GOD’S LAW

DID PAUL PREACH LAWLESSNESS ?

One of the accusations made against Christianity by heretical groups such as the Hebrew Roots Movement is that Christians are lawless, and advocate lawlessness. This accusation comes as a result of a gross misrepresentation of the teachings of the apostle Paul.

Unfortunately, some Christian ministers have not helped the cause of Christianity by teaching doctrinally unsound things regarding Paul’s gospel of grace.

Did Paul teach that we are lawless now that we are under grace? Absolutely not! Consider the following from Paul:

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

In the reference above Paul’s reveals his evangelistic strategy. Paul was an incredibly versed scholar of the Jewish scriptures with great understanding of the law of Moses. In his evangelistic approach to the Jews, Paul knew how to use the law to preach Christ to them. Paul was also very skilled in his communication with those outside the Jewish community, and could debate with the most intellectual among the Roman empire. In his strategy towards them Paul took a different evangelistic approach. He became as one without law, though he himself was not without law to God.

Paul declared himself as “being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.”

Though Paul believed that in Christ we we not under the law (the law of Moses), Paul did not believe, nor did he teach, that we are without law (lawless). To explain Paul’s position regarding the law, I want to draw your attention to the words of the apostle John.

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

The ESV says, Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

Allow me translate what John is saying here.

John is basically saying, “the new commandment is the old commandment, but it’s new in that we now have it in view of the light of the glory of God. The light of God has shinned in the person of Jesus Christ, overpowering the darkness. The commandment is new because we now understand it in a whole new the light, and we see it through an entirely new lens – the lens of the grace of God in Christ.

When Jesus came, the law of God was transferred from the administration of death and condemnation as the law of Moses, to the administration of life by the Spirit Christ Jesus.

This is why Jesus could quote the law and, say, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” ~ Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus wasn’t establishing a new law. He was citing the law of God in view of the spiritual life and light of God that now shines in our hearts through the gospel. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” ~ John 1:4

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul expounds on the administration of the law under Moses, referring to it as the ministration of death and condemnation. He says this in contrast to the law in Christ being the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness. In the very next chapter Paul says, Therefore seeing we have this ministry (the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness), as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of GodBut if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

When the law of God, which is fulfilled by love, is obeyed from the heart we walk in the light, the Spirit, and righteousness of Christ, A man may refrain himself from physical adultery, and be guiltless of violating Moses’s law which says, “though shalt not commit adultery”, but if he has lust in his heart towards another woman, he has violated the law of God in his heart.

Only Jesus can bring to light the things that are in a man’s heart.

When God gave the law through Moses he appeared to the children of Israel in a thick cloud of darkness.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. ~ Exodus 20:21

These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders… ~ Deuteronomy 5:22-24

The darkness was representative of the spiritual condition of the people to whom God was giving the law under Moses. The law, as it was administered through Old Covenant Israel, was for a nation in spiritual darkness, and not for a nation abiding in the light.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeignedFrom which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ~ 1 Timothy 1:5-11

When Paul says the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of unfeigned faith, he is describing the work of the law of God in our heart under grace. He says that this is what some “swerve” from, and and consequently turn aside to “vain jangling”. They do not understand the law of God “under Moses”, in contrast to “under Christ.”

The writer of Hebrews contrasts the two covenants (the law under Moses, and grace under Christ).

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. ~ Hebrews 12:18-29

Never once did Paul or any New Testament writer teach that we are without law to God as New Covenant believers. When Paul teaches that were are not under the law, he is specifically referring to the law of Moses, which was given to a nation in spiritual darkness. Under Moses, God’s law was catered for a nation that was under the power of the flesh to teach them God’s ways, and to lead them to Christ!

God’s law (God’s rule, authority, and dominion) has not been abolished, but the administration of it through death and condemnation has. The ministry of the law of God has changed hands from Moses to Jesus, and through Jesus God’s law rules the hearts of those who love him. They do not have to be told to not commit adultery because their aim is to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Like their Master, their prayer is, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” ~ Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7-10

When Paul speaks of not being under the law he is not referring to being without law towards God, for Paul declares, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:2

When Paul speaks of not being under the law, he is talking about not being under Moses as his mediator. He is talking about not being under the administration of commandments designed to corral sin in a nation filled with people in spiritual darkness.

Paul believed that Jesus is our mediator with God, and Jesus is he who searches the reins and hearts ~ Revelation 2:23. He is the one that can see the lust in our hearts and it is this same Jesus who gives us grace and power in our hearts to do his will and to please God.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son… ~ Colossians 1:12-13

Because we are no longer in darkness, but translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, we produce fruit unto holiness through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (Moses), but under grace (Christ). ~ Romans 6:14

HAS GOD’S LAW BEEN ABOLISHED?

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. ~ Romans 3:21

Paul never once disqualifies the law of God in any of his epistles, but skillfully explained the purpose of the law. According to Paul, the law was weak through the flesh. The written code with it’s commands, decrees, and statues, as was given to Israel, was weak in that it could not put a stop to sin, it could only regulate sin.

Only by the power of Christ can sin be premanately dealt with, and only by the power of Christ can we live victorious over sin. Those who are changed by the power of Christ are not under the written code of the law as the Israelites were, because the law of God under the administration of Moses was given  to regulate sin only, not deliver them from it.

Does this mean that we are without any law from God now that we are in Christ? Absolutely not! When Christ came, he did not come to abolish God’s law, but to fulfill it, and those who follow Christ fulfill the law as well, for they do the will of God from the heart.

God’s law is fulfilled in those who live according to the power of Christ. This is why both Jesus and Paul tell us that love fulfills the law.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 22:35-40

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. ~ Romans 13:8-10

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. ~ Galatians 5:14

The virtues of godliness such as kindness, self control, patience, peace, etc., are the very things to which the Law gave witness.

The virtues of godliness such as kindness, self control, patience, peace, etc., are the very things to which the Law gave witness. The law (the written code) had no strength to free us from sin and empower us with righteousness. Nor did we have this strenght in ourselves, for we had become servants to our own sins. Thus Paul says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” ~ Romans 5:6

Now that Christ has come, we have the strength to please God from our hearts and the law does not condemn us, for we are justified in Christ!

God’s law has not been abolished, but the administration of it in written code has. God’s law is now made manifest through those who have the power of Christ ruling their lives. The goal of God’s law wasn’t to keep us from murdering our neighbor, it was to teach us to love them.

In Romans 2 Paul speaks of the work of the Law in the heart and speaks of the same when he tells the Thessalonians, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. ” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:9

The Law of God is eternal, but the administration of his law has changed. No longer is it the ministation of death in written code. It is now inscribed on the hearts and minds of those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. ~ See Hebrews 10:16-22

Now it is administered as the commandment of love which only Christ can give, and properly know as “the law of Christ”!

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

HOW THE LAW TRANSLATES TO THE NEW TESTAMENT

When the Bible speaks of the law in reference to the law of Moses, it is referring to either: (1) the ceremonial laws within the law, or (2) the civil laws within the law, or (3) the Ten Commandments, or (4) all these  collectively.

Also, the New Testament sometimes refers to the Law as the whole of the Old testament, and sometimes the words of the prophets.We must determined which is under discussion based on the context.

Nowhere in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, were Gentiles ever required to keep the civil or ceremonial laws given to Israel. In fact, Gentiles were forbidden from many things contained in the law because they were outside the covenant.

For example, the law forbade uncircumcised Gentiles from observing the Passover. Gentiles were outside the covenant and were forbidden from eating the Passover. If a Gentiles desired to eat the Passover, he had to be circumcised and come under the law of Moses. This is why Paul tells the Ephesians the following:

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world… ~ Ephesians 2:11-12

Paul then tells the Gentiles that they had been brought near to God through the blood of Christ, for God had made Jews and Gentiles one in Christ. Consequently the dividing wall which stood between the Jews and Gentiles, which was the law, had been removed.

The ceremonial and civil commands within the law were for citizens of the nation of Israel only, and served the purpose of governing their civil life and the order of their worship. This is what has been abolished by the death of Christ.

The ceremonial and civil laws have been taken away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The laws regarding pots, pans, different kinds of washings, animal sacrifices, stoning offenders, etc,. has been abolished. God’s law, which is fulfilled by love is no longer administered by such regulations.

Under the old Covenant, the civil and ceremonial laws were given to facilitate the moral laws given in the Ten Commandments, and governed Israel’s daily life and worship.

Even though Jesus died and gave us a new covenant, the things which the Ten Commandments reveal as sin, such as idolatry, adultery, and covetousness are still sins, and the New Testament reveals that God is going to judge the ungodly by this standard.

The New Testament also teaches us that the godly fulfill the law from their hearts because of the love of God in them. The only command not carried over into the New Covenant is the third commandment, which is the Sabbath.

The Sabbath played a large role in Israel’s ceremonial laws and civil laws.  The New Testament teaches that the Sabbath was a foreshadowing of the rest we have in God, through Jesus Christ.

Many people who make the Sabbath an issue have never actually studied the Sabbath in scripture, and would likely miserably fail a pop quiz regarding the Sabbath.

John tells us that Jesus broke the Sabbath. That will mess with your theology if you dared to believe it. Even though Jesus broke the Sabbath, he fulfilled it. Now that will really mess with your theology.

For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. ~ John 5:18

Jesus wasn’t a servant of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was his servant. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. ~ Matthew 12:8

When the Sabbath becomes about legalistic rules, we become it’s servant, and this was never God’s intent. God gave the Sabbath to Israel for multiple reasons.

1. The Sabbath was a sign of God’s covenant with Israel.
2. The Sabbath was a gift of rest because Israel had been slaves in Egypt, under hard labor.
3. The Sabbath was a reminder that Israel’s God is the creator, the only true God.

God rested from all his works of creation on the 7th day, and he therefore commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath, because he alone is the one true God the creator of Heaven and Earth.

Israel’s Sabbath was a memorial to God’s finished work of creation.

Though Israel observed the Sabbath day which they were commanded to keep, they never entered the Sabbath rest that God had prepared for them: a rest that had been predestined before the foundation of the world. 

The true rest for God’s people is not found in a day of the week.  It’s found in a person, Jesus Christ, who is the one to whom the Sabbath command pointed. An individual can keep the Sabbath day, but if he isn’t free from sin, and if his heart is cut off from God, he has not truly enter into the Sabbath rest of God.

The rest that God desires for his people is not found in a day, but in a person, and that is why Paul tells the Colossians to let no man judge them regarding the Sabbath. It was only a shadow, and the fulfillment of it is found in Christ!

 

THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES

The heretical Hebrews Roots Movement teaches that the handwriting of ordinances mentioned in Colossians 2:14 does not refer to the Law of Moses. They claim that since the word ordinances in Colossians 2:14 comes from the Greek word dogma (dog’-mah) it cannot refer to the Law of Moses.

