Soteriology 051
Revelation 22:18-19 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 12, 2017 • Soteriology


Andy Woods

Soteriology 51, Revelation 22:18-19

March 12, 2016

Let’s open with a word of prayer.   Father, we thank You for this morning and we thank  You for the cool weather and we just ask, Father, that  You would be present today through Your Spirit you would be illuminating the Scriptures to us so that we can understand some of the more difficult parts of the Word.  And I pray You’ll be with us during the worship service that follows and I just pray for people to be changed today eternally and only You can accomplish that and we ask these things in Jesus’ name.  And God’s people said… Amen.

Let’s open our Bibles to the book of Revelation which is easy to find, Revelation 22:18-19.  We continue, we’re actually coming near the end of this study.  I know I’ve said that for about six months but we’re coming to the end of this study on eternal security, which of course means the grace of God that saves us is the grace of God that keeps us.   We didn’t get into this by human works so therefore it’s not human works that… human works didn’t get us into the front door so human works don’t keep us in the door once we’re in.  You guys with me on that?  And if you believe that there’s really nothing you can do to lose your salvation.

I gave you the strongest arguments I know of in the Biblical text related to eternal security.  And we decided to go a step further and look at the various passages that people use to deny security; there must be a lot of them or else this wouldn’t be debated.  So we’ve been basically looking at these one by one and we’ve gone all the way through the Bible and now we’re at the very last book of the Bible, the very last chapter of the Bible and one final Scripture that people use to deny security is Revelation 22:18-19.  This is how John concludes the book of Revelation, with the words of Christ, He says, “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; [19] and if anyone takes away  from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away” oh-oh “his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”

So if you add or subtract to the Word of God then your part will be taken away from the eternal city, the tree of life, and you can see how the two systems of both Calvinism and Arminianism would gravitate towards this verse.  Calvinism basically says if you add or subtract from this book you were never saved to begin with.  And this is more of a stronghold for Arminianism which teaches you can lose your salvation and they’re basically saying if you add or subtract from this book then what happened to your salvation?   You lost it.  So that puts people in a state of paranoia, oh my gosh, I hope I don’t interpret the book of Revelation wrong, I hope I don’t add things to it, I hope I don’t subtract from it because if that’s true then my salvation is in doubt.  Either I never had it or I lost it.  So this is again another example of not really respecting the Bible in  its proper context.

If you go back to verse 17 you see what John does here, the immediately preceding verse.  He’s been talking to believers but then all of a sudden in verse 17 he shifts to unbelievers and he gives an evangelistic invitation.  And notice what he says in verse 17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”  So very clearly in verse 17 he’s talking to unbelievers, right?  Because he’s giving them an evangelistic invitation.  So he’s been talking to believers, believers, believers, believers and then you get around to verse 17 and he gives an evangelistic outreach to unbelievers that happen to be reading this book.

And we know that this is evangelism because he says, “let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” and that should bring to mind John 4:14 where the Holy Spirit is analogized to water as Jesus was speaking to the woman at the well.  [John 4:14, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”]

So he’s speaking, obviously to unbelievers in verse 17, not the whole book but in verse 17.   And then I think as you go into verses 18-19 He’s continuing to speak to unbelievers.  And He really doesn’t shift back, as I’ll show you in a second, to believers until the last two verses, verses 20-21.  So moving from verse 17 into verses 18-19, the words we just read, He’s warning those who reject God’s offer of salvation.  So he’s offered salvation, verse 17 and then verses 18-19 is a warning     to those who reject the offer.   And He begins to describe the characteristics of unbelievers.

Unbelievers by nature have not respect for God’s Word.  Unbelievers by nature will, without even blushing, will add to the Scripture or subtract from the Scripture.  And this is not the only place in the Bible where we have this characteristic of unbelievers that typically will add and subtract at will.  Peter, if you go back to 2 Peter 3:16-17 said basically the same thing.  He’s talking about Paul and he says, “as also in his letters, speaking in them of these things in which some things that are hard to understand.”   I’m sure glad Peter said that about Paul, I don’t feel as bad now, not understanding some of the things Paul said.  “…which the untaught and the unstable distort, as they do the rest of Scripture, to their own” what?  “destruction.”  So he’s making an allusion there to unbelievers.  And then he goes right back to believers, verse 17, “But you therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, [be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, [18] but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.]”  And he continues to exhort believers.

