Many traditional churches teach that once you've said the sinners prayer and confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord of your life you are saved, period ! No matter if you backslide, return to your worldly ways, live a sinful life, refuse to go to church and fellowship with other believers, etc you remain saved and go to heaven.
What is wrong with this theology and what does the bible say regarding this statement ?
Let's discuss what you mean when you say that a person is saved.
To me salvation means that the Holy Spirit has come to live inside of me, I'm born again into the kingdom of heaven and the old things of my life have passed away and behold all things are becoming new. I've crossed over from death to life eternal, from darkness, selfishness, confusion and sin into the light of God's truth, it's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives through me, my mind is being renewed by the hearing and studying of God's word and my life of sin and worldliness are dying away and being replaced with Christ-like qualities and a life of service and love for my fellow man, even my enemies.
The Bible also says that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembliing, because Jesus said not everyone who cries " Lord, Lord " shall enter the kingdom of heaven. On the Day of the Lord, Jesus will return to judge the world and he will separate the sheep from the goats. Jesus expects us to bear spiritual fruit in our lives to show that we are growing and changing and not just sitting comfortably where we want to be and ignoring the suffering and problems all around us.
I thought we are supposed to work out our salvation with fear and trembling because God is at work in us to work and will according to his good purpose? (Phil 2: middle of the chapter)
Matt 7:21 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
So what IS the will of the Father? Jesus said "the work of God is this: to believe in the one he sent (John 6:29). Which tells me that there are those who call Jesus Lord but do not believe in him. What do they believe in?
vs22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'
The passage above tells us that they believe in their own works. Don't let the supernatural nature of the works mentioned above stumble you. People can do supernatural works apart from Christ. Jesus pointed out that the disciples of the Pharisees could cast out demons too (Matt 12:27) (maybe by boring the poor demons to tears, who knows?).
I think the miscommunications arise from us mixing up what we're supposed to do AFTER we're saved with what we have to do to GET saved. What it takes to program a CD player is different from what it takes to turn it on. We can't program a CD player unless we turn it on first, but not being able to program it does not necessarily mean that it isn't on. Get what I mean? :)
This is the can of worms that keeps churches in spiritual bondage and it affects the quality of the worship as well. I've tried to worship God in spirit and truth in some of these traditional churches, and the people rejected the music because it wasn't traditional. I've sung my share of hymns and songs written over 100 years ago and some of them are really good songs when modernized a little and played on acoustic guitar in a more contemporary style. My concern is for the people with such closed minds and so set in the past that they don't allow themselves to enter into the moment and soak in the worship and anointing of some of our modern songs.
I'm actually seeing a couple of pastors reevaluating their positions on some of these issues, praise God !!!! And it's because they are in conflict and the Holy Spirit is working on the inside of them, and people like me are working on them from the outside.
As for the quality of worship issue: I personally believe that to really worship God fully requires that we trust him fully. We cannot feel safe to commit to him 100%, no matter what he does, unless we know that he commits to us 100% no matter what we do. Either he is totally faithful or he isn't. I don't believe God is the sort who expects from us what we cannot expect from him.
And I am personally convicted that we cannot worship God in Spirit and in Truth unless we renounce trying to maintain our salvation. I've said before that if we want to have a Scriptural understanding of worship in Spirit and in Truth as described in John 4, we need to look at John 3 for the definition. We see in John 3 that the Spirit gives us new birth (John 3:5-6) and that means that we are to worship in the light of our new birth and new identity as children of God. Truth tells us that everything we do has been done through God (John 3:21) not by us. I guess that includes salvation too... :)
I don't really see how the question of eternal security (or lack thereof) has anything to do with entering into the worship moment and being free from manmade traditions. But I do worry about a congregation being frightened into thinking they got to show God the fire of devotion in their worship or God will show them the fire of punishment in hell. The loud and emotional singing that can arise from that has got nothing to do with Spirit and Truth, but more of panic and fear.
