Is Salvation a Sure Thing or Dependent Upon Us? Part 3

May 11, 2015 at 8:32 AM 2 comments

prodigalsonIn previous articles in this series, we have gone over several areas of Scripture that I believe support the doctrine of eternal security. I have realized once again that not only are there people who will vehemently disagree with that assessment, but are willing to debate you into a corner of their own making if allowed.

Every once in a while, I have to take the time to remind people that I write these articles for my edification as well as for others’ edification. If my articles do not edify, then people are welcome and encouraged to move along. Debate for debate’s sake is not welcome here, simply because it is actually impossible to have any type of quality give and take on what amounts to an electronic forum. Since the discussion is not “live,” it quickly becomes mired and bogged down in assumptions on both sides. It can also be extremely confusing for other people who happen to stop by and read and article followed by a running debate, which often tends to become very sidetracked.

I’m also getting extremely tired of people who think they understand God’s Word so fully, so accurately, that they see it as their job to straighten out anyone and everyone who disagrees with their particular doctrinal perspective. I have no issue with people who respectfully disagree with me on any particular subject. My issue is twofold:

  1. people seem to want to debate things that have been with us since the inception of the Church, and
  2. they come to this site, use my bandwidth that I’m paying for to express their extended views

If someone wants to take the time to disagree with me about specific doctrines (and I have NO problem with that), they are welcome to do that at their blog or website, where they can use their bandwidth that they ostensibly pay for instead of mine. This is why people will write books, often as a rebuttal to someone else’s book. It’s the norm and a very noble practice.

With respect to the issue of eternal security of the believer, this is one of those issues that has at least two sides to it (though there are numerous offshoots). Mainly, people either agree that our salvation is 100% secure and that there is nothing a believer can do to eradicate or remove himself from salvation or there are those who believe that an authentic Christian can actually come to a point or rejecting salvation that has been inherited. My study has led me to the former viewpoint, not the latter one. I fully believe God will keep all those who come to Him for salvation. I also believe that a person does not become an authentic Christian by merely praying the “sinner’s prayer.” A relationship is entered into with Jesus when we see the truth about Him and embrace it. There must be a realization of who Jesus is and what he accomplished for the sinner.

I also realize that people usually arrive to a specific viewpoint after careful study of God’s Word. No one I know has arrived to their conclusion by simply opening the Bible at random, plopping their finger down on a particular verse or section of Scripture and then going with that as their main reason they have adopted a particular viewpoint. For the most part, people are well-meaning and want to know the truth of God’s Word. It really is that simple.

But there are those people who so firmly believe that they are right and I (or you), am wrong, that nothing can satisfy them in any conversation, short of the admission, “Yes, you are CORRECT! Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways! It MUST be from God!” I don’t know anyone who has so drastically changed their viewpoint about doctrines of the Christian faith after spending years studying something and arriving to their own conclusions.

As previously noted, it appears to me that both Paul and John are complimentary in their explanations of eternal security. In fact, I believe that Jesus – as the Master Teacher – explains in many ways how salvation is eternally secure.

The problem that enters the picture is when people start using man-made arguments to support their own beliefs. Oftentimes, these man-made arguments are little more than straw man that is easily knocked down. Let me illustrate the point with a series of comments from one individual who had read part 1 of this series and fully disagreed with my assessment.

“In Luke 15, most teachings on the parable of the prodigal son focus on the father’s mercy and willingness to forgive his son. This is certainly true as the prodigal repented of his ways and returned to his father’s graciously open arms. However I don’t think that this aspect of the parable was Jesus’ main teaching point as Jesus repeats only one phrase in this whole story and we know that when Jesus repeats something to his listeners, he is putting emphasis on something and is very likely the main point of his teaching so we’d better take heed. In verses 24 & 32 the father describes his son as being dead but alive AGAIN; was lost but is found. How can someone be made alive again? We are born again once when we first believe but how is the son made alive a second time? Note that the father described his son as being dead – not physically dead but spiritually dead as the son obviously did not die in the story. The son was spiritually alive when he abided in his father’s house but when he separated himself to pursue a lifestyle of sin and squander his inheritance, he became spiritually dead. When he repented and returned to his father seeking forgiveness he was made ALIVE AGAIN. Thus Jesus’ point is that a believer/child of God can forfeit their salvation/inheritance when they no longer abide and choose to walk after the flesh and live an unrepentant lifestyle. If one truly repents God forgives as he did the prodigal and the person becomes alive again; but if one remains in an unrepentant condition, one becomes spiritually dead and separated from God.”

Let me try to break this down. Please notice that while he acknowledges that the fact of the father’s love for his son was the “main teaching point…” He attempts to strengthen his argument by pointing out that “Jesus repeats only one phrase in this whole story and we know that when Jesus repeats something to his listeners, he is putting emphasis on something and is very likely the main point of his teaching so we’d better take heed.”

