Soteriology 019John 3:18 • Dr. Andy Woods • June 5, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 19, John 3:18
June 5, 2016
Let me open us in a word of prayer and we’ll get started. Father, we’re thankful for today. This is the day the Lord has made and just another opportunity to serve You, learn about You, and I pray You’ll be with us during this class as we broach a difficult subject, and be with us this summer as we look into this doctrine. And I pray that You’ll be with the worship service and communion time that follows and also all this week at VBS. In Jesus name, Amen.
Good to see everybody. Let me kind of… normally we are going to have handouts to give to you; I don’t have any this week because I didn’t get these done until about 11:00 last night so you can slap my hand if you want to on that one.
Those of you that are with this class the first time, what you’re getting on is a soteriology class that we started on Wednesday nights. Who knows what soteriology is? The study of salvation, from the Greek word soterios. And if you haven’t been with the class on Wednesdays, basically here’s an outline of what we’ve gone through in soteriology. We’ve gone through the definition of soteriology which is the doctrine of salvation. And then we looked at what God does in the past to prepare us for salvation, and that’s election. And then we looked at the means of salvation, and that’s what Roman numeral III and IV are. When you understand the atonement…who knows what atonement means? Atonement means the substitutionary death of Jesus, that Jesus died in my place.
So when you understand atonement and then you also understand salvation words you understand how God has procured salvation for us. And from there we moved into Roman numeral V which is how we gain salvation. And it’s always, in the Bible, based on a single condition, a response of volition by the lost sinner. And what’s that condition? Faith, by itself. From there we moved into Roman numeral VI where we discovered that our spiritual ledger is jam packed with wealth. And that’s called the results of salvation. And that’s where we studied around 33 items that we have as New Testament Christians (that we didn’t have before) simply because we are “in Christ.” And that’s what we’ve covered thus far in the class, all those lessons are available online.
And what we’re moving into this summer, as you’ll see when we get into this it’s going to take several months to unpack this, it’s a huge topic, but now we get into the subject of eternal security, which is dealing with the issue of once you have salvation can you lose what you have? Or is it true that “once saved always saved”? And this is something that the church of Jesus Christ has been arguing about for a long time. The debate really got popular around the early 1600’s through a fellow by the name of Jacob Arminius. I’ll be mentioning him, he was a Dutch theologian, I’ll mention him a little later in the series but he basically postulated that you can have salvation and lose it. And as I show you there are actually passages that when you look at them at first glance it looks that way, unless you understand how to interpret the whole counsel of God’s Word.
So that’s where we are, we are in Roman numeral VII dealing with the whole subject of eternal security. So that’s what we’re going to be focusing on for the next several months. This class really started for the benefit of our missionaries. We were trying to kind of raise the bar a little bit on the doctrinal beliefs of our missionaries and a lot of them were writing back saying what does the church believe about this issue or that issue and we really had nowhere to send them, other than to scattered sermons where I said yeah, I think I mentioned that in this sermon way over yonder. And most of their questions dealt with these kind of issues so we wanted to create a series of teachings where all of our soteriological positions can be found in one set. So this is lesson 19 in that set.
So the format I’m going to follow and those guys up in the sound booth they’ve got to get everything set up for the main service and they also need a bathroom break so I’m going to talk, typically on Sunday mornings till about 10:35. And then they’re going to stop the cameras, we can open it up for Q & A at that time and then we’ll finish about quarter till and then we’ll get ready for our main service. So that’s sort of the direction we’re headed in. Usually in Sunday School people like to ask questions whenever they want to, which I’m in favor of but we’re changing the format a little bit because we’re actually producing recordings for our missionaries so we’re just asking people to save their questions (you can write them down) for the last ten minutes of class.
So eternal security, beginning to look at the subject of eternal security. Question: are you on divine probation? Are believers in Jesus Christ on divine probation with their eternal destiny uncertain? Or, does God’s grace and power keep them saved forever. That is the issue with eternal security. Are we on probation or does the grace of God that brought us to Christ, does that keep us saved?
Arminius basically taught that we’re on divine probation. There’s always some kind of sin you’d better stay away from and they never define what sin it is, it’s just whatever it is that’s bad, or you can actually lose your salvation. Now the very strong Reformed view, which does not deny security but it denies assurance, basically says that you must persevere to the end of your life in good works. Now they never tell you how many good works you have to do or how fast they have to come, but you must persevere to the end of your life in good works to see if you really were saved to begin with.