So we know from 2 Peter that there are really two groups to understand 2 Peter correctly; you’ve got the saved audience but then you’ve got these unsaved false teachers that come into the flock.  And I’m pretty sure that these false teachers are unsaved because going back to 2 Peter 2:1 he says, “But false prophets arose among the people just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift” what? “destruction upon themselves.”  So that’s describing an unbeliever I would think.

And then you go down to chapter 2:9 and he says, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under” what? “punishment for the day of judgment,” he’s speaking of the state of the unbeliever in hell.  If you go to verse 12, I’m in 2 Peter 2,   he says in verse 12, “But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed.”  It’s  not the believer that’s destroyed in hell, it’s the unbeliever.

Going down to verse 14, “having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;” that’s a pretty strong word there, which I think is talking about an unbeliever.  Dropping down to verse 19 it’s talking about their false doctrine, “promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

So when we were in 2 Peter in this study I tried to make a case that you’ve got two groups you’re dealing with; you’ve got first of all the saved audience and the unsaved false teachers.  Now Peter, in 2 Peter 3 continues to talk about these unsaved false teachers.  And one of the things they do is they gravitate towards the obscure things Paul says and they deliberately twist them for their own purposes.  And Peter says that as they do that they’re revealing their true character as unbelievers; they do so to their own destruction.  [2 Peter 3:16, “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”]

That’s the second place in the Bible where we’re told that unbelievers by nature have no respect for the Word of God, they willfully add to the Word of God, they willfully subtract from the Word of God.  So therefore going back to Revelation 22:16 and before, really verse 16 is speaking to believers; verse 17 is an evangelistic opportunity for unbelievers.  Verses 18-19 I think should be understood as the characteristics of unbelievers; what fate awaits unbelievers if they reject the gospel invitation in verse 17?

[Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.  [17] “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.  [19] I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;  [19] and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”]

And of course when you study the kingdom of the cults, whether it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, right on down the line you’ll discover that one of their characteristics is they always add to the Bible; the Bible is not enough.  So not if the Mormons come to your door but when the Mormons come to your door they will try to sell you on the idea that there is an extra testament of Jesus Christ that you don’t have, and it’s the guest appearance that Jesus supposedly made in North America in the 1800’s.  And Jude 3 says truth has once and for all been delivered to the saints.  [Jude 3, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”]

So how could there be an additional book of the Bible written in the 1800’s under Joseph Smith when Jude 3 tells us the truth has already been delivered 2,000 years ago and the canon of Scripture is shut.  So cults, by nature, will add to the Scripture.  So that would be a characteristic of unbelievers and that’s what John is really addressing here.  He’s not addressing the issue of maybe you have salvation, maybe you don’t, he’s changed his focus into unbelievers; an invitation is given, verse 17, and then the fate of those who reject the invitation is described in verses 18-19.

It’s the same kind of thing Peter is doing in 2 Peter 3.  So John, as he’s describing unbelievers in verses 18-19 says God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;” now that has to be describing an unbeliever, doesn’t it?  Because throughout this book we’ve been getting a description of the plagues that are coming upon the earth—seven seal judgments, seven trumpet judgments, seven bowl judgments.  And we, as the church, are not candidates for those plagues. Right.  We are going to be raptured to heaven before these plagues come upon the earth because we believe in a pretribulational rapture.

That’s why we are told at the end of 1 Thessalonians 1:10 “and to wait for His Son from heaven,” are you waiting “for His Son from heaven?”  Or are you looking for the antichrist.  See, a lot of the church today is storing up water, not that that’s bad in and of itself, and buying gold and all these things and they’re kind of arming up to meet the antichrist.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have some savings and things like that in your house in case of emergency but that action has nothing to do with the book of Revelation.  I don’t do those things because I’m preparing to eyeball it with the antichrist because I’m told “to wait for his Son from heaven, [whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus,] who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

I’m not looking for the antichrist, I’m looking for Jesus Christ.  That’s why when you get into the book of Revelation, really beginning in chapter 4 where the end time judgments are described, the Greek word church, ekklesia, which is us, the church, it’s not found a single time.  The church is addressed nineteen times in chapters 1-3 prior to the rapture but once you get beyond the rapture into the tribulation period you don’t find the Greek word ekklesia in the book; it doesn’t even show up until verse 16 of chapter 22 when John signs off and just generically says preach these things in the churches.   [Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”]

So all of that to say we are not candidates for the plagues, but the unbeliever, who is revealing his true state by adding and subtracting from the Word of God is revealing his true state.  The unbeliever will miss the rapture; the unbeliever will go into the tribulation period itself and what is going to be added to him?  The plagues that are described in the book, the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls.