What our friend completely fails to grasp is that the chapter began with a brief parable of the lost sheep, then segued into the lost coin. In both of those brief stories, the emphasis is on the sheep owner and the woman, both of whom went out of their way to search for what was lost. In essence then, we could say that these are examples of Jesus coming to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” and attempting to win them to Him. Israel has always had an “in” and “out” relationship with God. That cycle continues to this day, yet I do not believe for one moment that just because someone is an orthodox Jew, they are “saved.” Jews need to be saved today the exact same way that everyone else is saved, by grace, through faith, in Christ. I also believe that God will one day take from the nation of Israel a final “remnant” of people who will come to believe in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Messiah. These will represent the final version of the nation of Israel. Still, the method of salvation is always the same.

By the time, we get to the Prodigal Son parable, it is (or should be), clear that the emphasis is on the father who loved his son so tremendously that he was willing to give him what he wanted in the hopes of seeing how much he loved his son.

I tried to explain to the person commenting that the reference Jesus makes to the son being “alive again,” is really based on cultural norms. In point of fact, the son, who had so disrespected his father, was being treated by the other men and community leaders in that village as though he had died, even though he was very much physically alive. When the son finally returns to his father, the father, who had clearly been looking at the horizon daily to see if his “dead” son was returning to him, his father then announces to the entire village that this son – who was as good as “dead,” was now very much alive. We’ve all heard the sentiment, “My son/daughter is dead to me.” It means that person will have nothing to do with that son/daughter and will in fact, treat them as though they physically died. This is clearly NOT what the father in the parable believed or did.

I also fully and completely disagree with the poster’s comment that “The son was spiritually alive when he abided in his father’s house but when he separated himself to pursue a lifestyle of sin and squander his inheritance, he became spiritually dead.” This seems clearly untrue. Because the son held such a grudge against his own father and wanted nothing to do with him while he lived under his roof essentially illustrates how the nation of Israel had treated God repeatedly. The son in this parable was hardly “spiritually” alive. He was physically alive, but spiritually dead. The son was his father’s son in name only. If anything, we learn that he, like many professing Christians today, do what they’re supposed to do and appear to be Christians, but when push comes to shove, are not. The prodigal son wanted nothing to do with his father. He was most certainly NOT spiritually “alive” at that point.

It was only after the son removed himself from his father’s presence, lived a life of debauchery, spent all his inheritance, and then went back home did he become spiritually alive, and most likely for the very first time in his life!

We need also to remember that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (cf. Luke 19:10). Beyond this, with very few exceptions, Jesus’ ministry was to the House of Israel, not to the Gentiles. “But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” (Matthew 15:24). Certainly, some gentiles benefited from Jesus, His healings, and His teachings, but in general, Jesus’ mission was to call Israel (as a nation) back to God.

The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son then are illustrations of God’s relationship with Israel and His great love for them. He created that nation. He oversees that nation, the Messiah came from Israel, and God has an as yet unfilled plan for that nation.

It is just as critical and more correct to understand Jesus pointing out the fact of Israel’s constant on again/off again relationship with God, as opposed to try to see something “spiritual” in there about how a person can lose their salvation. I believe that completely stretches the credulity of the text.

I believe that the Prodigal Son parable is told by Jesus to express the eternal nature of God’s love, that His love is such that God was willing to cloth Himself in humanity and even die that we might have the opportunity for eternal salvation. We see in the Bible where God has repeatedly chased down Israel after chastening them for their rebellion and sin. I do not believe that this parable can be used accurately to prop up one’s belief that salvation can be lost. In fact, everything in the first part of the parable tells me the son hated his father and wanted nothing to do with him. That does not espouse the idea that he was “spiritually alive” to his father. The exact opposite would be true. In fact, the prodigal son was quite spiritually dead to his father, having never understood what his father’s love meant.

This is Israel through one generation after another. But on a larger level, it also fully expresses to us the nature of God’s unchanging love for all those He seeks.

Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, israel, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology. Tags: , .

Why Have Classic Hymns Essentially Been Banished from Churches Today? Is Salvation a Sure Thing or Dependent Upon Us? Part 4

2 Comments

  • 1. Sherry  |  May 11, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    Truth isn’t debateable. Its true or it isn’t. In the case of losing one’s salvation or my issue concerning christianizing paganism, it is all in the proper interpretation of Scripture. Who’s the audience being spoken to will help in interpretation as well as letting scriptures answer to scriptures, using both the old and new testaments. We are admonished to help our brothers and sisters in Christ to stay on the narrow (pure Christian-Christ only) path and to help them not to stray into the broad way (christo-paganism/false teachings). Blogs and forums do that. Its a tool for building up the body if done in love.

    Every Christian should pray, every now and then, that God would reveal to them the truth of any traditions and teachings that are lies and to show them in His Word the truth. That was my prayer when God showed me in His Word that we are elected after years of believing in decisional regeneration. It was quite a bit more humbling to realize I was elected…\o/

    In a way, I really can’t fault those who teach that salvation can be lost when teachers have taught them that, in this parable, it speaks of all of us as the prodigals. But once we come to realize that it mainly speaks of the Father’s love for Israel it makes more sense and even gentile Christians can admire God’s love for Israel and for them, the spiritual Israel. Then, guess what? We can rest assured that God will not let us “lose” our salvation, if it were even possible!

    God bless you!~

    • 2. modres  |  May 11, 2015 at 11:52 AM

      Thanks Sherry. I am really disappointed that people have taught that salvation is so “easy” when in reality it is a partership between Christ and the Christian. We need to take that commitment to Him very seriously.


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