So both the Arminian view and the very strong Calvinist view, I believe, have brought damage to people emotionally and psychologically because they fear, constantly, that they’re going to go to hell even though they are Christians. The strong Calvinist view says, “or must one wait until he dies to see if he has persevered in the faith and godliness to prove he’s one of the elect.” Arminius says you can have salvation and lose it; the very strong Reformed view basically says maybe you never had it to begin with. And both of these views get you to the introspective, always looking at yourself. Isn’t that a depressing subject, looking at yourself all the time. You’re not looking at Christ and His promises, you’re always looking at yourself.
So take a look at Ephesians 4:14, and I’m just trying to show you my heart and why I’m wanting to get into this subject. Ephesians 4:14 is just describing the ungrounded believer. And Ephesians 4:14 says, “As a result,” that’s of the maturity process, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming,” So that’s what this reminds me of, this debate and looking at the state of the church. People are just kind of blown about one direction or the next, they don’t really have any real certainty about what the Bible teaches. They go to one church, they learn one thing, they go to another church, they learn something else, they hear someone on radio, watch someone on TV and they get a different idea in their mind and so what’s happening is it’s the Bible is like a kaleidoscope in their heads, it’s just a bunch of contradictory data.
And I’d like to show you in this series that that’s not what God intended. And according to the Ephesians 4 passage it’s the job of the pastors, particular those with the gift of pastor-teacher, to ground God’s people in truth so they won’t be blown about, tossed do and fro. So the only book we’re going to be using for this is the Bible; I’ll make some references to some authors that I think are helpful, but all of our time is going to be spent looking at Bible passages, because we basically believe that the Bible, when understood correctly, answers this question of eternal security.
And let me give you another, sort of presupposition that I’m coming from; the presupposition is the Bible cannot contradict itself. If God authored all 66 books of the Bible ultimately, which is what we believe, then how can God say one thing on Monday and something completely contradictory on Tuesday. So therefore what I’m going to be doing in this study is showing you how to harmonize passages that appear contradictory on the surface. You know, there’s a lot of things on the surface that look like contradictions but really are not.
For example, if you take three men and you blindfold them and they’re all touching the same elephant, and one man is touching the elephant’s trunk and he’s saying it feels like a giant tube, and another man is touching one of the elephant’s feet, the toes, and he says I feel five lumps here, and another man is touching the elephant’s side and he says it feels like a giant wall, at first glance all of those testimonies look like they contradict each other. How can a wall and a tube and five lumps be the same entity. But then when you take the blindfold off guess what? the contradiction disappears, because all these people were doing was feeling different sides of the same animal.
So that largely is what is happening in some of these theological debates; we’re all touching different parts of the doctrine of salvation and a lot of times they don’t know what part of it we’re touching so it seems to contradict another part of the doctrine of salvation. And yet what I’m going to try to do in this class is take the blindfold off and show you that there is no contradiction at all.
Having said all that let’s begin with the definition of eternal security. When we talk about eternal security what exactly are we talking about? And I got this definition from Dennis Rokser who wrote a very good book on this subject called Shall Never Perish. And on page 11, he’s the pastor-teacher at the Duluth Bible Church, where I get the opportunity to travel to almost every year to participate in their conference. And he has a very good definition of eternal security. So let’s look at this definition very carefully so we can figure out what it is that we’re talking about.
“Eternal Security means that those who have been genuinely saved by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone shall never be in danger of God’s condemnation or loss of salvation but God’s grace and power keep them forever saved and secure.” [Dennis Rokser, Shall Never Perish Forever, p. 11] And that basically, as I’ll be showing you, is what we think the Bible teaches. There are a couple of words in this definition that are important because not all in Christendom that profess to be a Christian are actually a Christian. The churches are filled with what I would call false converts. Now I define a false convert very differently than a Calvinist. A Calvinist says a false convert is somebody that’s not bearing enough fruit to prove they were saved. I am not defining false convert that way.
