own, we wouldn't need Jesus.

Jesus says that our responsibility is simply to abide. If we abide in Him, then we remain attached to our source of life. The life that then flows through Him flows through and nourishes us, producing Godly fruit.

If fruit is not producing in the life of a Christian, it is not because we are not trying hard enough. We cannot think it up, pretend it is there, or do enough good works to produce it. God says all we have to do is abide in Him, and let Him complete His work.
"For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." Romans 11:16-22

In this parable, God addresses the issue of Israel's status before the Lord now that salvation was made available to the Gentiles through faith in Jesus Christ. Some Christians had become "high-minded" thinking that Israel had been set aside and was no longer of importance to God. Such was far from the truth.

Jesus is the root and once again God's people are the branches. Some of the Jews (branches) were broken off so that the Gentiles (wild olive tree) could be grafted in. We do not stand by our own strength, but the root upholds and feeds us. It is the same root that upheld and fed Israel. Remember, God makes of the Jew and Gentile one new man in Him (Ephesians 2:15).

This casting away of Israel, refers to individual Jews and not the nation as a whole because only "some" were removed. In that state, the removed branches are considered dead to Him (verse 15). God states that they were removed for unbelief and He gives Christians that same warning (Hebrews 3:12 and 4:11). We should not think He won't do it, for He has done it before. God doesn't give idle threats.

And in case we have any doubts, God tells us that very point. "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee."

We are assured of God's goodness, IF "we" continue in Him. Otherwise, we shall be cut off. In this parable of the olive tree, God gives us yet one more example of what happens to us when we do not continue to abide in Him.
God doesn't just arbitrarily remove us from Jesus' Body; He takes this action in response to our own inaction. Neither is it something that just happens overnight.

As seen in the example of the Church of Laodicea, God pleads and reasons with us to turn back. He makes known to us our errors and gives us space to repent, prodding us to do so zealously. Yet, He makes the outcome clear should we decide not to.

In the examples of the parables, a gardener knows that if a fruit-bearing tree is not developing fruit, there is a problem. The immediate step is not to cut off the branches. A true husbandman (as if our Father) will tend to and nurse it to bring it back to health. If it seems sick, apply a salve. If it is diseased, treat it. If it has grown weak, apply enforced support. If it is malnourished, provide food. If the soil is too dry, water it. If the environment is too harsh, give it extra protection and shelter.

It is only when life is not returned that the branch is removed. And even this is an act of love in that doing so protects the rest of the body from death. It is an act of righteousness, as He stays true and faithful to His word (II Timothy 2:11-13).

God tells us continually to remain faithful to Him until the end, and once we understand what salvation is, we can appreciate why that is so important. The next article will examine the nature of salvation, and specifically the covenant we enter into with God to receive salvation.

This article is part of a 6-part series evaluating a doctrine referred to as Once Saved Always Saved, Eternal Unconditional Security, or Preservation of the Saints.

  1. God Doesn't Mince Words
  2. "IF"
  3. Salvation is a Result of Covenant
  4. Sealed Until the Day of Redemption
  5. A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"

  6. The ONLY Reason Salvation Can Be "Lost"

1 comment:

  1. People believe in OSAS, perseverance of the saints, unconditional election, eternal security, because they have a misunderstanding of Faith to begin with. They believe these lies because the very thing that leads to salvation (FAITH) is misunderstood. Once they understand faith, these doctrines have no weight.


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