Let Us See What Salvation Really Is!
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
John 17:12 (NLT)
One path that seeks to evade the cross is overemphasis on the grace (forgiveness) of God. This false path stresses that salvation is by a profession of belief in doctrine apart from works of repentance.
Today’s stress on a profession of belief opens the way to a life of covetousness, the lust for material riches, and other non-Christian attitudes and practices, while the doctrinal position is held that we are saved by “grace” and our works do not matter.
The teachers who advocate the “Jesus did it all” concept of salvation may have some knowledge of the Scriptures that announce our position in Christ, but they certainly are unaware of the warfare that is necessary if the Divine vision is to become reality in our personality. We must make every effort if we are to enter the rest of God, the Divine vision that portrays our position in Christ at the right hand of God.
To stress our position in Christ and not balance the position with an equal emphasis on the necessary warfare is a wresting of Paul’s teaching, and will lead to the destruction of every person who allows him or herself to become persuaded that God and Christ would participate in such an empty redemption.
To use the blood of Jesus as a “covering” while we continue in the love of money is to destroy the new covenant. The blood of Jesus is to serve as the means of keeping us acceptable to God while we, through the Holy Spirit, are driving the sin from our personality.
True faith in the Lord Jesus Christ produces a “new creature” that reveals in himself the righteous works of the Divine Nature from which he was born. If there is no new creature that is performing works of righteousness, which shuns the covetousness of the world, the new covenant is not operating in the personality.
Branches in Christ that does not, after a season, bear the fruit of righteous behavior, are cut out of the Vine (out of Christ). Trees that finally do not bear the fruit of the image of Christ are removed from the orchard.
And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down. (Luke 13:9)
God is seeking to bring about the worship of Himself, and obedience to Himself, on the part of the inhabitants of the earth.
If the Gospel of Christ does not result in righteous, holy, and obedient conduct, in freedom from covetousness, how is it accomplishing the eternal purpose of God?
Is it not inferior to the old covenant, which at least required an abstention from moral transgressions?
The mature fruit of the moral image of Christ does not spring forth in our personality in a moment. Godly character requires years of patient discipline as the Holy Spirit slowly works redemption in our nature.
The Christian salvation is moral and character transformation. This is what salvation is. This is what the new covenant is. To define grace to mean that righteous works are unrelated to our salvation entirely misses the meaning of what God is performing through the new covenant.
A second path by which the money-lovers seek to evade the cross is the current overemphasis on God’s love. God is Love—this is what the Scripture teaches. The Scripture teaches also that God is a consuming Fire. Sodom and Gomorrah dramatically portray this fact.
The flood of Noah is a warning to every creature, revealing that God is an all-powerful Spirit who is to be feared. The individual who does not fear God is foolish and ignorant.
God has not changed. Christ has not changed. The God of Noah and Abraham has not changed. We have boldness in Christ, not because God has changed but because of the adequacy of the atonement made on the cross of Calvary. Jesus warned His elect that He has not changed. He emphasized the fact that as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the day when He is revealed.
An emphasis on God’s love that causes the believers to cease to fear God and to continue in the delusion that they love God while they are frolicking in the world and amassing money is of Satan. The spirit that pretends to sympathize with the plight of man, teaching us to shun the cross of self-denial, proceeds from Satan. We have the words of Christ to Peter as follows:
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Matthew 16:23 (NLT)
Where there is no fear of the Lord there is no wisdom.
The true saint both loves and fears God. He loves God with all his strength. He also has experienced the terror of the Lord. He works out his salvation with fear and trembling.
The saint understands he will not have an excess amount of “oil” to share with the unwise in the Day of Christ. He knows that even those of righteous conduct are saved with difficulty (I Peter 4:18).
Extreme positions on grace or on God’s love place in jeopardy the redemption of the believer. They are false, satanic teachings.
A third path that appeals to those who trust in money, that seeks to evade the cross, centers around the teaching of the first resurrection and ascension of the saints. When comforting the relatives of deceased Christians, Paul mentioned the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, to the church of the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 4:13-5:3).
The term “rapture” has now been applied to the ascension that will follow the first resurrection of the dead. As is true of the first two errors mentioned (extremism concerning grace and concerning God’s love), the doctrine of the “rapture,” as it is taught today, is a departure from a fundamental truth of God’s Word. It is a misapplication of Divine truth, bringing harm instead of blessing to the Lord’s people.
The ascension of the saints is being preached as the means God has provided for our escape from the great tribulation. God indeed has provided for our escape from the spiritual harm that will be caused by the great tribulation. God will enter His saints in that hour in fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. The saints finally will overcome the deceptions of Antichrist because greater is He (Christ—the Spirit of truth) who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).
It is true that the saints will not suffer from the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath at the time of the destruction of Antichrist. When the saints go out from the midst of the wicked of the earth the wrath of God will fall on the ungodly, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed the moment Lot had been pulled to safety by the angels.
