Though believers are kept safe for eternity, we still need to exercise personal responsibility
Undeniably, we read in Jude 1 and Jude 24 that believers are preserved safe for Christ.
That said, we must also remember that Jude warns of apostasy—examples of believers who forsook God and were destroyed:
- The exodus generation, delivered from slavery in Egypt, was destroyed because of sin and unbelief and failed to possess the Promised Land (Jude 5, 1 Corinthians 10: 1-12).
- Balaam, the sorcerer who prophesied out of greed and not out of obedience to God’s command, was later killed (Jude 11, Numbers 22-24, Joshua 13:22).
- Korah, the priest, greedy for power, rebelled against God’s appointed leader, Moses. The earth opened up and swallowed him alive (Jude 11, Numbers 16:1-35).
The doom of false teachers, greedy for money and power like Balaam and Korah, respectively, is spelled out in Jude 13—the everlasting gloom and darkness of hell.
So whilst God preserves us, it is equally important to build ourselves in the faith, pray and live responsibly and rescue others by snatching them from hell fire (Jude 20-23).
Since we can willfully sin or commit apostasy, as illustrated by so many examples in Jude, it follows that ‘God keeping us safe’ is NOT the only factor that decides whether believers finally land up in heaven.
God wants to preserve us from falling but we have a WILL that can choose to reject God, or decide to continually live in sin, like the fallen angels (Jude 6) and homosexuals (Jude 7).
Thus, we cannot assert that believers are definitely preserved from falling because we ourselves are our own worst enemy. We must not underestimate the degree of corruption of our sinful nature.
Referring to the ugliness of our sinful nature, John R. W. Stott states: “Indeed, an honest and humble acknowledgment of the hopeless evil of our flesh, even after the new birth, is the first step to holiness. To speak quite plainly, some of us are not leading holy lives for the simple reason that we have too high an opinion of ourselves.” John R. W. Stott, Men Made New (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1966), p. 74.
To reiterate, God keeps us safe for eternity (Jude 24). But we have to build ourselves in the faith and pray (Jude 20).
We have to consider both sides of the coin: KEPT SAFE BY GOD MUST BE BALANCED BY PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy (Jude 24).
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 20-23).
Certainly, by studying Jude, we have ample examples to show us that Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) is a lie.
Only the first and last portion of Jude tell us about God’s ability to keep us.
The rest of the book, the BULK of it, focuses on examples of APOSTASY, FALSE TEACHERS and exhortations to keep ourselves in the love of God.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen (Jews), but God’s kindness to you (Gentiles), provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
Thought: Do the expressions cast out , cut off connote that God’s love affair with believers remains forever, no matter how we live our lives? Do they lend support to the Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) premise?
Believers who are fixated on God’s ability to keep us safe BUT fail to realise the need to be accountable and responsible may well go the way of the exodus generation, Balaam and Korah.
RIGHTS, NOT RESPONSIBILITIES
Any teaching that conveniently ignores or downplays personal responsibility on the part of a believer AND, in contrast, chooses to focus on God’s sovereignty alone, puts the onus on God alone to keep him or her faithful, must be viewed with suspicion. No serious student of the whole Bible will come away with the conclusion that the ball is always at the court of God. This “feel good” attitude reflects an utter lack of accountability.
– ― Porridge for the Soul
FAITH: ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE
“If a teacher merely tells you that God will keep you since He has chosen you out of His sovereign plan, and that you do not have to overcome sin, deception and persecution, whether you obey or not is immaterial because OSAS, that teacher is pulling the wool over your eyes. While it is true that faith rests in God’s promises (the passive part), faith is also ACTIVE. And this ACTIVE part is what that teacher fails to tell you. Faith requires us to overcome, endure, persevere and be accountable. Why did Paul say, Fight the good fight of faith?”
― Porridge for the Soul
“It would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to “yield themselves” up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.”
― Michael L. Brown, Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message
ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED?
The challenge I have with this teaching—ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED (OSAS)—is its failure to interpret individual passages honestly that disagree with this particular system. For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation. Second Peter 2:20-22 and James 5:19-20 are as clear as tar on snow that a believer can fall away and once again be called sinners who have to be restored.
― Joseph Mattera, Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York.
The believers’ spiritual status is not static. Though we have been enlightened by the truth and transformed by the Holy Spirit, there is no iron-clad guarantee we won’t change. That’s because we are sinful by nature. And, because we have a will, we can choose to remain in God’s favour or reject Him.
Though believers in Christ are heaven-bound, there are conditions to be fulfilled before we arrive at our final destination and claim our eternal reward. Some say that God will never forsake believers and that nothing will ever separate us from His love (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20, Romans 8: 38-39). But has this ever crossed our minds? God may not leave us but we can walk away from God. It takes two to tango.
Listen to this balanced seasoned teacher, David Pawson. A must-watch video.
He is able to keep us in the faith AND we are to keep ourselves in His love.
If we keep ourselves in the love of God, He keeps what we have committed to Him.
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2016/03/the-two-sides-of-coin.html
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Dr Lim Poh Ann