So all of that to say that John here has switched subjects and he’s talking about the fate of the unbeliever who rejects the gospel invitation given in verse 17.  And he goes on in verse 19 and he says, “…God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city.”  Now you read that as words, “take away his part” you think it means someone who is enjoying the tree of life and then they’re ripped away from it.  And that’s really not what it’s talking about.  The word “part” here, the Greek word meros, refers to a future experience, in the book of Revelation it refers to a future experience in which people have yet to participate.  And I think it’s only used three other times in the book of Revelation, but notice how it’s used here, this Greek word meros, or “part” in chapter 20 verse 6.  “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection;” so that’s talking about a future experience which people are yet to participate in, and this is also how the Greek word part or meros is used in Revelation 21:8, which says, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part” that’s meros “will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

So what John is saying in verse 19 is he’s using this word “part” to indicate a future experience in which people have yet to participate in.  An unbeliever will have no experience in, is what John is saying, in two things; number 1 he will have no experience in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven, which is described in Revelation 21:23-27.  [Revelation 21:23-27, “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. [24] The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. [25] In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; [26] and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; [27] and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”]

And number 2, he will have no future experience in the tree of life which is described in Revelation 22:2.  [Revelation 22:2, “in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”]  So what John has done here is he’s switched topics, he’s given a gospel invitation, verse 17, so he’s obviously speaking to unbelievers at that point.  And then he begins to describe the consequences of rejecting that gospel invitation. If you’re an unbeliever you will miss the rapture, should it occur in our lifetime and you’ll go into the place that is described in the book of Revelation.  And if that weren’t enough you will not be in the eternal city with all the believers, you’ll be in the lake of fire so you will have no future experience in the holy city or the tree of life.

And we also can put this together with other verses, like in 2 Peter, which clearly indicate that the plight of the unbeliever or the characteristics of the unbeliever is such that they deliberately twist the Scripture.  So what I’m trying to say is verses 17-19 is all speaking to unbelievers.  And if that’s true you don’t have to sit there as a Christian and panic over verses 18 and 19, oh my gosh, what if I misrepresent the book of Revelation?  What if I misunderstand the book of Revelation?  What if I misteach the book of Revelation?  Maybe my eternal security is not eternally secure.  That’s not John’s subject.  His subject is unbelievers.

And after he describes the gospel invitation, verse 17, the consequences of rejecting it, verses 18-19 he goes right back in the last two verses of the book to addressing believers.  See that?  And look at how he closes.  “ He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  [21] The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”  So he’s closed the book with an exhortation to the Christian but in verses 17-18 it’s an exhortation to the unbeliever.  Hopefully that helps a little bit because a lot of people look at verses 18-19 and think their salvation is in jeopardy if they mishandle God’s Word.  And we ought to be concerned, of course, about mishandling God’s Word, because James 3:1 says let few of you presume to be teachers knowing that they will incur the stricter judgment.  [James 3:1, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”]  But jeopardizing one’s eternal security because of their mishandling of the Word of God is a question that John is not dealing with in these verses.  So the Arminian system is forcing this text to address an issue that it’s not addressing because the subject matter has changed from the believer to the unbeliever.  Hopefully that makes some kind of sense.  Thumbs up, okay.

The lights are too bright, I couldn’t see anyway; plus we lost an hour’s sleep didn’t we, which takes me to another rant; I don’t know why we have to switch our clocks forward on Sunday, that only hurts one group of people, doesn’t it?  Church people that want to go to church.  So why don’t we all wait till Monday to switch our clocks forward and just have church service at normal time.  I might just start a revolution here… anyway, that’s always bothered me. Everybody’s rights are protected in this society, what about my rights as a church-goer.  All right, let’s get off that.