I am just describing a hypothetical case, of course. I am not saying that is what is going on, OK? :)
John 3:16 is the sinners prayer of salvation and is the beginning of our journey, but we've only put our little toe in the water of life. Jesus said that unless you are baptised in water and in fire you won't enter the kingdom of heaven. He expects us to get completely immersed in the river of living water, which is the Holy Spirit living inside of us continuously. We must come out of the world ! Jesus expects us to be in the world but not of it. We are ambassadors from the kingdom of heaven to this world, and we are expected to lead others to salvation and to disciple them and help them grow up to be mature christians. In other words, we are to reproduce ourselves in our students We are to be a nation of priests and each of us is expected to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to daily be actively helping others in some way or another. We have many callings, giftings and talents that God has given us to equip us to prepare his people for the work of the ministry; such as to be teachers, pastors, evangelists, apostles and prophets and we all have a little of each of these 5-fold ministeries in our spiritual natures.
There are many people who consider themselves to be christians, who are living just like the world, choosing to sin in various ways, watching as others do the work of the ministry while they stay the same as they always were. The traditions of men are not going to get you into heaven. The doctines of certain denominations that only allow certain books of the Bible to be taught and ignore the Book of John, Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of Paul, the Book of Revelation, and others are missing critical teachings that God gave us so that we could understand his messages to us and know his will for us in fullness and truth. You should never choose to believe the teachings of men over the teaching of Jesus Christ and his disciples. The Bible is the word of God to help us find our way to his gift of salvation and the indwelling of his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the seal of proof for God's promise to us that he has saved us and we are his children whom he loves.
Before I jump in, let me add a little disclaimer - I usually present my opinions strongly. But it is not my intention to offend or insult in any way. You have been warned! :)
People who believe in Eternal Security fall into two camps. 1st - Calvinist: since we had nothing to do with being saved, it was entirely the work of God, we have nothing to do with staying saved. 2nd - Arminianist: the Arminianists who believe in eternal security (not all do) believe that choosing God (getting saved) was Man's decision, but the results are irrevocable (because of the nature of justification and redemption) so whatever decisions we make after that cannot undo our salvation.
Why do I mention that? Because if there are significant numbers of believers who can believe in eternal security, there must be a good reason. They might be wrong of course, but the case is worth SOME investigation, do you agree? :)
Let's discuss what it means when we say that we have to maintain our salvation - or is it obvious once we look at it that way? We are saying that firstly we are saved by works, not by grace, so when we get to heaven we have room to boast (Eph 2:8-9). We are saying that God began a good work in us BUT we have to be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). We are saying that God is the sort who would send his own blood-bought children, those who became his children through believing in Christ (John 1:12) to hell, and that when Jesus said that those who believe in him shall never be condemned, but have passed from death to life (John 5:24), he didn't mean it but was doing a slick bait-and-switch sales scam, waiting for us to get started on believing him before he shows us the fine print in the contract we signed.
(even typing out all that makes me feel deserving of hell right now, for daring to doubt my Savior!)
There are two ways to look at the wonderful list given, "... born into the kingdom of heaven and the old things of my life have passed away and behold all things are becoming new. I've crossed over from death to life eternal, from darkness, selfishness, confusion and sin into the light of God's truth, it's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives through me, my mind is being renewed by the hearing and studying of God's word and my life of sin and worldliness are dying away and being replaced with Christ-like qualities and a life of service and love for my fellow man, even my enemies."
The first way is to look at them as promises God has made, promises that he wants me to appropriate through faith. The second is to look at them as requirements to maintain and keep. These two paradigms are polar opposites, in my opinion. When we believe in them through faith, it is the evidence of things unseen (Heb 11:1) and that includes personal experiences. When I sin, I have the choice of looking at my sin or looking at the word of God that says I AM the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21), that I have been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor 6:somewhere), that Jesus is my righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Cor 1:end of chapter). So what am I going to believe then? God's word or the sins I see with my own two eyes? Do I walk by faith then, or by sight?
I'll talk about this in the context of worship ministry later. For now I'd like to say that I know a considerable part of the Body of Christ does not believe in eternal security. And I am sure they have their reasons. For me, I believe in it because it gives me only around 2-3 passages of Scripture that I don't understand. If I don't believe in it I have Romans, Hebrews, John and tonnes of the New Testament that I have to explain away somehow.