What I’m defining a false convert is someone who has actually never trusted in the promises of Jesus Christ. So if that’s true, what are they trusting in? Well, they could be trusting in themselves and their own good works, and I know that for sure because I was one of those for the first 16 years of my life. I was in a church, I really had never heard the gospel or the grace of Jesus Christ; I heard a lot of religious biblical type messages but I had never actually heard the gospel. And so one day I was confronted by somebody, and I thank God that I was confronted because God knows where I’d be today if he didn’t have the love to confront me. It was at a home Bible study, spring of 1983, my sophomore year in high school, he basically asked me, he said if you were standing at the gates of heaven and you wanted to get in what would your answer be, how would you get in? And my answer went to myself, I’ve done this, I’ve done that. I was actually an acolyte, I was an altar boy in this church and wasn’t even regenerated. I had the Ten Commandments memorized, they actually gave me a big cross for perfect attendance at Sunday School.
So I had the Ten Commandments memorized, I actually had the worship service memorized to a large extent because I was an altar boy in this church. So my answer went to me and what I’ve done and look at me, what we call self-righteousness. And this fellow basically said the whole thing is not what you do, it’s what Jesus has done for you, and your volition to receive that as a gift by faith. Now until I had heard that I don’t think I was saved. I think I would be what’s called a false convert.
So this definition of eternal security, the way it’s written, you’ll see that through this clause, “those who have genuinely been saved by God’s grace through faith alone” is assuming that the person studying this is already a Christian because they’re a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. So this does not apply to people that never have ever in their life trusted in Christ. The gospel only becomes of value to you; it’s like a gift. My daughter Sarah, I could go out and buy her a great gift, I can wrap it up and put a big bow on it (I don’t wrap gifts at our house, I know that shocks you guys but my wife does that) but anyway, we can get her this wonderful gift, wrap it all up, stick it right in front of her and if she never opens it, receives it, it’s just a box, that’s all it is. And that’s what salvation is to a lot of folks, Jesus has done all of this but because they’ve never heard any clear instructions on how to receive it it’s of no value to them. The gospel becomes valuable once you actually trust or believe in its message. So this definition of eternal security is basically assuming that the people that are benefitted by this wonderful doctrine are actually believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So just a couple of verses, just to show you that I’m really not making things up here, take a look at the Gospel of John, chapter 3, and verse 18, just to show you that the gospel doesn’t mean anything to a person in terms of value until they believe it. John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” So if you have trusted in Christ at some point in your life or even right now as I’m speaking, trusting in Christ, then you have moved out of the divine judgment of God because your judgment has already been paid for. But if you have never believed then you’re under God’s condemnation as we speak. It’s just the penalty has never been exacted yet, which it will be. It’s like a sword of Damocles hanging over somebody’s head waiting to fall at any minute.
And then take a look at John 5:39-40, a couple of chapters to the right, Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, He says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;  and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” So these Pharisees stayed unsaved because they were unwilling to come to God on His terms. And when people hear the terms of God sometimes they get made at the messenger, as if we made this up or something. Don’t get mad at me, it’s just right out of the Scripture, God has one condition. And in the class we’ve explained why that condition exists, but one condition for entering into life and that’s faith alone in Christ alone. And if a person has never trusted in Christ and instead focused on themselves or their religion then they remain unregenerate and the doctrine of eternal security has really no value to them.
So that’s one of the reasons I like this definition here, because it applies only to the person who has trusted in Christ. So if a person has trusted in Christ then the issue becomes well once you have these 33 blessings, called the riches of salvation, can God pull the carpet out from under you? Can you have it and then lose it? That’s what we’re trying to figure out here. Jacob Arminius said you can and we’re trying to take the position here that you can’t.
Does it really matter? I mean, come on, aren’t you splitting hairs. To quote that great theologian, Rodney King, “can’t we all get along?” Remember that, the L.A. riots? “Can’t we all get along,” that’s sort of the mentality in a lot of places is it really doesn’t matter as long as we all love Jesus, you know, we’re all on the same team, I mean, why actually split hairs on the doctrine of eternal security. And let me give you three reasons why I think this doctrine matters. Your ability to come to certainty on this issue will change your life as a Christian in three fundamental ways, at least.