Now let me give you, kind of wrapping up this discussion of eternal security, let me give you one more argument that people use.  Now this is not a text based argument but if you become a defender of the doctrine of eternal security you’re going to hear this all the time from people.  People will say this:  well, eternal security allows people to live in sin without fear of losing their salvation.  Have you heard this?  So the idea here is man, if you really want to produce holiness in your congregation you’d better dangle hell over them every Sunday because they’re going to behave properly on Sunday but Monday through Saturday they’re going to live like the devil  and unless you are always in a posture where you’re ripping out the carpet from under people they have no incentive to live holy.

Well, I love the way Charles Ryrie answers questions like this because he always gets you to think about something in a way that you may have never thought about it.  So Ryrie responds to this in      A Survey Of Bible Doctrine, page 133, he says: “Actually one need not fear losing his salvation as long as he could be saved again by believing again.  So even a doctrine of insecurity could bring licentious living.”  So what he’s saying is this argument isn’t solved by teaching that you can lose your salvation because what people think is well, I can be saved on Sunday, I could lose my salvation Monday through Saturday and what can happen on Sunday?  I can get saved again.

So both systems, Arminianism and eternal security have this problem of letting people believe they can just live like the devil without dangling hell over them.  I’ve been in churches were people are literally getting saved every single week and then the same people get saved the next week.  And the exact same people get saved the week after that.  I’ve been in churches with altar calls where these exact same people… I say wait, didn’t you go up last week?  And you see, what’s happened is they got saved and then they don’t really have any teaching on the spiritual life or how to live it so they got out into the big bad world Monday through Saturday and the pull of the sin nature is still there in the Christian.  Amen!

The secret to overcoming the sin nature is not a secret, it’s tapping into the resources God has given to the Christian.  But if no one teaches you that and the pull of the sin nature is so strong what you will start to think is oh my gosh, how could I as a Christian think that, or do that, I must be unsaved.  So they feel like they have to get saved again.  When in reality what they need to do is they need teaching on the spiritual life, they need teaching on what it means to be in fellowship with God and out of fellowship with God and they need fellowship restored, they don’t need their salvation all over again because that’s a one-time deal which is eternally secure.  So having said all that, this idea that eternal security allows people to live in sin without constant fear of hell, well, we can make that same argument against the Arminian system because it allows you to get saved over and over and over and over again.

Having said all that, what would be the response to this idea that eternal security allows you to live like the devil Monday through Saturday?  Well, I believe this, that the more a person understands the grace of God the greater their incentive will be to live holy.  And I can defend that, I think, simply by looking at how the book of Romans is structured.  This is a multipart outline, all of these begin with the letter S, I got this from Charles Ryrie I think, Salutation, which means greeting, is described, chapter 1, verses 1-17.  Then Paul gets into the subject of sin, chapter 1 verse 18 through chapter 3, verse 20 and he doesn’t even talk about the love of Jesus a single time in that section.  He doesn’t talk about God’s grace, he doesn’t even talk about the gospel, he just talks about sin.  He says the Gentile world is in sin, the Jewish world is in sin, oh what the heck, let’s just sum it up, the whole world is in sin.  He says that in chapter 3.

And it’s rough terrain reading through that and I’ve taught Romans at this church; I noticed we had a precipitous decline in our attendance when I was going through that section.  But Paul is doing this because you can’t understand your need for the gospel until you understand your what?  You’re lost.  So finally in chapter 3 verse 21 through the end of chapter 5 he talks about salvation.  And it’s there he explains that your salvation is secure; it’s s one-time deal, it’s not based on what you’ve done, it’s based on what God has done.  So if it’s something God has done then I can’t do anything to undo it so your salvation is secure, you’re eternally secure.