They insist that this word, dogma, refers to man-made laws each of the other four times it is used in the New Testament which makes it impossible to refer to the the Law of Moses.

I=Are they correct? Absolutely not!

First, the Greek word dogma (dog’-mah) is found 5 times in the New Testament. It appears in Colossians 2:14 and in four other places. In Luke 2:1 and Acts 17:7 it is decrees from Caesar and Caesar’s decrees were authoritative.

Secondly, in Acts 16:4 it refers to decrees given by the apostles and elders. Specifically this is a reference to the decision made by the apostles and elders at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15.

In Acts 15 the apostles and elders along with the whole church determined that the Gentiles were not obligated to follow the Jewish religious code contained in the Law of Moses. As a result they sent letters to the Gentiles informing them that they were under no obligation to come under the Law of Moses. They instructed them only to abstain from food offered to idols, from consuming blood, and from fornication.

During this meeting in Acts 15, it was determined based on the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, along with James’ interpretation of the scriptures that the Gentiles were not obligated to come under the yoke of the Law of Moses.

When they sent letters to the Gentiles informing them of their decision they said. “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…”

The apostles and elders believed: (1) God had already chosen the Gentiles for His Name apart from the Law based on the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas. (2) The scriptures of the prophets confirmed that the Gentiles would be the people of God without the Law of Moses. (3) The Holy Spirit had guided them in their decision.

Again, the word decrees translated from dogma (dog’-mah) in Acts 16:4 refers to the apostles instructions and is based on the testimony of God (witnessed to by Peter, Paul, and Barnabas), the scriptures of the prophets, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is authoritative and not simply a reference to man – made commandments.

The other use of this word dogma (dog’-mah) is found in Ephesians 2:15 where it refers of the law of commandments contained in ordinances, a specific reference to the Law of Moses as the separating wall between Jews and Gentiles.

In Colossians 2, “the blotting out of the handwriting of ordinances that were against us” is coupled with the forgiveness of all our trespasses. God forgave us of our trespasses by blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances which were against us.

In Deuteronomy 31, God told Moses to write the words of the Law in a book which was to serve as a witness against the people. Hence the use of the language “the handwriting of ordinances that were against us.”

In Christ we have forgiveness of all our trespasses (the transgressions of the Law for the Law reveals our sinfulness) because the handwriting of the ordinances “against us” have been blotted out!

The Old administration of Law which condemned us cannot serve as the law for the new man in Christ, for the old law was given to govern the old man which has been destroyed in the cross of Christ. Those who are crucified with Christ are no longer under the administration of the law under Moses because the old man to whom that law applies was nailed to the cross with Christ. The law which condemns the old man is no longer binding. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature and old things have passed away, behold all things are become new!

The law of God in the new creation is governed by love and is lived out by the life and power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. 

ARE CHRISTIANS LAWLESS?

One of the accusations made against Christianity by heretical groups such as the Hebrew Roots Movement is that Christians are lawless, and advocate lawlessness. This accusation comes as a result of a gross misrepresentation of the teachings of the apostle Paul.

Unfortunately, some Christian ministers have not helped the cause of Christianity by teaching doctrinally unsound things regarding Paul’s gospel of grace.

Did Paul teach that we are lawless now that we are under grace? Absolutely not! Consider the following from Paul:

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:20-21

In the reference above Paul’s reveals his evangelistic strategy. Paul was an incredibly versed scholar of the Jewish scriptures with great understanding of the law of Moses. In his evangelistic approach to the Jews, Paul knew how to use the law to preach Christ to them. Paul was also very skilled in his communication with those outside the Jewish community, and could debate with the most intellectual among the Roman empire. In his strategy towards them Paul took a different evangelistic approach. He became as one without law, though he himself was not without law to God.

Paul declared himself as “being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.”

Though Paul believed that in Christ we we not under the law (the law of Moses), Paul did not believe, nor did he teach, that we are without law (lawless). To explain Paul’s position regarding the law, I want to draw your attention to the words of the apostle John.

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

The ESV says, Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. ~ 1 John 2:7-8

Allow me translate what John is saying here.

John is basically saying, “the new commandment is the old commandment, but it’s new in that we now have it in view of the light of the glory of God. The light of God has shinned in the person of Jesus Christ, overpowering the darkness. The commandment is new because we now understand it in a whole new the light, and we see it through an entirely new lens – the lens of the grace of God in Christ.

When Jesus came, the law of God was transferred from the administration of death and condemnation as the law of Moses, to the administration of life by the Spirit Christ Jesus.

This is why Jesus could quote the law and, say, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” ~ Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus wasn’t establishing a new law. He was citing the law of God in view of the spiritual life and light of God that now shines in our hearts through the gospel. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” ~ John 1:4

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul expounds on the administration of the law under Moses, referring to it as the ministration of death and condemnation. He says this in contrast to the law in Christ being the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness. In the very next chapter Paul says, Therefore seeing we have this ministry (the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness), as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

When the law of God, which is fulfilled by love, is obeyed from the heart we walk in the light, the Spirit, and righteousness of Christ, A man may refrain himself from physical adultery, and be guiltless of violating Moses’s law which says, “though shalt not commit adultery”, but if he has lust in his heart towards another woman, he has violated the law of God in his heart.

Only Jesus can bring to light the things that are in a man’s heart.

When God gave the law through Moses he appeared to the children of Israel in a thick cloud of darkness.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. ~ Exodus 20:21

These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders… ~ Deuteronomy 5:22-24

The darkness was representative of the spiritual condition of the people to whom God was giving the law under Moses. The law, as it was administered through Old Covenant Israel, was for a nation in spiritual darkness, and not for a nation abiding in the light.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ~ 1 Timothy 1:5-11

When Paul says the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of unfeigned faith, he is describing the work of the law of God in our heart under grace. He says that this is what some “swerve” from, and and consequently turn aside to “vain jangling”. They do not understand the law of God “under Moses”, in contrast to “under Christ.”

The writer of Hebrews contrasts the two covenants (the law under Moses, and grace under Christ).

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. ~ Hebrews 12:18-29

Never once did Paul or any New Testament writer teach that we are without law to God as New Covenant believers. When Paul teaches that were are not under the law, he is specifically referring to the law of Moses, which was given to a nation in spiritual darkness. Under Moses, God’s law was catered for a nation that was under the power of the flesh to teach them God’s ways, and to lead them to Christ!

God’s law (God’s rule, authority, and dominion) has not been abolished, but the administration of it through death and condemnation has. The ministry of the law of God has changed hands from Moses to Jesus, and through Jesus God’s law rules the hearts of those who love him. They do not have to be told to not commit adultery because their aim is to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Like their Master, their prayer is, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” ~ Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7-10

When Paul speaks of not being under the law he is not referring to being without law towards God, for Paul declares, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:2

When Paul speaks of not being under the law, he is talking about not being under Moses as his mediator. He is talking about not being under the administration of commandments designed to corral sin in a nation filled with people in spiritual darkness.

Paul believed that Jesus is our mediator with God, and Jesus is he who searches the reins and hearts ~ Revelation 2:23. He is the one that can see the lust in our hearts and it is this same Jesus who gives us grace and power in our hearts to do his will and to please God.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son… ~ Colossians 1:12-13

Because we are no longer in darkness, but translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, we produce fruit unto holiness through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (Moses), but under grace (Christ). ~ Romans 6:14

 

IS THE THEME OF REPENTANCE MISSING FROM PAUL’S LETTERS?

One of the accusations made against Paul by those within the Hebrew Roots Movement is that the theme of repentance missing in Paul’s letters in the New Testament?

This is not true and it can easily to be refuted.

Did Paul constantly address repentance in all of his letters? Of course not! There wasn’t a need for Paul to address repentance every time he wrote a letter. Among Paul’s letters were those he wrote to Timothy and Titus, whom he had discipled. Timothy and Titus were servants of the Lord who had already repented of their sins.

The same can be said for the believers at Ephesus. Consider the following from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 1:1-2

Notice to whom Paul was writing. He was writing to the saints, and to those who were faithful in Christ Jesus. These were believers who had already repented and turned to the Lord. Why would Paul harp on the theme of repentance if they had already repented, and were serving the Lord?

In verses 15 & 16 Paul says, Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…” 

Paul doesn’t need to address the subject of repentance in this letter to the Ephesians, because the saints to whom he was writing had already repented and were serving God. So what does Paul do in response? He prays for them, and encourages them, and expounds on the mystery of redemption in Christ. Paul also instructs them concerning godly living in chapters 4-5, and how to stand against the strategies of the devil in chapter 6. 

Now consider Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul begins his letter by saying the following:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. ~ Colossians 1:1-8

Notice that Paul is writing tothe saints and faithful brethren in Christ.” They were walking in Christian love and bearing forth fruit for the kingdom of God. Paul did not need to tell them to repent, they had already repented and were serving God.

However, Paul does address repentance when there is a need for repentance. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul confronts the Corinthian believers for allowing the sin of fornication in their midst.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~1 Corinthians 5:1-2

Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians moved them to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says the following to them:

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Later in 2 Corinthians, Paul expresses his concern about the lack of repentance of some among them.

For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20-21

So did Paul address repentance in his letters? When repentance was needed, he absolutely did.

 

 

 

ENDORSEMENTS FOR PAUL

The following was written in response to those who attempt to discredit the Apostle Paul. May you be blessed as you read. 

And they wrote letters by them after this manner; the apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Acts 15:25-26

In Acts 15 it was determined based on the testimony of Peter, Paul and Barnabas, along with James’s interpretation of the scriptures, that the Gentiles were not obligated to come under the yoke of the Law of Moses. As a result they sent letters to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia informing them of this conclusion.

In these letters, the apostles, elders, and brethren in Jerusalem endorsed Barnabas and Paul and the gospel they were preaching to the Gentiles by referring to them as “our beloved” and “men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The testimony of Barnabas and Paul, along with Peter’s testimony of God sending him to Cornelius, coupled with James’s citation of an Old Testament text, was interpreted as the witness of the Holy Spirit, “… it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…” ~ Acts 15:28

Luke, the author of the book of Acts tells us that Barnabas and Paul had been set apart by the Holy Spirit, and sent by the Holy Spirit.

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul (Paul). As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. ~ Acts 13:1-4

Notice in the text above, Barnabas and Paul’s ministry was ordained by the Holy Spirit, as certain prophets and teachers (among whom were Barnabas and Paul) ministered to the Lord and fasted. According to Luke, in Acts 13-15 we have endorsements of Barnabas and Paul from the Holy Spirit, and from prophets and teachers who ministered to the Lord, and from the apostles at Jerusalem, and the elders and brethren in Jerusalem.

That’s quite an impressive list of endorsements if you ask me.

Peter, who was present at the Jerusalem counsel, endorsed Paul in his second epistle by referring to Paul as “our beloved brother” and described Paul’s letters as both “wisdom” and “scripture.” ~ 2 Peter 3:15-17

That is a far cry from those who attempt to discredit the apostle Paul.

