Grace in Crises, Part 2

By Michael Forti

Understanding Biblical salvation should be a very simple thing to do. However, throughout the years, the teaching on salvation has become a very controversial subject within modern-day Christianity. Jesus clearly teaches that if a person is not willing to leave the ways of this world to fully receive God’s gift of Grace, they will be BLINDED from understanding the truth and unable to interpret His Word accurately. (Matt 13:11-23, Luke 8:11-15, Rom 12:1-2, 2 Thess 2:1-12, James 4:4). Jesus clearly teaches us that having a belief in Him is not enough to be saved. We must be BORN AGAIN (John 3:3).

[ Grace in Crises, Part 1 is available in our Digital Edition. ]

Most professing Christians would generally agree that doing good works or deeds could save no one. The Bible teaches that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and that the wages of our sin must be death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Jesus teaches us that so much as we have thought the thought, we have sinned (Matthew 5:27). Therefore, God presents a simple solution in Ephesians 2:8-9 that says, “For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through FAITH–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast.”

Agreeing that one can only be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ and the precious grace of God, Christians continue to debate the issues surrounding this GRACE. How must one receive salvation through the grace of God? Romans 10:9 gets us started by saying, “That if you CONFESS with your mouth, ” Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, 3:3).

Next, you must go to 1 John 2:3-6 to take a simple test to see if you TRULY believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord. “We know that we have come to know Him if we OBEY HIS COMMANDS. The man who says, “I know Him, but does not do what He commands, is a liar and the TRUTH is not in him. But if anyone obeys His Word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him. Whoever claims to live in Him must walk like Jesus walked.” The apostle John teaches all believers that if we have truly accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will then begin to show that belief and love through our actions (John 14:15-23).

The book of Jude explains how believers, who claimed to know Christ, were not following His commands and they were not picking up the cross daily. They claimed to know Jesus, yet they were not bearing the FRUIT of a true believer in Christ (Matt 3:8-9). These believers that Jude was dealing with were actually trying to CHANGE God’s precious grace into a license for immorality and sin. “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to CONTEND for the faith that was once for all ENTRUSTED to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who CHANGE the GRACE of God into a license for immorality and DENY Jesus Christ our Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4). Believe it or not, this same problem exists within much of the mainline church today (Rev 2:18-25).

Now, everyone has sinful thoughts that enter into their minds and hearts. If someone does not truly love the Lord, the sinful thoughts will begin to manifest through their outward actions. If someone truly loves the Lord, they will begin to allow the Holy Spirit to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. The thoughts may still enter into their mind, but for the most part, the believer will be able to resist the physical temptation of acting it out. When the true believer gives in to the sinful nature and his thoughts become a reality in the flesh, he should go to the elders of the church and let them know that he recognizes his error. Then it will be visible to the church that he is walking in repentance and that he wants to receive prayer for forgiveness and healing. “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:15-16). Genuine believers should be walking in a daily lifestyle of repentance (Lk 9:23-27, 1 Jn 2:3-6).

Church is not to be used as a place to openly abuse the grace. It is a gathering to worship God and to offer ourselves up to Him (Rom 12:1-2). All believers are to acknowledge their sin and then to help one another turn from it. Sad but true, too many today have allowed the willful and deliberate sin within the four walls of the church to go unnoticed because of the desire to pack out the crowds and to bring in the money. Teaching the good old fashioned fire-and-brimstone message to stimulate believers to wholesome thinking, is bad for modern-day church business. Several examples of this have been made public through the media, which has left a bad taste in the mouths of many unbelievers. “A committee of the church of xxx- the same church that once pillared sexual transgressors in the New England town square–now says sex outside of marriage is OK, as long as it is linked to justice love. Premarital sex, homosexuality, bi-sexuality—and a whole range of activities long considered a willful life of sin without any evidence of repentance, by most Christian churches–should be encouraged if the partners are genuinely consenting adults.” “Presbyterian panel Oks gay ordinations.” “Pastors being found innocent of disobeying church rules for performing a lesbian unity ceremony at the United Methodist Church” (1 Cor 6:9-11, Gal 5:19-21, Eph 5:1-21).