And I am just not smart enough to do that. :)
Forgive me if I have given offence, Michael! I know you through your involvement here on WTR, so I know that you brought up this discussion not to cause offence but for the edification of the people here. I hope you believe the same of me too. :)
Our salvation is a free gift from God and there is nothing that we can do to deserve it, earn it or guarantee it. God wants that none should perish. If we don't make it to heaven it will be because we didn't want to go.
My challange in this discussion is for the church people who, like Saul, think they are serving God, but in fact are unknowingly serving the anti-christ. How do you know who you are serving ? Study the teachings of Jesus Christ because he is very clear about will enter the kingdom of heaven and who won't. The Father will choose you and call you and if you hear him you will respond to him. If there's too much of what you see people doing for Jesus that you don't like or disagree with, maybe you should reevaluate your attitude and consider the possibility that they may be doing what God told them to do.
So I guess you think that this Worship leader heard God tell him to have an affair with a married wonam whils still married himself and get the mistress pregnant????? That's a corck and you know it!!!!!!!!!!! The guy needs to just give up!!!!!!!!!
The desire to sin, or break the law, is incompatible with being truly saved, born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that we must bear good fruit if we are his, and he also said that it's the person who perseveres to the end of the race, to the finish line, who recieves the prize of salvation. It's not enough that we used to be good and do the right thing, but we must continue to bear the fruit of the spirit and show divine love and compassion for each other to the end of our time here in the flesh.
The world has affairs, children out of wedlock, lies, decieves, cheats, sneaks around and causes scandal after scandal. The children of God can never do that and be truly saved.
The classic christian conflict is rearing it's head here in this discussion. Do we take some scriptures to the exclusion of others ? Are the traditionalist ever going to admit that God is moving and changing and doing new work right here and now ? The letter kills but the spirit gives life ..... we can't just look at the words of scripture, but we must penetrate to the meaning of what the scriptures are telling us about the nature of God. God wants his people to be like Jesus, so he's given us the Holy Spirit to help accomplish that goal. Without the help of the Holy Spirit we can do absolutely nothing on our own. We can't understand, explain, teach, share or change anything in our life to become more Christ-like. Our works are futile !!!! However, the work of God within us, working through us can do all things. This can only happen if we are saved. No salvation - no help from the Holy Spirit !
Like Kevin I didn't want to stir the pot. However, I gave it some more thought...
First of, I'm like Taylor. I agree with: Once saved, forever saved. After reading and heavily dissecting Romans, etc, my conviction is that I am a Calvinist. There are a lot of passages that are often used out of context and to be honest, Calvinism is made up a number of points, and eternal salvation is a part of one point, the Perseverance of the Saints. Calvinism is a package, you can just pick and choose parts of the Armenism and Calvinism just because you likes particular parts.
HOWEVER, I'm going to qualify that again to say that God is "all-knowing". I am not. So, simply put, I cannot look at a person who decides to 'darken a doorway' of a church and determine if they are going to be eventually saved or not. God has counted every hair on your head, and I can barely remember the names of the newcomers from last week. I know I am extremely limited in my understanding.
So... what does that mean practically? Although I theologically believe in the Calvinist school of thought, I schizophrenically live my life as if I was an Armenist. Being overly practical and prudent, I'd rather over-do it. The worst case scenario for me is that I spent a little too much time preserving something eternally dear to me and others.
For example, as a pilot, I might believe strongly my plane is not going to crash yet I'm pretty sure I'd still take my parachute! Even if I *never* have to use it.
Did I answer the question? No, not really. My understanding of the bible leans me towards Calvinism. Yet, practically in my life I live it out as a Armenian, as to let any other brother stumble because of my faith.
Hope that helps. I definitely did not want to kick any more fuel to a potentially firebomb of a thread.
p.s. Although someone might believe they are saved, they still may not be. Do I agree the previous statement about backsliding? No, but I don't think that Calvinism talks about that. Calvinism talks about point like unconditional election, irresistible grace and perseverance of the Saints. Only God judges the heart and after a 'true' the conversion, true Calvinist usually believe there are "effects" or changes that occur. Was there true Election, Redemption and Regeneration? From this short statement, my initial reaction was that these people probably didn't truly believe and therefore weren't truly saved.
This was a neat article for more information. You can check out the last section on the Perseverance of the Saints.