The truth is, you will not find a single text in all of the New Testament where any of the original apostles or any leaders of the church discredited Paul. Those who were hostile to the gospel in their unbelief were the ones who sought to discredit him. The same is true today.

Luke, who is the author of both the gospel of Luke, and the book of Acts, documents the apostolic ministry of Paul. Without Luke’s contribution there would be no New Testament record of the impact of Peter’s preaching and miracle ministry after the ascension of Jesus. We would know nothing of Stephen, who was full of faith and power, and who testified of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. We would know nothing of men like Ananias, the disciple whom Jesus sent to lay hands on Paul and baptize him in Acts 9, which is where the endorsements of Paul have their beginning.

Jesus endorsed Paul when he said to his disciple, Ananias, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” ~ Acts 9:11-12

When Ananias expressed his concerns because of Saul’s history (v.13-14), Jesus replied, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”~ Acts 9:15-16

According to Jesus, Saul (Paul) was a chosen vessel unto for Jesus, to bear his name.

Ananias, the disciple whom Jesus sent to Paul, endorsed Paul when he obeyed the Lord and baptized him, and referred to him as, brother Saul.

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. ~ Acts 9:17-18

At the beginning of this teaching, we see that Paul had a partner named Barnabas.
According to Acts 11, Barnabas was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith (v.24). He had been sent out by the church which was at Jerusalem (v.22) to verify the reports of the spreading of the Word of God.

Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. ~ Acts 11:22-23

When Barnabas departed, he went to Tarsus to seek for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. ~ v. 25-26

Luke’s documentation of all those who endorsed Paul (Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Ananias, Barnabas, the apostles, the elders and the church at Jerusalem) should speak volumes to us. Luke also himself, was a fellow laborer with Paul in the work of the ministry (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11), and refers to Paul and Barnabas as apostles.

Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. ~ Acts 14:3-4

Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out… ~ Acts 14:14

Luke believed that Paul ministered the Word of God, referring to the things which Paul preached and taught as:

  • the word of God ~ Acts 13:43-44; 14:25;
  • the word of God’s grace ~ Acts 13:3
  • the Word of the Lord ~ Acts 15:35
  • the gospel ~ Acts 14:7; 16:10

Luke’s contribution to the New Testament is of indispensable value, and it is Luke, not Paul, who documents Paul’s apostolic ministry in the book of Acts, and that documentation is part of New Testament scriptures.

Luke tells us of Paul’s persecution of the church before his conversion when he was known as Saul of Tarsus. Luke tells us his conversion, his baptism, his sermons, his teachings, his testimony, his missionary journeys, and the things Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel.

When Luke introduces us to Paul, he wasn’t yet the apostle to the Gentiles that he would later become. Instead, he was Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the church, a very zealous Pharisee. Yet after his conversion he became a humble man who considered himself unworthy of being called an apostle.

For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul understood the gravity of his previous sins, and that his calling was not based on any merit of his own. This must have contributed to his understanding of God’s grace towards the Gentiles apart from the Law.

It is truly remarkable that with so much overwhelming evidence in the New Testament supporting Paul’s apostleship, there are some who think they have a responsibility from God to expose Paul. Consequently, they attempt to pit Paul’s teachings against the teachings of Christ, not understanding that Paul’s teachings are in fact the teachings of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

The book of Acts is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus through his apostles like Peter and Paul, and his servants like Ananias who baptize Paul, and Stephen who was full of faith and power, who testified of Jesus before the Sanhedrin.

The central theme of the book of Acts isn’t Peter, Paul, or anyone else. The central theme is the exaltation of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, and Luke documents Paul’s ministry as Jesus is exalted through his preaching, teaching, and sufferings.

I could go on speaking of others who endorsed Paul, such as Silas who was with Paul when God shook the prison at midnight and the jailer along with his house were saved. I could mention Timothy, who served Paul in the ministry like a son with his father. Timothy because a leader among the Gentile believers.

Furthermore, who could forget Paul’s friends, Aquila, and Priscilla, who were Pastors and who were fellow laborers in the gospel with Paul.  Aquila and Priscilla took a man named Apollos under there wing and discipled him, and he became a more effective minister of the gospel.

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. ~ Acts 18:24-28

Paul mentions Apollos multiple times in his first letter to the Corinthians, among those references, Paul says the following:

As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.  ~ 1 Corinthians 16:12

Paul had many companions in his gospel ministry and endorsements from the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter, the apostle James, the elders and church at Jerusalem, Barnabas, Ananias, Timothy, Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, and Luke.

His credibility is second to none.

REFUTING UNIVERSALISM: IS REPENTANCE REQUIRED?

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

I recently came across the teaching of someone claiming that it is heresy to teach people that they must repent to be forgiven by God. There is a growing sentiment towards this persuasion, and it is straight out of the doctrine of those who teach universalism (the belief that everyone is saved) as well as those who teach an unscriptural view of grace.

The ideology behind it states that God has already forgiven everyone, because forgiveness proceeds repentance.

Yet in Acts 2, when Peter preached the gospel to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, Peter preached that the people should repent to be forgiven of their sins.

Now when they heard this (Peter preaching the gospel), they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? ~ Acts 2:37 

In response, Peter said, repent, and be…

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CORRECTLY INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE

I recently saw a video of a minister teaching the Calvinist doctrine that all humanity is totally depraved. There were two statements that he made that I would like to refute here as an example, to show how the Word of God is often misunderstood when it is not preached and taught contextually.

The two statements were, “all men are born hating God” & “all men are evil.”

First, the Bible does not support the notion that all men are born hating God. John the Baptist was filled the the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb and he leaped with joy while he was in Elizabeth, his mother’s womb, at the announcement of Mary (the mother of Jesus) that she had conceived. From this one text we can see that not all men are born hating God. With a little thought we can also read other texts in scripture which would be contrary to the notion that all men are born hating God.

For example, Isaac was the child God promised to Abraham. Was Isaac born hating God? And what about Josiah, who became King of Israel at only 8 years old.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. ~ 2 Kings 22:1-2

When Josiah heard the words of the Law of Moses for the first time (he was about 26 years old) he humbled himself in the fear of the Lord and sent men (among them were Hilkiah the priest, and Shaphan the scribe) to inquire of the Lord regarding what he and the people should do, for the people of Judah had not kept the Law of the Lord.

The Lord answered through Huldah the prophetess, who warned of the coming judgment on the people of Judah because of their evil deeds, but to Josiah, God said the following:

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. ~2 Kings 22:19-20

Josiah was not born hating God, nor was he an evil man.

The whole counsel of scripture does not teach that all men are born hating God and that all men are evil, and to say such things is misrepresent the whole counsel of God’s Word.

What about Enoch? Was he born hating God? Was he evil?

NO! He was not!

The Bible says, Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:24). The author of Hebrews tells us: By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:4). Enoch was such a man of God, who pleased God, he never died! Jude tells us that Enoch prophesied of the coming of the Lord as well (Jude 1:14). Enoch prophesied of God’s judgment against evil men, but Enoch himself was a righteous man.

The minister I referenced cites Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” He cites this along with other texts from different passages of scripture as support for his position, but there is a context to which this text belongs, as well as a context to which the others belong.

The context of Genesis 6:5 (And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually) does not support the notion that all men are evil & all men are born hating God.

The context to which Genesis 6:5 belongs is the narrative of the story of Noah. The scripture says, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Those words are found in verse 8, just 3 verses later. Verse 9 says, Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.  Later in chapter 7, we read, “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” ~ Genesis 7:1

So even though the entire generation around Noah had become corrupt, Noah hadn’t.

Like Josiah who came later, Noah was a godly man. In Ezekiel, God mentions Noah along with Daniel and Job as righteous (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). In the New Testament, the apostle Peter refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), and the writer of Hebrews testifies of Noah’s righteousness as well.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear (the fear of the Lord), prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became the heir of the righteousness which is by faith. ~ Hebrews 11:7

The overall context of the narrative of the story of Noah is not that every single person is evil and every single person is born hating God, for Noah, a righteous man is the main character in the narrative. As just as with Josiah, Noah was a righteous man in the midst of a corrupt generation of people.

What we should learn from the story of Noah is not that every person is evil, but that God delivers the righteous and judges the ungodly as was the case with Josiah as well. Though God pronounced judgment on Judah, Josiah was preserved because of his tender heart towards the Lord.

Consider the following from the apostle Peter:

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: ~ 2 Peter 2:4-8

The narrative of scripture does not reveal that all men are evil and all men are born hating God. The narrative of scripture reveals that God delivers the righteous and reserves the the ungodly unto the day of judgment to be punished.

That is how the apostle Peter interpreted the wickedness of men in Noah’s day, and that is how we should interpret it as well.

CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION?

Author’s note: This teaching is also titled The Bible and Once Saved Always Saved Theology elsewhere on my blog site.

INTRODUCTION 

I grew up in a denomination that taught once saved always saved theology (AKA OSAS theology) and heard OSAS theology preached a lot. During my teenage years, after I came to the Lord for salvation, I made the decision to read my Bible.

As I read the scriptures, I read verses which appeared to be in opposition to the OSAS theology I was taught. I sought God because I wanted to know the truth. I was hearing one thing preached and reading another in the Bible. My prayer was, “Lord what do you say?” That prayer has been the foundation for my sincere approach to scripture over the years. Many times I have had to change what I previously thought or believed because I found out that I was wrong.

As a teenager I was insecure, and for me, OSAS theology was a welcomed way of thinking. I wasn’t looking to disprove it, not in the least. Yet, as I read the Bible with a heart seeking to know God, I would read verses that contradicted the OSAS theology I had learned. What was I to do? Should I have ignored those verses as if they weren’t there?

My only option was to seek God and find out the truth for myself because it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks. I had to find the truth so I could believe itregardless if my current beliefs were right or wrong.

I am convinced that there is wrong thinking on both sides of the issue. Those who think a person loses their salvation every time they fail are just as wrong as those who think once you are saved, you can never harden your heart and become apostate in your faith.

We must be careful not to side with one group of scriptures at the expense of others. Anytime we turn a deaf ear to Bible texts which challenge to our current beliefs, we are deliberately choosing to handle the Word of God without the utmost integrity.

I am sure that those of you who believe OSAS theology also believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment for rejecting Christ. I certainly do. Imagine for a moment I did not believe in a literal hell or eternal punishment.

Now, imagine what it would be like if you were to show me clear undeniable evidence in the scriptures that hell is real and there is eternal punishment for those who reject Christ, and then, in response, I said: “God has reconciled all things to himself (Col 1:20). He has reconciled the world, and he does not hold our sins against us (2 Cor 5:19). He has dealt with sin by putting sin away (Heb 9:26). Therefore, no one is going to be punished for all eternity – everyone will be saved in the end.”