What should God’s true grace be doing in our lives? “For the GRACE of God that BRINGS SALVATION has appeared to all men. It TEACHES us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to LIVE self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we WAIT for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”(Titus 2:11-15).

Now that we have taken a closer look at INITIAL SALVATION, we must take a close look at the second controversial issue that seems to be shaking the minds of modern-day believers. Once someone has truly received the Lord and has made the free choice to repent and to live God’s way and not their own, can this born-again believer fall away from the faith and loose his or her salvation? The entire New Testament is LOADED full of warnings to genuine believers, and the Lord is not simply warning believers about losing a few rewards once they get to heaven. God is warning those who are watering down the grace and who are offering a compromised version of salvation.

Those, in these last days who are changing the grace of God into a license for immorality and sin, are those who usually hold firmly to another heretical doctrine commonly known as “once saved/always saved.” They will almost always refer to John 10:27-28 to try and prove their point that one cannot lose their salvation. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Another Bible verse that they use is Hebrews 11:5 that says, “Never will I leave you and never will I forsake you.” Again, these two basic Bible verses are used over and over again by those who claim that a believer cannot lose their salvation, no matter how they are living.

Unfortunately, those who hold firmly to the once saved/always saved teaching are not RIGHTLY DIVIDING the Word of truth accurately. Yes, Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. However, according to the passages of scripture that you are about to read, He gives everyone the free choice at any time to leave and forsake Him. He will never leave you. Could you leave Him? He will never forsake you. Could you forsake Him? Remember, those who hold to the once saved/always saved gospel will acknowledge the scriptures that you are about to read. They will admit that they are real. However, they will only go so far as to admit that these Bible verses are only talking about those who have said the sinner’s prayer, yet never truly received Jesus into their heart. They will not admit that these verses that you are about to read could be talking to those who have once known the Lord in their heart, yet fell away. Half of their thinking is correct. In many cases, Jesus is ministering to those who claim to be saved, yet have never received Him as Lord. However, there are many Bible verses that illustrate Jesus rebuking and warning those that have once been saved, yet are in the process of falling away or have already fallen away.

Let’s take a closer look at losing your salvation. 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we endure with Him, we will also reign with Him. If we DISOWN Him, He will also disown us.” Let’s back up. Remember what Hebrews 11:5 said? Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” It is obvious according to 2 Timothy 2:12 that Jesus gives any believer the opportunity to jump ship at any time. Again, remember what Hebrews 13:5 says? “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Now take a good look at what Revelation 2:4 says. “Yet I hold this against you: You (the church of Ephesus) have FORSAKEN and you have LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE. Remember the height from which you have fallen! REPENT and do the things you did at first.” This passage of scripture clearly indicates that someone who is truly saved can fall away because they made the choice to leave and to forsake the Lord (Deut 31:6-18). Keep in mind, we are not saved by works, but only by faith in God’s grace. However, God continues to give all that claim to be Christians the free will and opportunity to walk away any time they want.

What other warnings does the Lord give us to keep us on track? Hebrews 2:1-2 says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” One cannot drift away from something he never had. Hebrews 3:14 says, We have come to share in Christ IF WE HOLD FIRMLY till the END the confidence we had at first.” Friends, Jesus is not simply talking about losing a few rewards. ” If we DELIBERATELY keep on sinning after we have RECEIVED the

knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:27-27).

Jesus helps all believers understand that after we have received initial salvation, we must hold on to the grace, without falling away so that we will be able to receive FINAL SALVATION. Again, nothing has been obtained through works, only by faith. However, Paul says in Philippians 2:12, “continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” What is He trying to tell us? Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 by saying, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not run like a man beating the air. No I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be DISQUALIFIED from the prize.” What is the prize? “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me HEAVENWARD in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).