And once we understand that then he moves into chapters 6-8 where he gets into the subject of shall we continue to sins that grace may abound?  And it’s in chapters 6-8 that he says by no means, the Greek there is mē genoito, which is the strongest negative you can have in the Greek language.  And he’s saying to go back into sin is inconsistent with who you are.  He never dangles hell over people when he gets into that subject it’s, just inconsistent with what God has done in you, it’s inconsistent with your new identity.  And then someone in the back of the room, some wise guy, puts up his hand and says Paul, I’ve got a question, if God is so faithful what about the nation of Israel, because Paul wrote this book of Romans about A.D. 57, by then the nation of Israel had rejected Christ, her king, but a number of decades had passed and the nation of Israel was under discipline, and the nation of Israel was about to be swept away in the discipline of God  in the events of A.D. 70, which would be a little over ten years later.

And if all of that, from the vantage point of the first century it looked like God had forgotten Israel and if God can forget Israel and Israel has a covenant with God, called the Abrahamic Covenant, then God can also forget who?  He can forget me, He can forget you.  So the guy in the back raises his hand and says what about Israel, and Paul understands… you guys realize that when I say “the guy in the back” I’m adding a little bit, I’m adding and subtracting from the Word… so Paul understands that this question is an attack on God’s faithfulness, because if God can’t keep the Abrahamic Covenant and it looked like the Abrahamic Covenant had failed in the first century because Israel was a Christ-rejecting nation, then how in the world can I trust God to keep His promises to me?  They’re not even as good as the paper they’re written on.

So now he gets into the subject of Israel, Romans 9, 10 and 11 and he says Romans 9, Israel in the past—elected.  Romans 10, Israel in the present, which would include right up to today, 2017, in the present—rejected.  Then he gets into Romans 11, Israel in the future—accepted.  So Romans 9, Israel in the past—elected.  Romans 10, Israel in the present—rejected, Israel in the future—accepted.

Now that people understand the absolute trustworthiness of God and His faithfulness, that God has a whole plan in mind whereby He will keep His promises to national Israel, Romans 11 explains that, I know that God is a true promise keeping covenant keeping God.  And if God is… remember the movement Promise Keepers, well the reality is there’s only one promise keeper and that’s God and if God can keep His promises, if He can be trusted to even keep His promises to His wayward nation then every single promise He’s ever made to me in Romans 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 is absolutely reliable and you can take it to the bank.  Once that has been solidified in the minds of the reader now he’s ready to move into service, Romans 12:1, look at that just for a minute.  “Therefore, I urge you brethren,” who’s he speaking to, believers or unbelievers?  Believers!  Therefore, I urge you brethren by the mercies of God,” what mercies?  The ones he just got finished talking about in 9-11, 6-8, 3-5, it’s all connected.  “Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God to do” what?  Live like the devil and get saved the next week?  No!  “…to present your” what? “bodies as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Paul believes that once they understood the total reliability of their salvation, because he’s vindicated God as a promise keeping God, that’s the kind of God you can build your life on.   See that?  That’s the kind of God you can faithfully serve your whole life.  So in Paul’s thinking security doesn’t create licentious living, it does the opposite.  And  you will notice that people that really understand what God has done for them, once it’s intellectually grasped they have a tremendous heart for God.  And I think they become the most effective servants in the body of Christ.

So all of that to say it’s totally foreign to Paul’s thinking that you have to threaten people every week to get them to behave.  It’s the opposite the way Paul thinks.  God is a promise keeper and this is the kind of God you can build your house on, your life on, and this is the kind of God you can serve all the days of your life.  You see, the story of the Bible is not what man does for God; the story of the Bible is what God has done for man.  And as people grasp that it creates a powerful motivation for service, because guess what?  I’m not serving God out of fear anymore.

Once I understand… gosh, I’d better show up at the Wednesday night Bible study or I might go to hell; that’s no longer the proper motivation for going to Wednesday night Bible study.  The proper motivation for coming to Wednesday night Bible study or serving God in any capacity is you do it out of gratitude.   See that?  You do it out of worship, you do it out of thanksgiving.  So the fact of the matter is this idea that man you’ve got to dangle hell in front of people every week to get them to behave, Paul doesn’t think that way.  Paul’s ministry is largely explaining to people what God has done for them.

Take the book of Ephesians as an example.   How many commands do you find in Ephesians 1-3?  Zero, no commands; it’s all grace, grace, grace, here’s what God has done, here’s what God has done, then if you get to chapter 4, verse 1, and he uses the word “Therefore,” which switches us from doctrine to what?  Practice, now Paul gives 38 commands; so he never gives commands to people until people understand who they are in Christ and what they have.  Do you see that?