One who espouses Universalism might make such an argument. Yet it is error because the balance of scripture refutes any such private interpretation regarding the verses I presented above. If a person does not reconcile those verses with the immediate context and the whole counsel of scripture they could come away with the ideology presented above.

The scriptures have much to say about our security in Christ but according to the balance of scripture, that security is conditional based on our continued faith in Jesus. In scripture, true faith in Jesus is never considered a one time believing experience.

CONTINUE IN THE FAITH

Throughout the New Testament, believing in Jesus means that we must continue in the faith. Consider Paul’s words in Colossians 1:

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister…

Notice that Paul, writing to believers, says, we will be presented holy and unblameable and unreproveable in God’s sight if we continue in the faith and are settled, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel.

The hope of the gospel belongs to those who continue or persevere in the faith, because even after one comes to faith there are many temptations to forsake the truth.

Consider Paul’s admonishment to the Corinthians:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…  ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Notice that Paul says the following:

1. He preached the gospel to them.
2. They received the gospel.
3. They were standing in the gospel.

According to OSAS theology, God honors the original belief in him and we are saved even if we forsake him and live a life of egregious sin. If this is so, why does Paul tell the Corinthians that they are saved if they keep in memory, or hold fast to, what he has preached to them, otherwise they will have believed in vain?

Paul did not seem to think the original belief of the Corinthians would profit them if they did not continue in the faithPaul says they would have believed in vain if they do not hold fast to what he preached to them.

In John 8:31 Jesus said to the Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. We must continue in the faith as Hebrews 3:6 and 14 also tels us.

We are his house, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.  ~ Hebrews 3:6 

We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.  ~ Hebrews 3:14

As for God, he will never leave us or forsake us. The eternal life which he gives us is secure in him so long as we continue in the faith. No matter how difficult the road gets, and no matter how difficult our struggles with any sin may be, God will continue to be faithful to help us if we will trust in him. Yet if we harden our hearts, the possibility exists that we can depart from him.

PERSEVERING FAITH 

The scriptures teach that we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (1 Peter 1:5,) and when we see Jesus we will be rewarded for the end of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9). The scriptures never teach that we are kept by God if we stop believing. Neither do the scriptures ever teach that it is impossible to turn away from Christ after we have believed to him.

The concept that God will be faithful to keep us if we are faithless and no longer trust him is not a biblical teaching. It is a very deceitful concept.

In Romans 11 the apostle Paul says the following:

18 Boast not against the branches (the Israelites who did not believe). But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

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

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. ~ Romans 11:18-23

I am not sure how anyone could fit OSAS theology into these verses. They tell us that we are not to be high minded  – prideful or haughty – but fear the Lord because if we do not continue in God’s goodness through faith we will be cut off.

There is so much in the New Testament that refutes the notion that holding fast to our faith isn’t necessary. It is necessary and the concept it isn’t necessary is at the heart of the error in the OSAS theology.

The Bible teaches that we must continue in the faith and to teach otherwise is unsound and unwholesome doctrine.

THE WORDS OF JESUS

OSAS theology fails to be consistent with the rebukes Jesus gave to the churches in the book of the Revelation. For instance, Jesus says to the church in Ephesus, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love… ~ Revelation 2:4

If it were impossible to become apostate once we are saved, why did Jesus say this?

Consider the words of Jesus to the church at Sardis:

1 …I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  ~ Revelation. 3:1-3

These words of Jesus in the book of the Revelation are consistent with his words elsewhere. Consider the following from the gospel of Matthew:

48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  ~ Matthew 24:48-51

These words were spoken in contrast to the servant who kept himself ready and was doing the will of God.  Now consider the words of Jesus from Luke 21:

34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. ~ Luke 21: 34-36

If OSAS is true, why were exhortations such as the ones above given? 

The New Testament gives many exhortations and prayers instructing us to be ready at the coming of the Lord. Consider the following:

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ~ Philippians 1:9-10

Why is it important to be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ?

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. ~ Revelation 16:15 

If OSAS theology is true, why do we need to be watching and keeping our garments: living godly lives in the faith?

1 John 2:28 says, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Consider also the sobering message in 2 Peter:

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. ~ 2 Peter 3: 10-14

Why are such admonitions to be ready at the coming of the Lord given to believers if OSAS theology is true?

Why did Jesus threaten to spit the Laodicea congregation out of his mouth, and why did he tell them they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked, if OSAS theology is a true biblical doctrine? ~ See Revelation 3:16-17

If OSAS theology were true biblical teaching it would harmonize with Jesus’ message to the churches in Revelation, but it doesn’t.

God loves us and that is why he rebukes us, not to condemn us. Perpetual sin in the life of a believer will bring about a hardened heart and lead a person away from the faith, as the writer of Hebrews tells us.

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. ~ Hebrews 3:12-13

SHIPWRECKED FAITH 

Paul tells us we are to hold on to faith and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:9).

Notice that the putting away of a good conscience, leads to shipwrecked faith. Can shipwrecked faith save us?

In 2 Timothy Paul speaks of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and destroy the faith of some. ~ 2 Timothy 2:17-18 

How is departing from the truth and destroying the faith of some consistent with OSAS theology?

In Galatians, Paul warns the believers that if they seek justification by the works of the Law, they will be cut off from Christ and will have fallen from grace.

How does cut off from Christ, and fallen from grace work within OSAS theology?

In 1 Corinthians 8:11 Paul speaks of a weak brother perishing because he is embolden to violate his conscience.

How does this work with OSAS theology?

Consider the words of the apostle Peter:

20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. ~ 2 Peter 2:20-22

Peter did not think it was impossible for a person to forsake the truth after coming to the saving knowledge of Christ. He later says the following in chapter 3:

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3:17-18

Whereas the KJV says, fall from your own stedfastness.” The New Living Translations says, lose your own secure footing.”

We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so we will not be carried away and lose our secure footing. We have secure footing in Christ if we abide in him, but if we go away from the truth in Christ we can lose that secure footing.

James also tells us that if someone (a believer) among us, wanders away from the truth and is restored, whoever brings the sinner back (the one who fell into sin) will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins. ~ see James 5:9-20

All the scriptures which tell us of God’s power, and faithfulness, and love to keep us are true. They are strength to us, for he will never leave us or forsake us. He is faithful and these verses reveal God’s character. Yet, we must comply. We must continue in faith.

There is not one scripture in all of the New Testament which supports the notion we will be saved if we forsake the Lord. In fact the scripture tells us, if we deny him, he will deny us, and this is said to believers and not unbelievers.

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:

12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.  ~ 2 Timothy 2:11-13

The Biblical view that we must continue is the faith isn’t bad news. God is faithful and he will keep us secure in him so long as we trust him – that is good news!

It certainly is good news because God gives us the grace to serve him if we will keep our trust in him. God will always uphold his promises. If we do not cast away our confidence, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, we will have a great reward.

SAVING GRACE 

Many of the older once saved always saved advocates believed, and some still do believe, that a person who has forsaken the Lord by living in egregious sin was never truly saved to begin with. Those who hold this position sometimes base their view on a scripture from 1 John, which says the following:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. ~ 1 John 2:19

The problem with citing this text is that John is not referring to those who turn away from the faith because of deception, offense, unresolved questions, or sin. John is referring to seducers who are false teachers, false prophets, and even false brethren, who have an anti-Christ spirit. At first they may appear to be true ministers and brethren, but eventually their true motives are revealed through their message and works which are contrary to Christ.

Consider 1 John 2:19 in its context

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. they (the many antichrists) went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. ~ 1 John 2:18-18

It should be pointed out that those who hold to the view that one who turns from the Lord was never saved to begin with, know in their hearts that a saved person has a responsibly to live for Jesus or else that person’s faith is not valid, and that is a good thing to believe.

Conversely, some of the modern day proponents of OSAS theology have taken the teachings of eternal security to whole new level, by promoting a salvation which is completely free (freely given, and it is, and freely taken with no responsibility to give anything back, not even obedience to the call to live godly). They have truly turned the grace of God into lasciviousness.

It’s truly amazing how some who hold to this extreme view of eternal security have turned living godly into some sort of repudiated works righteousness. Yet Paul tells us in his letter to Titus that a person can claim to know God and yet deny him in their works. According to Paul, those who do so are abominable, disobedient, and reprobate. ~ See Titus 1:16

It has become so bad with some OSAS advocates, that belief in Jesus is no longer necessary for salvation once a person has been saved, thus Heaven will receive saved people who no longer believe.

On the contrary, the Bible tells us that those who are saved are justified by faith, and according to scripture, the just (those who are justified by faith) shall live by faith. ~ Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38

In Hebrews 10:38 those who live by faith are set in opposition to those who turn back and depart from the faith, and concerning those who turn back, God’s word says, my soul will have no pleasure in them. Faith is not a one time decision, but a lifetime commitment.

According to the Bible, doctrine isn’t what you claim to believe or mentally assent to. Doctrine is what you live. If your life isn’t lived in a way, that promotes what you say you believe, you are in deception. 1 John 2:4 says: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

If your life isn’t lived in a way that promotes godliness, you do not have sound doctrine. For this reason, Paul tells us that those who teach or minister God’s word must live godly and promote godly living in their teachings. Consider for example 1 Timothy 6:

1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. 1 Timothy 6:1-4

At the outset of Paul’s letter to Titus, Paul says that faith and the acknowledgement of the truth is according to godliness in the hope of eternal life. ~ Titus 1:1-2

True faith in Christ leads a person into godliness, not as a requirement for works based salvation, but as the fruit of a genuine faith. James tells us that we are to prove our faith by our works because faith without works is dead. ~ See James 2

According to Paul, the salvation which comes through faith leads to godliness, and this is the faith which leads to eternal life. Real faith is to be followed with the spiritual fruit of godly living.

In Titus 2:1 we read that we are to promote the kind of living which reflects wholesome Biblical teaching. Titus 2 gives instructions about how older men, younger men, older women, and younger women are to live as believers in Jesus Christ.

In Titus 2:7-8 Paul tells Titus to be an example of good works so that everything he did would show integrity, giving him credibility as a minister of the gospel.

7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.

8 Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

In verses 9 and 10 Paul gives instructions for how servants should live so that the doctrine of God will be adorned in all things.

Those who teach eternal security with no emphasis on godliness as evidence of true faith, fail to adorn the doctrine of God with their version of grace. Yet the true grace of God teaches a person to live godly.

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ;

14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. ~ Titus 2:11-15

Ironically, Paul’s words elsewhere are often taken and abused by those who promote a sloppy view of grace. Yet Paul tells Titus that the saving grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts by living soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

Those who oppose the necessity of godly living as evidence of our faith are in opposition to the very thing Paul told Titus to speak, exhort, and rebuke with all authority.

WERE PAUL AND JAMES ON THE SAME PAGE?