The first one is your productivity. Your productivity for God will increase if you get this settled in your mind that once saved always saved. And the reason I say that is I like to use the example of the Golden Gate Bridge in northern California, when that was being constructed many people committed suicide jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge because of the height once your body hits the water there in the San Francisco area you basically die immediately, it’s like hitting concrete. So they were constructing this bridge, I can’t remember the year it was built but sometime back and actually builders were falling to their death and the productivity on the bridge wasn’t getting very far because the builders couldn’t really focus on their work, they’re worried about their own safety.
So somebody had a bright idea, why don’t we put a net beneath these builders so that if they fall, God forbid, they’ll be buoyed by this net and they won’t die and they won’t plummet to their death by hitting the water. So the security issue was taken care of, so the builders now could not have a mind divided. The book of James warns about a divided mind, James 1:5-8. [James 1:5-8, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”]
As long as you’re sitting there worried about whether you’re a Christian, whether you’re going to heaven, whether your name is written in the Book of Life, your mind is divided. And that’s basically, you know, where the devil wants you to be because you’re like a child being tossed to and fro. And you’re worried about your security because you keep hearing these mixed messages on so-called Christian media and you’re also trying to focus on VBS or whatever God has you to do and you really can’t give DVBS your full energy because your mind is divided about your security. So once a person really gets settled in their mind that salvation is a work of God from beginning to end and you have the hope of heaven and assurance of heaven and there’s nothing that can happen that can rip the carpet out from under you, that is such a liberating thing, because now you can focus on what God wants you to do. All of your energy that used to be spent in anxiety can now be focused into productivity. So I think this doctrine is important, I don’t think it is just splitting hairs.
Another reason this doctrine is important is because it changes the motive of the servant. And there are so many people that are showing up to churches out of duty, out of responsibility, out of obligation. And they’re serving God because they think that I need to demonstrate some fruit because if I don’t see some fruit in my life maybe I’m not one of the elect. Or I need to demonstrate some fruit so I don’t lose my salvation. And so then what is the issue? You get to the root of their service and it’s fear; they’re afraid of hell basically. And I would challenge you to find a single verse in the Bible that supports that. The child of God is never called to serve God out of threats or fear. When you study service in the Bible you’ll discover that service comes out of gratitude for what God has done. In other words, you’re just stunned at what God has done for you that what else can you do, other than to submit to Him, not because you’re afraid of something but because you do it out of gratitude. Or we might put it this way; you do it out of worship. There’s this worshipful response that takes place in your heart, you have an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving because you get to serve the Lord, because of what He has done.
And when you go into the New Testament letters, for example, you’ll see that that’s how Paul always sets up his arguments. How many commands are there in Ephesians 1-3? Anybody know? It’s a trick question. Zero, no commands. Well, what’s Ephesians 1-3? It’s our wealth. He spends three chapters, and by the way, Ephesians 1 is a giant run-on sentence. I say that to my students, if your teachers ever criticize you for run-on sentences just say well, Paul had his run-on sentence so I can have mine. But it’s just one giant run-on sentence, Ephesians 1, and it goes into chapters 2 and 3 explaining our wealth; it doesn’t tell us to do anything in Ephesians 1-3 Then you get to Ephesians 4:1 and you see the word “Therefore” and when you see the word “therefore” you have to ask yourself what is the word there for what there for? And then it propels us into service, chapters 4, 5 and 6, only after the right doctrinal foundation has been laid. And you’ll see the same pattern in Romans, Romans 1-11, doctrine; Romans 12:1 the word “Therefore”, what is the word therefore there for? Romans 12-16, service. And what he’s doing in Romans 12, after he gets out of Romans 11 by vindicating the trustworthiness of God, because God is not even going to renege on Israel, His apostate nation.
If he’s not going to renege on Israel He’s not going to renege on you. So you leave Romans 11 just completely uplifted out of what God has done. And then it says “Therefore,” and it begins to outline principles of service. The book of Galatians the same way, chapters 1-4, what God has done for us; Galatians 5:1, “Therefore,” Galatians 5 and 6, service.
And this is the problem I have with modern day teaching methods as modern day preaching methods are always trying to work towards an application. We need an application or it’s not a complete sermon, right? Well, show me the application in Ephesians 1-3? There’s not one application. Paul spends three chapters with no application whatsoever. Now he does get to application, and I’m not minimizing application, in chapters 4, 5 and 6, but Paul never applies anything to anybody until people understand what they have. It’s like trying to drive a car with no gas in the engine. That’s how a lot of Christians are trying to live the spiritual life because they hear all these applications and do this and do that and they don’t even understand what they have in Christ. So the motivation for service is not fear, it is worship and gratitude.