And this is one of the problems with modern day preaching, is the preacher goes immediately to application, here’s five things you need to be doing in your life this week to live for Jesus, when the reality of the situation is that’s not how Paul thinks, Paul never developed any book that way.  The whole book of Galatians is the same structure; 1-4 is doctrine, 5-6 is practice.  The book of Romans is that way, 1-11 is doctrine, 12-16 is practice.  The book of Ephesians is set up this way, 1-3 is doctrine, 4-6 is practice, because Paul understands something, that once people grasp the grace of God and they understand what they have in Christ and what Christ has done for them then service comes out of joy, not out of fear of hellfire.

So to this argument you’re allowing people to live in sin without fear of losing salvation.  I mean, I understand what they saying from a philosophical point of view but that’s not how the Bible is set up.  The Bible is not set up that way.  The opposite is true, the more you understand security the more you’ll want to serve the Lord and  not be afraid of him.  Think about this, at your job what bosses do you work the hardest for?  The boss that threatens you all the time or the boss that has your well-being, looks out for you, has your respect?  Obviously it’s that latter boss.  And somehow we’ve gotten in our minds this idea that we’ve got to threaten people all the time for holy living and I’m just trying to say that’s a way of thinking that’s foreign to the Scripture.

So all of that to say you can’t lose your salvation.  Why didn’t I just say that, I could say it in several weeks, months… now in soteriology we only have one other subject left to cover.  You say oh no, I saw what you did with Roman numeral VII, that took multiple weeks, good grief, what are  you going to do in Roman numeral VIII?  Well, don’t worry, this goes by, we could finish it today or next week, so either today or next week we’ll be finished with the study.

I just want to expose you to the faulty views of salvation.  There are two unbiblical views of salvation that you need to be aware of and they are very big now in the culture with the movie The Shack, and people like Rob Bell, who wrote this book, Love Wins, who’s now appearing on the Oprah Winfrey network and all that kind of stuff.  The two are, number 1, universalism, and a slightly difference nuance view called inclusivism.  So let’s talk for just a moment about universalism.  Universalisms says everyone will eventually get saved so it’s not denying the cross, it’s not denying Christ, it’s just saying in the workings of God everyone ultimately is going to end up believing the gospel.  And with any false teaching it always has some kind of scriptural support.  There are certain Scriptures that it uses that you read them and it looks that way.

So the Scripture universalists use are John 12:32, look at that, John 12:32 says, “And I, if I am lifted up” Jesus, on the cross, “from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”  So they say well there it is, everyone is going to get saved.  But the verse doesn’t say that.  The verse says God draws everybody, whether they actually believe the gospel or not is up to them.  So you can send out a life preserver but the person has to actually grab the life preserver.  And this verse never says everyone grabs the life preserver; what it says is the life preserver goes out to everybody.

They like to use Philippians 2:11, “and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  So the universalist says look, it says right there that everyone is going to confess Jesus Christ as Lord.  Well, I’ll tell you what I think that means? I think it does mean everyone will confess Jesus Christ as Lord but some people will do it from heaven, other people will do it from hell.  Some people will do it from heaven as an act of joy, other people will do it from hell under duress to do so.  So again that verse is not saying everyone will be saved.

The universalist likes to quote 1 Timothy 2:4, which says, (and there’s a parallel passage in 2 Peter 3:9,  [8b] “God our Savior [9] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  So everyone will be saved, right?  No, all that’s saying is God desires all people to be saved.  You have the same type of teaching over in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”   So the universalist says the whole world is going to come to repentance, and it doesn’t say that, it says that’s God’s desire… God’s desire!

So none of these passages really teach universalism.  In fact, when you go to the bottom of the screen there are other crystal clear passages that very clearly teach that not everybody will be saved.  We want everybody saved but the reality of the situation is not necessarily everyone will be saved.

Matthew 7:13-14, says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. [14] For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Does that sound like everybody is going to be saved to you?  I mean, the way this reads to me is the path to destruction is like the five lane highway, or freeway, and the way to life is that little tiny access road on the side.  It doesn’t give you the foggiest… it teaches really the opposite, the idea that everyone in the end will be saved doesn’t comport at all with that passage.