Paul’s teachings regarding justification by faith is sometimes misunderstood because there is a tendency to interpret Paul’s view of justification based on a few random verses from Romans and Galatians.  However, Paul’s argument in those places is that justification does not come through the works of Jewish Law but through faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul did not teach a different message about faith than the one we read about in the book of James. Contrary to the belief of some, Paul did not view saving faith as a one time event which had nothing to do with how one lives afterwards. Paul believed that faith without works is dead just as the apostle James taught in his epistle.

Paul tells the Galatians, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” and “I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.” ~ Galatians 4:11, 20

Paul says these things not because he was second guessing if they had actually believed the gospel at one time. Instead he says these things because they were not living according to the faith he had preached to them and taught them to live by.

In chapter 5 Paul says to them, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (v 7-9)

Paul affirms that they had been running well in their faith, but had since been hindered by the leaven of those teaching that they should obey Jewish law. The Galatians were having their faith undermined by the Judaizers who were attempting to make Jewish proselytes of them.

Paul did not teach the Galatians to simply pray a prayer and believe one time and “wa-la” they’d be in like flynn. Paul had taught the Galatians “the just shall live by faith.” ~ See Galatians 3:11

In Paul’s theology justification by faith in Jesus Christ is not a reference to a one time believing experience. It is a reference to living your life by faith in Jesus Christ.

When James says faith without works is dead, he uses examples of showing love and kindness as the works he is referring to. Paul says basically the same thing in Galatians when he says, “faith works by love.

Paul also agreed with James’ statement – “faith without works is dead” – when he says to Titus that those who “profess to know God but deny him in their works are abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” ~ Titus 1:16 

Also in 1 Thessalonians Paul speaks of “the work of faith.”

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.

7 So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. ~1 Thessalonians 1:2-7

Reading Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, and to Timothy, and to Titus, we can see that Paul did not think of faith as something that was merely a one time gift bestowed which had nothing to do with how we live afterwards.

It is error to think that Paul taught that there is a chasm between saving faith and faith we are called to live by. Paul refutes such notions much throughout his epistles. Paul did not teach that saving faith stands alone as an independent entity from faith which produces godly living. Saving faith is the faith we are to live by.

In Romans, Paul’s doctrine of faith is that we become servants to righteousness through belief in Jesus Christ.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  ~ Romans 6:16-23

Notice verse 23 (For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lordis not written within the context of a one time believing experience, but rather within the context of becoming a servant to Jesus Christ.

In Romans, Paul never communicates a faith that isn’t lived out, otherwise he wouldn’t have written chapters 12-16 which deal with living out our faith in practicality.

DOES A SAVED PERSON HAVE TO STOP LIVING IN SIN?

Here is  the opening comment of another persons’s teaching, addressing the question of whether or not a saved person has to give up their sin.

“The answer is no! You do NOT have to stop sinning to be saved. No one can stop sinning (Romans 3:23)! No one can live above sin-no one (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. You do NOT have to give up anything to be saved except your UNBELIEF. However, you DO need to realize your sinful condition and “confess” (or admit) to God that you are a sinner, deserving to hell. This is Biblical repentance, i.e. “a change of mind.”

There is so much wrong in this one paragraph. The author of this article is actually perpetrating that Biblical salvation brings no real effective change into a person’s life. You would have to ignore thousands of scriptures throughout the Bible to believe such ideology.

Allow me to begin with his opening comment; “you do not have to stop sinning to be saved”. Compare this comment with the following verse from Romans 6:

1 What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? ~ Romans 6:1-3

Biblical salvation is a call to live a holy life. ~ See Titus 2:11-15: 1 Peter 1:13-18.

Secondly, the author peddles an ideology which is very pervasive among some Christians and that is the concept that no one can stop sinning. He references Romans 3:23 to support this notion. Yet Romans 3:23 has nothing to do with whether or not a believer in Jesus Christ can stop sinning. Romans 3:23 is a reference regarding Jews and Gentiles alike, as sinners, in need of salvation. It is a reference to the unsaved, not those who have been born again.

We see from Paul’s comments (Romans 6:1-3 above) that we are not to continue in sin once we have experienced the grace of God.

The author of the aforementioned article continues by saying, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. You do NOT have to give up anything to be saved except your unbelief.”

He is, in essence, peddling the idea that Biblical salvation brings no real change into a person’s life. According to his doctrine, a person could go on living as an adulterer, an ax-murderer, or a blasphemer. There is no end to how far someone might take such teachings.

In view of this author’s comments, notice what Paul continues to say throughout Romans 6:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 6:4-23 

Finally the concept that repentance means to “change your mind” is misleading within the context of how it is used by the author whose teaching is being refuted. He is not teaching Biblical repentance, but mental assent which brings about no fruit unto holiness. True Biblical repentance brings a change of heart, resulting in a holy lifestyle.

Notice Romans 6:17 again:

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.


KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD 

If once saved always saved were true, God would have provided a salvation through Christ which is in opposition to his holy and righteous character. Such salvation would prove to be unfaithful to the holiness and righteousness of God, for God would be obligated to permit iniquity into his eternal Kingdom.

The Kingdom of heaven would then be filled, not only with faithful believers in Jesus Christ, but also with those who chose to become blasphemers, murders, adulterers and the such like after their initial faith which they had since denied.

Those who advocate once saved always saved doctrine will often cite 1 Peter 1:5: Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

From this verse, the OSAS’ers focus on the phrase: kept by the power of God. Yet according to the context it is the obedient children of God who are kept by the power of God, and when we see Jesus we will rewarded for the end of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls. ~ See 1 Peter 1:9

The apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:2 saved people are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit TO BE OBEDIENT to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood. (Amplified Bible)

The gift of salvation and the call to obedience to Jesus Christ are inseparable in the New Testament. God calls his people to obey him through Jesus Christ. Those who submit to Jesus and follow him receive saving grace and their sins are washed away.

God does not save anyone who refuses to obey Jesus. In view of the saving grace which comes through Jesus Christ, Peter tells us the following:

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

16 Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy. 

17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear (the fear of the Lord):

18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

22 Seeing that you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. ~ 1 Peter 1:13-23 

Obedience to Christ does not mean that we live in such a way that we are under condemnation when we fail, because we are all going to fail from time to time. Obedience to Jesus means that we choose to follow him and we live as followers of Jesus seeking to do God’s will and to please him.

THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE

Having been raised in a church denomination which often taught once saved always saved theology, I became familiar with John 10:27-29

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. ~ John 10:27-29

These verses are often used by those who teach OSAS theology, and  I’d dare say that these verses are the “go –to” text more than any other when defending OSAS teachings. Those who cite these verses make their case by appealing primarily to verses 28 and 29. They claim that in these verses is the promise of unconditional eternal security.

With this in mind, let’s look again at verses 28-29.

28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

The problem with citing these verses as evidence of unconditional eternal security is that those who do so actually do so in view of a one time believing experience. Yet the context of Jesus’ words does not apply to those who have had a one time believing experience. Instead, they apply to those who follow Jesus. Consider verse 27:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me

The eternal life promised by Jesus in John 10:27-29 is said within the context of the Shepherd and the sheep. A sheep that follows the shepherd will be safe. A sheep who wanders away from the shepherd will not.

Those who follow Jesus have eternal life, and they are the ones who are securely held in his hand and in his Father’s hand. Jesus is the good Shepherd and he will keep us in his care if we follow him. If we do not follow him, there is no promise of eternal security.

Consider the following from John 8:

30 As he spake these words, many believed on him. 

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ John 8:30-32

One does not have the promise of eternal life through a one time believing experience if he refuses to become a disciple. The promise of eternal life applies only to those who follow Jesus.

He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 
Matthew 10:38

 

THE NEW BIRTH & SANCTIFICATION 

The theology known as once saved always saved is founded on human logic rather than on Biblical truth, especially when addressing what it means to be born again. One popular argument claims that you cannot be unborn once you have been reborn. Therefore you cannot lose out in your relationship with God.

The twin sister to this argument is the argument that salvation is a gift freely given with no strings attach. Therefore, those who receive this gift are under no obligation to live a set apart life for God. Therefore the gift of salvation is offered entirely as a free gift apart from sanctification.

This is not so according to the apostle Peter.

22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.  ~ 1 Peter 1:22-23

The purifying of your soul through obedience in verse 22 and being born again in verse 23 are two descriptions of the same thing. Thus salvation is not a separate issue from sanctification but the beginning of a life of sanctification.

Those who claim that a person can be saved without sanctification at work in a person’s life are teaching Biblical error and promoting false conversions.

The language “born again” and “born of God” is employed by the apostle John more than any other writer in the new testament. In fact, the other new testament writers use this language very little in reference to salvation. Therefore if we wish to get a handle of what it means to be born again we need to examine the writings John in the new testament.

Consider the following from 1 John:

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. ~ 1 John 2:29

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (habitually practice) sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot (habitually practice) sin, because he is born of God~ 1 John 3:9

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God~1 John 4:7

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him~1 John 5:1 

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith~1 John 5:4

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not (does not habitually practice sin); but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not~1 John 5:18

As you can see, every one of these scriptures speak of being born again in view of sanctification. Notice the immediate context surrounding 1 John 3:9

He that committeth (habitually practices) sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (habitually practice) sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot (habitually practice) sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 1 John 3:8-10 

The very thing that many OSAS’ers defend as having no bearing on a person’s salvation –habitually practicing sin– is the very thing that distinguishes the children of God from the children of the devil.

SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (Part One)

A wonderful promise given to believers in Jesus Christ is the promise of being sealed with the Holy Spirit  ~ See 2 Corinthians 1:22; & Ephesians 1:13; 4:30.

In Ephesians 1 we read the following:

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:  in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise. ~ Ephesians 1:7-13 

Does being sealed with the Holy Spirit mean that after a person has a one time believing experience, eternal security is unequivocally promised, even if a person chooses to abandon his faith and live an egregiously sinful life?

Those who defend OSAS theology will sometimes take the phrase, sealed with the Holy Spirit, and argue that the seal cannot be broken, even though the text itself does not make this argument.

The words in Ephesians 1:7-13 say absolutely nothing regarding eternal security as advocated by those who teach once saved always saved theology. How then should we interpret the meaning of being sealed with the Holy Spirit?

To begin, it would behoove us to read other scriptures which speak of being sealed with the Holy Spirit, especially any others that would appear in the same letter. Do we have any such verses? Yes we do.

Ephesians 4 warns us to “grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The questions we must ask then are these: (1) What grieves the Holy Spirit? (2) What are the consequences of grieving the Holy Spirit?

Let’s begin with the question, What grieves the Holy Spirit?

Obviously forsaking Christ and living in sin would grieve God’s Spirit, and with this in view let’s consider the wider context of Ephesians 4:30 beginning with verse 17 through the end of the chapter.