And then a third reason I think the Christian life, the doctrine of eternal security matters is because of the issue of joy. You know, there’s so many, what I would call sad-faced saints walking around and I can be like that too, just downers and depressed and man, I’m really struggling under this load and the fact of the matter is, where is that in the Bible. I mean, we’re supposed to be people of joy, aren’t we? Not artificial happiness but inner satisfaction that God is in control of this world; God is at work, God is at work in my heart, look at what God has done for me. And so should the Christian life be a perpetual downer? I don’t think so because of the emphasis that the New Testament places on joy. Folks, we’re winners here. We’re on the winning side, isn’t that a great thing. I remember watching my favorite basketball team play and I remember being all nervous about the game and is my team going to win or is it not going to win. And I got back home (my team did win by the way) I got back home and I watched the taped delay on the TV. Guess what, I wasn’t nervous anymore because I knew who was going to win.
And this is the attitude that we’re to have as New Testament Christians, we’ve seen the movie, we know how this thing is going to end, we know we’re on the winning side of history. So let’s be people of joy instead of insecurity and fear. And if you are ambiguous about am I going to go to hell or not, how in the world are you supposed to have joy in your life. You can’t have it, it’s impossible. So the issue of productivity, the issue of a proper motive for service, the issue of joy, I believe, are reasons why this doctrine is significant and why we need to actually spend some time looking into this.
And then a preview, what are we actually going to be doing in this class? The class only has two parts to it, the first part of the class is we’re going to be going over eternal security arguments. I’m going to try to show you, a little bit philosophically but primarily biblically, why once saved always saved. If you are “in Christ” by faith alone God is not going to rip the carpet out from under you.
And then in part 2 of the class you’ll start to see, and I’m going to have about thirteen arguments there in part 1, we won’t get through all of them in a session, you’ll notice that they are kind of drawn out, maybe we’ll be able to cover 2, 3, 4, per session. We might even have time to cover one or two of them today. But then in the second part of the class we’re going to be going over problem passages. And I have by my total here 48 problem passages. There are about 48 verses that you’ll look at and you’ll say oooh what do we do with that one. Some of them you already know, the unpardonable sin, what is that? Well, I know it’s really bad whatever it is, I hope I haven’t done it.
I’m going to show you there’s an actual definition for the unpardonable sin. What do you do with all that stuff in Hebrews 6:4-6 about those who have once been enlightened, tasted of the heavenly gift and it’s impossible to renew them again unto repentance. [Hebrews 6:4-6, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,  and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,  And then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
So we’re going to actually be walking through all 48 verses or major passages that throw doubt on the issue of salvation. And remember, my premise in the whole thing is the Bible cannot contradict itself. If the whole Bible is from God and if God’s character is the same yesterday, today and forever, then there has to be a way to harmonize these difficult passages with the thirteen very clear arguments that we can never lose our salvation. And once I show you how to harmonize it you’ll be like the V-8 commercial. Oh yeah, of course, I just needed a little bit extra information. And so that’s sort of the direction we’re going here.
So a little time remains and let’s just go ahead and launch in here to eternal security arguments. In my heart, and I have all thirteen listed here, I would say there’s about thirteen or so reasons and passages that teach once saved always saved. So I won’t read all these to you now, I’ll just start off with the first one or two.
