Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 19
Fellowship with God is something that all Christians must strive to enter into and maintain. Without it, we die spiritually and we are in danger of falling away. We won’t lose our salvation because that is eternal, forever, guaranteed. But we can do irreparable damage to our own life and our relationship with others. If we fall away and start living life as though we were not Christians, the consequences may stay with us until our own death, depending upon those consequences.
If you’re just joining me with this post, I would highly recommend that you start at the beginning. That would be with the very first article in the series before this one titled, Christ, Our Righteousness because it is there that I lay that foundation and the foundation for this series, which begins with Christ, Our Fellowship.
If you think the Bible teaches that Christians can lose their salvation, there is nothing I can do for you. However, I fully believe you are mistaken. Anyway you look at it, if salvation can be lost by something we do, then it is not eternal nor is it unmerited. A gift that comes with strings attached is not a gift at all. It is something that must be maintained and when it is not maintained, it can be lost.
Salvation is guaranteed and eternal. As far as I can see from Scripture, there is no getting around that. What is not guaranteed or necessarily eternal is our fellowship with God. That is the part that depends upon us, our attitudes, our effort, our demeanor toward God and our pursuit of Him. That is what we can “fall away” from as noted in Hebrews 6:4-6. It is what we want to avoid at all costs. However, given the fact that even though we may become Christians, we continue to retain our sin natures. Therefore, we will continue to have the propensity to sin in this life. The longer we are Christians, hopefully, the less we will want to sin, but in truth, we do not ever become sinlessly perfect in this life because of the continued presence of our sin nature that will not be excised until after we die.
In John 6:28-29, Jesus specifically responds to a question asked of Him by His disciples. They wanted to know ““What must we do to do the works God requires?” regarding salvation. They were still thinking in terms of the Old Testament Law and sacrificial system and who can blame them? It’s what they knew because it was what they were raised under. Surely, there had to be something that was required of them in the form of works in order to gain salvation from God, wasn’t there? This is what they wanted to ascertain and Jesus answers the question very clearly.
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Referring to Himself, Jesus plainly points out that for people who truly want to do God’s will, they must believe in the One the Father sent into the world. Believing here is not “intellectual assent.” It is a deep, abiding conviction. In this case, that conviction rests in the fact that the atoning work of Jesus, which culminated on the cross (and resultant resurrection), is what we’re to place our faith in as something that provides us the righteousness that God requires and we originally lack. Once we believe in the one he has sent, we receive salvation. It is ours, forever and ever.
…and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand, (John 10:28).
I’ve heard individuals who believe that salvation can be lost add to the Scriptures here by stating that Jesus never says that a Christian cannot walk away from Him, but only that He will allow nothing to snatch them out of His hand. Supposedly, because of our free will, this does God is powerless to keep us from walking away. These folks fail to comprehend the nature of the transaction that occurred. In 1 Corinthians 6:20, Paul tells us that we were bought with a price. We were what? Bought with a price. What this actually means is that I am no longer my own but I am fully “owned” by Another, in this case, I am literally the slave of Jesus. He owns me. He purchased me and my faith in Him and His redemptive work allowed Him to remove from Satan’s kingdom and place me into His Kingdom where I am eternally safe.
Please note that if things were required other than believing in the One who was sent by the Father to gain salvation, I’m quite certain Jesus would have listed those things. Instead, He says simply that faith only is required.
Once we have salvation, we then have the opportunity and privilege of entering into fellowship with God…or not. That part is completely up to us and that is the part where God will not move against our “free will” to make it happen.
Just as the father of the Prodigal Son (cf. Luke 15:11-32), allowed his young son to leave the fold and did not chase after him, so will God our Father allow us to close the door on fellowship with Him and live our lives any way we want to live it. Not once in the story of the Prodigal do we see the father chasing after the son. However, what we do notice is that once the young man came to his senses realizing his stupidity and began to move back toward his father, the father ran toward his son as soon as the son came over the horizon. According to the story, it’s fairly clear that the son still did not fully understand or appreciate his father’s character or motives yet. It wasn’t until he started giving his prepared speech to his father that he should take him back as a servant, etc., and the father rejected that suggestion, continuing to treat him with all the rights and privileges of sonship, that the young man likely started to more fully understand what drove his father.