17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 

18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 

20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 

21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; 

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

27 Neither give place to the devil.

28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

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

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:17-32 

At this point it would be profitable to recognize that the conduct of the old man grieves the holy Spirit with whom we are sealed. Therefore we are told to put off the old man and put on the new which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

At the very least we can conclude at this point that Paul is not relaying the message that a person can live in a way that grieves the Holy Spirit with no worries regarding his salvation. There is absolutely nothing in Ephesians which communicates this belief.

Now let’s go on and consider what Paul says on the other side of the Ephesians 4:30 as we read into chapter 5. Keep in mind that the instruction to “grieve not the holy Spirit whereby you are SEALED unto the day of redemption,”is within the context of what we just read and what we are about to read.

Consider verses 1-17.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. ~ Ephesians 5:1-17

If nothing else, the honest reader ought to be able to come to the conclusion that Paul is in no way advocating that a person can live ungodly because the seal whereby they were sealed cannot be broken. There is absolutely nothing within the book of Ephesians which supports such a conclusion. The flow of thought is quite the opposite.

SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT (PART 2)

In Part One we saw that the train of thought in Ephesians regarding being sealed with the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with the promise of eternal security for those who forsake God and live ungodly. The train of thought is to live a life of  godliness, in righteousness and true holiness because we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

The scriptures do not say we are sealed with eternal security, but rather sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is a twisted way of thinking to claim that a person can live in adultery, or be a child molester, or a sex trafficker, or a murderer and have eternal life because they are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Remember it is the Holy Spirit with whom we are sealed and our life should reflect His influence and not be lived according to the old person we were before we were saved.

In 1 Timothy 2:19, we read the following:

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Consider also the following from 1 Thessalonians 4:

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 

He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

Notice, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, we are not to despise the call of God unto holiness. Paul says emphatically that God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness instead, and if anyone despises this, they are despising God who has given us His Holy Spirit.

In view of such statements, and the context of Ephesians, wherein we read of being sealed with the Holy Spirit, we can conclude that nowhere is Paul, or any New Testament writer promoting that anyone will be saved if they live in a way that despises God’s call to live holy.

Now consider these words from Hebrews 10:

28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherein he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~ Hebrews 10: 28-31 

Notice that in Hebrews 10:28-31 (above) those referenced are Christians who turn away from the Lord, for they had been at one time sanctified by the blood of the covenant, but had despised the Spirit of grace.

This does not mean that all backslidden people are beyond the reach of God’s mercy and grace because James tells us; “brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

The warnings in Hebrews reveal that a person can turn away from the faith completely if they so chose. Consider Hebrews 6:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. ~ Hebrews 6:4:-6

There are those who are backslidden, who come to repentance and there are some who knowingly turn away completely. Notice the qualifications concerning these as mentioned in Hebrews 6:

1. They were enlightened (they heard the gospel and were convicted).

2. They tasted the heavenly gift (this is salvation, for Jesus is the heavenly gift).

3. They were partakers of the Holy Spirit (they walked in the fullness of the Spirit).

4. They had tasted the good word of God (they were spiritually mature having gone beyond the milk of the word).

5. They had tasted the powers of the world to come (Hebrews 2:4-5 refers to “signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost” as that which has to do with the world to come. So God’s power was evident in their lives).

Nowhere in scripture is the ideology taught that a person who chooses to live unholy and ungodly by despising God’s call to holiness, has eternal security simply because of a one time believing experience.

Consider again Romans 6:17- 23.

17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 6:17- 23

IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS 

One of the many errors of the modern day once saved always saved theology is the belief that the saving grace of God is a free gift with no obligation to live for Jesus.

This version of the free gift of grace is accompanied with the belief that the personal righteousness of Jesus is imputed at the time of a one time believing experience, and all who receive this imputed righteousness have it regardless if they live a godly or godless life.

In this theology, it is possible for one who has been “once saved” to live as an adulterer, a child molester, a sex trafficker, an ax murderer, a blasphemer, a drunkard, a drug war Lord, etc.., and still have eternal life, because the gift of saving grace and the imputed righteousness of Christ is irrevocable.

Consider what has just been said. In this theology, an adulterer, a child molester, a sex trafficker, an ax murderer, a blasphemer, a drunkard, and a drug war Lord, are exempt from condemnation for their sins because they have Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, even while they are doing such things.

In contrast to such perverse theology, consider again 1 John 3:7-10

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that committeth (habitually practices) sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 

9 Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit (habitually practice) sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot (habitually practice) sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. ~ 1 John 3:7-10 

Those who teach imputed righteousness apart from faithfulness to Jesus teach serious and egregious error. There is no freeloading on the righteousness of Jesus Christ for those who love their sin and refuse to give it up.

DOES SIN AFFECT A BELIEVER OUTWARDLY ONLY AND NOT INWARDLY?

Here is a quote from someone commenting on 1 John 3:9 in defense of OSAS theology: “Outwardly one can sin, but their soul doesn’t sin. That’s why they cannot sin; their inner being does not sin.”

This is the kind of conclusion that a person comes to based on eisegesis (interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions,) rather than exegesis (interpreting the text based on the context).

The explanation above “outwardly one can sin, but their soul doesn’t sin” is a mystical belief and nowhere in the flow of thought in 1 John.

The words, commit sin, actually means habitually practices sin. Other good translations of the Bible, such as the Amplified Bible, bear this out, as well as a thorough reading of 1 John.

In 1 John he that commits (habitually practices) sin is set in opposition to the one who habitually practice righteous living. Consider the immediate context:

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that committeth (habitually practices) sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9 Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit (habitually practice) sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot (habitually practice) sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother~ 1 John 3:7-10

As you can see, it has nothing to do with any sort of concept that your soul or spirit cannot sin. It actually is referring to your conduct and actions.

With regards to sin not being able to affect a person’s soul, Paul tells the believers at Corinth “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 7:1

Notice that Paul tells them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. The letters of first and second Corinthians were written to believers and not to a mix of believers and unbelievers. Notice that Paul includes himself in the statement above, using the pronoun us“let us cleanses ourselves…”

In 1 Corinthians Paul had rebuked the Corinthian believers for allowing fornication of go on in their midst. In 2 Corinthians, after they repented and dealt this sin, Paul writes the following:

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 

Notice that the repentance of the Corinthians had an effect on their spiritual disposition. Sin absolutely does have an effect on our soul, that is why we need cleansing with the precious blood of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit when we sin.

Consider also 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice that Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians was that their whole spirit, soul and bodies would be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord.

In the book of the Revelation, Jesus said the following to the church at Sardis:

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shall not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. ~ Revelation 3:2-5 

Notice that some of these had defiled their spiritual garments and Jesus had not found their works perfect in the sight of God. Now, going back to 1 John notice the reference to works:

VERSE 8: He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the works of the devil.

VERSES 9-12 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (habitually practice) sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot (habitually practice) sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

The works being referred to by John are our actions. John goes on to say the following:

13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. ~ 1 john 3:10-15

Sin affects the whole man, not just outwardly.

DOES GOD CONVICT CHRISTIANS OF SIN?

Does the Holy Spirit convict the believer of sin?

Some claim that He doesn’t and even go as far as to say that God no longer sees any of our sins. Is this claim supported by the scriptures?

Allow me to ask the following question:

Was the Apostle Paul inspired by the Spirit of the Lord to write to the Corinthian Church?

Certainly he was.

If God doesn’t see the believer’s sins and the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict believers of sin, why did God, through His Holy Spirit, inspire Paul to address the sin of fornication within the church at Corinth? Why did Paul, inspired by God, rebuke the Corinthians for not grieving because this severe sin was in their midst?

In 1 Corinthians Paul says: It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~ 1 Corinthians 5:1-2

Then in 2 Corinthians Paul says the following:

8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.

11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

So I ask again, was Paul inspired by God to deal with the issue of sin among the Corinthian believers? If so then God knew about their sin and admonished them to deal with it, therefore it is scriptural to say that the Holy Spirit will convict a believer who is in sin.

ONCE FOR ALL

The author of Hebrews places emphasis on the finished work of Christ and refers to it as once and for all. Does this mean that those who have been saved can’t err from the truth and be entangled again in sin?  Not exactly, for the Book of Hebrews would then contradict its own exhortation?

Contextually, the putting away of sin and the once for all references have to do with the superiority of the New Covenant in contrast to the Old: with the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement under the Law which was merely as shadow of things to come.

Notice the following from Hebrews 7.

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. ~ Hebrews 7:25-28 

Notice also the following from Hebrews 10.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God… ~ Hebrews 10:10-12

The blood of animals could not purify man’s conscience in the sight of God and those offerings were not sufficient to provide lasting atonement for all sin, therefore atonement had to be made annually for the nation, and daily, for individuals. Furthermore, those sacrifices could not take away sin and cleanse the conscience from guilt. Jesus’ sacrifice, however, provided atonement once and for all. His sacrifice is perfect and avails forever.

Again, Christ’s sacrifice being, once for all, does not mean that God can’t see our sins. It does not mean that we do not need to repent when we know we have sinned. It simply means that there is no longer any need for offerings for sins. Jesus’ sacrifice will cleanse us and keep on cleaning us when we sin if we continue in faith towards Christ.

Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (He is both Priest and King seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High). There will never, ever, be a need for another sacrifice or another priest. In fact, the Book of Hebrews tells us that if we go on sinning (living in sin and rejecting Jesus) after we have received the knowledge of the truth there is no more offering for sin.

Jesus’ ministry as our priest is unlike those who were ordained under the Law: He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. ~ Hebrews 7:27

HEBREWS, A BOOK OF EXHORTATION TO BELIEVERS

Many view the book of Hebrews as a doctrinal book and it does contain many very helpful doctrinal truths but in the mind of its author, it was a letter of exhortation to believers. In 13:22 he says, I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto YOU in few words.”

Notice that the author of Hebrews addresses his epistle as an exhortation to the brethren.

He does not say exhortations (plural) but exhortation (singular). Why is this important? It is important because some who choose to hold to OSAS theology dismiss the warnings given in Hebrews, claiming that Hebrews was written to a mixture of saved and unsaved Hebrew people.

They claim that as a fellow Hebrew, the author refers to the saved and unsaved as brethren and therefore we must determine to whom the writer is speaking in a particular verse based on its content.  Therefore if it’s a warning, the conclusion is that verse pertains to unbelievers. If it is encouraging, that verse belongs to believers.

Quite honestly this is not only a strange way to interpret scripture, it is very telling of the how far those who embrace OSAS ideology will go to make the words of scripture fit into their way of believing.

First, those who take such a position make the assumption that the book of Hebrews was absolutely written by a believing Hebrew Christian such as Paul. While I personally believe that Hebrews was most likely written by Paul, and if not by Paul, certainly a believing Hebrew, there is no definitive evidence that this is so, because, historically, the author is unknown.

Those who claim that the writer of Hebrews uses the term brethren as a description of his fellow Hebrews (saved and unsaved) eliminate any possibility that Hebrews could have been written by a Gentile believer. There is no hard evidence which supports this.

