"If you don't see the real me, you won't see what love has won..." Vota

Monday, April 26, 2010

To the church: Why argue in the first place?

I will tell you my worst fear is that my children will die outside of Christ. Can you imagine how Christian parents must feel when their children reject Jesus and refuse His grace? I also think about the exhilaration that Christian parents feel when their children accept Christ and have their names written in the Book of Life. This is not the end of their journey; however, it is the beginning. Once their name is there they are saved and God will not give up what He has bought. He just wouldn't get rid of someone He paid so much for, but this does not mean that a person will without a doubt no matter what get into heaven. They still have to follow Jesus there. I know there is a controversial phrase, "Once saved always saved" and denominations argue over this topic and turn it into a divisive topic. Here is what I believe. Both sides believe basically the same thing; they just put it into different contexts. Like they are speaking two different languages but saying the same thing.

The people who stand on the phrase, "once saved always saved", do not believe that once you are saved you are free to do whatever you want and are assured of heaven. If this were the case and the water of a baptism was the savior we would be madly running around dunking people against their will then letting them get back to life as usual because the "power" of the water had washed them. Nope, the savior actually paid a high price to pay the debts for all of our sins. He is the Saving Grace not the water. We are baptized because He told us to follow Him, and He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He doesn't give us a map and leave us to our own interpretation and map reading skills to get to heaven, no, He came to lead us there; all we have to do is take hold of His hand and follow Him. We have the choice.

Once we choose to let Him be our shepherd we become a part of His flock. We know His voice. He is our shepherd and He will not let us go willingly. We sheep may stray and He promises He will come to look for us. We may even get lost, but He will come to find us. We may also choose to go our own way without His help and He will stand and wait for us to return. BUT we have the choice not to return. The prodigal son chose to leave and go off on his own and then He chose to come back. What if he had died before coming back? The story does not go this direction, but I think that He would have died outside of his father (not that the father didn't still love him). He did not die; however, he chose to go back.

Now, when the younger brother was welcomed home with open arms and a party, the older brother got mad at his father for the mercy he gave the younger son that he refused to attend the party (I think here he chooses to refuse his father because of his father's nature.) It is as if the Father was at the gate of Heaven and the older son and the younger son came. The father opened His arms up to both beloved sons-- one who had strayed and returned and the other who had been righteous the whole time. Out of anger and selfishness the older brother turns and refuses to go into Heaven because his little brother was allowed in. God gives us freewill and this choice. He does not make us enter Heaven. He also would not refuse the older son. In the story the father actually goes and pleads with the angry son to come into the party. He loves the son and wants the son to join them.

The father did not say, "Well then you are no longer my son." He never said, "You ungrateful, selfish son, you can't come to the party." He also did not say to the younger son, "Well, you blew it. You had everything and you squandered it and that was it. You can't come back." Nope it was all left in the hands and choices of the sons. One son screwed up royally and repented the other screwed up too, just in a different way. They both were received with open arms and loving words. They both made very different choices which affected the entrance to the party.

The Bible also says that when we are baptized we are clothed with Jesus; we are filled with the Spirit. And when He, the Spirit, lives in us we will no longer indulge our sinful nature for the Spirit is in conflict with the sinful nature. This is the reason that they say that if you are saved you will not want to choose to live a sinful nature and thus use your salvation as an excuse to do whatever floats your boat. With the Spirit living in you, your boat will be floated only in holy water... pun intended.

The people who reject the phrase, "once saved always saved", point out that the Bible says a pig that has been cleaned will go back to the mud and a dog returns to his vomit. These people believe that even though a person is saved they may choose to turn their back on their salvation. They also believe you can become saved and still not go to heaven. I don't think they believe that a saved person should be unsure whether or not they are going to Heaven. They believe that it is possible to "lose" their salvation. Not like you "lose a quarter", but-- pardon me, my example here may be a little crass-- it is like "losing" your virginity (hopefully as a married individual). You don't really lose it; you give it away (to your spouse!!!). Things that are lost can be found. Things that are refused are much harder to recover. The person who loses something will actively seek it and God promises that if we seek Him we will find Him. An object that has been refused is not sought after and it takes very great humility to go ask the person for the object which you refused. Much greater humility than it takes to receive the gift in the first place.

Imagine it like a child who wants to do something on their own. They are offered help and have a choice to humble themselves and realize they need help and accept or they can choose to be self reliant and fail. At this point the help is still available, but now they have to go and admit they were wrong and unable to do it alone and ask for help. It is doubly humbling.

No matter which side you stand on this fence (and really this is more of an invisible boundary than a real fence) it should not be a divisive issue. Neither side doubts the Lordship of Jesus and neither side doubts what Paul says when he said we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Neither doubts the necessity of Jesus' blood to inherit the Kingdom of God. Both sides know that when you are saved and filled with the Spirit you turn from the once lived evil lifestyle. Neither side proclaims perfection. The Bible tells us to live in unity of Spirit. This doesn't mean we have to think the same ways or may I amend, speak the same language so to speak. We do have different gifts and jobs to do. We are to love one another and be devoted to one another.

Anyone who wants to argue about this, first of all go read this. Second if you still want to argue, let me ask you one question. Do you plan on taking the phrase, "Once saved always saved" to heart and go off and live a sinful lifestyle trusting in the water you were baptized in, or do you know anyone who does? If so then please comment and we can talk, but if you do not, why argue in the first place?

Anyway, after this enormously long post, I pray that my girls will choose wisely and always seek and follow Jesus.

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