A fourth path that seeks to evade the cross has to do with using “faith” to gain wealth, power, and success. These is a modern symptom of the perennial attempt to be a Christian and not live righteously; not walk in the wholesome fear of God; not experience tribulation in the world.
The four evasions of the cross have a common denominator. They are compatible, each enhancing the other three. They produce an overfamiliarity with Christ and His Gospel, an “ease in Zion,” a mystique, an aura surrounding the Christian salvation that is far removed from the text of the Old or New Testaments.
The common denominator of the errors of the evangelical mystique is the concept of the Christian salvation as an eternal, unconditional pardon whose purpose is to admit the believer to Paradise when he dies. It often is true that those who follow this path trust in money. They do not walk each day in humble obedience to Christ.
The angel of the evangelical “gospel” is rebuked today by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus for its love of money and pleasure. It is telling God’s people that Jesus has done everything for them; and while they should try to live a godly life out of appreciation for the goodness of the Lord to them, it is not critically important that they do so because they already are eternally secure in their hope of eternal residence in Paradise after their physical death. It is a potpourri of myths and errors.
The sincere saint should examine carefully what he is being taught today. He should study the modern Christian trend of thinking and attitude and determine if it corresponds to the thinking and attitude of the Apostles of the Lamb.
Concerning the current we-can-get-rich-by-faith doctrine, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is clear that faith follows, not precedes, the expression of God’s will. Faith is not a matter of deciding what we want and then commanding God to give it to us.
The fruit of faith is shown (in Hebrews, Chapter 11) to be works of righteousness, not the acquisition of ease in the world, or money, success, or luxury. Rather, the opposite is true. God Himself spoke to the men and women mentioned in the eleventh chapter, such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses. God spoke. Then the saints demonstrated their faith by obedience, courage, patience, trust, and persistence—often in the face of much suffering and adversity.
When we put faith (presumption) first, before God gives us direction, in a self-centered attempt to use Christ for our benefit, we enter a dangerous deception. We are employing presumption, not faith, and presumption is a transgression against God. It reminds us of Satan who attempts to be like God apart from union with God.
Devout teachers of today are exposing the error of attempting to acquire material wealth and success by the exercise of “faith” in Christ. We would add our support to them in deploring the fascination with money and comfort. Such “faith” efforts are not even close to being Christian. They are just one more attempt to evade the cross. They blind their adherents with the love of money, which is the destroyer of all that is of God and Christ.
Extremism in grace; overemphasis on the love of God; the unwillingness to believe that the Lord allows his saints to suffer tribulation; and now the use of faith in His name in order to become rich—all add up to an “eat, drink and be merry” attitude. The desire is to “have fun in the Son,” as someone expressed it.
If this truly is the attitude of the Lord Jesus, our teaching that the Christian discipleship is a rugged road of repentance, self-denial, and cross-carrying obedience to Christ is not accurately reflecting the will of the Father in Heaven.
Yet we do appreciate and trust in God’s grace. We do experience God’s unfathomable love. We do enjoy the Lord’s protection. We do walk in miracle faith.
Which is the right way?
Perhaps Balaam, Jezebel, Gehazi, Judas, Ananias, Sapphira, and Demas could now provide us with the answer.
The truth can be found in the writings of the Apostles.
Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:3-10 (NLT)
The choice is between the cross and the world. Antichrist or the False Prophet will destroy no person if he cries out to Christ continually for the truth, if he prays to the Father to be kept from temptation, if he accepts his cross and carries it faithfully each day of his pilgrimage.
The area of spiritual deception is complex and will not be dealt with in depth in this writing. However, the saints should be cautioned that Satan will attempt to deceive the elect. We should not walk with a sense of false confidence just because we are attempting to behave righteously and are sincere.
To believe we can enjoy Christ and the world at the same time is to openly invite deception. He who “gives part of the proceeds of the land” under the pretext of giving all to God, attempting to gain the best of both worlds, will be deceived. God will send a delusion on him.
No one wishes to spend eternity in torment, separated forever from his Creator. Let us flee from this Antichrist, pleasure-loving, world-embracing “gospel.”
Judas was lost. The Scripture that spoke beforehand of the one who would betray Christ was fulfilled. Judas became the “son of perdition.”
Does this mean that, like Esau, Judas was hated of God before he was born?
We know that the Scriptures teach Divine foreknowledge and predestination. We know also that God is willing that all repent and come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Word of God remains true. If we will choose to come to Jesus and practice righteousness we will be received of God. But if we choose to not do what the Lord Jesus has commanded, preferring instead to seek riches and pleasure in the present age, we will be deceived.
There is no guarantee that we, although having been at one time a sincere Christian, will not end up in the ranks of the tormented. There are Christian teachers who would assure us that such could never happen. But they are mistaken. They themselves are heading toward the outer darkness.
Let us not be proud but work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Remember the tormented Judas. Remember the covetous Ananias and Sapphira.