Secondly, the belief that the author uses the term brethren to refer to saved and unsaved Hebrews alike, simply does not work with the letter itself. No good communicator would ever craft a letter wherein the recipients had to break it apart to figure out to whom he is speaking based on what he’s saying in a particular sentence as he goes back and forth from one group to another. The entire reasoning is flawed.

When we consider the content of the book of Hebrews we can conclude that it was written before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. because the writer of Hebrews makes reference to the temple service, the priests, and the sacrifices in the present tense. In the present tense, he makes a comparison between the superiority of Jesus’ ministry in the heavens (in the greater and more perfect tabernacle) in contrast to that which was on earth (which only served as a shadow and an example) to point men to Christ.

Many who continued in the old Jewish system rejected the Christian faith and persecuted the Jewish Christians. We see this play out in Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts. In Hebrews 10, the writer of Hebrews addresses it as well.

32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.

33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.

34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. ~ Hebrews 10:32-34 (The New Living Translation)

According to the author, his audience had suffered for their faith in Christ.

In chapter 2, he tells them that they are sanctified by Jesus as brethren to Christ and as the church. He goes on to say that Jesus is a faithful high priest for them: his brethren.

In 3:1, the author of Hebrews addresses his audience as holy brethren and partakers of the heavenly calling. He tells them that Jesus is the apostle and high priest of their profession of faith. This would no doubt be believers and not unbelievers.

Nowhere in the entire letter is he talking to unbelievers. He calls them brethren throughout the letter (2:11, 12, 17; 3:1, 12; 7:5; 10:19; 13:22). He also includes himself by using the pronouns we (51 times) us (31 times) and our (16 times). He also refers to his audience as “beloved” in 6:9.

The author of Hebrews tells them they are partakers of Christ’s house if the hold fast to the faith (3:6,14). In chapters 5 and 6 he admonishes them to move on from the elementary stages of the Christian faith to maturity.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 

According to the author of Hebrews his audience was still living as babes in Christ in their spiritual growth and unable to teach others because they were not yet skillful in the word of righteousness. In chapter 6, he urges them to move on to perfection (i.e., spiritual maturity).

He admonished them regarding those who turn back (6:4-5) and declares that he is persuaded differently about them:

For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. Hebrews 6:7-9

Verse 9 (above) speaks volumes of the author’s view of those to whom he is writing. Though he gives them repeated warnings concerning the danger of apostasy, he constantly affirms them as believers and admonishes them to continue going forward. Notice verses 10-12 which follows the previous verses of Hebrews 6:7-9 above:

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. ~ Hebrews 6:10-12 

Again, notice how the author of Hebrews mixes admonition with encouragement; encouragement that God has not forgotten, and admonishment not to give up but to preserver until the end.

Exhortation mixed with admonition is weaved all throughout the letter to the Hebrews as he repeatedly explains and admonishes them concerning the importance of perseverance in the faith.

Later in his letter, in chapter 11, he speaks of many of the old testament saints who persevered in faith, referring to them as a great cloud of witnesses as he urges his audience to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets them. He tells them run with patience the race set before them as they look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

He admonishes them concerning the chastisement of the Lord which comes through in the stern warnings given in his letter as he reminds them to whom they belong:

18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

22 Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel~ Hebrews 12:22-24

He exhorts them to not refuse him who speaks from heaven but rather to have grace so that they will serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. ~ See Hebrews 12:25-29.

As he begins to close his letter (chapter 13) he tells them to do the following:

  • continue in brotherly love
  • entertain strangers
  • remember those who are in prison
  • remember those who are being mistreated
  • be faithful in marriage
  • do not love money
  • remember God’s promise to never fail or leave them
  • remember those who have taught them the word of God and follow their faith
  • do not be carried away by various and strange doctrines
  • establish your hearts in grace
  • bear the Lord’s reproach (i.e., suffer for his name)
  • offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually in the name of Jesus
  • don’t neglect doing good to the needy
  • submit to those who are their leaders in the Lord
  • continue praying for him (the writer) and those with him.

Finally, he closes his letter with the following words:

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. they of Italy salute you. 

25 Grace be with you all. Amen. ~ Hebrews 13:20-25 

One reading the book of Hebrews on its own merit would never come away with the notion that Hebrews was written to a mixture of saved and unsaved Hebrews. The letter speaks for itself.

THE WARNINGS IN HEBREWS 

The first warning, found in Hebrews 2:1-3, tells us that neglecting our great salvation will result in punishment just as disobedience to the words spoken by angels, under the Law, also resulted in punishment.

1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him… ~ Hebrews 2:1-3

If it were not possible to fall away from God’s grace, then why would the author of Hebrews admonish his readers not to allow the things concerning the great salvation they had received, slip? What would be the purpose for the warning: How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?

Escape what? What are we in danger of?

If it is impossible to never depart from the Lord once we have known the way of righteousness what are we in danger of? Is it just a gold ole scolding before the judgment seat of Christ for not being a good Christian? What are we in danger of? The repeated warning throughout Hebrews is the danger of apostasy or abandoning our faith which has eternal reward if we continue in the faith, and eternal consequences if we abandon the faith.

The second warning (Hebrews 3:7- 4:1) exhorts us not to harden our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit through unbelief. In this section we are reminded that God swore in his wrath that those who provoked Him in the wilderness also died in the wilderness and did not enter into His rest.

We are warned that we need to fear God so that we do not become like those in the wilderness who fell short of entering His rest (which according to the context is eternal rest). It is clear from the context that the same God who swore in his wrath: “they shall not enter my rest,” and did not spare those who rebelled in the wilderness, will not spare us either, if we harden our hearts through unbelief and the deceitfulness of sin.

12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end… ~ Hebrews 3:12-14 

Jude, in his brief epistle, also draws on this account when he writes to the brethren exhorting them to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3-5 says the following:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. ~ Jude 1:3-5

Why would this exhortation be necessary if it were impossible to fall from (abandon) the grace of God once we have been saved? Both Jude and the writer of Hebrews address the importance of persevering in the true faith.

If we embrace OSAS theology we are rejecting the New Testament admonitions that Israel’s unbelief and disobedience in the wilderness serves as an example to us. (See Hebrews 3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Jude 1:3-7)

The third warning (Hebrews 5:11- 6:20) is against slothfulness which results in apostasy. We are told in very clear and precise terms that if we become slothful in our faith we are in danger of being condemned and cursed.

In 1 Timothy Paul says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, Giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:1 

Departing from the faith is the same language that the writer of Hebrews employs, and the exhortations to continue steadfastly in the faith comes through loud and clear throughout the book of Hebrews.

The fourth warning (Hebrews 10:26-39) is against willfully sinning and drawing back. Here is what Hebrews 10:26-31 says:

26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~ Hebrews 10:26-31 

The fifth warning (Hebrews 12:14-29) sums up all the other warnings – beware of sin and rejection of Jesus.

Many of you recognize the words, our God is a consuming fire, but do you know the context of these words? Many quote this in connection with God’s love, but the scripture do not use it that way. These words, in both the Old and New Testament, are used in connection with God’s holiness and righteous judgment against sin (i.e. His jealously expressed in anger which results in the punishment of our sins).

Here is how Moses used the words:

21 Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:

22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.

23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.

24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger … ~ Deuteronomy 4:21-25 

Now notice the context from Hebrews 12:25-29:

25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

2For our God is a consuming fire. ~ Hebrews 12:25-29

Notice the words:…let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”

IS PAUL MAKING AN EXCUSE FOR SIN IN ROMANS 7?

In Romans 7 Paul is speaking from the vantage point of one who is under the Law. Paul’s statements are not about his lack of power to deal with sin now that he has come to Christ. Instead, these words are a part of his expounding on the Law and grace and the effects the Law has on a person in the flesh without the grace of Christ.

In Romans 8, Paul says “the law was weak through the flesh.” The Law can only bring the sinner under condemnation, but grace gives us victory over sin and condemnation.

Throughout the entirely of Romans 6 Paul shows how the one who has received saving grace is dead to sin through Jesus Christ, and therefore sin is not to reign over them.

In Titus 2:11-15 Paul says that saving grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts by living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Saving grace does not teach us that we cannot overcome sin. Saving grace teaches us how to overcome sin.

In 2 Timothy 2:19 Paul tells us the following:

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul says the following:

2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:2-7

In Romans 7 Paul, as a skillful teacher, speaks figuratively from the vantage point of one who is under the Law, to explain the influence that the Law has on the one who is under the bondage of sin. The Law had no power to give life to the one entrapped in his sins. Only Christ Jesus can set a person free from sin.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1-4

The law was weak through the flesh and therefore could not deliver man from his sins, and this is exactly what Paul in explaining in Romans 7:7-25, as he speaks from the vantage point of the effects of the law on those who are under it’s condemnation.

FAITH THAT SAVES

Many are familiar with Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Again, here is the flow of thought that Romans 6:23 belongs to:

17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:17-23 

Notice the progression:

(1) You obeyed the doctrine delivered to you: that’s the gospel.

(2) You were made free from sin.

(3) You became servants to God and righteousness.

(4) You live a holy life.

(5) The end of these is eternal life. 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE CHURCH AGE?

Is the concept of “the church age” taught within the Bible? It may surprise you that there is not a single text in scripture which mentions a church age which will come to an end during the time of the second coming of Christ.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord… ~ Ephesians 3:4-11

God’s eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus is that Jews and Gentiles be united into one family through Jesus Christ. Paul refers to this union as the church. There in no such thing in scripture as a “Gentile church”. There were congregations to which Paul’s ministry served that consisted of mostly Gentiles because they were in areas heavily populated with Gentiles, but never is the church identified as a Gentile entity in the New Testament. The church is always those from among the Jews and Gentiles who are united into one family in Christ Jesus.

The concept of the “church age” is predicated on the idea that the New Testament church is a Gentile entity. This is a faulty premise for the church is not a Gentile entity. The church began with Jewish followers of Jesus who took the gospel message, first to the Jews, then to the whole world.

According to the apostle Paul, God will be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.~ Ephesians 3:20-21

If you are waiting for the church age to expire so God can get back to separating the Jews from the Gentiles, it’s not going to happen. God is going to be glorified in the Church (the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ) throughout all ages.

Many “prophecy experts” claim that God has a separate plan for Israel than for the church even though the church is a Jewish concept and was established on the message of the Jewish apostles who were sent by Jesus to proclaim the gospel. It is Gentiles who are grafted into the Jewish message that Jesus is the Messiah, and not the other way around. Jews are not grafted into a Gentile entity when they believe the gospel. Rather Gentiles are grafted into the family of Abraham through faith in Jesus.