If a person becomes a believer by receiving Jesus into their heart as Lord, why does the Holy Bible teach that the believer is still BEING SAVED throughout their Christian walk? “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are BEING SAVED, it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). What about Romans 13:11 that says, “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our SALVATION is NEARER NOW than when we FIRST BELIEVED.” Even pastor Timothy gets a warning from Paul. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. PERSEVERE in them, because if you do, you will SAVE both yourself and your hearers”(1Tim 4:16, Heb 10:32-39, Rev 3:10-11).

Let’s take a closer look at John 10:27. “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” Now, turn back a few pages and read what Jesus says in John 8:31-32. “IF you HOLD to My TEACHING, you are REALLY My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Again, Jesus continues to test the believer by saying, “If you love Me, you will obey my commands and teachings” (John 14:15-24). Remember, following the teachings and commands of Jesus is not a salvation by works issue, it is the evidence of true repentance and a lifestyle of bearing the fruit of a genuine believer in Jesus Christ (Matt 3:8). PERSEVERING simply states that the true believer has not made the choice to forsake or leave the Lord and to fall back into the world. Can it happen? “2 Peter 2:20-21 says in the NIV translation, “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by KNOWING our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are AGAIN ENTANGLED in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have KNOWN the way of RIGHTEOUSNESS, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (NIV).

The writer of Hebrews 6:4, also expresses his concern. “IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have SHARED in the Holy Spirit, who have TASTED the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, (IT IS IMPOSSIBLE) if they FALL AWAY, to be brought back to repentance.” Our Lord clearly explains that it is very possible for believers to fall away from the faith. “Those on the rock are the ones who RECEIVE the Word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They BELIEVE for a while, but in time of testing they FALL AWAY” (Luke 8:11-15).

In closing, according to the Word of God, the last generation will experience the greatest age of deception ever. What does Jesus say? “At that time, MANY will TURN AWAY FROM the faith and will betray and hate each other, and MANY FALSE PROPHETS will appear and DECEIVE MANY people”(Matt 24:10-11). There will be many, with wrong motives that will be offering salvation down the broad road of unrighteousness. Even though many will teach out of the Holy Bible, their sermons will be filled with worldly philosophies and textbook psychology. Instead of facing up to biblical reality and the powers of the coming age, they will be into the new-age power of positive thinking. However, in doing so, they will not be ministering the true gospel that SAVES (2 Cor 11:1-15, Gal 1:6-10).

Many will be misled in these last days into thinking that they can simply bow their heads, say a prayer, and be saved forever, without coming out from among the willful life of sin (2 Per 2:1-4). Therefore, many professing Christians will have their hearts continuously set on earthly things instead of the soon coming of our Lord, which will indicate that they ARE NOT SAVED! (Phil 3:13-21). This is why Jesus teaches us that He will only come for those who are eagerly waiting for Him. Those who are not waiting for Him have their hearts into this world and they most likely have never truly received Jesus as Lord, or they have fallen away from the faith they once had.

Friends, I know preachers who at one time, would often teach of the soon coming of our Lord and Savior. Now, the end-time message has been placed on a shelf in the basement closet and the true message of Christ has been replaced with health, wealth, prosperity and the power of positive thinking. It has become a hindrance when it comes to church politics, church growth and business to preach about the soon coming of our Lord and about God’s coming wrath (2 Tim 4:1-8, 2 Pet Chapters 2 and 3).

What group of Christians is Jesus coming for? “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to BRING SALVATION to those who are WAITING FOR HIM” (Heb 9:28, 10:31-39, Luke 12:34-41, 21:34-36, 1 Thess 1:9-10). “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev 3:10-11). Until next time Jesus is coming soon, are you going to be ready?

One Response to “Grace in Crises, Part 2”

  1. Howard Says:

    I am eagerly awaiting the coming of our Lord.

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