The first argument is this: Because self-righteousness did not save us in the first place, this is more of a philosophical argument, because self-righteousness did not save us in the first place, it is not a basis upon which salvation can be continued or lost. So because self-righteousness did not… you know what I mean by self-righteousness? Self-righteousness is what Adam and Eve were doing in Genesis 3:7, they clothed themselves and were trying to present themselves to God by what THEY had done, that’s what I was doing for the first 16 years of my life. We did not get into the door through self-righteousness, we got into the door through transferred righteousness, as a gift. That’s the significance of the animal skin, Genesis 3:21, being used to clothe Adam and Eve. [Genesis 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”] Genesis 3:21, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”]
Genesis 3:7 is religion, they were trying to clothe themselves. Genesis 3:21 is Christianity. We don’t clothe ourselves before a holy God, remember this is Genesis 3, this is right after they sinned. We don’t clothe ourselves before a holy God, He clothes us. And by the way, where did those animal skins come from there, that God used in Genesis 3:21? Well, it doesn’t say but we can assume, can’t we, that an innocent animal was killed. Well what did the animal do wrong? Nothing. And see what God is showing at the beginning of history—here’s how I’m going to forgive sin, an innocent scapegoat, ultimately pointing to Jesus, is going to be killed in the place of the guilty, and I’m going to take those skins from that transaction and I’m going to use it to clothe you. So if you want to be right with Me you have to receive what I’ve done for you as a free gift.
Right there at the beginning of the Bible it’s an attack on self-righteousness. We, in our fallen state, are self-righteous by nature. Why is that? Because of the “P” word, pride. If I can gain righteousness through my own power who gets the bragging rights? I do! So that’s why self-righteousness, even though it’s a wrong path to God is so popular. And this is why the gospel, people are always attacking it because they want to add something that they can do. I mean, my father-in-law buys lunch and what’s my first reaction? Well I’m reaching for my wallet, can I leave the tip, because it’s hard, is it not difficult to receive a gift? It’s far easier for me to give a gift than receive a gift. When I receive something for free I have this pride that wells up within me, where I want to contribute. And it’s difficult for me to just sit there and relax (it’s getting easier by the way, especially when you buy me lunch, especially when the tip is pretty big) but it’s difficult for me to just sit back and relax and receive something. Pride is such that we always want to insert something.
And so people have a tendency to carry that though into their Christian life. Well, self-righteousness didn’t get me in the door, but doggone it, I’d better keep performin’; if I don’t keep performin’ God’s going to pull the carpet out from under me. So what they’ve done is they’ve started right on the basis of grace, but they haven’t let the concept of grace continue on. Self-righteousness and our own works didn’t get us in the door to begin with and it’s not going to be what keeps us there. This whole operation of God is a grace gift from beginning to end.
Take a look, just for a moment, if you could, at Galatians 3:3, this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. Galatians is a book on the spiritual life. Look at how it starts, “Are you so foolish?” Aren’t we like that sometimes, we’re just foolish so we don’t allow God to renew our minds. “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” So the Galatians started off right, they started off by grace through the power of the Spirit and then they got in their minds into legalism and okay, I’m in the door but I’d better keep on cranking it out through human power to keep myself from being put out the door. And Paul says, “Are you so foolish,” you got into the game through grace alone so why in the world would you think that works, human works are going to somehow keep you in.
And what I’m talking about here, it’s like when you’re lost and your maps go.. I’ve gotten so lost even the mapsco. can’t rescue me, it just keeps saying recalibrating, recalibrating, recalibrating, and that’s basically what we need in our minds, they need to be recalibrated because we are so, because of pride, so performance oriented. And when it comes to the world we’re performance oriented. And how do you get ahead in your job? You get a good performance appraisal. How do you get ahead as a student? You get a good report card. So we are performance, performance, performance and that’s the world system that we’re living in and it appeals to our sin nature anyway, so we just sort of transfer that into God. And if we’re not careful we’re into self-righteousness, not to get saved but to stay saved, because in the loss of salvation issue the focus is always you, have you done this or that, because if you have, or haven’t, then maybe you can lose your salvation. So the whole concept of Arminianism, loss of salvation, if you really start boiling it down and looking at it carefully you’ll see it’s really related to self-righteousness.
And guess what folks, God doesn’t work the way we work. Have you noticed that? I’ve tried to get God to conform to my way of doing things; He doesn’t seem all that interested. So it doesn’t matter what I think is right or what I think is wrong; I have to start allowing myself to think the way God thinks and that’s why He says over in Isaiah 55, you might want to look at that for a second, Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” So I can think self-righteously all I want to but the fact of the matter is that never got me saved and that doesn’t keep me saved.
And this is why there is such an emphasis in the New Testament letters on renewing the mind. My mind, because of pride and the world system, thinks a certain way. And God wants to take this process and turn it into something different. He wants me to think differently. And the only way I’m going to start thinking differently is if I start renewing my mind through what? The Scripture. The only thing that’s going to start causing me to think differently is the Scripture. No other source that you can ever give yourself to will ever cause your mind to be renewed. That’s why there’s such an emphasis in the New Testament about the intake of the Bible.