Notice Matthew 13:49-50, it says, “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, [50] and will throw them” that’s the wicked, “into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   Clearly talking about some people tragically in hell.

Notice Matthew 25:32, this is very common, people will cite a verse but they don’t look at the whole Bible on a subject; whenever you want to get the mind of God on a topic you can’t just consult a verse, you have to look at everything the Bible has to say about that given subject.  That’s what I’m doing here with this doctrine of universalism.  Matthew 25:32, Jesus is speaking, and He says,  “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;” verse 34, “Then the King will say to those on His right,” now that’s always interesting, the sheep are on the right, I don’t know if I want to go too far with that, the goats are on the left, I’m just saying, that’s all.  Verse 34, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”  Well what about the goats, those on the left?  They’re in verse 46, “These” that’s the goats, “will go away into” what kind of punishment, “eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  I mean very clearly with this sheep and goat judgment not everyone is saved.

And if there’s a verse in the Bible that causes people to get saved, if it doesn’t it should, it’s Revelation 20:11-15 which is the description of the Great White Throne Judgment.  It says, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. [13] The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. [14] Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. [15] Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

So if your name is not in “the book,” the Lamb’s Book of Life, then you’re judged by “the books.”  So if  your name is not in the book, singular, you’re judged by the books, plural.  So the big question is what’s in “the books”?  I would guess that the “books” plural, is a record of our deeds as unsaved people, a record of sin in other words.  And those determine degree of punishment in hell.  I mean, hell is hell, but it’s more hell for some people than others, which would make sense if you’re dealing with an omniscient perfectly just God.  We wouldn’t expect just an unbeliever to be punished the same way as an Adolf Hitler throughout eternity.

So just as there are different degrees of reward in heaven there are differing degrees of punishment in the lake of fire.  And it very clearly says… it’s a terrible scene here, that if you name is not in the Book of Life” you’re thrown into the lake of fire and the books are consulted just to determine the degree of torment  you experience throughout your life.  So how could a person read a paragraph like that and claim that everyone is going to be saved?  It’s impossible.

Now what am I trying to do?  Just give scare tactics?  No, I basically am a theologian and studying theology has taught me something, that theology is like dominoes in a row; if you knock over one domino what’s going to happen to the rest?  They’re going to start to fall.  Any area of theology that you compromise in is going to, whether you realize it or not, indirectly affect another area of theology.  So think about this for a moment.  If in the end everyone is going to be saved what does that do to the urgency of evangelism; it short-circuits it.  See that?

What does that do to the doctrine of missiology or missions, where people at great labor and expense to themselves and tedious time, learn another culture, learn another language, to go to a foreign country and then they get the Bible translated from Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic into some foreign dialect with the hope that some people will read it and not go to hell.  If everyone in the end is going to be saved then, I mean, I guess the urgency of doing all of those things to get the gospel to the lost is not as urgent.  And you start fiddling around with the doctrine of eternal retribution, as much as it comforts us to do that, because the doctrine is sort of scary to us, it throws an automatic wet blanket over missiology.  The urgency of evangelism, missions,  learning about other cultures to share the gospel with them, learning another language to share the gospel with them basically disappears.  And that’s why I bring up things like I do because in my training I see how what’s happening over here is going to impact over here, dominoes in a row.  So the Bible does not teach universalism.

Now a slightly nuance view is inclusivism and this is what’s coming through on the movie The Shack, and Rob Bell and things like that.  Inclusivism is the idea that all sincere seekers will be saved regardless of whether they know the name Jesus Christ; as long as you’re seeking God to the best of  your abilities, in your own religion, whether it be Islam or whatever, that’s all that matters.  And in the end God will accept such a person.  And I just give you these quotes not to pick on people but I want to show you how close this is coming to home.

This is a You Tube exchange Oprah Winfrey had with a member of her studio audience.  You can find this on  You Tube very easily and see this.  Oprah says: “One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing there’s only one way.”  She goes on and says, “There are many, many paths to what you call…” she’s reacting to an evangelical Christian in the audience, “to what you call God.  It doesn’t matter whether she” that’s the person her audience she’s reacting to, “call it God along the way or not.  There couldn’t possibly be just one way.  There couldn’t possibly be only way with the millions of people in the world.”  And at the end she says, “You’re on some remote part of the earth and you’ve never heard the name Jesus, are you telling me you can’t get to heaven.”  See, what she’s arguing here for is inclusivism; of course God is going to accept people because they’re sincerely seeking Him with what they know.

