Friday, November 13, 2009

Once Saved, Now Lost - Part 4

We Are Sealed Until the Day of Redemption

In supporting the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved, some will point out that we are sealed by God as His children. This is true, but knowing the purpose of the seal requires one to also have understanding of covenant.

The seal ratifies the agreement. Once the seal is in place, the details of the covenant cannot be changed. It is a token of authenticity, ownership, and authority. The seal serves to bind and execute the covenant agreement.

One example of the purpose of the seal is seen in the Book of Esther. The evil Haman had set forth a decree using the King's seal calling for the people to rise up and destroy the Jews. When Queen Esther asked the King to reverse this decree, the following was his reply:

"Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse." Esther 8:8

Once the seal was given, the decree could not be reversed. This grants us assurance that what God says He will do, He WILL in fact perform. We can rest secure in His promises because He cannot go back on His word. However, that has nothing to do with whether the agreement could be broken. When we break covenant with God, it is man who proves himself unfaithful, not God.

We saw the example for this when discussing the Abrahamic covenant in the previous article. God had given Abraham the seal of circumcision for the covenant made with him.

"Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised." Romans 4:9-12

Yet, it is clear that this covenant being sealed did not prevent it from afterwards being broken by man through disobedience (Genesis 17:14).

A covenant, like a contract, has obligations on both parties. Scriptures tell us that we are given the Holy Spirit as a seal for our covenant in Jesus, but it does not say that this seal cannot be broken.

Obedience is Still a Requirement

We have reviewed how obedience has always been a condition of God's covenant with man. It is no different with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Acts 5:32

Receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not unconditional. It requires obedience. God only gives His Spirit to those who obey Him.

The Holy Spirit is a Down Payment

"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14

We are a "purchased possession". This means that when we turn in faith to Jesus, our lives are no longer our own. Redemption is the process through which one buys or recovers something by means of payment. In receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit, we are seeing a reflection of God's intent to make us His own or redeem us.

The word "earnest" in the above text is the Greek word arrabōn which means:

Money which in purchases is given as a pledge or down payment that the full amount will subsequently be paid.
It is the same word referenced below:

"Who hath also sealed us, and given the
earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." II Corinthians 1:22

"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." II Corinthians 5:5

This word expresses the intent reflected in the legal process whereby one puts a contract on a house. To secure the contract, it is necessary to present a down payment for such is one's guarantee of our intent to purchase the item. And at the time of purchase - if each party has fulfilled their obligations of the contract - the transaction is completed. Similarly, the Scriptures tells us that we are sealed by this deposit of the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

The day of redemption speaks to us of the time in which our salvation is finished. It is when we receive the full inheritance promised by God: we take off corruption and put on incorruption in the form of our new spiritual bodies so that we may reign with Him forever more.

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:23

"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." I Corinthians 15:53-54

"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28

The debt that has been paid in our purchase is the debt owed from our sin: death. We are being saved from God's judgment on sin and the fulfillment of that salvation is when we have been delivered from these bodies of death.

Again, all of this is done to confirm for us the unchanging counsel of God. These are things that we can place hope and certainty on. God giving us His Spirit assures us that He is purchasing us for Himself. It is our confirmation that His promises are true and that we are secure in Him.

However, being sealed in a covenant with God does not absolve one of obligations to keep covenant with Him. The seal is a sign of responsibility, not a sign of the removal of responsibility.

We see from Scripture that the seal of the Abrahamic covenant (circumcision) could be unsealed (made uncircumcision) for any individual who fell into disobedience.

"For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision." Romans 2:25

"Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God." I Corinthians 7:19

As we continue to see, obedience is a requirement of God's covenants. Seals are not unbreakable, nor do they even imply to be such. The seal protects, secures, authenticates, and does not make that which is sealed impervious to breach.

The Holy Spirit Can Be Grieved

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit." I Thessalonians 4:7-8

The word "despise" here means to reject. One can reject God even after He has given us His Holy Spirit.

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

The word "grieve" is lypeō which means to make sorrowful or to offend. Scripture provides examples of what has happened in the past when men have grieved the Holy Spirit.

When Saul became rejected by God because of his disobedience, we are told the following: "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him." I Samuel 16:14

When David committed adultery and murder on behalf of Bathsheba, he cries out to the Lord: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me." Psalm 51:10-11

When Samson laid his head in the lap of a harlot and disobeyed God by revealing the source of his anointing, Scripture records: "And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him." Judges 16:20

Further, when speaking of the rebellion of Israel, God says: "...yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!" Hosea 9:12b

The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament precedent.  Some however say that this new covenant prevents the Holy Spirit from leaving a believer. To support this theory, people point to God's promises that He would always be with us and never leave us. However, one must consider to whom these promises are made. God promises this to those who believe, which is not a one-time event but a continuing, living, abiding faith.

However, Scripture supports the assertion that God has not changed and will still depart those who fall away. One such example is the parable of the ten virgins.

Matthew Chapter 25:1-13 speaks of ten virgins awaiting the Bridegroom. While all ten start out with oil in their lamps, five of them eventually run out of oil. For this, those five are called foolish and their lamps go out. In Scripture, oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit can never leave a believer, then how do these virgins wind up with no oil after having started with oil?

Another example is God's admonition not to quench the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19). This text is not just speaking of "hindering" or "restricting" the Spirit. It speaks of doing so to the extent that the life being restricted is terminated. To quench means to extinguish, to put out, to cause to go out.

Nonetheless, whether the Holy Spirit leaves a person in such condition or whether the Holy Spirit remains in His grieved state, the judgment against such is clear.

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:26-29

We ARE given a seal of the Holy Spirit as a result of our obedience when we turn in faith to Jesus Christ. Yet, God never says that such a seal cannot be broken and Scripture shows that indeed it can be through disobedience.

We are sealed until the day of redemption. This is why we are to judge no thing before the time, when Jesus will return and make manifest the hidden things of man's heart (I Corinthians 4:5). On the day of redemption, the purpose of the seal of the Holy Spirit will be fulfilled.

In the next series of articles, we will review specific arguments given in support of Once Saved, Always Saved and see if they say what some proclaim.
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. The Lord has been teaching me on this very issue for the last two weeks and especially yesterday. You may have addressed this in the article above, so forgive me if I repeat your words. Verse 8 of Matthew 25 reads: "And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are GONE OUT." The Greek word for "gone out" is the same Greek word for "QUENCH" in "Quench not the Spirit" (1 Thes. 5:19). "Gone out" and "quench" both mean "to extinguish." Can one extinguish what was never on fire? No. Fire must first be present in order to be extinguished. I praise the Lord for His teaching and confirmations. Only He can do such things.


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