The New Testament does not teach that God will revert back to national Israel with an Old Testament stylistic system of worship after he brings an end to the “Gentile church age.” This concept is foreign to the gospel revealed in the New Testament

Those who teach  a return to the law for the Jew after the so-called church age, claim that God has unfulfilled promises to Israel which does not include the church. No such doctrine withstands the cross examination of the New Testament.

The church consisting of Jews and Gentiles is the plan that was hidden in God during Old Testament times when Israel was under the Mosaic covenant.

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel…~ Ephesians 2:11-3:6

The dispensation of the grace of God is not the dispensation of the Gentile church age as some may think. It is the dispensation of grace in which Gentiles are made fellow heirs with the Jews to whom the promises of redemption were given. 

Israel’s prophets had prophesied of Israel’s redemption in terms they could understand, yet the full revelation of those prophesies was hidden in a mystery, and were not fully revealed until after the Holy Spirit was given on he Day of Pentecost. Paul describes the hidden plan of God (Jews and Gentiles united as one family in Christ) as the mystery of Christ, and says it was not made known in other ages as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (a reference to the apostles and ministers of Christ to whom the message of the gospel was entrusted after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus).

Christian Zionists claim that they believe in the literal interpretation of the promises made to Israel even through the apostle Peter, a man who walked with Jesus and was personally trained by Jesus, said, “the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” ~ 1 Peter 1:10-11

If the very prophets who spoke for God could not fully understand intellectually the full meaning of their messages from God, why do Christian Zionists think anyone ought to be able to read the prophecies given by the prophets to Israel and plainly understand them?

After his resurrection, Jesus had to open the understanding of his disciples so they could understand the prophetic scriptures which testified of him, even though they had walked with Jesus and been trained by him for 3 – 3.5 years ~ See Luke 24

God’s plan concerning Israel’s redemption was hidden in a mystery. Being hidden implies that it can not understood by human intellect, but requires the revelation of the Spirit of God.

Who then has the authoritative interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies given to Israel? It is the apostles who gave us the New Testament scriptures. Let’s consider 3 examples from the New Testament which interpret the prophecies given to Israel. There are more examples in the New Testament, but these will suffice for now.

First, in the gospel of Luke, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied by the Holy Spirit the following words about Jesus:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an Horn of Salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began… ~ Luke 1:68-70

Notice that Zacharias says, “God has visited and redeemed Israel,” and claims this was testified by God’s holy prophets since the beginning of the world.

The redemption of Israel is not something in waiting. According to the prophecy given by Zacharias, Israel’s redemption has already come through Jesus Christ. Zacharias also prophesied to John the Baptist (only 8 days old) saying, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby The Day spring from on high hath visited us.” ~ Luke 1:76-78 .

Remember these words were spoken in an entirely Jewish context in view of God’s promised redemption for Israel.

Now consider another example from the book of Acts. The apostle Peter preaching to his Jewish brethren said the following:

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. ~ Acts 3:18-19

Notice that Peter tells his Jewish brethren to repent and be converted. Is this the message of modern day Zionism? No it isn’t. The Zionist narrative claims that God has a separate plan for Israel than for the church, yet Peter tells his Jewish kinsmen to to repent and be converted. Peter continues:

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. ~ Acts 3:20-23

Notice the similarities between Peter’s words (which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his prophets since the world began) and the words of Zacharias’s prophecy (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began…)

Both Zacharias before the birth of Jesus, and Peter after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, declare that the God’s words through the prophets to Israel are fulfilled in the the person of Jesus Christ in relation to his first coming.

Peter tells his fellow Jews that Moses prophesied to Israel that God would raise up a prophet like himself who would be the leader of Israel. John the Baptist was asked by the religious establishment in Israel if he was “that prophet.” He denied that he was and declared that Jesus is.

The message of the New Testament to the people of Israel is that Jesus is the prophet that Moses said would come and all who will not listen to that prophet would be cut off from God’s people. In Acts 7 Stephen declared the following as he testified of Jesus before the Sanhedrin: Moses, …said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us… ~ Acts 7:37-38

Note that Stephen refers to Israel in the wilderness as “the church in the wilderness.” The church is not a New Testament concept. 

Now lets continue with Peter’s words to the Jews in Acts 3.

Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. ~ Acts 3:18-26

Now the words of Paul from Acts 13:

Of this man’s seed (King David’s seed) hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. ~ Acts 13:23-39

Even though Paul says to the Jews that they would be justified through Jesus by faith and that they could not be justified by the law of Moses, Christian Zionists and their prophecy experts preach a futuristic plan of God that brings them back under the law with a fabricated temple service and animal sacrifices that God clearly says in scripture he takes no pleasure in.

Now notice the next two verses which are critical to the point that is being made in this teaching.

Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ~ v. 40-41

The apostle Paul does not preach another alternative to the his Jewish brethren after the flesh. He gives them a stern warning from the prophets. While the prophecy experts within Christian Zionism claim that God has another plan for modern day Israel because he has unfulfilled promises to them spoken through the prophets, the apostle Paul says otherwise, claiming that God has fulfilled his promise to Israel by the resurrection of Jesus.

Paul cites the warning of destruction which was given by prophets to Israel which should come on all within Israel who refused to believe the gospel. Jesus is Israel’s Messiah, and their redemption has already come through Jesus, now they are required to believe the gospel. No rebuilt temple with animal sacrifice will led them to God. They must believe the gospel and be grafted back into their tree of which the root is Jesus, who is also the foundation of the church (Jews and gentiles in one family) with no end.

DID THE DEATH OF JESUS ELIMINATE THE WRATH OF GOD?

There are some who preach and teach “God is not mad at you” as an across-the-board truth which applies to everyone. This belief is based on the idea that the death of Jesus has forever satisfied the wrath of God. Consequently God isn’t angry with anyone, not even the hard hearted who refuses to repent, but does the Bible actually teach this?

Consider the words of Paul to the Corinthians, Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:11

Consider also that Paul told the Thessalonians that the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus, and who were hindering his ministry to the Gentiles, were under God’s wrath. ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Paul believed the hostile Jews who put Jesus to death and who continued in their hostility by opposing the gospel were under the wrath of God. Paul says this after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet there are modern day teachers who claim that no one is under God’s wrath because of their “theological” claims that God poured out his wrath on Jesus.

One well know minister has said the following:

Jesus forever changed the way God relates to mankind. Sure, there are scriptural examples of God’s catastrophic judgment on sin. But God’s greatest act of judgment was when He placed all of His wrath for our sins upon Jesus. This forever satisfied God’s wrath. Since that time, God hasn’t been judging our sins.

Compare the quote above with Paul’s words form in the book of Romans:

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. ~ Romans 12:19

If no one is under the wrath of God, as some claim, Paul would not have taught that we who follow Jesus are not appointed to wrath at the coming of the Lord, but those who refuse to obey the gospel are under the wrath of God when Christ comes. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

If no one is under the wrath of God, the author of Hebrews would never have said that those who turn away from the Lord have nothing to look forward to except for a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~ Hebrews 10:27, 30-31

Peter tells us God that turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes and condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished,  ~ 2 Peter 2:6-9

The apostle Peter also declared: For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? ~ 1 Peter 4:17

The teacher whose comment is referenced above has made a bold statement based on his theological assessment that God placed all his wrath on Jesus which is nowhere taught in the Bible.

According to the Bible, Jesus suffered under the wrath of men, who opposed God and Jesus. ~ Acts 4:25-27.

In Acts 7, Stephen asserted that Jesus had been murdered. Stephen declared this to those who were about to stone him, saying to them that they had been “the betrayers and murderers of Jesus.” ~ Acts 7:52

According to the prophet Isaiah, and Philip preaching to the Eunuch, Jesus was deprived of justice from the time of his arrest until his death on the cross. ~ Isaiah 53:8, Acts 8:33

As Jesus prepared his disciples for the things he was to suffer in his death, he told his disciples that he would suffer at the hands of men.

See Matthew 16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:17-19; 26:1-2, 24, 31, 45; 26:51-56; Mark 8:31; 9:9-11, 31-32, 10:32-34; 14:27, 43-50; 15:27-28; Luke 9:21-22, 44-45; 17:24-25; 18:31-34; 22:37; 24:1-8, 13-27, 44-48; John 18:31-32; 19:24, 28

In the book of Acts, the declaration of the gospel by the apostles and men like Stephen, was that Jesus had suffered an unjust death at the hands of sinful men.

See Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:13-18; 4:10-11, 20, 23- 28; 5:30-32; 7:52; 10:36-43

Neither Jesus, nor any of his followers in scripture ever preached that Jesus died under the wrath of God. They always attributed the death of Christ to the hands of sinful men, and they preached the resurrection as God’s righteous vindication of his Son, Jesus.

According to the apostle Peter, the sufferings Jesus endured serves as our example of how we are to respond when we suffer wrongfully.

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. ~ 1 Peter 2:19-25

Notice that in view of Jesus suffering for us, Peter says that Jesus committed himself to God who judges righteously, setting an example that we should follow when we suffer wrongfully. Peter would not have said this if Jesus had suffered under God’s righteous wrath.

According to the author of Hebrews, Jesus endured hostility from sinners when he died on the cross (Hebrews 12:2-3) and he endured such hostility by the grace of God. ~ Hebrews 2:9

Paul tells us in Romans, the reproaches of those who reproached (defamed) God fell upon Jesus. ~ Romans 15:3

Jesus was crucified by those who were in opposition to God. The condemnation Jesus endured from sinful men, was sinful man’s opposition against God. This is exactly why the disciples prayed in Acts 4 saying: The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his Christ. ~ Acts 4:26

Within the context of Acts 4:26 (mentioned above) the disciples of the Lord made appeal to Psalm 2, which clearly reveals that Jesus was condemned, not by the wrath of God, but by the wrath of sinful men: why do THE HEATHEN RAGE and the people imagine vain thing.

Heathen raging, is an expression of the heathen’s wrath. Jesus died under the wrath of heathen, and not the wrath of a holy God. The hatred and opposition from sinful men, who condemned Jesus to death, was hatred and opposition against God who sent Jesus. This is what the four gospels and the book of Acts repeatedly give testimony concerning.

According to Jesus, God was with him when he gave his life (John 8:29; 16:28-32) and this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah said. ~ Isaiah 50:5-9

Jesus endure such opposition from sinful men in order that he might give his life as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is the gift of God to us, but he is also the gift to God on our behalf, for he gave himself to God as a holy sacrifice, as a sweet -savor offering (Ephesians 5:2), when he offered his holy life on the altar of the cross for us.

The one who desires to obey God is NOT under God’s wrath. The one who despises God and rejects his goodness is. Those who abduct children, rape children, murder innocent people, live in adultery, mock Jesus, etc., are  absolutely under God’s wrath. Only by repenting and being saved through the cross of Jesus Christ, is the wrath of God turned away from such people.

God patiently gives them space to repent, but God is not, “not angry”, with them. He is angry with the wicked every day. ~ Psalm 7:11

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. ~ Ephesians 5:3-6