This one is painful to put up; this is Tony Evans, and this is from his book, Totally Saved, The First Edition.  Now to their credit the publishers removed this statement from the second edition but they never issued any sort of public apology or retraction.  But in the first edition this is what Tony Evans says.  Now this is painful for me because he’s one of our guys, he’s a DTS grad like I am, I enjoy a lot of his teachings on the radio and what I’m trying to demonstrate is how close this is hitting to home, this inclusivism.

He says: “In a class I once taught at Dallas Seminary I inadvertently asked an exam question on material I had not covered in class.  One of the students brought this discrepancy to my attention.  To be fair I had to rescore all of the latest papers because I could not hold the students liable for information they had never been given.  So the premise is that God will not hold people accountable for a decision they cannot make based on information they have not received.  And people in faraway lands who have never heard the gospel still have to answer for their sins.  This means we need to talk about the provision God has made for those who cannot believe.  Here’s the spiritual principle at work; when people respond to what they do know of God He takes personal responsibility for giving them more information about Himself.  In the case of a person who never hears the gospel,” now here’s the part, up to this point it’s like yeah, I agree, but here’s the troubling part, “In the case of a person who never hears the gospel and never knows the name Jesus but who responds to the light he has, God treats that person like an Old Testament saint, if you will.  That is, if the person trusts in what God has revealed God deals with that person based on knowledge that he has, not based on the knowledge he has never received.”  Do you see that?  “I call this trans dispensationalism” as if we as dispensationalist don’t have enough bad press, now he’s blaming it on us, “by this I mean if a person is sincerely seeking in a desire to know Him and responding to the truth he knows, if there’s no missionary or direct manifestation of God then God judges that person based on his faith in the light he has received.  And in the case of Abraham God will retroactively count this person as righteous by applying the death of Christ from the dispensation of grace.”  That is inclusivism, that’s what he’s saying there.

I’m not quoting Oprah any more, this is one of our guys.  Now one more, if I haven’t offended you yet, this one will.  This is Billy Graham, the greatest evangelist in the 20th century.  My own mother was saved through Billy Graham and his evangelistic ministry.  People get saved all the time through Billy Graham.  However, there is a Youtube exchange between Billy Graham and Robert Schuller that you can find online.  Robert Schuller is The Hour… well, he’s dead now but the Hour of Power, Crystal Cathedral. I basically grew up 20 minutes from Robert Schuller’s church and I would drive on the Garden Grove freeway and see that giant shimmering glass structure that he built.

Dr. Schuller, as he’s talking to Billy Graham, “What is the future of Christianity?”  Dr. Graham, “Well, Christianity and being a true believer, you know, I think there’s the body of Christ which comes from all the Christian groups around the world or outside the Christian groups.  I think that everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not they are members of the body of Christ and I don’t think we’re going to see a great revival that will turn the world to Christ at any time.  And that’s what God is doing today, He is calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, the Buddhist world, the Christian world or the non-believing world they are members of the body of Christ because they have been called by God.  They may not even know the name Jesus.”  You see that?  That’s inclusivism.  “But they know in their heart they need something that they don’t have and they turn to the only light that they have and they’re saved and they’re going to be in heaven with us.”

Now Robert Schuller, “This is fantastic, I am so thrilled to hear you say that, there’s a wideness in God’s mercy.”  Now am I trying to discredit everything Billy Graham has ever said?  No!  Am I trying to discredit everything Tony Evans has ever said?  No!  I’m trying to, before I explain inclusivism, which I’ll do next week, I’ll get more into it, I’m trying to show you that this is not just pie in the sky stuff out there on the periphery, this is in the culture and sadly the church is becoming just like the world and buying into the world’s soteriology.  And some of the leading figures in Christendom today, in their moments of candor or weakness, whatever you want to call it, will start to make inclusivist types statements.

So I’ll stop talking; most of you are saying amen, let’s get off that subject.  But we’ll finish this next week with inclusivism.