I like what Jack Kelley of Grace Thru Faith says about this very important topic and the one requirement from us to believe.
The one characteristic of God’s that gives us the most comfort is knowing that He can’t lie or change His mind or contradict Himself. He can’t say something in one place and then say something entirely different in another. He’s consistent. If He says that we’re saved solely because of our belief in Him, and that He’s accepted responsibility for keeping us so, then we can count on that. As we’ll see, anything in the Bible that seems to contradict these simple, straightforward statements has to be talking about something else.
Kelley also refers – as I have previously – to the fact that there are two sides to the salvation issue. There is salvation itself and there is the other very important aspect of salvation that gives us the right and privilege of fellowship with God in Christ. He explains it like this.
Fellowship is that state of continual closeness to God that enables Him to bless us in our daily lives, by making things happen for us and protecting us from attack. It’s like He’s teamed up with us to give us a supernatural advantage. Fellowship is defined by 1 John 1:8-9 as being both Earthly and conditional upon our behavior.
There has been tremendous confusion among believers (myself included), over this whole issue of eternal security. I believe, along with Kelley and many others, that salvation is absolutely something that we can never lose once we actually have it. Fellowship with God, on the other hand, is something that can be broken and even destroyed because it is conditioned, as Kelley notes, upon our behavior. Though God will never cast us out of His Kingdom, He will not continue to fellowship with us when we involve ourselves in sin. It’s that simple. Though all of our sin – past, present, and future – is forgiven by God, we still need to confess it as we are made aware of it because it is that sin that dampens and breaks our fellowship with God. Once we realize that we have sinned, confessing it restores that fellowship with God.
It is fellowship that we can lose and go in and out of for the remainder of our lives once we become saved. We can never lose our salvation. In the case of the passage in Hebrews that we highlighted in the fourth paragraph above, it is very helpful to understand the context of the passage. Let me quote from Kelley again.
So what could these believers do that would be considered falling away? Remember, they were Jews who had tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, the Church. They were being admonished to return to the Old Covenant, to find remedies for their ongoing sin in the daily sacrifices.
Just as the Galatians were being tempted by the Judaizers to go to the Law with its sacraments and ceremony, the Jews that the writer to the Hebrews was writing to were being tempted to do the same thing. If they did, they would actually be mentally rejecting Jesus’ full and satisfactory work on our behalf. The Law and sacrifices were but a mere shadow of the perfection that was to come in Jesus. I imagine during New Testament times, it was very difficult for Jews who became Christians to want to break free from the sacrifices and ceremony of the Law. Imagine how out of sync that would make an orthodox Jew feel then? For these Jews then who did return to the Law, what would the results be?
Loss of Fellowship. Living a defeated life, bearing no fruit, all their works burned in the judgment of 1 Cor. 3. But still saved? Yes.
Christian, you really need to allow this to sink into your heart. Understand that salvation has two-parts to it, if you will. Salvation itself is granted to the person who believes and once that happens, the opportunity to fellowship with God now exists. We cannot make ourselves more “saved.” Our full salvation comes from God and is applied to our accounts. We can only determine the quality of our fellowship with God or whether we choose to have it with Him.
This is why so much of Paul’s epistles especially seem like a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for the Christian. He is speaking most of the time about entering into and maintaining our fellowship with God and for that to happen, we must do certain things. To maintain that fellowship, we must continue to do certain things.
Please do not allow yourself to be hoodwinked into thinking that your salvation can be lost, that you are not really secure in Christ. This is not biblical truth but surely you can see how Satan would want to proliferate this belief to keep us in a state of flux and fear, right?
Deal with the fact that your salvation is absolutely secure and nothing can steal it from you, including your own free will. It is a done deal. You are sealed and you cannot break that seal. Thank God! Deal with this and get it firmly cemented in your heart of hearts. Then you will be able to begin to concentrate on entering into fellowship with God.
We’ll chat about this more next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: christ our fellowship, eternal security, fellowship with god, once saved always saved, sinless.