And look at Romans 12:2, it says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” So I drag into my… and this is a common misunderstanding, people think they come to Christ and they have a new mind, which they do positionally but they don’t understand that they’re carrying into Christianity a bunch of baggage that they have accumulated their whole lives. I have seen this even in some of my apologetic friends, apologia means defense of the faith. I have seen people come out of Roman Catholicism and they have become very strict critics of the Roman Catholic Church. But when you actually sit and listen to their presentation of the gospel it sounds pretty Roman Catholic, what they’re saying.
I have seen, and this is where you have to watch, we have, praise the Lord, former Muslims that come to Christ and they become critics of Islam. If their mind is not renewed they’re going to take the same works righteousness that’s in Islam, because in Islam it’s all does the good outweigh the bad. They’re going to drag that into Christianity and their doctrine of salvation is going to start sounding kind of Islamic, maybe with Jesus’ name thrown in a little bit. And I’ve seen this happen and I’ve not wanted this to happen to me, I want my mind to be totally renewed where I’m not telling people things from my pre-conversion days.
Let me squeeze in one more here, I’ve got four minutes left. Number 2, if God bestows, this gives us a philosophical argument, it’s similar to the first argument, if God bestows initial salvation without effort but then requires us to perform to maintain salvation, then salvation is no longer a what? A gift, but it is something that we must work to have. Now in the idea that you can lose your salvation the focus is always you, your personal choice, your sin habits or pattern, your apostasy. Staying away from those things is what keeps you saved under the doctrine of you can lose your salvation. And as you’ll see in this class, I’m not minimizing holiness at all; there’s a real place for that. I’m simply saying that those maintaining a holy life is not a basis upon which you can boost your salvation, if it was then it’s a doctrine of works.
This is really what troubles me because there are certain people that will fight tooth and nail on this and they’re convinced you can lose your salvation. And I know it’s not very PC for me to say this and I say this with humility and gentleness, but if someone wants to go to the bat on this in the back of my mind I’m questioning whether that person is saved at all. And I think that way because they think it’s their ability to stay away from a certain sin that keeps them saved. Now is that not works? That isn’t anything but pure works. And if a person is functioning totally on the basis of works, then in the back of my mind I’m really wondering, has this person ever understood the grace of God at all? If the Bible is clear on anything it’s we’re not saved by works, Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of” what? “works, lest any man boast.” By the way, what does God think about our manmade works? Filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6. [“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” KJV]
And so in… there’s two things to be careful about, front loading and back loading the gospel. Front loading is sticking a bunch of works on the front end, I’ve got to do faith plus works to be justified. Back loading is sticking a bunch of works on the back end, yes, I’m saved by faith but to keep myself saved I’ve got to do works. Both are works, whether it’s front loading or whether it’s back loading. And the front loader and the back loader of the gospel, they are their own savior, that’s the problem. They think that it’s their ability to do good works to be justified and they like to mix faith in a little bit. Or if a person thinks that it’s their ability to stay away from a certain sin or a pattern or group of sins that keeps them saved, that’s works on the back end. And I’ll just tell you, I think both to God’s eyes are an abomination.
And if we will not come to God His way we don’t come. Now if you don’t believe me just ask Cain about that. Abel came through blood sacrifice the way God ordained; Cain had the Frank Sinatra approach, “I did it my way.” And God received one sacrifice and not the other because it is not my rules, it’s not Sugar Land Bible Church’s rules, these are God’s rules. I know this can be a little bit controversial, but this, as the Psalmist says, “Selah.” Do you know what Selah means in Hebrew? It means to consider carefully… consider carefully, don’t believe it because I said it, check it out in the Scripture yourself and see if these things be so. And I’ve only given you two arguments, when you put all thirteen together I think you’ll see there’s a very strong case that can be made that you cannot lose your salvation. But more on that as we continue in the class.
We’ll pray and then we’ll open it up for questions. Father, we thank You for this time, I pray that Your hand will be in this study as we look at this very important doctrine. I pray this will be a time of growth for us and we lift these things up, in Jesus name. Amen.